Ottawa – Canada’s Capital City
No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
Last but not least, we have Ottawa, Canada’s Capital City as the final city to profile from Samira’s visit. I have called Ottawa my home for over two years now and really do find it a beautiful and nice city to live in. It is clean, well maintained and the people are friendly. Less than half of Samira’s visit was spent in Ottawa, but it still topped her list as her favourite city visited.
The day her plane arrived, after we got her settled into our itty bitty apartment, she wanted to head straight to Parliament Hill. We parked at the Rideau Centre downtown and made the 5 minute walk over to Parliament Hill. Having not eaten yet, we stopped at a hot dog vendor across the street from Chateau Laurier. Samira, being the sport that she is, is always up for trying anything. So when she saw me piling on Relish and Sauerkraut she quickly followed suit even though she had never heard of either before.
The walk to Parliament Hill from the Rideau Centre also takes you right by the Rideau Canal, which unfortunately this time of year is mostly drained. The Rideau Canal is best known for it’s transformation in Winter to the longest skating rink in the world.
Even on a cold day, Parliament Hill is always buzzing. Tours of the Parliament Buildings are completely free and last about 45 minutes.
Visits up the Peace Tower are free as well and self-guided. The Peace Tower offers up some lovely views of the Ottawa/Gatineau area.
We woke up the next morning and not long after breakfast Samira was running out onto the balcony to look at something she had never seen before. It was snowing! It wasn’t cold enough for anything to gather and it only lasted about 20 minutes. But as she tried desperately to capture every snowflake on camera, I couldn’t help but think that it was snowing just for her.
Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm is about a 30 minute drive from Ottawa (depending on where you are coming from). We made our way out there so Samira could take a peek at how Maple Syrup is made, but unfortunately because it wasn’t sunny or warm enough, no sap was flowing. So although we saw some Maple trees tapped and learned about the process (completely free, no tickets required), there wasn’t anything to actually see. So instead, we went on a horse and wagon ride ($4.25/person) and took in the beautiful farm.
With Samira’s love for Maple Syrup, we couldn’t leave without trying some taffy from the Taffy Shack. They pour the maple syrup on the snow (in this case, it would’ve been crushed ice) and as it starts to harden, they roll it up on a stick for you ($2.25/stick). Very delicious, but very sweet!
We also made our way to the National Art Gallery of Canada. Located on Sussex Drive in downtown Ottawa you will have to pay for parking if travelling by car. Count on about $8 or $10 depending on how long you stay. Admission to the gallery is $9.00/person and offers discounted rates for families, students and seniors.
Across the street from the National Art Gallery of Canada is the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The cathedral that was completed in 1846 is open daily and there is no admission to enter.
Hog’s Back Park, just around the corner from our apartment is home to the manmade waterfall known as Hog’s Back. Originally just a small set of rapids, Hog’s Back Falls was created when the Rideau Canal was being created and a dam was required to divert water from Mooney’s Bay. Today, Hog’s Back Falls is the highlight of a park that people visit all year round.
The rest of our time in Ottawa was spent visiting friends and family and of course shopping! We explored Rideau Centre, Sally’s Beauty Supply stores and a number of different outlets. Name brand American products are insanely expensive in Brazil, so Samira was stocking up, for herself and for her friends and family. For example, a Maybelline “Falsies” mascara that costs us about $6 or $7 would be at least $30 in Sao Paulo. In Canada a PS3 is between $250 and $300 depending on what bundle you want, and in Brazil, you can’t get one for less then $1000. Completely insane! Needless to say, her bags were very full when I took her to the airport last night.
Samira, I hope you had as wonderful of a time in Canada, as we all did hosting you. Until we meet again my friend, abraços e beijos!