Ottawa: A Pleasant Peek at Canada’s Capital

I came to Ottawa primarily for the tulips, of course, but I still had a full weekend to spend in the city. So, what did I get up to outside of photographing a lot of flowers?

After visiting the Tulip Festival, I found myself at Dow’s Lake, which is located just beside one of the city’s main tulip-filled parks. The lake was really beautiful, and I spent some time wandering around its perimeter. I didn’t have a particularly packed itinerary for the weekend, so I grabbed a bench, popped open my Kindle, and just relaxed.

For brunch, I ventured to Fraser Café, where I enjoyed one of my all time brunch go-tos: huevos rancheros. They also had apple donuts on the menu for dessert, and I just couldn’t resist.

In the afternoon, I made my way to Parliament Hill. Though I regret to report that I caught no glimpses of Justin Trudeau, it was still a nice visit. There were more of the omnipresent tulips there, naturally, plus back beyond Parliament, I discovered lovely panoramic views of the river.

In the evening, I dined at Soif Bar à Vin, which, as the name would suggest, is a wine bar. Never fear, they have plenty of good food too! I ordered a flight of red wine – it was fun to try several varieties! – as well as oysters, asparagus, and cheese (and a slice of maple pie for dessert).

In the morning, I headed to Rideau Falls. I had seen the falls listed on several “things to do in Ottawa” lists, and I figured that waterfalls would be a big tourist draw. Oddly, though, when I arrived, the park was empty, and I was one of about five people looking at the falls. It was kind of eerie!

After the falls, I made my way to ByWard Market, which was much, much more hopping. The market is filled with food vendors, gift shops, and flower stalls. I browsed around for quite a while, finally deciding that my favorite shop was the one selling Trudeau and Obama cookies. I deeply regret not buying a few.

For brunch, I ate at Union 613, which serves up southern comfort food. Though you don’t necessarily think “southern comfort food” when you think of Canada, I had read that this place was top notch and figured I would give it a try. I was impressed with their spiked punch (dangerously delicious) and the chicken and waffles (along with the aforementioned huevos rancheros, my other go-to brunch pick).

On my final afternoon in town, I regrettably did not get to do much exploring, as work beckoned (sigh). Luckily, I was able to venture back out for dinner. I opted for a meal at Fauna, which was on pretty much every foodie must list I had consulted. The food here was great and the service was friendly, but by far my favorite part was my cocktail: the Leblon James. You just cannot turn down a drink with that name.

Overall, my weekend in Ottawa was exceedingly pleasant, if not that thrilling. I found that there simply wasn’t as much to do there as in other Canadian cities I’ve enjoyed more (looking at you, Toronto and Quebec City). Still, the city was nice, the tulips were prevalent, and the food was good. Not a bad weekend, all in all.

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