Arriving in Ottawa just after 5pm, we quickly dropped our bags off at the hotel before meeting Jantine from Ottawa Tourism who would be spending the next day showing us around Canada’s capital city. Aware that Alex and I were ravenous after a long day of traveling, Jantine had kindly booked us into a charming little restaurant called (wait for it…) The Black Tomato. Now that’s a great name. Favourite new restaurant? We think so.
In all seriousness though, the food was delicious and the locally brewed craft beers made it extra special. It wasn’t long before the combination of beer and comfort food had us craving our beds, however, so we made our way back through the beautifully lit city to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Having enjoyed breakfast and repacked our bags for the onward journey to Montreal we would be taking later that day, we met Jantine in the lobby of our hotel before making our way to Victoria Island for an enchanting First Nations Experience. When we got there we were able to wander past authentic wigwams and tipis before watching traditional dancers perform in brightly colored and symbolic clothing. We were told how these dances were often performed by hunters and warriors who returned to their villages and told stories of their adventures through movement. With a view of Parliament Hill and the river in the background, the connection between modern day Canada and the First Nations was more apparent than ever. An integral part of the country’s history and identity, I’d highly recommend you delve into the unique cultures of the First Nations in order to truly understand Canada.Read more
From Victoria Island we began to head towards the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. On the way, we made a quick stop at the Canadian Museum of History. Jantine was eager for us to take a look at the architecture of the building and it was just as breathtaking as she’d described. The whole structure is curved in accordance with the designer’s aboriginal beliefs that sharp corners held bad spirits. The effect is astounding. The building is a natural addition to the riverside, overlooking Parliament Hill and the city beyond. Huge glass windows continue the theme of fluidity that the curves initiate and the connection between the contents of the museum and the heritage lands beyond is easily identifiable. I could have spent all day taking in this incredible building, but we had a biplane to catch, so it was back in the car and on to our next stop.
So used to the long processes of airports, I was surprised when we were loaded into the cockpit of the biplane almost as soon as we arrived at the Aviation and Space Museum. I must admit, the biplane felt a little flimsy when I poked it, which was worrying, but as soon as we took off I recognised the intelligence behind this historic design. We glided effortlessly over Ottawa and were treated to some incredible views. It was an exciting way to gain a new perspective of this fascinating capital city, and, once we were back on land, a wander around the museum itself made the visit that much better.
By this time it was noon, so before we grabbed some lunch we stopped by Parliament Hill in order to capture some shots of the city’s famous weekly yoga sessions. We’d timed our visit well, as the free classes only occur on Wednesdays between May and the end of September. At the height of summer up to 1000 people come along, novices and experts alike. On the day we were there, despite the grey skies, there was still a great turnout and we managed to get some beautiful photographs.
Once the yoga session had finished, we stopped for a quick bite to eat in the Byward Market neighborhood. Home to one of the biggest and oldest farmers’ markets in Canada, we couldn’t resist wandering past the stalls that lined the streets once we’d finished our lunch. Selling anything from brightly colored vegetables to pots of maple syrup, the stalls can be found trading 363 days a year. It was hard to drag ourselves away from the beautifully arranged produce, but time was progressing quickly. We did, however, have just about enough time to grab an Ottawan specialty; a Beavertail Pastry. Never heard of it? Neither had I, and for a few seconds my face was a picture of disgust as I imagined an actual beaver’s tail in some sort of pie. Jantine quickly put my fears to rest, however, explaining it was only a sweet pastry, nothing to do with beavers, and when I got to taste my cinnamon tail, I was in culinary heaven.
From one culinary delight to the next, our final stop on our short tour of Ottawa was a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu. One of the most famous schools in the world for teaching classical French cuisine, Le Cordon Bleu’s Culinary Arts Institute in Ottawa offers diplomas as well as shorter courses to the public. On the day we stopped by, we watched a class on tempered chocolate. The way the chefs manoeuvred the melted chocolate on the cold marble work surfaces was enough to get our mouths watering. We were just sad we had to leave before we could taste anything.
It was with a heavy heart that we had to say goodbye to Jantine and Ottawa. We’ve only just scratched the surface of this incredible city. Still, it just means we’ve got an excuse to come back.
Two hours later and we’re in Montreal.
The last stop on our Canadian adventure, we’re pretty sure we’ll leave on a high.