Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is a wonderful place to visit.  I’m not being biased because I live in the country nearby.  There are SO many things to see and do in Ottawa.  I’m kinda glad that I live so close by.

Changing of the Guard

First and foremost, there are the Parliament Buildings where the business of the nation is conducted (for 100-150 days a year).  The ‘Parliament Buildings’ consist of the Center Block (where Members of Parliament debate and vote and Senators ‘work’), the West Block, and the East Block (both of these are MPs offices and meeting rooms).  It’s a great place to visit for locals and tourists alike – the Center Block with its Peace Tower, looks like Big Ben clock in London and chimes quarterly.  When I was 8 years old, my Parents brought us to the Parliament Buildings and I’ll never forget it.  The honourary “Guards” in red wool coats and bearskin tall hats march every day at 10 a.m. from the War Memorial to Parliament hill for the “Changing of the Guard”.   It’s a free event with musical ‘pomp and ceremony’ worth attending for young and old alike.

Mountie

A walk around the Center Block building is a lovely stroll.  You might be lucky enough to meet a Mountie and see the RCMP’s horse grazing on the west lawn ;  you will certainly walk past the Cat Sanctuary (housing feral cats) ;  a gazebo with a spectacular view of the Ottawa River and beyond ;  statues of former Prime Ministers as you round the east side ;  and a grouping of statues of influential women of the past.  Visitors can also go up the Peace Tower to the look-out (which is the clock tower where the flag flies) or tour the Center Block Library (the only structure not destroyed by fire in 1916).  Every night during the summer, the MosAika Sound and Light show is played on the walls of the Parliament Buildings Center Block – just bring a lawn chair or a blanket and enjoy the free laser show.   After 49 years, I returned to Parliament Hill for another visit and was even more impressed!

Beavertails!

Within walking distance to the Parliament Buildings is the Byward Market (where you can buy a famous Beavertail pastry or an “Obama” cookie as well as local produce and souveniers) ;  The National Gallery (Art) ;  The Mint ;  the Sparks Street Mall (closed-to-cars street with shops) ; The National Arts Center ; the Rideau Canal and Locks ;   the magnificent Chateau Laurier Hotel ;  and many teens’ favourite, the Rideau Center Mall.  A nearby cruise down Sussex Drive will lead you to beautiful Rideau Falls, where the Rideau River falls into the Ottawa River ; past the Governor General’s Residence with its gorgeous gardens and tours ;  past the Prime Ministers’ Residence (guarded and closed to the public) ;  a number of foreign Embassies ; and past a breathtaking look-out along the Ottawa River.  You can also go on a Boat Cruise on the Rideau Canal or the Ottawa River.

 

A visit to Ottawa would not be complete without spending time at one of the national Museums.  Our favourite by far, is the newly renovated Museum of Nature (affectionately known by my family as the ‘dinosaur’ museum).  It’s fantastic for young and old – give yourself 3-4 hours to tour this huge castle-like place!  We used to always go every March Break when my Sisters and their children came up.  Our second favourite is the Museum of Science and Technology (a.k.a. the ‘Crazy Kitchen’ museum) – a dream come true for train lovers and active children.  There’s also the Museum of Civilization across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, the impressive Canadian War Museum, the Aviation Museum, The Mint, and a bunch of other smaller museums on specific themes.

Still fun at the Museum of Nature

Of course, if you visit Ottawa in the wintertime, you can skate on the famous Rideau Canal, Canada’s largest ‘skating rink’.  Ottawa has many parks, bike paths, and tourist attractions but the outlying areas are full of interesting places to visit, too,  like the Champlain Look-out or the MacKenzie King Estate (and their $24 cucumber sandwiches!) in Gatineau Park or Kiwi Gardens west of Perth.

Is there any reason why I wouldn’t love Ottawa?

Useful Links:

http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/mosaika

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Visitors/index-e.asp

http://www.ottawamuseums.com/

http://www.kiwigardens.ca/welcome.htm

 

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