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36 Hours In Ottawa

by - Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Have you been enjoying your summer? I can't believe we're at the end of July already. I always feel a bit anxious at this half way point... that I need to swim, and bbq, and lay in the sun, and do all the summer things! Do you ever feel that way?

Summer is vacation time and we ran away for a spontaneous getaway this past weekend. We escaped to Ottawa for a quick 36 hours. I haven't been to the capital city in 15 years and so much has changed. We filled our short trip with our favourites - architecture, good food, and a bit of antique shopping!

travel tips for 36 hours in Ottawa

Shopping:

One of my favourite things to do on a road trip is to scope out antique and thrift stores along the way. Our travels took us by Karen Brown's Antiques (a favourite stop!) and once in the city, we dropped by the Ottawa Antqiue Market.


There was a good selection of housewares, dishware, and art. I picked up a vintage pair of snowshoes which you'll likely see in a winter vignette in a few months!


Zone Maison caught our eye while walking downtown. I love opaque lights and this chandelier was one I hadn't seen before. It's got that French bistro feel mixed with contemporary style.

Dining:

Speaking of French bistro, we had the loveliest Sunday brunch at Metropolitan. The restaurant scene in Ottawa is amazing and this brasserie did not disappoint. The Metropolitan Benedict was divine, the chocolate croissant light and fluffy, and the outdoor setting was the perfect way to enjoy the summer morning. Other great meals included dinner at Khao Thai and gelato at Mantovani (so good, we had to visit twice!) 


Attractions:

We stayed at the Westin Ottawa which was the perfect base to explore the city. The hotel was clean and comfortable, and steps to Parliament Hill and Byward Market, definite must-sees.

Interesting fact: the Prime Minister's Office is not actually located in the complex of three Parliament Buildings on the hill, but is in fact across the street. I told Chloe that our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was her age when his father Pierre Elliot Trudeau was Prime Minister... very confidently, she said that she had no desire to grow up and be Prime Minister ;)


It was amazing to me how accessible the buildings were. Many of the Embassy and Consulate buildings nearby were surrounded with iron gates and wide perimeters but the Parliament Buildings were literally close enough to touch.

There are too many museums in Ottawa to count so we had to be choosy with our time. Sean is a museum consultant so we had some inside information on which one's would be fun for Chloe. We spent a good amount of time at the Bank of Canada museum. Chloe thoroughly enjoyed it (especially the make your own money station) and I thought the content and interactive exhibits were really well done.



One other place we did visit was the National Holocaust Monument. Built to serve as a symbol of Canadian values and diversity, and as a memorial to the innocent people who perished, this concrete structure was very moving. The architect of the project was Daniel Libeskind who we quite admire - he actually wrote the Foreword to the book that Sean and I wrote together :)



Design inspiration can be found anywhere. I thought this path at the Monument would make a fantastic walkway. I loved the layout... imagine how pretty this would look with moss growing in between the pavers.

We had planned on visiting the National Gallery of Canada as well but sadly, our tired feet were just not up to it. Instead, we drove out to Rideau Hall which turned out to be the loveliest stop. The residence is beautiful and the grounds are peaceful and quiet. It was fun to check out the ceremonial trees planted throughout the grounds, including ones planted by Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, and Queen Elizabeth when she was still a Princess.


One of the highlights of our brief trip had to be the viewing of the Northern Lights show at Parliament Hill. Held every night from July to November, the show presents a visual history of Canada. 

Of course, it ends with a rousing rendition of O Canada as the Parliament building transforms into the Canadian flag. I have to admit, as I stood there surrounded by Canadians from across the country and tourists from around the world, I couldn't have felt more proud to be Canadian. Sometimes, a vacation is just what you need to remind you how beautiful home is.


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