A Walk Through The Rockeries

Since returning from Europe, I’ve been spending time exploring my new neighbourhood on foot. I’ve already checked our McKay Lake and Beechwood Cemetery. This week, I took a walk though The Rockeries, a section of Rockcliffe Park, before descending down to the shores of the Ottawa River at the New Edinburgh Club.

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The park is home to Soper’s fountain, a piece of Parisian art that was purchased in 1912. Warren Soper was a wealthy entrepreneur in Ottawa who opened the city’s first telephone exchange.

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Standing a few metres away from the fountain are these two impressive columns from Ottawa’s original Carnegie Library that was built in 1906.

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After passing the columns, you can head downhill and cross the Rockcliffe Parkway. Along the shore of the Ottawa River is the old New Edinburgh club that dates back to the 1920s.

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The club has its own custom built iron bridge. There is a plaque that reads “Dominion Bridge” on one of the supporting struts.

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The building is painted in Red, White and Black, the colours of Ottawa’s sports teams.

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Exploring McKay Lake and The Pond

One of the best things about living in Ottawa is the easy access to nature.

After years of living in Ottawa’s downtown core, I now make my home in the Beechwood Village section of the city, which straddles the neighbourhoods of Vanier, New Edinburgh and Rockcliffe Park Village. There is a lot of green space around here. Maybe most impressive is McKay Lake and The Pond, part of the Caldwell-Carver Conservation Area.

 Ottawa Magazine wrote about The Pond in 2013:

“In the 1950s, as young families began to move into new housing in nearby Manor Park, The Pond turned into the neighbourhood swimming hole. The Pond, just 170 metres in length, belongs to everyone in Ottawa and is open at given hours for public swimming. Indeed, most of the people who swim there come from outside the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, local people have a special passion for their little lake, and they work hard to keep it safe and healthy.”

Local residents are allowed to swim here between 7am and 2pm. Now that fall has arrived, there aren’t many swimmers around, but the colours of autumn are on the trees. There are paths lining the shore around both bodies of water. I took a walk around the lake today, here are some of my favourite photos.

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Beechwood Cemetery in the Fall

Ottawa’s Beechwood Cemetery is one of Canada’s most prestigious and historic cemeteries. Designated as a National Historic site, it is open to visitors, who can stroll through the meticulously maintained grounds. It is the final resting place for over 75,000 Canadians including many important figures in Ottawa’s development during its early years as Canada’s Capital. There are also sections dedicated to the RCMP and Canada’s Military. Former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden also lies at Beechwood.

During autumn, the leaves on the century old trees change colour, making for some wonderful scenery within the city. Walking through the cemetery and reading the plaques that chronicle the accomplishments of the people buried there is inspiring. The legacies left behind by those who now rest at Beechwood invites reflection on one’s own life.

Here are some of my favourite scenes from the cemetery.

The RCMP Cemetery
The RCMP Cemetery

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A Sherman Tank at the Military Cemetery
A Sherman Tank at the Military Cemetery

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Throughout the cemetery there are plaques like this one, highlighting important historical figures.
Throughout the cemetery there are plaques like this one, highlighting important historical figures.

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I also enjoyed seeing a memorial to the freedom fighters of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Hungary is a country that I’ve spent a great deal of time in. I know a lot about its history and culture. Glad to see one of its most tragic moments is recognized here in Ottawa.

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Right now, the leaves on the trees are changing colours. Red, Orange and Yellow colours are found throughout the cemetery.

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Whirlwind Three Days Through Germany

From Prague, I had three nights before I needed to be in Frankfurt for a flight back to Canada. Over the course of roughly 72 hours, I was able to visit three cities: Nuremberg (a first for me), Berlin and finally, Frankfurt.

Nuremberg

Nuremberg is an impressive little city with a cozy downtown with that has many pedestrian streets filled with shops and cafés. There is a castle that towers over the city, from which you can get a panoramic view of the entire city. The metro system is impressive (like in all major German cities) and features automatic driverless cars on two of its lines.

