We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Ottawa, what is it?
Ottawa is the capital of Canada. It is also the 4th largest city behind Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In addition to all these nice features, Ottawa is the most educated city in Canada.
Where is this?
Ottawa, located in the province of Ontario, is one of the major Canadian cities located in the Eastern Canada. Two hours to the south of Montreal, and just across the river from city of Gatineau in Quebec. So, yes, Ottawa is at the extreme east of Ontario, and it is the Ottawa river the border between this province and the province of Quebec.
Well, first of all, Ottawa is a beautiful city with plenty of history. It is our national capital… and I lived in the region for a pretty good amount of time, a few years back. Funny thing is that, despite having very good friends living in the area, I had never have the time to visit the city with Mr. Love. Every time I went there, it was on my own as Mishter was busy working. So, as his birthday was coming and, as we desperately needed a break from everything that was happening in our lives (remember this?), I thought “why not bringing this airplane obsessed kiddo to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum located in Ottawa?”.
So, we left Montreal early in the morning because even if there’s a 2 hour route to do, we wanted to stop at a gas station near Rigaud, Quebec to get fuel for the car… and for us (there’s a Tim Hortons next to the station). We arrived to Ottawa and decided to go straight to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. As I already hinted above, my mishter is obsessed with airplanes and anything aviation haha. However, he had never visited an aviation museum before! As it turns out, the Ottawa’s one is considered by CNN as one of the best 14 aviation museums in the world. We still have 13 to go, but hey, not like we didn’t like to travel haha.
After our visit, we went straight to a nice place called Angela’s bed & breakfast to leave our packs, get some rest and then start a tour of the Glebe, a super nice neighbourhood not very known by foreigners! At this point, you should be asking “didn’t she mention that she had friends there? Why did they go to a b&b instead of staying at some friend’s place?”. I have an answer for you: our first night, we wanted a more romantic getaway and that’s why we booked a room in the above mentioned place. The following day, we picked our stuff and went to stay with one of my very good friends who has a wonderful place right downtown.
Once at my friend’s place, she and her partner gave me and my Love a tour of Chinatown, Preston street (a.k.a Little Italy) and Wellington street on the Hintonburg area. For me, it was really more about walking these places again and seeing that, in some cases, things have really changed, for the best! We of course ate Pho at my favourite place!! And after a long nap, we got all dressed up to hit the Ottawa’s night scene, meaning, we went to the Mercury Lounge! I have to confess that I was very tired haha, my recovery was still ongoing (still ongoing to be precise), but it was Love’s birthday and we wanted to celebrate it big time. I just decided to be wise and listen to my body: in case of extreme tiredness, we would call a cab or an uber and then go back to my friend’s place. All ended super well, I sat for moments to recharge the battery, so that helped throughout the night. We met new friends, Love danced and enjoyed being the birthday boy, which means getting a lot of free booze and all the attention. We were happy and relaxed, and stopped thinking about our recent loss.
The following day, we slept until late, obviously haha. Then we packed our stuff and I brought Love to one of my fave places in Ottawa: The Scone Witch! This restaurant has been in my heart like forever haha. I’ve been a big fan since they were in their first location on Albert Street, just next to where I used to work! Even here in Montreal, where we have so many coffee shops and bakeries, I have never found anything like the scones from the Scone Witch, like seriously never. We had a delicious brunch, just perfect to get our energy back and hit the road back home!
So, what are the highlights in here?
Before going into detail with respect to the places we visited, please let me explain something. As I lived in the area, this was not a very touristic visit for me. That is why you don’t see anything about the Parliament Hill, or even more detail regarding the Byward Market (other than the Mercury Lounge that is located right there). For me, those were everyday places and Love knew them because it’s what every tourist visits. I wanted to give him a taste of real Ottawa and yes, remove from his head the idea that it’s a boring, bureaucratic city. Now, back to business.
Angela’s bed and breakfast – first of all, it is a beautiful place. The diversity in the home decor, the warm reception, Angela’s friendliness were top notch. Not to mention that everything was super clean from bedroom to bathrooms to halls, kitchen, everything. Add to this, the fact that the location is just perfect. Just next to the noisy Bank street, but far enough to have a quiet night… not that the Glebe’s the most noisy place on earth haha. Thing to be noticed: the breakfast is not included in the price (or it wasn’t in our price rate). There was an extra 12$CAD for what it sounded like a delicious, organic, locally produce made meal. As we’re not a big morning eaters, we opted out and decided to go to one of the many nice coffee shops on Bank st. Other than that, nothing to say about this cool b&b. Oh yes, they have an impressive book collection! The bookworm in me felt like in Heaven!
Maker House Co – we discovered this place located in Hintonburg when walking with our friends. If you visit their website, there is also a store in the Byward Market. What I really liked about the Maker House is the fact that they only sell products made by Canadian artists. The Hintonburg store is set up in such a nice way! It really showcases the products that go from furniture and homewares to lifestyle goodies (bath, apparel, beauty, candles!) and prints, cards, etc. The only thing that we would have loved to see, well listen to, was a more local Canadian playlist. The one that was playing made sense and not: I won’t mention any band names, but I’ll say that they were quite mainstream. Canadian yes, but, my friend and I felt like it would be better to have more local music, if the concept of the store is to showcase Canadian artists in terms of crafts and visual arts, why not extending this to music? Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, even Calgary scenes have for sure a lot of material to put on a playlist. Maybe they do this, and we just went in a regular moment, musically speaking.
Purple Urchin – I discovered this local brand back in 2014 when a friend stayed at my place and forgot her facial cleanser when she left! Because neither me or my friend were planning a visit to Ottawa or Montreal anytime soon, she decided to get a new bottle and gave me the one she forgot. It was love at first touch! The smell is wonderful, so fresh, and my face just loves it. Ever since, I got a bottle of this product every time I’m in town. I used to go to their store on Somerset, in the Chinatown… but they moved to a new location… in the Glebe! And the opening day was exactly on the day we were visiting the area!!! That is why they had nice sales and promotions. Of course I jumped in haha and got my cleanser as well as an oil for Love’s beard.
Bridgehead – This of course is the ultimate local coffee shop in town! It was one of my favourite places when I lived in the area, I even had some dates in one or two of the several locations they have haha. Needless to say that my very fave date was the one I had with Love a few weeks back hihi. We went to the shop located on Bank street and the 2nd Avenue, in the Glebe. What I like about Bridgehead is not only the local side of it, but also that they offer fair trade and organic products. Yes, it’s not the cheapest place, but the coffee, the tea or the hot chocolate worth every penny we spend!
The Works – for all those burger lovers, this is THE place when in Ottawa. There are about seven locations all around the city, the most central being those of Westboro, the one at the Glebe and one in Manor Park. I’ve personally visited the first and second one, and that many times haha. The Works was actually my self indulgence corner every two or three months. I’ve been there with friends, family members and this time, with Love. The burger selection is impressive! I mean, Love was so overwhelmed by the menu, it took him a while to decide what to order! But the results were worth the moment of indecision as he loved his burger.
So, this was my Ottawa. As you can see, the city is more than just offices, hills and bureaucracy. It is a beautiful place with amazing landscapes, perfect for families and yes, it’s not as dynamic as big metropolis like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, but Ottawa has its own charm worth at least one visit!