Ottawa, Canada

Last October, I spent a few days in the capital city of Canada because I was at the mercy of the US immigration policies. During that time, I was both anxious (I didn't know if I could renew my visa) and excited (first time in Ottawa!).

The city is located in the Ottawa Valley and lies on the Ottawa river, a major waterway and natural boundary between Ontario and Quebec provinces.

When Queen Victoria was asked to pick a common capital for the Province of Canada, she chose the then unruly logging town over larger colony's main cities like Montreal, Quebec City, Kingston and Toronto. The choice was based on the facts that it was the only settlement of significant size located on the border of the French Canada East and English Canada West, it was not vulnerable to the American attacks due to its dense forest surroundings, and its lands were spectacular overlooking the Ottawa River. Today, the city is the fourth largest city in the nation and a major political hub. The people of Ottawa speak both English and French.

I stayed at Les Suites, which is convenient because it was a 5-min walk to the historic Byward Market and a 10-min walk to the Parliament Buildings, Major Hill's Park, Rideau Canal, Confederation Blvd, museums and other tourist spots.

Food in Ottawa embodies a myriad of influences ranging from classical French, Canadian and English cuisines to exotic flavors of the Caribbeans, Middle and Fast East. The city offers plenty of restaurants that you can go to. But if you want a quick bite, check out the food sold in the market. I had a bagel with lox cream cheese spread from the Continental Bagel Co and it was so goood- crunchy on the outside, chewy soft in the inside. I also learned from local vendors that maple syrups produced in Quebec are the best in the nation and they are exempt of taxes.

When asked what food in Ottawa is most known for, the reply is the fried dough pastry called the Beavertail. Because it resembles like one. The classic Beavertail tastes like sweet, cinnamon-flavored and crunchy half donut- half pizza. I finished it in one go LOL.

Overall, my trip to Ottawa turned out to be interesting. The weather took a break from the damp cold thus, I got to enjoy sunny days watching the green turned to bright colorful fall foliages. I learned a little more about Canada and its people's love for Obama (there's a cookie named after the US President!). My visit wrapped up with a memorable experience of heaving a 24 carat 20-lb gold bar at the Royal Canadian Mint museum and meeting a cyclist who biked cross country at the top of Nepean Point, beneath the Samuel de Champain statue.

Parliament Building

Byward Market

Beavertail stall by the market and the pastry (insert)

Rideau Canal pouring into Ottawa River, located next to Parliament hill

Spider structure and Notre Dame Cathedral

Date: 11/13/2010

Lifting a heavy 24 carat 20-lb gold bar