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Lorenzkirche
Entrance to the Weisser Turm Ubahn Station
Entrance to the Weisser Turm Ubahn Station
Rathenau Platz Ubahn Station
Rathenau Platz Ubahn Station

Berlin

Next up was Berlin. I spent a good part of my day there on my feet, walking through the districts of Mitte, Kreuzberg and Schöneberg. All in all, I probably put in a dozen kilometres on foot.

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Oranienburger Straße, the synagogue (left) and the TV Tower.
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Along the River Spree
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One of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall.
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Kumpir, a Turkish dish from Café Peri.

Frankfurt

I was only able to spend a Sunday morning in Frankfurt before I had to get to the airport. The city was very quiet as shops were closed and Saturday night partiers had gone home.

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Römerberg in the centre of the old city
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Frankfurter Dom
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The Euro Sign at Willy-Brant Platz, just before sunrise.
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Memorial at the old Jewish Cemetary
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A Frankfurt Tram

Throughout my travels, I used Flixbus, a discount bus company based in Germany with routes connecting major cities in Europe. The buses were affordable, comfortable and come equipped with Wi-Fi. If you book a few days in advance you can get some very nice fares. For example, my trip from Vienna to Prague was only 12 Euros.

My time in Germany was short but enjoyable. I hope to be back soon.

Visiting Prague – September 2016 – My Favourite Photos

From Vienna, I boarded a Flixbus for 15 Euros and headed to Prague. This was my first visit to the Czech Republic. I spent a week here and found a city centre that is jam packed with tourists. By Central/Eastern European standards the city feels a little bit more affluent than most. While it doesn’t have the sprawling views, magestic Parliament and large boulevards that you’ll find in Budapest, the old city and the surrounding areas are quite attractive. Cobblestone streets are lined with colourful buildings. There is impressive architecture throughout.

Overall, the city is pleasant and not very expensive. I can see why many westerners choose to vacation or even relocate here.

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Prague’s famous rooftops
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The Czech Senate
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St. Nicholas Church with Trams in front.
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A local school: Základní škola a mateřská škola Lyčkovo náměstí
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Prague main train station
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Kobylisy Metro Station
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Prague has many colourful buildings
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A rainy day at Wenceslas Square / Václavské náměstí in Müstek
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A heritage tram
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Karlovo náměstí metro station

Visiting Vienna – September 2016 – My Favourite Photos

After leaving Szeged, I spent the better part of a week visiting Vienna. This was my third visit to the Austrian capital, one of my favourite cities. There is grandiose, colourful architecture just about everywhere you look, a public transit system that is incredibly efficient and countless great coffee shops to enjoy a drink while getting some work done. The quality of life that Vienna residents enjoy is very high. I have heard that since the end of the Second World War, Austrians enjoy the highest quality of life standards in the world. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it’s certainly believable.

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Vienna Skyline at the Danube near Schwedenplatz
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Burgtheatre and a tram
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Night time Tram at Schottentor
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Austrian Parliament
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Pilgramgasse Ubahn Station
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Prater Hauptallee
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Das Möbel café
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Ströck Café
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Coffee Pirates

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Visiting Szeged, Hungary: My Favourite Photos

Szeged is a city in the south of Hungary, close to the border with Serbia. It is Hungary’s third largest city and is home to a well-regarded university. The influx of students gives the small city an international flavour. I often heard English being spoken on the streets and in the shops. English comprehension among locals is high.

A small, attractive city of about 170,000 built along the river Tisza, the city centre is has many interesting cafés, restaurants and some impressive architecture. There are many large squares and wide boulevards. The public transit system is excellent for a city of its size.

I spent five nights in Szeged. These are some of my favourite photos.

 

Szeged Water Tower, Built in 1904
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Another large water tower with a classic tram stopped in front.
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Monument to Hungarians living in Romania
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Grapes at Sándorfalva, just north of Szeged
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Votive Church By Night (Szeged Dom)

Summer 2016 in Budapest: My Favourite Photos

I was able to spend the month of August in Budapest, Hungary.

