On the last leg of my Canadian adventure, I headed to the capital – Ottawa. Although it is located in Ontario, it is literally on the border of Quebec, the French-speaking province. One strange thing I noticed on my drive from Mont Tremblant, Quebec, to Ottawa, Ontario, was that there were absolutely no signs telling you the distance or directions to Ottawa – not one! In fact, I saw no signs for Ottawa until we reached Ottawa city limits – very strange. And, it was very obvious when you crossed over the city/province border – all signs suddenly turned from French to English!
Ottawa is a beautiful city and definitely a must if you are touring central/Eastern Canada. There was so much to do and see in the city that we were not able to fit everything we wanted to do into 2 days. Instead, we concentrated on 5 main sites – My Top 5 Ottawa Attractions:
Chateau Laurier – We stayed at the amazingly regal Fairmont Chateau Laurier in the heart of Ottawa. With the look and feel of a castle, this hotel certainly could be a destination on it’s own. From the pointed rooftops and spires to the gorgeous lobby, the Chateau Laurier more than lived up to my expectations. And, it was a five-minute walk to Parliament….
Parliament – Mosaika – Canada’s Parliament is a great site to see on its own. We enjoyed walking around the old, character-rich buildings during the day; however, we especially enjoyed the sound and light show, Mosaika, that is held nightly throughout the summer. The 30-minute show, where viewers sit on the Parliament lawn, was a historic and cultural look at Canada, touching on all of the provinces. I’m not Canadian, but I felt a huge sense of pride and admiration for the country after seeing the show.
Parliament – Changing of the Guard – After the evening show, we were up and out the door early the next morning in order to take in another Ottawa favorite, the changing of the guard. The great thing about this ceremony is that viewers get to see the action (including the guards) up close. It was very exciting seeing the “old guard” pass to the new guard, who you could actually walk with down the street. I haven’t been to England’s changing of the guard in years so I can’t recall how similar/different Canada’s ceremony is – other than the guards wearing red coats and tall black furry hats.
Byward Market – Another attraction within walking distance of our hotel was the Byward Market. The market is a collection of stands, stores, and restaurants, spanning several streets in downtown Ottawa. We especially liked this area for the great people watching and the restaurants. If you do find yourself in Ottawa and in need of a dinner reservation, I highly recommend Vittoria Trattoria. We had great service at dinner and one of the best meals of our entire trip!
Rideau Canal – Just a few steps from our hotel lobby was the entrance to the Rideau Canal, a historic waterway that stretches from Ottawa and the Ottawa River 202 kilometers south to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River at Kingston, Ontario. The canal sports festivals all throughout the year. In the summer, adventurists can canoe and kayak down the canal, while in the winter, the canal is frozen to create a huge outdoor skating rink. It was also a GREAT place to run – no stopping for traffic lights for miles and miles!!
Although Ottawa may have been the last stop on my Canadian Adventure, the city reignited my interest in getting to know more about our neighbors to the north.