A recent trip to Ottawa contained some unexpected detours with an international theme. As our visit coincided with Doors Open Ottawa, we had access to a number of places that are not normally that accessible to the general public.
Our journey began with a visit to the Brunei High Commission on Laurier Avenue. Brunei is a tiny country on the island of Borneo…but it has a lot of wealth. The Sultan of Brunei’s palace is apparently the largest residential palace in the world and also the largest residence of any type in the world, at 2,152,782 square feet.
It will come as no surprise that Brunei’s High Commission in Ottawa is a spectacular building. It is also known as Stadacona Hall (see photo at the top of this post): it has had many famous occupants over the years, including Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John. A. Macdonald. We weren’t able to take photographs inside but we did meet the High Commissioner himself. And yes, the interior is very nice too.
Just a block or two away from the Brunei High Commission was another spectacular building: Munross Mansion, home to “Le Cordon Bleu Paris – Culinary Arts Institute”. We had all kinds of high hopes for this place, particularly as it was midday and we were getting hungry. Maybe there would be free samples? Alas, the line (as you can see from the photo above) was very long and we were told to expect a wait of 45-60 minutes. As this is an annual event and there were many other places to see, we decided to take a pass and arrive earlier next year.
Next on our agenda was a visit to the Embassy of the Czech Republic on Cooper Street. While many of the surrounding buildings can best be described as “functional”, this is a charming old house dating back to 1879. As one might expect, I talked about hockey with one of the Czech representatives!
The final stop on our international tour was the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, located on Delaware Avenue in the primarily residential “Golden Triangle”. Here too, we met the Ambassador and familiarized ourselves with a faraway country that does not have a high profile in Canada. The monument in front of the embassy is apparently the largest sculpture ever made (outside Armenia) from a single piece of tufa.
There were a few other embassies that we were unable to see. We missed out on Algeria, Trinidad & Tobago, Croatia, Hungary, and the United States (which required advance booking and was “sold out” by the time we realized what was going on). However, as you can see from the photos, we did enjoy a nice Thai meal the night before.
We were staying in the Bell’s Corners neighbourhood: this is considerably west of downtown and was part of the former city of Nepean. Fortunately, one of the city’s highest-rated Thai restaurants was right next door. “Thai Flame” is in an undistinguished strip mall but the food was very good. The coconut rice was particularly enjoyable and perfectly balanced the burn of my red curry dish. It once again confirmed my firm belief that most of the best food in Ottawa is located far away from the usual tourist haunts.
Stay tuned for more on Ottawa and the surrounding area!