My university friend and I decided to do a road trip to Ottawa and Montreal for the Victoria Day long weekend. My university friend hadn’t been to Ottawa or Montreal before while I was interested in the tulip festival. We stayed at Barefoot Hostel which another university friend had recommended to me. Barefoot Hostel is located near Byward Market and is a really cool, chill place. There’s only 2 bunk beds in each room and there’s four rooms in total for the entire hostel which are all located on the second floor. Two nights is $64. Barefoot Hostel has free wi-fi, free shampoo bottles, a hairdryer and straightener that you can borrow, a locker to lock your valuables and belongings and a nice common room with a large flat-screen TV and DVDs. The bathrooms are nice and clean. This hostel reminded me of the EDU hostel I stayed at in Yogyakarta/Jogjakarta, Indonesia. The Yogyakarta EDU hostel is a 5 star hostel if there is such a thing as a 5 star hostel. Barefoot Hostel is a 4.5 star hostel.
After driving from Toronto to Ottawa and checking into the hostel, we decided to walk around downtown Ottawa. We meandered through Byward Market, toured the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and meander through Major’s Hill Park and Parliament Hill for the tulips. We walked past the Rideau Canal and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier on our way from Major’s Hill Park and Parliament Hill. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage site. the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is part of the Canadian railway hotels. While at Parliament Hill, one of the guides told us that the tours were all full for the day and that they were open on Victoria Day. We walked down a part of Sparks Street which is classified as an outdoor pedestrian mall. We then waited for the free tulip festival shuttle bus at the corner of Elgin and Sparks Street. The shuttle bus turned out to be an open top double decker bus. The bus passed by the Ottawa City Hall and Confederation Park to drive along Queen Elizabeth Dr to reach Commissioners Park and Little Italy. Queen Elizabeth Dr is a very scenic road which follows the Rideau Canal to Dow’s Lake. We decided to first walk around Litttle Italy before having dinner at La Favorita.
After dinner, we walked back to Commissioners Park to look at the variety of tulips planted there for the tulip festival. The variety at Commissioners Park is much larger than the varieties at Major’s Hill Park and Parliament Hill. We then waited by the north side of Dow’s Lake for the firework show to start. The fireworks show was quite pretty with a nice variety of fireworks. After the fireworks ended, we walked to Preston St/Gladstone Ave to take the 14 bus back to Byward Market. The OC Transpo fare is $3.45 per person (check the OC Transpo website for the most up-to-date fare price).
On Saturday morning, we drove from Ottawa to Montreal. I thought that there would be English road signs in Quebec but I was sorely mistaken. There are only French road signs in Quebec. We found cheap parking at UQAM via the Best Parking app. This particular part of the campus is close to Place des Arts metro station and downtown Montreal. A STM day pass is $10. It can be bought at the ticket booth or the electronic ticket booth. We first went to eat brunch at l’Avenue. After brunch we took the metro to walk around Old Montreal. We passed by Chateau Ramezy, Place Jacque Cartier and Bonsecours Market. We went to the Clock Tower to see if we could climb up but the door to the stairs was locked and there was a spiderweb around the door handle and wall. I had asked the parking attendent working at the Clock Tower parking lot if it was possible to climb up the Clock Tower and he said that it was possible, I was misinformed yet again. We meandered around Old Port on our way to Notre Dame Basilica, the Berlin Wall in the Centre de Commerce Mondial and St. Patrick’s Basilica. We then went to Marie Reine du Monde Cathedral in which we discovered that there was mass at 5pm. So we walked around Dorchester Square. We then took the metro to Place d’Armes to see the stain glass window effect before taking the metro to Mont Royal to meet my friend for dinner at la fabrique bistrot. I had hoped that we had time to go to Mont Royal Park before dinner but we only had 10 minutes before we had to meet my friend so we settled for walking around a part of the Plateau.
On Sunday morning, we lined up for over an hour for the Parliament tour tickets. After getting the tickets, we checked out of the hostel. We then went to Shawarma Palace so we could eat brunch. After brunch, we went to the War Museum. My friend was told to go visit the Civilization Museum in Hull, Quebec. I managed to convince my friend to go to the War Museum instead. When I lived in Ottawa back in 2010 I toured the Currency Museum, Royal Canadian Mint, Cold War Museum aka Diefenbunker Museum, the Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian War Museum, Civilization Museum and the Canadian Postal Museum. My favourite museums were the Currency Museum and the War Museum. My friend wasn’t interested in looking at money so I pushed for the War Museum. The admission price to the War Museum is $14.69. The War Museum showcases the War of 1812, the battles prior to the 1900s, Canada’s involvement in World War I, World War II and the Cold War. It also showcases some of Canada’s peacekeeping missions.
After touring the war museum, we went to Parliament Hill for our tour. We had to first pass through security then wait for our group. The tour took us to the House of Commons, the library and the Senate. This is my third time touring Parliament and the newest thing to the tour is the stain glass window commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Currently the reign of Queen Elizabeth II is as long as the reign of Queen Victoria’s at 63 years who is Great Britain’s longest ruling monarch, an achievement unto itself. After our tour of parliament, we went to Byward Market to get beaver tails before beginning the drive back to Toronto.