Today I’m taking you to my hometown of Ottawa!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. I lived exclusively in Ottawa until 2013 – when I made the move to Orlando, Florida. I had just gone through a difficult breakup and my grandparents living in Florida were very ill. It made sense to take a year sabbatical from my Masters program in Ottawa to be with family and heal in a city I had always called my second home. The transition from Ottawa to Orlando was much easier than I anticipated (brutal Florida heat excluded) and what started out as a year move turned into a 4 year stay, with visits back to Ottawa as often as possible. One of the biggest blessings of running this blog is the mobility it offers, allowing me to pick up my things and go whenever I please. While I call Orlando my home, I always look forward to visiting Ottawa. Today, I wanted to share 5 things I love about my hometown.
5 Things I Love About Ottawa
1 The Changing Leaves in Fall
Growing up I always took the 4 seasons Ottawa experiences for granted. Living in Orlando, it’s basically summer, summer, summer and a handful of spring-ish days. Ottawa has 4 (very distinct) seasons, however my all time favorite season is fall. The changing leaves are drop dead gorgeous and crisp, cool air begs for a pumpkin spiced latte. I adore layering up in an oversized sweater, leggings, infinity scarf and booties. In Ottawa, we enjoy fall with plenty of nature walks along the trails in town. We have a family tradition of taking fall photos among the gorgeous fall leaves. If you visit Ottawa, I highly recommend to visit when the leaves are changing colors in fall (September-October). If you can, drive over to Gatineau Park and explore the 165 kilometres of hiking trails!
2 Skating on the Rideau Canal
If you visit Ottawa in winter (January to late February), skating the Rideau Canal is a must! It is the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world and extends 7.8 kilometres (4.8 miles). Access to the skate way is free and you can either bring a pair of skates or rent a pair! There are various stands along the skate way offering hot chocolate, coffee and beavertail (a Canadian delicacy! They are pastries which taste like Churros!). Many Ottawa residents actually use the Rideau Canal to skate to school or work in the winter.
3 Parliament Yoga
Downtown Ottawa is home to Parliament Hill (or known as “The Hill”) which houses the Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament. Think of it as the Canadian version of the Whitehouse. Every Wednesday noon-1pm Lululemon hosts a free yoga session on the lawn in front of Parliament! Hundreds of people gather to get their namaste on. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been known to walk by the event and greet participants! If you’re like me and love yoga – you need to check it out!
If you’ve never tried poutine – you’re missing out! It’s a Canadian delicacy comprised of french fries, gravy and cheese curds and it’s a high calorie heaven. Some call it the Canadian salad. It always hits the spot. Always! I’m sad to announce I missed the annual Ottawa PoutineFest (in May!) in Ottawa City Hall where hundreds of variations of poutine are offered. My favorite local spot to grab some poutine is Smoke’s Poutinerie – so make sure to stop in when visiting!
5 Skiing, Tubing and Tobogganing
Growing up in Canada, I would take advantage of the many winter activities available in Ottawa – skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing (every Canadian has to try it once!), skiing, tobogganing and tubing. Skiing, tobogganing and tubing are my favorites! This winter I’m planning a ski trip with my friends – we’re staying in a cabin, skiing and exploring during the day and huddling up by the fire and roasting marshmallows at night. Typical Canadian outing. Eh?