A four day trip to Ottawa with Lore and my sister Krissah, our main goal was to take part in their infamous Winterlude festivities while sightseeing and the first thing we saw before we left was that the temperature there would be from -20 degrees to -13 during our stay! Even though it was freezing, I must say it just made our trip even more beautiful.
• 02/09/17—Day 1:
NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA
Our train left at 10:15 AM and arrived around 2 PM, overall it was a 4 hour train ride. This was my first VIA Rail train ride, so it was pretty exciting for me. We took the bus to the hotel (took a while to figure out which bus to take and we also needed change) then we decided to unwind and unpack the essentials before heading to the National Gallery of Canada.
Let me just say that this place is beautiful! The architecture alone is just grand, and the spider sculpture at the front is insanely huge. I believe the gallery looks more alluring during the night due to the lights rather than the day time when it does not emphasize the beauty within the gallery. They had 5 exhibits that night, and we managed to see a couple of them. My favourite exhibition out of the ones we visited was by Alex Janvier; his art pieces were not only phenomenal but they were also very inspiring. I have never seen such art before, I was speechless by the end of the night. I took as much photos as I could, but these images do not do these pieces any justice. I highly recommend you visit the exhibition yourself to see these paintings face to face.
Alex Janvier’s Art Gallery:
• 02/10/17—Day 2:
PARLIAMENT HILL – BYWARD MARKET
The destination for this day was to visit the Parliament Hill, our tour time was at 12:50PM. We had breakfast at Eggspectation, that was the first time I have ever went to this restaurant and let me tell you, this place was EGG-cellent! Check out my meal:
The security check-up at the Parliament was very similar to the airport security check, once we were inside the groups are called by their tour guides to gather and the touring begins! While heading up, I managed to take a video of the Clock Tower ringing Christmas songs.
Learned a few cool tidbit from the tour, things like the House of Common seems to always have a meeting in session and is never available to see during a tour. The colours that were chosen along with the layout of this chamber was influenced by the British House of Commons since we are technically under Queen Elizabeth’s Sovereign. On the other hand, the Senate Chamber is solely designed by us, with the theme of red to represent royalty adorned by the paintings that depict the various wars that occurred in the past to show the weight carried when decisions are made in this room.
The next part was the best because we went inside the Library! In the past, there was a fire and the Library was the only part that survived due to the fact the engineer designed the doors with steel doors. So the rest of the building has a different design compared to the Library and everything inside, books and records from the past were saved. I will not lie, I teared up when I got inside. It was beautiful inside just as its structure on the outside!
After the library we were brought in a hall where all the kings and queens paintings were displayed. Here, the tour guide explained how the ceiling shows all the titles given to the authority figures in the building and the painter decided to add one for those in the future so it says “someone” in French but he misspelled the word. No one knew why or how it was never caught in the past. You can see the photo (not clearly) on the first collage photo at the top left corner. Queen Victoria’s painting has been rescued a couple of times, due to fire accidents to the point that her crown decor was cut in half, because they had to cut the painting out to save it. That is why her decor differs from the rest, since it is too heavy to carry, they decided to move the painting closer to the exit, haha. At the end of the tour, they lead you to the gift shop and the Peace Tower. I ended up purchasing two postcards and the library pin.
The Peace Tower showed quite the view, you get to see the bridge to Quebec, the museum, the city and the lake. I liked how as you head up, you can see all 53 carillon bells inside the Tower. There you will see a diagram of what’s inside and above the Tower, while seeing what’s around each window view. Quite the way to end a tour, no?
For the rest of our day, we decided to visit the Byward Market to see what is around the area, we went to visit the Paper Papier place and purchased some crafting materials. I purchased 4 pens, 1 calligraphy and 3 coloured pens (black, green and red). As we walked around we kept seeing mini sculptures for Winterlude:
I thought they were really cool, the coolest would be either the tractor or the DJ bartender booth! What do you think? After the paper place, we went to The Cupcake Lounge as recommended by the owner from Papier. This bakery was so cute, the pastries looked like it was 90% icing but it is actually baked taller than most cupcakes. Their icing is spread atop and along the side, which makes it look fuller but it contains just the right amount of sweetness! I did not order any pastries, unfortunately. I just really needed some Chai Latte, but you can check out what both Lore and my sister ordered! We walked to Giant Tiger, mailed a few postcards then we saw Indigo Bookstore and obviously we went in. We bought a couple of things, you can see my purchases here. We ended the night at Zak’s Diner, and I must say this Diner was the spot to go in Ottawa. Again, you can see our meals from Krissah and Lore’s instagram!
• 02/11/17—Day 3:
WINTERLUDE – BAL DE NEIGE
In the morning we decided to Uber to Parc Jacques-Cartier, Gatineau, in Quebec City! We got lost for a bit before we found the Snowlflake Kingdom, but once we did I completely forgot where I was altogether. All the snow that you see in the photos below were hand sculpted! I particularly love the details for each sculptures, especially the Winterlude logo with the lady. It reminded me of Te Fiti from Moana!
The Parc had a lot of cool activities such as: dog sledding, zip lining, bonfire with the tepees, going through the snow maze, tobogganing, meeting the Ice Hogs mascots and fitting in snow silhouettes :p They had maple taffy on snow with a stick, and Beavertails obviously! Once we finished with all the snow fun, we headed to the tourist spot to use the bathroom while figuring out which bus to take back, seeing as we could not grab an Uber from there back to Ottawa. We ended up grabbing some fake passports for the event, saw my work’s Canada 150 merch on caps and some water containers before finding out that the Winterlude bus that takes you to the attractions were cancelled then we commuted back by bus. We ended up having lunch at Gabriel’s pizza, we just stumbled upon this place after getting off our bus stop and it was a blessing that we did! This was one delicious pizza, you can see Krissah and Lore’s posts on instagram by clicking their names :p
After lunch, we headed to the other Winterlude attraction which was at the Confederation Park; The Crystal Garden! Here we saw the 30th International Ice-Carving Competition, the skating rink, more Beavertails, Metro’s Tarp Igloo, huge ice sculptures from winners around the world, and the inflatable igloo of Canada’s C3. The ice sculptures were beautiful. Two sculptures were left to compete for the trophy and one carved a book about an owl with a bookmark while the other carved Winnie the Pooh Bear. Pooh Bear won, but I quite liked the book better. We ended the night with some room service, because one should try it at some point. Plus it was cold and we were tired so we just bought some drinks and snacks before heading back to the hotel. You can see what Lore got here, while mine is displayed below:
• 02/12/17—Day 4:
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL – HOME
Last day of the trip, and we started it right by going to mass at the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral and this place is just gorgeous. Pictures do not justify the architectural design and the beauty of the place. We even had the opportunity to be chosen to bring the offering and the gifts to the altar. I was in awe the whole time I was there.
After mass we decided to take photos with the sculpture outside the art gallery, because it was snowing a lot then we decided to visit the bookstore that we passed by before to see if it was open and we bought some cool photo album of the monuments in Ottawa. We had lunch at Memories then walked around the ByWard one last time and bought sweets from The French Baker before heading back to the hotel to grab our luggage and catch our train home.Overall, it was a nice trip. I’m glad I finally got the chance to visit Ottawa and during their infamous Winterlude of all times. We managed to do and visit many places while inserting our own mini stops. I can cross this off my list of places to visit 🙂 These are all of the souvenirs I hauled up during this trip: