A Few Days in Ottawa
I've been to Ottawa quite a few times, but always with a school group of students in tow. I wanted to go back and revisit some of the places we raced through and see them at my own pace, so I decided to give the trailer another shakedown and head up to the nation's capital for a few days.
I found a great place to stay. Heather Hills is a family run trailer park on Bank Street, just 20 min out of downtown Ottawa. It bills itself as the closest campground to Ottawa, and there is no doubt that it is very conveniently placed. Straight up Bank Street takes you into the heart of Ottawa. Aside from this convenience, I would rate the campground as medium quality. The campgrounds, washrooms and pool all are fair to good. It's clean, and the price is right, with trailer sites being just over $25 a night.
I spent most of the first day at the National Art Gallery, really enjoying to walk through and view the exhibits at my own pace. Not much needs to be said here, except two words of advice. First, after having spent more than three hours in the gallery, I started to get impatient with the art. I guess it was just overkill. Unless you have a much more patient disposition than I do, I would schedule several shorter visits rather than one marathon one. My second suggestion is to spring for the guided tour headsets. They are only $6 and I'm sorry that I didn't get one.
I spent the afternoon of the first day having a late, leisurely lunch at one of the many great cafes in the Byward Market. Lots to choose from. I went with New Orleans style, although I was disappointed to find out they didn't have any New Orleans beer.
I had brought my bicycle with me, so on the second day I spent the morning biking the Rideau Canal loop. I started at Dows Lake because it looked like it was easy to park there. The parking lot is across the street from the pavilion. It's $10, but if you had lunch at the pavilion the price is reduced to $2. I rode from Dows Lake to the base of the canal at the Ottawa River. It was a leisurely 30 minute ride, almost entirely flat, as the path follows the canal. There is an abundance of bike riders in Ottawa, with bike lanes on many of the roads, not just the designated paths. Most establishments have bike racks out front, and they are well used. I would consider using my bike much more than I did this time on my next visit.
Finally, the highlight of my trip was a visit to a little known museum outside of Ottawa. This is the Diefenbunker. It was an underground bunker commissioned during the height of the Cold War to act as a safe place for our Canadian Government in case of nuclear attack. It was decommissioned in 1993, and has become a museum. This is a very new attraction and you can see that they are just getting things slowly up to speed. But the actual facility is quite fascinating, to the point that several movies have been filmed using this location. Note that tours are by reservation only. Oh, and they do birthday parties!