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).
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.
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!
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.
cell room for the weekend.
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.
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.
I then came across the Garden of Lanterns exhibit at Confederation Park, set-up to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations with Korea.
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!
I then explored the surrounding neighborhood, eventually heading towards Parliament Hill.
Our stately and iconic Parliament buildings.
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.
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.
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? 🙂
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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