A Winter Weekend in Ottawa
What’s a gal to do when it’s crazy-cold in Toronto? Why grab a couple of her best pals and head to Ottawa, where it is about 20 degrees colder, naturally!
It may seem counter-intuitive to some, but three of us have been meaning to go since one of us made a move to the nation’s capital a few months ago, and it’s so terrifically rare that we all have a weekend free, that we didn’t dare wait until it warmed up to hop a train to see her.
Ottawa can be a strange place to navigate as a relatively young person looking for activities, entertainment and something delicious to eat, but we did a decent job of it and I thought I’d share what we found in case any of you are planning a trip there anytime soon.
Food and Drink
Mamma Teresa Ristorante – We were only too happy to tuck into generous portions of mouth-wateringly delicious Italian food on our first night in the city. Mama Teresa’s, a fairly upscale eatery in an old house was the perfect place to do exactly that and then linger and visit over glasses of wine.
Must wine bar – We kicked ourselves for checking this place out after we’d just eaten, because the menu looked delicious, and if the drinks were anything to go by, it certainly would have been. This bar/restaurant tucked into a heritage building in the market was the perfect place to cozy up with cocktails and wine for the evening. It would make a great romantic date spot too!
Benny’s Bistro – Holy brunch, batman! The great thing about dining out with a pack of women is that they will probably all offer to let you try their meals and because of this fact I was able to verify that everything on the brunch menu at this place tucked in the back of a little bakery was SO DAMN GOOD. Go there. Eat all the things. Be happy.
Moscow Tea Room – This place gets an honourable mention for ambiance. We went in the afternoon and it was a great place to cozy up with a cup of tea in front of their giant windows and watch the snowy world go by. Unfortunately the food left something to be desired, but if you need a tea-fix, and a pretty place to sit on your way to the National Gallery, it’s perfect.
Byward Market – While it’s more bustling in the summer, the market area was still the perfect place to pop in and out of the cute little boutiques
Victoire – This store, which apparently also has a Toronto location, could be alternately named: Excellent Gifts for Sarah. They have very cool jewelry and carry lots of awesome Canadian-designed clothes. If it had just a little more give, I’d have taken home this fantastic medieval-unicorn-print jumpsuit, despite my clothing budget cut-back!
Giant Tiger – if you didn’t grow up in small-town Canada, you may not be familiar with the treasure hunt that is Giant Tiger, or as those in the know call it, GT Boutique. While they carry all kinds of weird junk, it’s also the perfect place to pick up some fleece leggings for any canal skating adventures you might attempt, and cheap snacks for your pregnant pal’s midnight cravings. Plus there’s the thrill of the Ottawa location being the original GT. Or maybe that was just us.
Mugshots -We made a very brief appearance at this bar housed, along with a hostel, in the city’s former jail, only because we nattered away so long at dinner that the band we wanted to see was finishing up as we arrived, but I’d like give it a proper chance sometime as the vibe seemed cool and I dug the unusual venue.
The Rideau Canal – There’s nothing more Canadian than skating on the Rideau Canal, unless it’s (as I mentioned on Instagram) the guy I passed who was skating on the Rideau in a toque and plaid jacket, carrying a toboggan under one arm. Or maybe if it’s that guy with a beaver under his other arm and a maple leaf in his lapel? Anyway, being a touristy activity doesn’t make it any less wonderful to have the opportunity to skate for miles without being restricted to the tiny circle most rinks provide. A word of warning though, if you don’t bring your own skates it’s not cheap! Be prepared to shell out $17 for a two-hour rental.