Watch the link above – this was the theme of my impromptu trip to Ottawa.
I was feeling all sorts at the beginning of the last week of April. I spoke to my sister who lives in Ottawa and she asked me if I wanted to come visit her. I was thrilled because the timing was perfect. I didn’t have work on the weekend and I could definitely make the trip up to see her and the city – which surprisingly I had yet to see for the first time.
She booked my ticket within an hour of speaking to her and I left on Friday morning at 12:45am (Thursday night). I like driving during the night because I feel the next day will not be wasted in travel time and this way I have more time to explore. I do this whenever I go to Windsor as well. I try my best to sleep on the bus, even if it is an uncomfortable sleep, it’s still enough rest for me to be out and about the following day.
I had never traveled to Ottawa by bus before so this was all new to me. I hadn’t any idea of which route the bus took or how often it stopped. Luckily, the bus driver provided all this information before departing from Toronto, so I wasn’t left guessing. The bus stopped twice, once in Peterborough and once at a random gas station with a 24 hour Tim Horton’s before it made its way to the capital.
I arrived on time, to a T. My sister picked me up and we went to her place. I arrived too early for us to start the day. Plus, my neck was hurting from how I slept on the bus, so it was a good thing that nothing was open yet. I relaxed for a bit and caught up with my sister. She was on day one of fighting a cold. She made ginger and turmeric tea with honey, which I was skeptical about, (seems to be the case with everything healthy she tries to feed me) but it was actually quite soothing and tasty. My sister is a health nut, I should learn from her!
After sipping on some soothing tea, we decided to visit the local grocery stores to get some things for breakfast and also for the soup that my sister needed to make for her to feel better. I would say Ottawa is a prettier, greener and (obviously) bigger version of Windsor (my hometown). We went to Superstore (which is scarce in Toronto) but I am obsessed with that store. It’s usually a very large grocery store and the quality of their produce is exceptional. After a trip to the Superstore, we went to this place called Farm Boy which was alien to me. This was the first time I was hearing about this grocery store. I was obviously quite intrigued and even more pleasantly surprised when we arrived. From outside it looked nothing like a grocery store. If I had to compare it to something in Toronto, I would say that it was similar to Pusateri’s. We roamed around looking for fresh produce and then we grabbed some freshly made breakfast to-go, which was available in quite a large variety at this particular Farm Boy.
After food we took a nap since I had not slept well on the bus and my sister needed to recuperate if she was going to be out and about all day with me. We slept longer than we had planned, but we still got up at a good time. The sun was out and it was a beautiful day. We drove to downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill and Rideau Centre. When we were downtown it didn’t feel much different from Toronto, except that you would hear more french conversations than you would in Toronto. I suppose I would compare it to Montreal more than Toronto, but Ottawa is definitely a humble version of the two cities.
After some shopping at Rideau Centre, we headed for a walk up to Parliament Hill. It was a perfect day for a walk! The sun was shining bright and the still-crisp winter wind made for bearable April weather. Of course pictures hardly ever do things justice, but here are some touristy ones we took at Parliament Hill.
Following our Parliament Hill stroll, we walked to this patisserie that my sister really likes and wanted to share with me. It was this cute little cafe called Le Moulin de Provence. We didn’t stay there long since we got there near closing hours but the couple of pastries that I tried there along with the coffee were absolutely scrumptious.
After some time at the cafe, we took a stroll through the streets of downtown Ottawa. There was a poutine festival that was taking place on one of the streets – the entire street was closed off. My sister later informed me that this street is permanently closed off for pedestrians to stroll through – something we Torontonians usually have only on Sundays in Kensington Market.
Speaking of markets, we then headed towards the ByWard Market in downtown Ottawa. Here I definitely got the vibe of Toronto’s Kensington Market. However, ByWard Market felt more spacious in comparison to Kensington Market. The day we roamed around here, the Ottawa Senators were playing a game and the bars were full of die-hard fans. The weather was warm enough for patios, so we caught the last little bit of the game outside one of the bars – everyone was avidly watching.
After anxiously watching the last few minutes of the game (mostly my sister was anxious), we headed back towards our car which we had parked back at Rideau Centre. On our way we explored the ins and outs of downtown Ottawa, going up stairs and under bridges. It was a nice stroll since the sun was still out.
A full day of exploring the core of Ottawa, followed some much needed relaxing back at my sister’s place. She prepared some delicious chicken noodle soup and we sat around and talked until we tired ourselves out and slept.
The next day the weather was not exemplary and we slept in for as long as we could. My sister was feeling worse today, so we took things very slow. We had breakfast at home and sat around, chit-chatted and went in and out of naps. She felt bad that she was so sick, but some how mustered up enough energy to take me around Ottawa once more before I left. Since driving in to Ottawa, I had noticed this place called “Bridgehead” and I asked my sister about it. She told me that it was a very popular coffee shop, more popular than Tim Horton’s (if you would believe it). I was curious to try it out, so the first thing we did was head over to a Bridgehead on Preston street.
We tired banana bread, an almond croissant and some coffee. It was absolutely delicious and prefect for a rainy day. The coffee shop itself was very spacious and a lot of families had gathered there, enjoying baked goods and complicated drinks.
We spent some time here relaxing and observing. We noticed that the employees at the shop were making a ton of baked goods and concluded that this must be where they make the baked goods for all of the Bridgehead coffee shops in Ottawa.
Soon after, we headed to a Halal burger joint and then drove around the city. My sister showed me most of the city today in car, sharing briefly with me where she worked and where she would do all her activities in the upcoming summer. The remainder of the day we spent at home watching movies and drinking chicken noodle soup. It was good because I was well rested for my ride back to Toronto, which was again an over night trip.
We planned to go to this bagel shop before heading over to the bus station at 12:30am. My bus was scheduled to leave at 1am. The bagel shop which is open 24 hours, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year is called Kettleman’s Bagel Co.. I was surprised to hear that a bagel shop was open all the time, so I had to try it out. My sister swore by their bagels and she was right to do so. I went in and ordered a basic bagel with some not-so-basic cream cheese. It was the most fresh and tasteful bagel I have had my entire life (would recommend, 10/10). Below are some pictures of the shop and the hard at work employees who were making bagels by the dozen (probably more), at 12am at night.
That was my trip in (more than) a few words. Thanks to my sister for hosting me the entire weekend. Even though she was sick, she made for the best tour guide, photographer and therapist. Thank you for reading and viewing my pictures. I hope to visit Ottawa again soon, with a more planned trip, even though sometimes last minute trips are the most rewarding.
Doing it for the ‘gram