It’s a city that I know very well, having already spent a year there through 2014-15. It was fun to return and explore some old haunts, catch up with friends and even discover a few new hidden gems.

Here are some of my favourite photos from my visit.

Liberty Bridge Open to Pedestrians Only
Liberty Bridge Open to Pedestrians Only
Rooftops of Pest
Rooftops of Pest
The Danube, Chain Bridge, and Parliament.
Astoria Metro Station
Astoria Metro Station
Örs vezér tere is the eastern terminus of the M2 Metro Line
Örs vezér tere is the eastern terminus of the M2 Metro Line
Liberty Bridge at Night
Liberty Bridge at Night
Budapest Skyline on the Danube River
Budapest Skyline on the Danube River
St. Stephen's Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Ferenciek tere traffic
Ferenciek tere traffic
Heroes Square
Heroes Square

You can read more about my visits to Budapest and Hungary by visiting the Travel section of my website.

If you like my photos, follow me on Instagram @jeremymaclaine. I post photos there every day.

Visiting Esztergom and Štúrovo

For many centuries, Esztergom was the most important city in Hungary, acting as the capital from the 10th till the mid-13th century. It was here that the coronation of Saint Stephen of Hungary took place, in the year 1000 or 1001. With his ascension to the throne, Esztergom became the political, cultural and religious centre of the Hungarian nation.

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Today, the city is home to some 30,000 people. It lies on the banks of the Danube river, across the water is Slovakia and the town of Štúrovo. The two towns are connected by the Mária Valéria bridge, which has no border control.

Esztergom lies on the left, Sturovo on the right.
Esztergom lies on the left, Sturovo on the right.

You can easily reach Esztergom by train from Budapest. Trains leave the Nyugati train station every hour and a round trip costs about $10 Canadian or 7 Euros. The journey is slow, with many stops through the Budapest suburbs and small country villages, but the train is modern, making for a pleasant enough trip.

Esztergom’s basilica and castle are built atop a hill with sprawling views of the surrounding countryside and the Danube river.

The view from the Slovakian side of the river.
The view from the Slovakian side of the river.
Castle Hill
Castle Hill
Small Dungeon by the castle
Small Dungeon by the castle
Sunset at a sculpture depicting the coronation of St. Stephen.
Sunset at a sculpture depicting the coronation of St. Stephen.
The winding stairs up to the castle hill.
The winding stairs up to the castle hill.
Sunset views from the lookout spots.
Sunset views from the lookout spots.
A re-creation of the famous Holy Crown of Hungary with its bent cross.
A re-creation of the famous Holy Crown of Hungary with its bent cross.
Saint Stephen's likeness in front of a restaurant that claims to have been in operation since 1659.
Saint Stephen’s likeness in front of a restaurant that claims to have been in operation since 1659.
Saint Stephen Square. There is likely one of these in every Hungarian town.
Saint Stephen Square. There is likely one of these in every Hungarian town.

Across the river is Štúrovo, Slovakia. It’s a small town, with a mostly ethnically Hungarian population. You’ll hear Hungarian spoken on the streets and you can even pay for your food and drinks in Hungarian Forints at the local restaurants and cafés.

Crossing into Slovakia.
Crossing into Slovakia.
On the Slovak side of the bridge.
On the Slovak side of the bridge.
Central Štúrovo.
Central Štúrovo.
Bilingual street signs
Bilingual street signs
Welcome to Štúrovo.
Welcome to Štúrovo.

The convenience of cheap and hourly trains running between Budapest and Esztergom makes for a fun and easy daytrip. Esztergom is a nice enough town, with an impressive history to merit a visit on its own. Being able to cross the border and visit a different country only adds to the novelty. I enjoyed my daytrip to Esztergom and Štúrovo and would recommend it to someone looking for a change of pace during a longer stay in Budapest.