Nivi's Adventures

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quebec City

Now this was an amazing city, and one of the highlights of my trip so far! Everyone speaks French, or rather Quebecois (pronounced ke-bek-wa). I KNEW before arriving that they spoke French in Quebec, but coupled with the fact that I was staying in Old Quebec (old buildings, cobblestone roads complete with a fortification wall that surrounds the city) it totally felt like a European city and so it came as somewhat more of a culture shock than I was expecting.

One of the roads in Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec). This is pretty much what it looked like when I stepped out of the hostel.

A gorgeous fresco done on the side of a building - which was amazingly realistic! Check out the detail in the top left and top right corner. The trim painted on the fresco perfectly matches the real trim on the other side of the building!

Place Royale - A town square kinda thing, just to sit and enjoy the sun. The French sure know how to live!

Eglise des Victoires - Church of Victories (over the British). Movie buffs may recognise it as the church in closing scene of "Catch me if you can" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Apparently it's quite common to get Old Quebec to be used instead of Paris in the movies.

Chateau Frontenac - This was never actually a castle but rather a grand hotel built by Canadian Rail. There were a good number of these built back in the heyday (Toronto, Vancouver, Banff etc). This one is supposedly the grandest of them all.

A shot of the wall fortifications that surround the citadel. Pretty impressive. I had initially thought they were built by the French to keep out the English, but they were actually built by the English to keep out the Yanks! It's all a push-pull in the struggle for world domination I spose ;)

Now this is a kinda amusing story. These steps are called les escaliers de casse cou - which in english means the broken neck steps. I would have had to have gone down these steps to get to the hostel from the train station. However after looking at the label on the map (and being able to translate it!) I decided to make alternative arrangements as I thought they would be some crazy steep steps that I would fall down (especially as I had my pack on!). However it turns out that the stairs got their name because a couple hundred years ago the port was at the bottom on the steps and the bars were at the top of the steps and wouldn't you know it, sailors would drink too much at the bars when they came ashore and would end up falling down the stairs on their way back to their ship.

OK this is funny too. Quebeccers are proudly of their culture and try to safeguard their language at all costs - almost nowhere do you see signs that have english on them - it's generally just French. This street sign is a good example of that. Also the guy at the hostel told us that it's illegal to have english on signs for buildings (altho I dont know how true that is...)

So, the reason that City Hall has it written in English was because Hotel de Ville, the French for city hall, kept being mistaken for an actual hotel by tourists and city workers got fed up with it. Yeah so dont know how true it is but thought I'd stick the photos in anyway ;)

So I'd already fallen a little bit in love with Quebec - it was a funky, vibrant city and I was rather taken with it. However just to add icing to the cake, the city decided to put on a free concert, fireworks and a street parade to celebrate the Olympics. This made the city even more alive! I couldn't quite work out if it was celebrating the success of the athletes in the Turino games or Vancouver winning the 2010 games but it didn't faze me for too long - I just partied with the rest of Quebec!

The concert - it was somewhat strange to see all these people sing along to some great (english) songs and then start chatting to each other in French!

The fireworks. Done in time to music, which I haven't experience many times before so it was pretty cool :)

Enjoying the festivities with Stephanie, a French girl I met at the hostel

The street parade the next morning, complete with Olympic Athletes!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I arrived in Ottawa on Wed 26 April and spent 2 days there. A nice enough city, but I didn't find it amazingly spectacular or anything. A lot of pretty, old buildings and statues (but I spose you get that in the capital city). Something that was interesting was the amount of french that was spoken out and about. However, it's not altogether surprising - all Government workers have to be bilingual and as Ottawa has a lot of Government offices, being the capital city, there is a lot of French spoken in the streets (and cafes I discovered!). It wasn't too bad, it gave me a chance to try and practice some french before I got to Quebec.

One thing that was quite cool was the hostel I stayed in - it used to be the Jailhouse and the dorms were all old jail cells - even the doors were the old bars!

The hostel - view from outside
My room! - I can assure you it's a very strange feeling to wake up to with a brick wall to the side of you and jail bars in front of you!

A look-see inside the Supreme Court

This is the best photo I seem to have taken of parliament (did I mention there were LOADS of school kids out and about - must be the season for it!)

A view from the Peace tower (the tower in the middle of parliament). Looking east I think...

Another shot of parliament, this time from some room that had some book in lying in a glass case. I know it sounds vague but there was no info anywhere about what this room was about, promise!

One of the aforementioned statues...

I snapped this on the train as I was leaving Ottawa, headed for Quebec on Thurs 27 Apr.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Toronto - Family Time

So I arrived in Toronto on Friday night and spent much of the weekend catching up with various family members. Thanks Navam Uncle and Sutharshini Aunty for having me, as well as for driving me around to meet all the relatives :) Thank you to all the other family that made such an effort to meet with me and feed me. It was lovely having some home cooked meals after having been away from amma's cooking for so long!

Navam uncle & Sutharshini aunty

and their boys... Ashwin, Calvin & Aravin

Ambika ammamma & Sivanathan mama

Nandini Aunty & Daya uncle

and their daughters, Sharaniya & Dharaniya

Siyaman, Vithuran, Sathiya Mami, me, Mayutharan, Mathuran (gopu uncle was at work)

Senthu Aunty, Pavithra & Sivanathan mama (seinthan uncle was at work too)

Baby aunty & Pathmanathan uncle

Simran (Paran's fiancee) & Paran (eldest son of Baby aunty and Pathmanthan uncle)

Nithy Uncle, Stephanie, Losani aunty, me & Mami

Mami, Shanthi uncle, Adrian, Sumathy aunty, Shamanthy

Monday, April 24, 2006

Niagara Falls

I went to Niagara Falls when I was last in Toronto in Dec 99 but seeing as though my aunt from Australia was here and she hadn't seen it before I decided to go along. Here are some pics.

The American Falls

The Canadian or Horseshoe Falls

Me on Maid of the Mist, the boat that goes out to the mist of the horseshoe falls. Quite a cool experience, the sound of the crashing water is sooo loud!

Journey Behind the Falls is an attraction you pay for but basically you get to walk along tunnels and can look out to the water from behind the waterfall (as the name suggests ;)

Man there are some clowns out there, someone tried going over the falls in this contraption. This dude happened to survive but lots dont...

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Canadian III - The Lakes (Winnipeg to Toronto)

Firstly it was mountains, then it was flat land and now the third and final leg of The Canadian was lakes! All very pretty and quite picturesque :)

For part of this trip, I was sitting next to a guy from Sioux Lookout, who was a train driver for CN rail (that's the freight company - VIA is just passenger services). I mentioned how I was totally loving the train ride and he said that when he got off the train he'd try and get me into the engine to have a look. Sure enough it worked out so he took the following photos for me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


So I got into Winnipeg midday Tues 18 April and checked into the hostel the same time as an Australian girl who had been on the train with me. We decided to wander around together - Winnipeg was a decent city, it's downtown isn't overly large (we covered most of the areas of interest that afternoon itself) but there were some nice old buildings.

This is the legislature building - Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba

On Wed I checked out the Royal Canadian Mint. I wasn't sure how interesting it would be but I had time to kill. It turned out to be quite interesting and I was quite surprised to find out that the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg is where NZ coins are minted!

They had this real gold bar on display (the dude guarding the gold bar took the photo for me), but bullion and commemorative coins are actually minted at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa.
I also checked out "The Forks" which is the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. It seems Winnipeg and Manitoba is prone to flooding, people were being evacuated from their flooded homes in Manitoba while I was there and I'm not surprised - check out how high the river levels are!