If you know anything about me, you know I’m a wanderluster, and it’s not long after getting home from a trip that the travel bug hits me again. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions of time (ah, student life), distance, and money, it was challenging to plan a getaway.
Thankfully, Ottawa is just around the corner from Toronto when compared to any other destination. Since neither the boyfriend nor I have ever been before, we decided that it would be the perfect destination with our time and budget constraints.
After a typical Friday night, we only ended up driving out of Toronto around 10:00am Saturday morning, and after the traffic and two pit stops, we arrived at our hotel, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, close to 3:00pm. This gave us about 24 hours to make the best of our time there.
After dropping our bags, we set off by foot to scope out the area, as well as find some lunch. We walked past Parliament Hill, and continued down Rideau Street. After seemingly leaving civilization, we made a few more turns in hopes of getting right into the heart of downtown. Not quite sure where we ended up exactly, but we found a familiar place for lunch: The 3 Brewers, or as the Ottawanians call it, Les 3 Brasseurs. Normally we prefer to explore local gemstones, but my boyfriend was getting hangry, and desperate times call for desperate measures.
Tourist Time, Part 1:
We circulated around Parliament Hill for a while, checking out the surroundings and getting a view (as well as an iPhone pic) from every possible angle. We continued down the road between the Fairmont and Parliament leading to the Ottawa River. As a result, we ended up getting the most magical view – where it was hard to determine whether we were looking at Canadian Parliament, or Hogwarts.
Dinner & Drinks:
Our 24 hours in Ottawa had a bit of a twist, as it involved escaping the province of Ontario for a little while. We caught an Uber out of the area, and made our way over to Gatineau to Soif, a wine bar, just a $7 ride away. What followed suite was an evening involving a bottle of delicious sparkling rosé, a plate of mixed cheeses and charcuteries, and a couple of oysters. No need for dinner, as the selection of tapas filled us up more than enough.
Unfortunately, heading back to our hotel ended up a little pricier because it was impossible to catch an Uber on the Gatineau side. To our surprise, the cab ride ended up being the most entertaining ride of our lives. Our driver offered to show us around the area, the spots we didn’t know to look for, for the price of the extra fare. We agreed, and as he gave a drive-by tour of The Canadian Mint (where our money is printed), French Embassy, the Prime Minister’s home, and Rideau Park, he entertained us with jokes and cynical remarks about our government and where the tax payer money really goes (into the lamps below the “ugly spider”).
Amidst the pumpkins for sale, we found a bakery and helped ourselves to some pastries and cappuccinos for breakfast. Topped off with a shared cheesecake, we continued along the market, figuring out what we wanted to buy as a snack for the ride home.
Tourist Time; Part 2:
After having our taxi driver enlighten us of our surroundings the night before, we decided to embark on that route by foot after breakfast. It took a while, but we spent the early afternoon walking past the landmarks and touristy places along Sussex Dr, eventually arriving at Rideau Park. The park was beautiful, especially with the leaves already changing colours, and made for a romantic afternoon.
Getting back into the heart of the city, we had some scones followed by salmon eggs Benedict at a little gem called The Courtyard Restaurant. Literally hidden inside a courtyard, it was a great brunch destination to get us filled for the road ahead.
After our late brunch, we stopped by Byward Market once more to pick up a box of fresh strawberries for the drive home.
And so our 24 hours in Ottawa came to an end, and we managed to make it home to Toronto before sunset.
I think the biggest challenge for the whole ordeal (at least for me), was not overpacking for the short trip. The look on my boyfriend’s face when he saw my bag(s) really was priceless, and kind of made me reevaluate my priorities. Ah well, packing light is a topic for another time.
Have you taken such a quick trip before? Yay or Nay??