Ottawa: a brief interlude about self care

Look! No part 1! … at the point when I was in Ottawa I seriously considered working a second trip into my tour as I failed to do the parliament building and I would have liked to see the library, but the reason I didn’t is also the reason I am not coming back. So let’s have a quick interlude where we talk about the importance of looking after yourself. 

The reason I missed a few things in Ottawa was because I spent one of my two days there in bed. Not because I was ill, just because I was having, what I like to refer to as, one of my “dark days”. Occasionally I have a depressed darkness that creeps over my left shoulder (if you’re watching for in my posture you can literally see when I start feeling like this as my left shoulder stoops) once I feel this coming on I know I am heading for a day where I feel awful and cannot find the motivation to get out of bed. If I try and resist this I end up feeling awful, as I fight my way through an unpleasant combination of guilt and depression. I also have a terrible fear of missing out, which doesn’t help matters. After a number of years struggling with this I have finally realised that a day in bed for the sake of your own well being is never a wasted day. Travelling can be exhausting, I am currently moving every few days, just as I settle in to a place I have to pack up and leave again. So I am officially giving myself permission to miss a few things and take it all a little slower.

My advice to everyone: I give yourself permission to prioritise yourself, look after yourselves kids. 

Anyways, interlude over, let’s talk Ottawa! 

Ottawa is a bizarre place. Castles built in the last 100 years that House the Canadian parliament, that still makes its base in Ottawa despite that it is no longer really the centre of Canada, and a downtown that’s full of restaurants and bars that seem to stay open all night and are perpetually full of hen dos. As a place, it confused me. However it has the most amazing light quality, I’ve no idea why, and the Ottawa river is quite a sight, turning from raging rapids to mill pond calming just a few hundred metres. What I did see was…

  • The National Gallery of Canada unfortunately the entire ground floor of the gallery is closed as they prep for the 150th anniversary exhibition which launches on Canada day in July so I missed the water court foyer and the preserved Rideau street chapel. However it’s a beautiful building and worth a visit. I am losing my patience for modern art… but they had a marvellous Epstein sculpture and a beautiful panel by Rossetti. Give me a pre-raphaelite and I’m a happy girl. 
  • BeaverTails I will now live off these, because they are apparently all over this section of Canada. Fried pastry base covered with the topping of your choice. The cinnamon sugar was sweet enough to give even me a sugar coma… I ate 3…. I regret nothing!
  • The HI Ottawa Jail Hostel just google this place, its insane! The tour… revealed many things I am glad I did not know while trying to sleep in there. Like the brutal conditions, many accidental deaths due to hypothermia, the hangings and its status as one of North America’s most haunted locations. It only stopped being a prison in 1971 and was opened as a hostel in 1976. I took very few pictures on the tour, it was too unsettling, but there is an outside shot of the hanging drop, which, though no longer used, is apparently still in perfect working order. I also have a photo of the chart for how to calculate correct hanging drops… because I feel like one of you writer friends will one day find this information useful. 

That’s it for Ottawa. I did take a train to Montreal, but it was grey and flat and fast so there are no photos. I promise a quick write up at the start of my Montreal post. For now, I am off to explore yet another city! 

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