We left our hostel and headed to Union Station with our bags strapped to us. In the sweltering 30C heat we couldn't have been more delighted when we boarded the train to Ottawa to find it was super comfortable and, most importantly, air conditioned! The journey ran over by about an hour but apart from that VIA Rail would put Scotrail to shame (Craig had a bigger smile when he saw how much leg room was available).
Arriving into Ottawa train station we hopped in an Uber and headed for our first ever Airbnb for the next 3 nights. Now this should be when I mention we made our first "oops" of the trip. As you will see from the pictures, Ottawa is a bit of a fairytale city with beautiful gothic style buildings and we assumed that booking our Airbnb just 10 minutes walk away from the city centre that we would be in amongst it. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and we ended up staying in one of the ropier areas of the city. Lesson learned, we won't just be booking the cheapest AirBnB on offer going forward! Once we had settled in to our apartment we headed out to explore the city with the first stop being Parliament Hill. Sadly the Parliament buildings are currently under renovation for the next 10 years so we didn't get to fully appreciate it but we were able to walk around the outside and what we saw was absolutely stunning.
Our next stop was Sparks Street - a pedestrianised area of the city with lots of wonderful bars. We stopped for a couple of drinks before heading back via the supermarket for dinner and chilling out in our apartment.
Friday morning was an early start, we picked up a rental car and drove out to Combermere, a little village located on the Madawaska River where we did a bit of exploring. Unfortunately the initial trail we had planned to do was shut off due to damage of the walkway, however we were still able to take in some of the views in this gorgeous part of the world.
The main reason for our trip out to Combermere was to visit Craig's great uncle Bert and his wife, Judy. We had a lovely lunch with them at the Ash Grove Inn in Barry's Bay. The restaurant had absolutely stunning views out over Kamaniskeg Lake - it was 32C when we were there and incredibly during the winter it can get down to -45C. We were told that during the winter the entire lake freezes over and you can drive over it if you are skilled enough.
After our two hour journey back to Ottawa we took ourselves back to Sparks Street and ended up in the Biermarkt for a delicious dinner of Mussels & Fries and Bolognese Rigatoni. This summer, and we assume in part to make up for the inconvenience of the renovations, Ottawa city are putting on a sound and light show projected on to Centre Block & Peace Tower of the Parliament. It was a stunning, very Disney like show that took us through the history of Canada in the form of 5 books - Foundations of the Nation, Strength in Partnership, Discovery and Adventure, Valour and, Pride and Vision. It was incredible to watch and a real treat to learn some of the history of the beautiful country that we are exploring.
After a long lie on Saturday morning we set off for a walk down the beautiful Rideau Canal, from the Pretoria Bridge. It was built in the early 1800's and used as a military supply route until the mid 1800's. It is now mostly used for recreational use and during the winter it freezes over making it the worlds largest and second longest ice skating rink which locals can use to skate to work - we both agreed this would be amazing to do if either of us could actually skate! I'm not sure turning up to the pharmacy with grazed knees and hands would go down too well!
We reached the locks of the canal at a perfect time as there were 4 boats in the middle of making their way down to the Ottawa River and we got to see the locks in action.
After a quick lunch in 3 Brewers (amazingly no beer was consumed) we made our way up to Nepean Point which is lovely peaceful spot with wonderful views back over the city and down the river.
Another chilled out night in the apartment to save some pennies, we got our bags packed ready to be on the move again.
Prochain arrêt, Montréal!