Ottawa Highlights

Long overlooked by travelers moving between Montreal and Toronto, Canada’s Capital is in the midst of a mass cultural revitalization and foodie renaissance. Finally on the cusp of finding its identity, Ottawa offers much more than just a visit to Parliament Hill. With each year come dozens of new boutiques, locally inspired restaurants, an ever-expanding list of music and cultural festivals, improved green space and architectural revivals, and easy access to the bounty of Quebec.

Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, Canada
Take a look around the back of Parliament Hill and you will find stunning views of the Gatineau Hills, the Ottawa River, the National Gallery and Victoria Island. Descend the 273 steps to the riverside and you can make your way back up again next to the locks at the entrance of the Rideau Canal. Alternatively, the path extends for long distances in both directions—all the way to the Prime Minister’s residence heading East and past Westboro Beach going West. Travelers in Ottawa often visit the eternal flame, take a tour inside Parliament, ascend the Peace Tower, or checkout the cat sanctuary but it is worth veering off the path here.
55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9C3, Canada
ByWard Market is both a market, filling the block bounded by ByWard, William, York and George streets, and the name for the surrounding neighborhood. This is where Ottawa began, an area laid out by Lt. Col. John By who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal. The name comes from By Ward, that is the ward laid out by Lt. Col. By. Once the home of the city’s Catholic working-class residents, today this is the center of Ottawa’s nightlife and restaurants. In the summer, the market building and the open-air markets on George and York streets are crowded with shoppers, vendors, artists and strollers. By one count, more than 100 restaurants are located here. Cari will steer you to ones that best suit your tastes, and make sure there’s a table waiting. AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council is eager to send you to their favorite markets, restaurants, and other culinary destinations in Canada. Read more about Cari’s itinerary and others to the country’s other provinces at AFAR Journeys.
One of the great engineering feats of the 19th century, the Rideau Canal was constructed between 1826 to 1832 originally as a military and commercial waterway connecting the Canadian capital to Kingston, at the head of Lake Ontario. Today, it is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ontario and continues to be an international recreational attraction, both by water and by land (it becomes the longest ice skating rink in the world during winter). An amazing achievement that contributed to the growth of Ottawa as a city.
250 City Centre Avenue
Yes, Art Is In Bakery truly makes baking an art! Located inside a former industrial warehouse in Ottawa’s west end, this edgy gastro-bakery blends the best elements of a Brooklyn eatery and a Parisian boulangerie. Even Ottawa Magazine cited it as 2012’s #1 place to eat in the Canadian capital. Credit respected owner-pastry chef Kevin Mathieson and wife Stephanie in complimenting a unique and cozy dining experience with flavorsome breads, tasty gourmet sandwiches, dazzling pastries, desserts, and Sunday brunch. A few favorites: eggs benny, buttermilk brined chicken caesar sandwich with bacon, croque monsieur, croque madame, butter, chocolate and almond croissants, and breads such as garlic rosemary, cheddar, chive and jalapeño, 12 grain fennel, potato carmelized onion and dill, and chop-chop sourdough.
442 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4N6, Canada
What goes with bacon-wrapped olives? A Brazzo! Bookers Bourbon, W&H Rare Old Oloroso Sherry, and West Indian orange bitters on top of two enormous ice cubes. A gin martini, however, wouldn’t go amiss either. This Little Italy bar, whose menu lists where and when each cocktail was invented (ex: The Prohibition: Philadelphia; 1920), does classic cocktails strong and right. So sip a Gimlet or Sidecar in the intimate, dimly lit, inviting space, and let the night slip away.
Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères 7, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
One of my favorite places to grab a beer and a snack is a la Mort Subite. Although it does become touristy, it is a civilized class of tourists who like to relax and grab a quiet beer and something to eat, unlike the more popular Delirium Cafe. The best thing about the cafe, other than the decor and the waiters with attitudes is they make their own beer, and it is strong beer! If you find yourself in Brussels and want to check it out, just leave the grand place and head to the Gallery St Hubert. Go through the gallery and when you com eout the other side, there it is!
Brussels, Belgium
This is a weekend dedicated to Belgian beers. Small and big breweries present their beer on the Grand-Place. The entrance is free, the tastings have to be paid. And if you are not a beer fan, go for the amazing, fresh oysters sold by different vendors. My favorite place for oysters is at the restaurant Le Roy d’Espagne, in the corner, to the right of the Town Hall.
Place du Jeu de Balle, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
After a March week that included a freak snowstorm, a windstorm, and pounding rain, we woke up to a sunny day in Brussels—a perfect day to explore the Jeu de Balle market. We walked by jumbles of scarves, old records, antique silverware, vintage postcards, and loads of ashtrays (the bane of any market stall, I assume, because really, does anyone still buy ashtrays?) When I saw these two older gentlemen playing backgammon in that rare March sun, I shot a quick photo to capture the serenity, brightness, and intensity of the moment. That was right before one of them stood up, and shouted what I can only assume were obscenities in the not-oft heard Bruxellois dialect. His partner followed suit, and soon a loud volley of words flew back and forth across the board. Seconds later, they both took their seats and resumed the game as though they had never even moved.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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