Oh, Ottawa!

Reunited and it feels SO good! It’s been a long 3 months since I’ve put “pen to paper” – and let me say, it sure feels swell to be back! So much has happened recently, and SightShe has taken a slight back seat…but I’m back in action and I have a ton of things to write about [including our recent Europe trip + some local escapes in PA]! But, before I can get to any of that, I need to fill you in on last weekend’s jaunt to Ottawa, Canada.

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Let me start off by saying…I deserve zero credit for planning this entire trip. My proactive, sweet, kickass husband researched and reserved everything…from booking the Airbnb to packing the snacks, flagging our account for international use and printing maps – he did the whole kit + kaboodle…and I appreciated each and every ounce of it. So this post is dedicated to my Danny…since our 2nd anniversary trip was lovingly orchestrated by him. I was just along for the ride <3

All Eyes on Ottawa

Ottawa is the Capital of Canada, and it sits on the border of two provinces – Ontario and Quebec. Almost 1 million Canadians are proud to call Ottawa home, and the city is made up of historic government buildings, museums and cultural centers. A beautiful, fully functional canal cuts through the city alongside the iconic Parliament Hill, and a steel tress bridge connects pedestrians and motorists over the Ottawa River and into nearby Gatineau. The city felt slightly European, surely romantic, safe, warm and friendly…and I had that sad, sinking feeling when it was time to leave. Ottawa truly has something for everyone:

For the Francophile: While my French verb conjugation game may not be as strong as it once was, I’m amazed when I open my mouth and French words come out. I’m even more amazed when those words are still understood. Our Airbnb was in Gatineau, Quebec, which is just across a foot bridge from Ottawa. If you’re a Francophile, but don’t have the time or the funds to flit across the pond to France, Quebec is always there…just beckoning you to parlez en Français! It’s the perfect place to practice and the Québécois will typically appreciate even your rustiest attempts. And, if you’re not a French speaker, no need to fret! Everyone speaks English, and most signs + menus are bilingual.

For the Nature Buff + Adventure Seekers: From whitewater rafting, caves and skiing to kayaking, hiking and cycling…Ottawa and Gatineau are filled will plenty of opportunities to indulge in the outdoors. One thing we enjoyed in particular was Gatineau Park, which is about 15 minutes away from Ottawa by car. It was sprawling, and on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, the park was brimming with bikers and hikers. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and took a stroll around the Pink Lake, which boasts some beautiful blue and green hues (which deepen in tone depending on the time of year). Speaking of different hues…rumor has it that the Northern Lights were on display in the park a few days before we arrived, so if you’re ever in Ottawa or Gatineau…be sure to check the Aurora forecast to see if you can catch a glimpse!

For the Family:  The owner of our Airbnb suggested we stop by Parc Jaques Cartier for the Mosaïcanada 150 exhibit – which was packed with family friendly fun…and some pretty incredible works of art to say the least! Each of the 30+ sculptures on display are living, and combine several horticultural techniques. If you’re interested, you can visit them online here! The exhibit is open through October 15th.

If sculptures of shrubbery aren’t in your wheelhouse, Ottawa and Gatineau seem to have plenty of other activities for the family. We attended the “Northern Lights” sound and light show on Parliament Hill, where we enjoyed an amazing visual display of the 150 year history of Canada (my pictures wouldn’t do it justice). We also witnessed the world’s largest, Guinness World Record breaking scavenger hunt, where families and friends came together to celebrate their patriotism (whilst donning Canadian flags as capes, of course!)

For the Foodies: We enjoyed some scrumptious salads and savory sandwiches in both Ottawa and Gatineau. Both have a great restaurant scene…from the Byward Market area in Ottawa to the historic Hull district in Gatineau, our taste buds were on definitely a tour! I’d recommend the Black Tomato (the warm pecan crusted chevre salad was top-notch, and Danny was over the moon with his pulled red deer and pork of yore on a kaiser roll). The Gainsbourg Brasserie was the perfect spot for a pint and a glass of wine…and Le Grilled Cheese du Combattant (duck confit, Manchebello cheese with onion and cranberry chutney between two slices of French bread) was seriously delish. If you’re looking for a quick bite or a long brunch, the Byward Market had options for both.

Odds + Ends: If we had more time in the Ottawa / Gatineau area, I would have loved to explore more of the museum scene! There are tons of galleries and museums…with more opening soon. The National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum, and the Canadian Museum of Nature are all listed as some of the top sights to see, and the National Holocaust Memorial is set to open in the near future. The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica was breathtaking inside, and some of the embassies are open to visitors (we caught the Bonsai Expo at the Japanese Embassy, and some of the trees were over 150 years old)!

There are honestly so many great things I could say about this adorable area…and as always, we left our weekend getaway feeling refreshed, happy and extremely thankful. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

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S I N C E R E L Y,

sightshelogo-marisa

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