a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Aug, 2017

Day one of 45

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|Ottawa|travel talk

(Subtitled: A Very Ottawa Birthday in the National Capital Region.)

Little did I know that when we ventured downtown on Saturday we were actually embarking on a tour of Ottawa and Gatineau and taking in some of the best sights of the summer. Other than our first destination, Kontinuum, we had no real plan but somehow it all came together perfectly.

Kontinuum is temporary sound and light installation in an unfinished LRT station in downtown Ottawa. It’s been getting mixed reviews so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. What I did know is that it’s free and Mark booked our tickets online ahead of time.

It’s true that you can zip through in five minutes if you really wanted, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you rushed.

If you’ve been on the fence about seeing Kontinuum, you should go. The sound/light/laser show aspects of your visit MAY induce sudden deja vu for old skool Pink Floyd fans (especially if you ever experienced a laser Pink Floyd show at your local planetarium), but overall, I think the rest of us will just appreciate it for what it is: a cool way of animating an otherwise dead space.

How to describe it? Beams of light that pool in your hand, moving colour and sound… it is hypnotic.

A futuristic element has you scanning your ticket to reveal your “personal frequency” (a.k.a. a light pattern) and takes a portrait of you that is like something out of Star Trek. (Here’s mine! Don’t ask me why I decided to pose with double peace signs.)

The best part was the animated rail tunnel, where the tracks are down and a looping animation lights up the concrete. “Subway” sounds punctuate a symphony that plays in time with the light, and you, the onlooker, find yourself immersed in another dimension.

Make note! Kontinuum ends September 14. I am definitely going back before it’s gone.

From there we walked to the NAC. I’ve been meaning to see the new addition and the temporary “cloud” art piece is installed there. We were not disappointed. It’s gorgeous! All of it.

New views of NAC!

National Arts Centre

Cloud, at the NAC in Ottawa

The Cloud is only there until October 31, so if you’ve been meaning to go, GO!

After THAT we had lunch at Tavern on the Hill. This was my second time here and it was just as good as the first, albeit with slightly damp cushions:

Lunch at Tavern on the Hill

Lunch at Tavern on the Hill in Ottawa

Enjoying a cold one at Tavern on the Hill

Mark remembered there was something VERY OTTAWA that I’ve always wanted to do but never had: take the water taxi across the river to Gatineau. (Did you even know there was such a thing?) On the Ottawa side, you board at the bottom of the hill, behind the Ottawa Locks past the Bytown Museum.

Water taxi this way!


It’s a short trip, but entertaining. And the views are pretty too:

View from the Aqua-Taxi

You can pay cash on board or buy tickets at the Bytown Museum. It’s six bucks per person if you’re going one way or $10 return. Here’s a bonus: this vehicle is electric so there’s no stink exhaust AND, if you’re so inclined, you can even board with bikes and pets. Isn’t that cool?

It’s a very laissez-faire schedule. There are two shuttles in play between 9:30 and 8 p.m. and if you miss one, no biggie. Another will be along shortly.

We disembarked right at the foot of the Museum of History and went to see MosaiCanada. If you recall, I was there just after it opened earlier this summer but I was SO glad to see it a second time. It’s changed! And by changed, I mean, things have grown/filled in, and flowered, of course. It was so neat to see.

MosaiCanada, Gatineau 2017

MosaiCanada, Gatineau 2017

MosaiCanada, Gatineau 2017

After doing the circuit we walked back to Ottawa via the Alexandria bridge, through the downtown core, and back to our car. That was a LOT of walking, but totally worth it. I also knew what was to come later: sushi at Kiko on Preston Street, followed by treats from the Cupcake Lounge. All in all, I’d say this was a pretty great way to spend a birthday.

4 Responses to "Day one of 45"

1 | Sandy

August 22nd, 2017 at 12:43 pm


Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday! I love exploring our great city. We have so many fabulous things to do here. On my bucket list are a visit to Tavern on the Hill, and a trip on the water taxi – I just learned about this one a couple of weeks ago. After reading this, I think I need to check out that cloud at the NAC…looks pretty cool. Great post!

2 | joy

August 22nd, 2017 at 2:00 pm


wow! sounds like a perfect day!!

3 | Allison

August 22nd, 2017 at 7:34 pm


Too funny, I have almost this exact day planned for my b-day August 31 except for I’m planning to have gelato and waffles at Mantovani 1946. I did not know about the water taxi— it might be a good addition to my plans :)

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