Road Trip 2015 - Ottawa
We’re on a road trip! Which is a little ironic because I hate being in the car. Seriously. I have three children 13 and under and combined, they complained less than I did on Thursday. But for some reason, several months ago I thought this would be a fun trip so here we are:)
Our two week road trip will include a lot of east coast touring and ends with a conference, but for this weekend, we are in Ottawa. My mother tells me that I’ve been to Ottawa, but I don’t remember a thing, so I was so excited to see our nation’s capital! And let me tell you, Ottawa did not disappoint!
We left around 1pm on Thursday. As a side note, I think I will forever try to leave for trips that time of day. The kids did a day of school, I had the time and clarity of thought to not forget anything, and Michael cleaned the bathrooms while I did the vacuuming and laundry so I will come home to a clean house! Honestly, you should try it. Anyways, we got to Ottawa around 9pm which was later than I expected (insert a lot of complaining from me here) but we still let the kids go for a quick swim so that I could hugs and I love you moms from the kids.
Not the greatest picture, but how adorable do these little travellers look with that bear sticking out of the backpack?
Friday was a gorgeous day weather wise, so we did all outdoor things. Funny story, since we were going to be in our van for two weeks, and also because Michael wanted to bring his golf clubs (read: this is his fault), we bought one of those luggage carriers for the top of the van. An awesome investment for this trip. We took off on Friday morning with pages of printouts, websites, map quests, and water, ready to take on the city. Only thing is, we live in the country. Where people park in the open. Not underground. After 30 minutes of driving in downtown Ottawa, we finally figured out that the van was not going to fit anywhere with that topper on it. So we found a parking lot, finally, that was not underground but was full. I told Michael that he should just “park for a minute” and we would take the topper off. Thankfully, Michael had gone against my advice and packed a tool kit. So there’s Michael and I, in the middle of hip and urban Ottawa, trying to wrestle this thing off the top of the van and then into the back. We managed to get the door closed, although we had a lot of trouble trying to get Jonathan out later! Thankfully, our hotel has graciously stored it for us for the weekend:)
We then went for a walk around Parliament. So, so gorgeous! We took the kids to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier and sat in silence for a few minutes. We went to see the locks of Rideau Canal and got there in time to see a boat go through a set. Then we toured Parliament and went up the Peace Tower. That was one of my favourite parts of the trip. I’m one of those tourists that’s a big believer in taking guided tours. I learned so much that I didn’t know! By this time we were starving, so we took a walk down to the Byward Market area, found a little hole in the wall place, and had the most delicious Italian lunch and bought some fresh fruit.
We went back to the hotel for a swim and a rest because we had big plans for the night! My girls are Food Network addicts, watching it every time they’re at my mom’s or the cottage, and they love a show called, “You Gotta Eat Here”. My mom just happened to have a book by the host, so the girls have been having great fun looking through it and picking out places to eat. For Ottawa we chose the Smoque Shack. It was definitely worth it! We all loved our meals and ended up just putting everything in the middle of the table and sharing all around. The best way to have a meal! And I introduced my family to deep fried pickles! They loved them of course:)
I was going for an action shot here, but not sure you should do that while people are eating:)
We ended the day with the Northern Lights show on Parliament Hill. I cannot say enough about this. I was excited when I realized that we made it here before it was done for the summer! It was stunning and made me so proud to be Canadian. At the end, they played O Canada and everyone on the lawn stood and sang along. It was a beautiful moment. Walking back to our vehicle after, a bunch of people noticed that a souvenir shop was open. It was pretty much the only thing on the entire walk back that was. This guy beside me remarked, “Of course they’re open when everyone is leaving the light show. Right now I feel so Canadian, I feel like walking in there and saying, Give me one of everything with that leaf on it!” I had to agree:) An amazing end to an amazing day.
Today was a little more low key, but still really fun and a learning experience for the kids. Yes, I’m kind of freaking out about stopping school for two weeks after only doing it for three days! But I keep telling myself that this is all invaluable! The kids and I started off the morning by laying in bed watching Netflix and swimming while Michael went and met a friend for golf. Then we went for a tour of the Canadian Mint. Did you know that Canada has made coins for over 80 other countries?? And we have produced the worlds purest gold? We all got to pick up a gold bar and learn about the Olympic medals and so much more. Loved it. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Museum of Nature which the kids really enjoyed. I think I would’ve liked the art museum more, but I didn’t want to subject the rest of my family to that:) We had an early night tonight with supper in our room and a movie and it was the perfect ending to a cold rainy day.
Tomorrow we will spend the day at church with one of my old friends that I rarely get to catch up with, so I’m really excited about that! Its always fun visiting other churches and I have the privilege of speaking to the ladies Sunday School class which I always enjoy.
If you’re considering a trip to Ottawa, do it! Its a great, family-friendly city. The tours of Parliament are free, we found it an easy city to get around in, and none of the above mentioned activities were very expensive. And there are many more things that Ottawa has to offer that we did not get to. We might just have to do them when we come again when the kids are older and can remember more of all the important things we learned about our country in the last 48 hours!