Ottawa Day 3 : Byward Market
After sleeping in a little bit, we got ready and called our Uber into town. We wanted to spend a full day exploring downtown Ottawa, especially the ByWard Market area. I'm not sure why I picked the absolute coldest day of our trip to walk around outside but we made the most of it! It was still pretty snowy in the morning when we arrived at Origin Trade Co. I'd done a lot of research into coffee shops before leaving on our trip and Origin looked too cute to miss. The outside of the coffee shop was warm and inviting with its homey feel and string lights lining the way. The inside had a somewhat industrial feel. The staff was great. The music was great. The coffee was great. What more could you ask for? We split three coffees between the two of us in an attempt to warm up for our day of exploration.
We set up the GoPro on the tripod for a quick shot near the Ottawa sign before heading over to Major's Hill Park. The snow was so, so beautiful (but also incredibly cold)! We had amazing views of a very winter wonderland scene of Parliament Hill, Gatineau, and the Ottawa River. After wandering around for a while we decided to head over to the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica to warm up. At that point my legs were so cold they were basically numb. I was quite warm on top but should have worn either long johns or leggings under my jeans or perhaps a longer coat!
Once we finally figure out the proper door to enter (it’s the far right-hand door in the front FYI) we were in for a real treat. The inside was absolutely insane. Carved woodwork covered every square inch of the altar. The ceilings were painted blue and adorned with metallic stars to mimic the night sky. The rhythm and repetition of the arches added to the sense of the majesty of the nave. I don’t think I’ve been in a church with so many carvings and statuary before.
After spending a bit of time in the cathedral, we walked down the road to Burgers N Fries Forever. This restaurant was #1 on my must eat list after finding them on some Ottawa hashtags. We didn’t go for the pierogi special but our burgers were still great! I had a Cali Burger and Alex had the BF2. It’s a good thing we decided to split a small poutine because it was way too much for the two of us to finish off! I find poutine to be so rich but it doesn’t stop me from eating it.
I found a neat record store called Vertigo Records in the Byward Market area so we stopped in to check out their selection. They had so many great new and used records! It’s honestly probably the best record store I’ve ever visited in terms of variety and volume. We flipped through the records and debated whether we should just buy some and ship them back. Many of them would have ended up being much cheaper than what we’d pay at home due to the exchange rate being in our favor. We ended up leaving empty handed since we wouldn’t be able to take anything home in our carry-on bags.
The record store was really close to the Rideau Center which is a huge mall in the center of downtown. I was so excited that they had a Disney store! We picked out the sweetest little Robin Hood wedding ornament for Chrissy and Matteo as a thank you / late wedding gift / early Christmas present. They’re huge Disney fans and I just couldn’t pass it up. We didn’t go in many stores but we did find some really cool chocolate covered whiskey treats at the Nordstrom store to take home for later.
Over the weekend we made plans to meet up with friends again to do one of Ottawa’s escape rooms. We started out at Tooth and Nail right around the corner from Escape Manor. Chrissy and I both had a special batch of the Argraria Farmhouse Ale. We were chatting a bit about how strong it was (7.5% alcohol which is pretty rare for us) and one of the bartenders heard that we were from down South. Turns out she’d just returned from a long road trip and has spent a significant amount of time in Charleston! We drank kind of quickly so that we’d arrive on time to our reservation.
After successfully escaping from the new Panic room with less than a minute to spare, we headed down the street a bit to Pho Thu Do, a little hole in the wall noodle shop. I drank lots of tea to keep warm since I was the only one that didn’t order a giant soup bowl! I honestly love going to little neighborhood joints when we travel with people. It was nice to have someone who knew the area pick where we’d be eating!