Rescued Post: Ottawa, Ottawa, Ottawa
This is a post I was able to rescue. I loved this trip to Ottawa. (the links are broken. I will try to fix them or remove them) I took this trip in September 2013.
Over the last few days, I have been having this conversations with many Ottawatonians. Clearly the ministry of tourism is not doing their job– AT HOME. Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Yes, the capital of all of Canada. As in ALL of Canada, that very BIG country to our north. It is the 4th largest city in Canada and one of the safest cities in the world. While a bi-lingual city, English is the most widely language spoken. The transit system (the bus) is clean, neat, easy to navigate and the drivers, uber friendly.
While perhaps not the cultural and performing arts hub that Toronto is, there is a thriving arts culture in Ottawa and I saw many street artists, outdoor sculptures and pockets of nature and art combined. Not to mention the NATIONAL MUSEUM is in Ottawa.
There is an amazing amount of public green space, an amazing trail along the river, historical tours around the downtown area, a variety of open air markets, most notably, the ByWard Market, which is even better in person, the website does not do it justice. (again, hello ministry of tourism.)
Did I mention that the ethnic diversity of the city means there is a variety of very yummy food to try. From classic pub to a dosa food truck.
Lest you think it is only people on the street who thought I was a bit a batty for visiting their fine city, I will introduce you to Mr. Elliott– in Immigration. That’s right, I got referred for special questioning. Why? Because I look scary after getting only 4 hours of sleep the night before and leaving my house at 4:20 am on Monday morning? No– because I was coming to Ottawa for pleasure. No conference to attend, no theater tickets in hands, no festival to attend. No friends to visit. During the week. (again– ministry of tourism… so not selling it.) They were convinced I was coming to Ottawa for business and lying about it. Um, no. Did I write? Yes, but not for pay. Did I nap, yes. Did I do yoga, yes. Did I eat, yes? Did I take in the sites, yes. Did I work? Only if you count doing the dishes in my apartment and washing my very sweaty and gross yoga clothing, so I could do yoga again the next day.
Not working. Relaxing.
So when Mr. Elliott asked me for the 4th time– WHY Ottawa, I sighed and said: It has been an incredibly long summer at home with two very busy kiddos. My husband, an airline pilot, worked more this summer than usual, he has been to Ottawa many times and spoke very favorably about Ottawa, using yelp, the lonely planet and other websites, I ascertained that it was an ideal place for me for me to relax, have my own yoga retreat of sorts and to basically be able to indulge in some site seeing, without renting a car or making myself overly stressed out. In short this trip is about me doing what I want, when I want, without the demands of kiddos. And frankly, he had these four days off in a row and I pounced on them. They happen to be Monday through Thursday.
He looked at me strangely and said: so peace and quiet?
He smiled: well we have loads of that here. An abundance.
He stamped my form and wished me well.
I could tell he thought I was off my rocker, but clearly not coming to Ottawa, for business and lying about it.
Honestly, I cannot understand, why anyone would be shocked. Ottawa, from what I could tell, rocks. It is easy to navigate, both walking and via the bus. The apartment I rented through AirBnB, was amazing and in a great location.
I ate amazing pho, twice at Saigon Boy. Very reasonably priced and tasty.
I had a yummy dosa, from Dosa Inc, a dosa food truck, which parks near where I am staying.
I did two amazing hot yoga classes at Yogatown on Preston St. (an easy walk from my apartment.) Robin and Laurie lead two very challenging, positive and uplifting classes. Yogatown is possibly one of the coolest and neatest studios I have ever been to. The showers are amazing and the complimentary tea so tasty after a very hard class. I can also confidently say, I have never sweat so much and felt so good.
I took the Haunted Ottawa tour, which is a rich mix of history and ghost stories. The evening was perfect. It was fun and a great way to see a side of the city, you might not otherwise get to experience.
The ByWard Market was very nice. It is a web of stalls and vendors. Some crafts people. I had Quebec raspberries, ground cherries, a gluten-free cookie, and some sushi. Just around the corner from the market, I stumbled upon Planet Coffee. I had some tea and wrote for a good hour in their outdoor eating space.
Then I decided I would walk a bit and see what I could discover.
I had been planning a trip to the National Museum, but the weather. Too beautiful to spend time inside. I mean, this was one of those days were the air is the tiniest bit crisp and the sky is a shade of blue that just… well it is my favorite shade of blue. So I do what I do best. wander in approximately the direction I think I should go, to hit the bus stop and see what I find.
I found Notre Dame. Beautiful. Breathtaking actually. I stumbled upon embassy row. May I just say that the US Embassy is ridiculously to obscenely large. Seriously, I know, the US is a big country and Canada too, but it was a bit much.
The Embassy of Kuwait was actually a very interesting building architecturally speaking.
Across the street from the US embassy, there was some sort of protest and hunger strike. I am not sure what they protesting exactly.
Across that street is the National Museum, I took the time to look at the outdoor sculpture. Most notably a giant spider and some statue that looks indigenous.
I am not sure of the name of the park, perhaps Confederation Park, but I walked the park. Lovely. Such a lovely blend of green space, historical walking tour and sculpture. As I walked along the river/canal, I stumbled on a public art exhibit, about what makes a person Canadian. Trying for some definition or identity. The art was by students and it was amazing. I crossed over the river and checked out the canal and the By Museum, before calling it a day and walking down Sparks Street, a shopping and eating hub. Live street musicians were out in full force.
I had hoped for a dosa, but the truck wasn’t there, so I settled for Pho.
I am sure I could have followed the tour guide-book and attempted to see everything. Honestly, that isn’t me. I love to wander.
After my wandering, I can honestly say: Yes, Ottawa. Seriously. Yes, Ottawa. It is a beautiful, history rich city, with beautifully maintained parks. The bus is easy to get the hang of and navigate. And the Ottawatonians? They are friendly and welcoming.