Not a lotta Ottawa

Ottawa Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 93 › view all entries

Having so far been impressed with the cities we've visited, we were expecting great things from Canada's capital. In fact, Ottawa was a bit of a diappointment. We arrived at about 2pm to some lovely weather and quickly found our hostel. Despite being quite friendly and having had some good reports it wasn't especially inviting and I could tell Em was far from impressed. However, it was cheap, fairly central and seemed clean enough despite a drab interior and cobbled together bed-linen (none of which, I hasten to add, would have particularly botherd me). 


We picked up some tourist leaflets and set about finding town. Despite a number on conversations up to this point about the budget, what we can/can't afford and the need to have a few 'quieter days' (ie.

Parliament building
no beer) it was Em this time in need of a beer, struggling a touch to come to terms with the difference between her expectations of a a hostel and the reality (although to be fair it was a lot worse than I'd stayed in and we'd been lucky in Montreal - which had been fantastic). So we had a quick beer and on we went. We walked through Byward market, a four-block area of pubs, bars and cafes based around a central market building. Normally that would appeal to me, but it seemed pretty drab and a little bit run-down, despite being the 'where it's at' according to the hostel guy. It's definitely got some beatiful buildings, the grandeaur of which you can't help but admire. It also has some museums that look quite interesting.
We followed a walk taking us past all the historic and prominent buildings in Ottawa including Chateau Laurier, the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill (which was closed) amongst others. We followed the trail across Portage Bridge and Victoria island into Gatineu (formerly Hull), Quebec for some good views of Parliament Hill. After that it was along the river and past the very contemporary Museum of Civilization. Alexandra Bridge and more good views of Ottawa took us across the Ottawa river and back into Ontario toward Byward Market, passing the Nattional Gallery and (another) Notre Dame on the way.


We had dinner in a nice little sun-trap before having a look around Byward Market, and (spurred on by Em being keen to avoid the hostel for as long as possible) we found a decent bar and had a few drinks whilst planning our next move.

We didn't need long to reach the conclusion that it would be better to move on to Kingston the next day. So we went back to the hostel and Em was so worried about bed bugs that she used her mosquito-proof and bed-bug proof sleeping bag liner. It can now add Nick-proof to its repertoire.


The coach options were 10am or 5pm, so we opted for the 5pm, thinking we could give Ottawa at least the majority of the day to appeal to us. The Canadian gods were clearly unhappy with our less-than-positive view on the Capital and no sooner had we left the hostel the next morning than the heavens opened and the rain didn't let up for the rest of the day. We sought refuge in a cracking little diner and had a 'Big Zack' breakfast before opting to go shopping in the Rideau centre (not that we're fair-weather sight-seeers of course!) and bought Em a much-needed jacket.


To be fair to Ottawa, we arrived on a Sunday (much of Ottawa seems geared toward friday and saturday nights), didn't properly visit the main attractions/museums, the weather on monday was ver poor (after a blissfully sunny 10 days) and Ottawans in general seem very pleasant and helpful, in-line with the rest of Canada. In hindsight, we'd been a bit spoiled in Montreal too. However, apart from the sights I'd mentioned the rest is very unappealing. On the way out of Ottawa we went through the 'Downtown' area of Ottawa, which was so uninspiringly beauracratic we were in no doubt that skipping town early was the best choice, and after four big cities in a row we were definitely looking forward to Lake Ontario.

Cantoffie says:
Doesn't even compare to Montreal or Toronto mate!

I say this being a resident of the city. lol. :)
Posted on: May 13, 2010
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Parliament building
Parliament building
Paiament hill and Notre Dame
Paiament hill and Notre Dame
Parliament Hill and the Rideau can…
Parliament Hill and the Rideau ca…
Parliament building
Parliament building
photo by: Jeroenadmiraal