Canada, Instagram, North America, Ottawa

Instagramming A Winterlude Weekend in Ottawa.

February 9, 2013

After more than 2 months of not travelling (the longest I’ve stayed still in about 3 years), I set off on my first weekend away from Toronto heading north to Ottawa for the opening of Winterlude.

While Ottawa is nothing like a weekend getaway to a European city, it does have a faint European appeal. There’s pretty buildings, it has a young but interesting history and as you wander the streets you hear many people speaking French (although it sounds funny when compared to the sound of Parisian French).

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Leaving home late Friday afternoon, I went to Union Station and eagerly hopped on a VIA Rail train. It felt so good going somewhere again and I briefly wondered if my train journey would be as fun as that time I took the City Night Line from Berlin to Munich.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

I kicked back and enjoyed the ride, sipping wine from a plastic cup like all classy people do while reading my favorite travel magazines – AFAR and Lonely Planet Traveller.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

The ride was also pretty scenic. I was almost tempted to get off the train just so I could wander around and take photos. But alas, onwards to Ottawa!

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Finally arriving, I headed to my “home away from home” for the weekend – the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel. That’s right, I spent my weekend in jail! As a lover of all things weird and offbeat, this hostel certainly fit the bill.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

My designated cell room for the weekend.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

The hostel offers really spooky Crime and Punishment tours of the hostel where you learn about the jail’s dark and violent history.

Take for example, this noose hanging at the gallows where inmates used to be executed. This also happens to be the last execution site in Canada, shut down after capital punishment was banned in 1976.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Anxious to go out and grab a bite to eat, I stopped to marvel at the beauty of my nation’s capital and let the patriotic feelings I have for Canada wash over me. It’d been more than 10 years since I last gazed at the Parliament building and the Rideau Canal and it felt good to be home.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

I then came across the Garden of Lanterns exhibit at Confederation Park, set-up to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations with Korea.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

The next morning, I stopped by ByWard Market to taste my first Beavertail. It’s a very tasty, sugary pastry that actually resembles a beaver’s tail and does serious damage to your waistline. I recommend a good skate along the canal to work off those calories!

Winterlude in Ottawa.

I then explored the surrounding neighborhood, eventually heading towards Parliament Hill.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Our stately and iconic Parliament buildings.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

As it was late afternoon, the sunset drenched Ottawa with a gorgeous veil of light. This is when the enthusiastic Instagrammer in me went a little crazy snapping photos.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Later on that evening, I returned to Confederation Park to check out the ice sculpture competition. There were several artists there from all around the world showing off their immense talents through their detailed and intricate work.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Winterlude in Ottawa.

Just before I left the city, I walked along the Rideau Canal to watch people skate. Yep, I walked and did not skate along the world’s largest skating rink which is almost a whopping 8 KM’s long. I’m Canadian, but don’t know how to ice skate – or even ski fort hat matter.

It’s embarrassing and I’d like to change that sometime! Anyone want to teach me? 🙂

Winterlude in Ottawa.

These Instagram photos of Ottawa highlight a great weekend and make me smile as my first solo trip of  2013 turned out to be rather amazing! I enjoyed the Winterlude celebrations, indulged my love for the weird and offbeat and had plenty of good eats.

It doesn’t get better than this and reminds me how I need to plan my next weekend away to yet another Canadian destination. Hmm, where to next? Any suggestions?

If you like my Instagrammage, follow me on Instagram (@cdngrrleh) to see photos from my life in Berlin, Toronto and of course, on the road. Also, a big thanks to Hostelworld for sponsoring my weekend in jail!

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10 Comments

  • Reply Alouise February 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    As odd as it sounds, in this case I think a weekend in jail sounds like fun. Ottawa in winter looks so pretty. I’m hoping to go there this summer.

  • Reply Cheryl Howard February 10, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    @Alouise – It was really fun actually! And nice how they turned a building with such a dark past into a youth hostel. 🙂

    Ottawa is a really pretty city! Especially as the sunsets. I’ve yet to be there in summer, but it must be great! Really hope you make it there this year and that you enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂

  • Reply A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) February 11, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Looks like you had a lot of fun in the capital 🙂 I think I might schedule visit there pre or post TBEX this spring…

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      @A Montrealer Abroad – It was a nice weekend. I’m not able to go so far at the moment, so exploring more of my own backyard is nice since we’re both from such a great country! 🙂

      You should hit it up for sure.

  • Reply Andrea February 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

    What a fabulous place for a weekend getaway!

    • Reply Cheryl February 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      @Andrea – It was a great weekend! And that Jail Hostel was especially interesting. 😀

  • Reply Anita Mac February 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the walking tour of my own hometown! Sometimes we forget how wonderful it is when we are off exploring the world. This year, I am trying to focus more on the exciting things close to home! You’ll have to come back in the summer….Ottawa has a lot to offer!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      @Anita – LOL! You’re welcome. Hope you enjoy getting better acquainted with home. 🙂

  • Reply Jim Becker December 9, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I recently wrote a travel blog on Ottawa for senior visitors and wanted you to have a copy.

    Please share this site below and information with interested persons.

    http://seniorcitizen.travel/travel-destinations/canada/seniors-travel-to-ottawa/

    • Reply Cheryl Howard December 9, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for sharing Jim. Some other visitors might find the information useful and interesting.

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