Canada’s Parliament Hill

Canada’s Parliament is an iconic set of buildings located on top of Parliament Hill. This limestone cliff slopes gently towards Ottawa River in the country’s capital, Ottawa.
Parliament Hill overlooking the frozen Ottawa River
Parliament Hill overlooking the frozen Ottawa River

When Ottawa was declared the new capital of the United Province of Canada in 1858, a parliament building was needed to house the legislature. Thus, architects were hired, plans were approved, ground was broken in 1859 and Albert Edward, prince of Wales, laid the cornerstone in the summer of 1860. The Gothic Revival building was completed in 1876. I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Centre Block when we visited Ottawa in January 2011. I have to say this: I’d never been so cold in my life! But I managed to go out and roam the city anyway, of which I’m proud.

Let me show you what I saw and learned.

The tour started at 11.30. They advised us to go there a few minutes earlier to go through a security scanning like that of airports. Thankfully, there was no need to take shoes off. The group was comprised of a very nice lady guide, a middle-aged couple and I. I suppose that groups are larger during the summer (for enquiries, email info@parl.gc.ca).

This is the Centre Block and Peace Tower. The Library of Parliament is at the back. I was walking towards the entrance when a Mountie politely stopped me and asked me questions like why I was there, where I was from and the like. When I said I'm from Argentina, he said "that's along waya away!" and gave a lapel pin with the Canadian flag. I think Canadians are among the nicest and politest people on Earth!
This is the Centre Block and Peace Tower. The Library of Parliament is at the back. I was walking towards the entrance when a Mountie politely stopped me and asked me questions like why I was there, where I was from and the like. When I said I’m from Argentina, he said “that’s along way away!” and gave me a lapel pin with the Canadian flag. I think Canadians are among the nicest and politest people on Earth!

The party met at the Hall of Honour, which divides the Centre Block into east and west sections and separates the House of Commons and the Senate. It also serves as ceremonial space.

Ceremonial entrance of the sovereign and his or her representative from the Senate foyer.
Ceremonial entrance of the sovereign and his or her representative from the Senate foyer.

The Senators debate and revise bills passed by the House of Commons. The Queen’s representative, the Governor General, addresses the Parliament and gives assent to bills.

The Speaker presides over Senate sessions. The Leader of the Government sits to his right and the Leader of the Opposition sit sto his left.  The thrones behind the Speaker are for the Governor General and his/her spouse
The Speaker presides over Senate sessions. The Leader of the Government sits to his right and the Leader of the Opposition sit sto his left. The thrones behind the Speaker are for the Governor General and his/her spouse
The gilt coffered ceiling of the Senate and massive chandelier
The gilt coffered ceiling of the Senate chamber and a massive chandelier
Parliament Hill Ottawa5
The House of Commons has green benches like the British House of Commons
 House of Commons The House of Commons wasn’t in session so we were able to see it.

Th Rorund or Federation Hall is the formal entrance to the Centre Block. Carved symbols of every province decorate the walls and columns.  The central column bears a dedication to those who fought in World War I. The swrils at its base represent Canada's motto: From Sea to Sea.

The Rotunda or Federation Hall is the formal entrance to the Centre Block. Carved symbols of every province decorate the walls and columns.
The central column bears a dedication to those who fought in World War I. The swirls at its base represent Canada’s motto: From Sea to Sea.

The Peace Tower replaces the Victoria Tower that burned down in the 1916 fire and it honours the Canadian men and women who lost their lives in World War I. The clock was a present of the British government to mark the 60th anniversary of the Confederation in 1927. The Memorial Chamber has altars that hold the Books of Remembrance inscribed with the names of Canadian soldiers fallen in battle.

View from the Peace Tower
View from the Peace Tower
Ottawa as seen from the Peace Tower
Ottawa as seen from the Peace Tower
Snow angels!
Snow angels!

The beautiful Library of Parliament (1859-1876) was the only part of the building to survive the fire of 1916. Even though its interior is made of pine, it didn’t burn down thanks to the presence of mind of an employee who closed to fireproof doors. Its exterior design was inspired by the Reading Room of the British Museum. Inside, it’s flooded in natural light and has a wonderful smell of books and pinewood. Unfortunately for me, photography is prohibited inside.

Attention cat lovers! There’s a cat refuge behind the Parliament buildings overlooking the river, called Stray Cats of the Hill. It’s been there since the late 1970s. Cats have been neutered and inoculated against disease. A pensioner that goes by the mysterious name of The Catman of the Hill volunteers to feed the cats and other animals, like raccoons, groundhogs or birdies daily.

Home tweet home
Home tweet home

And it was cold!

Brrrrrr!
Brrrrrr!

Barrancas de Belgrano park in Buenos Aires

Plaza Barrancas de Belgrano is a leafy public park located in the eponymous neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Its downward slope (barranca) towards the river gave it its name and makes it unique in the city. Or rather, it slopes down to where the river Plate used to be before the wetlands were dredged and filled in.

The park was designed by French architect Charles Thays in 1892, who also designed  the Botanical Gardens, among others, and is located in a quite posh and tony area.

Let’s take a stroll together.

Barrancas de Belgrano07
The land belonged to Dr. Valentin Alsina (1802-1869,) an Argentinean lawyer and politician. His house (photo) was built in 1856 in the Italianate style popular at the time and nowadays is dwarfed by modern tall apartment buildings. It now houses a foundation.

 

Ombu
This massive ombu is one of the park features. This evergreen tree (Phytolacca dioica) is native to the Pampas and is a symbol of Argentina, Uruguay and the gaucho culture.

 

Pergola
This band stand was built in time for the Centenary celebrations (1910.) Nowadays, a group of musicians organize milongas (tango dances) every evening and everyone is welcome to join.

 

A view of the slope that gives the park its name.
A view of the slope that gives the park its name.

 

Workers at lunch in the park
Workers at lunch in the park

 

This historic construction (1905) was once the park keeper's residence. In 2011 it was repurpused into a children's lending library called La Reina Batata after a nursery rhyme by singer, author and songwriter Maria Elena Walsh. Her music and books have influenced generations of Argentineans, including me.
This historic construction (1905) was once the park keeper’s residence. In 2011 it was purposed as a children’s lending library called La Reina Batata after a nursery rhyme by singer, author and songwriter Maria Elena Walsh. Her music and books have influenced generations of Argentineans, myself included.

 

One of the many paths that crisscross Plaza Barrancas
One of the many paths that crisscross Plaza Barrancas

 

Beautiful terrace overlooking the park
Beautiful terrace overlooking the park

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: The Color White

Go to Cee’s blog to see what this challenge is about. I chose one setting: the sleepy colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.

This lighthouse has a strategic location on the River Plate. The river may seem calm but it gets very rough when there is a sudestada (a violent storm caused by southeasterly winds typical of the River Plate basin). On moonless nights or during a storm, ships needed guidance to reach the coast.  Construction on this working lighthouse began in 1855 and was finished in 1857.
This lighthouse has a strategic location on the River Plate. The river may seem calm but it gets very rough when there is a sudestada (a violent storm caused by southeasterly winds typical of the River Plate basin). On moonless nights or during a storm, ships needed guidance to reach the coast.
Construction on this working lighthouse began in 1855 and was finished in 1857.

 

A typical house.
A typical house.

 

The bougainvillea stands out against the white wall and the dark window.
The bougainvillea stands out against the white wall and the dark window.

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Orange

This is a new photo challenge, at least for me. This week, Cee’s prompt is THE COLOUR ORANGE. It happens to be one of my favourite colours too.

I snapped this rooster at the Jersey Lavender Farm on the beautiful island of Jersey (Channel Islands.)

lavender farm

These traditional fishing boats are a top tourist attraction in the Argentinean seaside resort of Mar del Plata. Fishermen still earn their living following the traditions of their ancestors.

mar del plata

The sun set over the Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, as we were getting ready to bet on the pretty gee-gees.

lone star racecourse

Istanbul street scenes

Allow me show you what I saw through my lens around Istanbul.

A simit vendor mingling with fishermen on Galata Bridge
A simit vendor mingling with fishermen on Galata Bridge
A leisurely stroll around Sultanahmet Square in the late afternoon.
A leisurely stroll around Sultanahmet Square in the late afternoon.
Street food
Even busy people have time to sit down and eat some street food
Spices at the Spice Market. Their colours and smells pervaded the whole place.
Spices at the Spice Market. Their colours and smells pervaded the whole place.
A shoeshiner with his traditional tackle.
A shoeshiner with his traditional tackle.
Eminonu
Eminonu
Taksim Square area. I was surprised by how Eropean these streets looks. It could anywhere, Madrid, Paris or Lisbon.
Taksim Square area. I was surprised by how Eropean these streets looks. It could anywhere, Madrid, Paris or Lisbon.
The streets around the Grand Bazaar are eerily quiet in the early evening.
The streets around the Grand Bazaar are eerily quiet in the early evening.