For a while my friend Theresa and I had been planning to go back to Ottawa and experience “Winterlude”, Ottawa’s winter festival. About three years ago we went to Ottawa, only to be rained out . Our main activity had fallen through: skating on the Rideau Canal, and even the ice sculptures had melted.
The East Block of the Parliament Buildings
But that didn’t deter us. So this past Friday we got in the car and after a pleasant 4.5 hour drive we arrived in Ottawa. After documenting my first impressions, we checked into the Lord Elgin Hotel, a historic landmark right in the heart of Ottawa.
Friday evening we explored one of Ottawa’s main entertainment areas: the ByWard Market and we had a fabulous dinner at Fat Tuesdays, complete with live music and delicious Cajun food.
Mardi Gras at Fat Tuesday’s
Saturday morning I got up early and explored the local area and took many photos in and around Parliament Hill. Then we got ready to explore one of Ottawa‘s main winter attractions: the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s longest natural ice skating surface. The day was absolutely perfect and we were gliding effortlessly down the ice to our next destination: the 26th Annual Bedzz Races on Dow’s Lake.
The bed race is a fabulous charity event and it’s lots of fun for the audience, the participants and the organizers alike. Then I had to race off and see what else was going on at Confederation Park, one of the main Winterlude sites.
The 26th Annual Bedzzz Race on Dow’s Lake
After a day full of physical exercise we discovered a historic local pub: Darcy McGee’s on Sparks Street, Ottawa’s pedestrian mall, and I had a chance to see how a perfect Guiness is poured, including the obligatory foam shamrock.
On Sunday morning I went to the Canadian War Museum, a fabulous new multi-media museum by the banks of the Ottawa River, and I also had a chance to visit a special exhibition called “Weapons of Mass Dissemination – the Propaganda of War”. I wished I had had more time to spend here.
Skating on the Rideau Canal – a popular activity
My next and final stop in Ottawa was a visit to the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, a unique museum housed in a former railroad tunnel. There I focussed on an exhibition by Sunil Gupta, who was born in India and moved to Montreal at age 15. Gupta explores issues of personal, sexual and cultural identity, and his highly personal images left a deep impact.
This time I didn’t have time for some of Ottawa’s other main attractions, such as the National Gallery or the Canadian Museum of Civilization, but I am certainly hoping to catch those next time when I go to Ottawa, maybe even this coming May, for Ottawa’s famous Tulip Festival.