A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

On August 6th, 1945, the atomic bomb “Little Boy” exploded roughly 180 meters (590 feet) straight up above this quiet spot on a side-street of modern day Hiroshima, Japan. Atlas Obscura 

Upon our arrival in Hiroshima, we were fortunate enough to have booked a walking tour with an amazing guide, Keiko, from which we learned quite a bit about the history of Hiroshima. Keiko’s own father, who lived 40 kilometres from the city was visiting Hiroshima that fateful morning and was at the train station when “Little Boy” hit the city. Fortunately, as he was wearing a white t-shirt, his burns were limited to his limbs and face. But from that point on, he never talked about his experience, not even to his daughter who became a guide and recounts this tragic story almost every single day. Some want to bury these memories while others need to voice them so we never forget.

Hiroshima has a beautiful way, however, to vow for peace and prosperity. This is done through paper cranes that are made, bought and sent to Hiroshima by the millions every year. The story goes that this little girl who was a toddler at the time of the explosion developed leukemia. She was told if she made 1,000 paper cranes, her wishes would come true. She was indeed able to complete the cranes before her death, and the paper cranes became the symbol of peace for the city and country as a whole.

Walking through the city and learning about nuclear power was as beautiful as it was horrifying. It seems the world needs to be shown devastation for it to work toward peace and harmony. And even then, history keeps repeating itself and we keep electing leaders for whom world peace is second to wealth and profitability.

As for our accommodations, well, our Canadian backs (or knees!!) are simply not made for mats on the floor to sleep, eat and play. As much as I wanted the true Japanese experience, getting to the floor and up put a real strain on my body and my poor feet took the brunt of it. I feel like an injured duck walking through the streets of the city while beautiful kimono-clad women walk gracefully by.

In the city of York

When in York, ghosts and shadows surround you. The history of this majestic city, much of it tragic, lives in the walls of the old city. By following the trail of ghosts from the past, we got to learn about the city’s history. The guided terror trail we chose to follow led us through some old medieval streets from the Shambles to Swine Lane bypassing Gr_pe Lane (you may substitute for an ‘a’ or an ‘o’ whichever you like and whichever reference you may want to give it), going around York Minster and Constantine’s statue all the while skipping through each intersection. Yes, you read correctly, this guided walk was… let’s just say unusual (ou spécial pour les bons Canadiens français 🙂 ).

So this young actor-guide actually made us hold hands in a single file and then skip while crossing the street. I may be a French-Canadian of Irish descent, but I am more English than none when it comes to holding a stranger’s hand so let’s just say the walk did not exactly start on the right (skipping) foot. The oral history shared, however, was interesting if not downright scary. I could probably go on for an hour and a half, as long as the walk itself, to explain all its intricacies, but to keep you from closing your browser, I will stick to two references. The first being that, as we passed through the Jewish quarter, we were told of Richard the Lionheart’s search of war money and the following rumors against the Jewish community members (regarding them coveting money). Fearing for their lives, the Jews, upon hearing this rumor, sought refuge in Clifford’s Tower. Knowing that they would either be murdered or forcibly baptized by their attacker should they choose to evade the tower, 150 Jews chose to meet death at their own hands – the father killing his children and wife before turning the sword on himself. This senseless massacre took place on March 16, 1190. This date does live in infamy and is remembered each year. Every society has played its role in trying to be victors and erasing another’s beliefs and customs, but after following the trail of the Jacobites and my own heritage, this walk left me somewhat drained.

Now let’s lighten up this dialogue and highlight the good, the bad & the ugly of this marvelous trip.

Trafalgar Studios

The Good can be many things, but I’ve chosen Orlando Bloom’s play, Killer Joe, which we saw yesterday afternoon. We were sitting in row A, seats 8 & 9 which were right on the floor (the ACTUAL STAGE FLOOR), as in we were like three feet from the actors, as in I was three feet from… Orlando Bloom (ORLANDO BLOOM!!!). Ok, the play is dark and disturbing and I’m sure many North Americans, in most scenes, think of crazy (good!) Matthew McConaughey but dear Spaghetti Monster, we were in spitting distance of the actors!

On to the Bad and to the second reference to the Terror Trail guided walk. As we were walking around York Minster, the guide told us another story about a little house kitty-corner to the Minster. It was a house in which 24 members had died of the plague. The only people remaining were a family of three – the mom, dad, and 7-year-old daughter. Then one night, the mother saw red marks on the little girl’s throat. Thinking it was the first sign of the plague, she put the girl to bed, painted a big red X on the front door, locked it and left with her husband. The following morning, the little girl found herself alone in the house and hungry. It is told that for three weeks, she cried from her bedroom window asking for food. Not one soul stopped to help her; all presuming she had the plague. The house was right in front of a market and just behind a huge church and all that has been recorded is the bishop’s diary of the time which says that when passing that corner to the church, he had to raise his voice to be heard over the cries of a child. After it was clear that the little girl was no longer alive, they went to get her and realized she never had the plague but a simple case of child-onset measles. This poor little girl died of starvation. The bad is that I believe the same would occur today as much as I want to believe in the goodness of humanity.

Our Fancy Vauxhall

And now on to the Ugly. The ugly in this case is spelled Enterprise Rent-A-Car. This cute little company just started using iPads to conduct its business but, as with new technology, agents sometimes make mistakes, and our specific agent upon renting the car lost all our information after we had swiped our credit card. When Justin went into the office to re-enter his information, the agent told him the payment had not gone through and to swipe once more. Well… two separate charges are clearly shown on our credit card! (surprise, surprise) We have now been sending emails and calling for 11 days to no avail. The couple of agents we did speak with assured us this would be taken care of, but the charge is still there and we will probably have to contest it with our credit card company once we are back home. The time will come when Enterprise will have to contend with the wrath of Anne!

So this is it, I bid you farewell United Kingdom! Until we meet again… love, Anne

Enjoying the city!


PS Here is my list of books read during this trip:

  1. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah;
  2. 1984 by George Orwell;
  3. The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnston;
  4. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (still in progress)

All excellent books!!!