I have heard a lot of things about Ottawa, as well as I heard some about Toronto before moving there. A lot of people say that one day in Ottawa is enough. But how can it be enough? It is the Capital of Canada. It contains a lot of history and even in winter, you can find something to do.
I went to Ottawa for Valentine’s day week end. It was still Winterlude. Winterlude is a festival happening in winter where you can find a lot of ice sculptures and winter activities. On saturday night there was a concert a bit like the Igloofest in Montreal.
The picture below is about what is going to happen in Toronto this year: The Pan Am Games. They are like the Olympic games but only for countries that are in America. But that will be later this year (in june) so I won’t be there to see them unfortunately. The ice sculpture was one among many of them in the park.
Though, it was very VERY cold so we decided to go in a bar we had heard about by many people “Hearts and crown”. This is a very cool bar! There are so many different rooms, you wouldn’t believe it. There are some benches that are closable by doors (nice for dates or romantic diners). There is also live music. We were just next to the group and we could hear ourselves and the music was very good! A Lumineers/Mumford and sons sound.
Flag day in Ottawa
Sunday was Flag day in Canada.
Flag day celebrates the creation of the flag as it is today. On this particular Sunday, it turned fifty. As we went to the Parliament on Sunday, we could see a lot of flag everywhere in the city, and in particular in front of the Parliament.
The visit is free but if you want a particular language (French or English) you have to go get a ticket first (and I would advice you to do it in advance). On week ends you can see the two chambers where the laws are debated and decided (House of Commons and Senate) but on week days parliamentarians have to do their jobs so the only way to see the room is to attend the debate as a visitor. The most amazing thing about this building is the library. It had been saved from a fire and it is worth seing. If you had to go to the Parliament for one thing, it would be to see it. It has an incredible style, all made in wood, with a dome on the center that lights up the room. Some additional lights that looks like streets lamps enhance the all room. It is just stunning.
After the parliament we went for a brunch in a place that was really crowded the day before: Cacao 70. Yeah, it is all about chocolate. The food is amazing and whatever you will order, you will get chocolate whether it is a side with fruits or inside your plate. The funny story is that I ordered the plate you can see on the picture below and they “forgot” to cook it. So when my friend’s meal arrived, I didn’t have anything to eat!… They apologized and offered me the meal that they made afterwards, and it was worth it!
With only half a day left in Ottawa, we did what we first came there to do: we went iceskating on the ‘Rideau’. The Rideau is one of the longest natural ice ring in the world. It is a river that goes into a lake and when winter comes, they both become icy and people ice skate on it. It is almost eight kilometers long (or 90 world ice ring) from downtown to the lake and totally free if you have your skates. If you need to rent, for one hour it is around $13 and for a sledge it is around $20. That was incredible but we were frozen to death with the -40°C felt. We were clearly under-equipped. We stayed for half an hour before we couldn’t bare it anymore.
I liked Ottawa. It is quite a small city compared to Montréal or Toronto but it is full of charm. It is strange to think that it is the Capital of Canada. I think everybody underestimate Ottawa. How many times I heard Montréalers say “There is nothing to do in Ottawa”. Well, people live there so there must be stuff to do right? More over, if you compare Paris to a country side city, people would say the same. It is less busy than bigger cities in Canada but I liked the atmosphere even though it was crazy cold. Maybe we went there when stuff were happening, but I am sure in summer it is also enjoyable!