As mentioned, I am a weekend warrior. Monday to Friday (and hopefully not on Saturdays) I am unable to indulge in my wanderlust while I am chained to a desk (or if I’m lucky some cold warehouse counting metal rods). To combat this sad reality and still ensure I’m living my best life, I learned way back in my first co-op that the most important thing to a productive week is a kick ass weekend. That being said I now have a little more money to play with (and a lot more car) and have found with some effort and planning I can basically go moderate tourist-mode any weekend. It’s not even that important where your home base is; I’ve done the “cheeky weekend” out of big cities like Toronto and Paris, and small suburbs like Oshawa and St. Catharines. What I’m trying to say is that you can indulge your inner tourist wherever you happen to be.
I’m going to start off with one of my all-time favourite Canadian weekend getaways, a city that has always led to foreigners vaguely thinking they’ve heard of my home town (Oshawa). Perfect for summer or winter, filled with history and beautiful little streets, and not to mention home to some of my favourite people on earth, Ottawa has always been a great escape for me. It’s no easy trek — five hours from my current home in Toronto, up to seven from my long time home of St. Catharines — but well worth it any weekend. I took my favourite tourist with me last weekend and had the pleasure of seeing one of my old happy places through the eyes of a foreigner. This particular foreigner is from Australia and I must say I did delight in his discomfort at the negative 15 weather (Ottawa is notoriously frigid). Funny enough the cold just adds to the charm of the city, at home I’d probably be bundled up on the couch but on my “vacation” I was happy to lace up my skates and hit the canal, or maybe I just wanted a beavertail.
In the winter the city really celebrates the season with activities such as the aforementioned Rideau Canal skate way, chilly hikes in Gatineau Park, and any number of blustery strolls through the picturesque central downtown. For those favouring indoor activities I will mention that the National Gallery of Canada has one of the best collections I’ve seen outside of Europe, the Canadian Museum of Nature is so full of cool stuff you might just spend your whole day there, and if you’re feeling ambitious, a quick jump over the bridge to Hull and the Canadian Museum of History are more than worth crossing provinces for.
Overall I’m a huge fan of the capital, I think it’s an essential stop for any tourist despite its lack of proximity to Toronto. It has a charm unlike any other Canadian city I’ve visited and is a great escape from the bustle of Toronto without sacrificing the ease and convenience of countless restaurants and entertainment venues.
Be patient as I improve on this writing business! And stay tuned for more!