Ottawa

Royal Canadian Mint

Tuesday, May 22, started with a trip to Parliament Hill to pick up free tour tickets at 90 Wellington. Well, despite arriving an hour after they opened, they had no more tours until 6:30! So, I picked up a ticket and went on my way to other activities.

The first being the Royal Canadian Mint! Now, if you remember my post for yesterday, I had already tried to go to the Mint….and landed myself confused and lost in the National Gallery of Canada!Royal_Canadian_Mint_Logo_(2013-).svg

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I was only able to take photos outside and in the gift shop, so I don’t have a lot to show, and there’s not a lot online either! The tour was really interesting and lasted about 45 minutes. It only cost $6 CAD (about $4.65 USD), which was also really great. This is definitely a tour I recommend!

There are mints located in both Ottawa and Winnipeg. The Ottawa Mint makes collection coins and investment coins, while the Winnipeg Mint makes circulation coins and oversees the production of bills. While they do change the inside as technology changes, the outside is preserved in its castle-like form.

 

The first photo is the outside of the Mint, the second photo is just a moose from the gift shop, and the bottom photo is me holding 28 pounds of gold, worth $650,000!

Also look at this cute and kinda weird Canadian maple leaf doll I got:

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So, I guess when I was dropped off outside the National Gallery, I didn’t realize that the Mint was behind me — I walked away from it and kept looking and looking, when it was only three minutes behind me! Eh, it’s funny to laugh about now. Wasn’t so funny when I was lost and didn’t know why!

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Next….onto the Bank of Canada!

Ottawa

Canadian Museum of History

After crossing the Ottawa River and entering Gatineau, Quebec, I took my first stop at the Canadian Museum of History. This place was huge, which makes sense as Canada’s natural history museum. The museum used to called the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and its purpose, past and present, has been to collect and study objects regarding the history of Canada and its cultural diversity.

 

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Courtesy of Canadian Museum of History

 

Special Exhibitions 

 

 

Canadian History Hall 

 

 

 

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Lower Level and Outside

 

 

 

Ottawa

Day 1 Bus Tour

Whenever I travel to a new city, I like to do one of their very tourist-y attractions right off the bat: a bus tour. Why? Because it gives you a layout of the city immediately, you do a big loop through major parts of the city and get some background and history. You also get transportation between the sites that you might be going to anyway. I’ve never regretted it, and I usually do a 2-day pass. I take the first day to do their tour and learn, and then the second day I usually use it more for transportation between sites.

I bought a two-day double decker tour from Lady Dive for Monday, May 21, and Tuesday, May 22. Here is the route that they take:

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Courtesy of Lady Dive

On the other side of the Ottawa River is the city of Gatineau, Quebec. So, on the map you’ll see the tour crosses into both (and my next post, the Canadian History Museum, takes place in Gatineau). For today, I only stopped at the CHM and then later at the National Gallery. My next two posts will be about those experiences. Check out some photos from around the city as we took the tour!

DAY 1

Ottawa

Airbnb

My last few trips I’ve used Airbnb and had overall good experiences, but I spent a lot of time researching and picking the right place (a blog post for another time).

I didn’t take any photos of the room, but here are the photos they took for their listing: 

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I really enjoyed this place and the hospitality of the two hosts. The room was $29 USD a night. It was about 10 minutes from downtown, and I usually took an Uber (which was about $10-$14 USD). I liked that they provided a continental breakfast and also a lot of travel tips for me!

If you’re headed to Ottawa, I do suggest checking this room out!

Ottawa

Travel to Ottawa

Getting to Ottawa was an adventure in and of itself.  After taking an 8:30 AM bus from Portland, I arrived at Boston Logan International Airport. The plan was to take a flight at 12:35 PM and arrive in Ottawa around 4:00 PM after a connection in Toronto.

At around noon, I was informed that the first flight was delayed, and then more delayed, to the point where I would miss the Toronto to Ottawa flight. After taking to the agent at Porter Airlines, I was then informed all other flights to Ottawa were cancelled. Great. After trying to keep myself calm (and calling my mom), I was able to sort through my options: 1) take the flight to Toronto and stay there until they had an Ottawa flight, 2) cancel the second flight and get a ticket with a different company, 3) stay in Boston with my brother or friend and take any flight in the morning. I ended up trying to buy from American Airlines because thankfully they had a 4:00 PM flight directly to Ottawa. After a couple hours, I was able to shuttle over to Terminal B and check-in. Well, I’m going to keep this calm and appropriate, but I absolutely hate this company. They wouldn’t let me check-in and take the flight because their system was behind in processing it, even though I had the receipt. After about 20 minutes of arguing, I was shit out of luck. There was no way I was getting to Ottawa on Saturday, May 19, unless I was going to buy a $500 last minute ticket from another company.

This is where I stopped handling things well. I completely freaked out and did not know what to do. I had purchased all these flights that I was not yet refunded for, I didn’t have a flight, I didn’t know where to go or what to do, and I was exhausted. I spent the entire afternoon on the phone with American Airlines, Porter Airlines, and Vayama (travel company where I bought tickets). It was absolutely horrible, and the companies just sent me back to each other, so finally I put them on conference call after four hours of dealing with this and told them to figure it out. The airlines want the travel company to refund me and the travel company is dragging their feet. Needless to say it was quite the fight, and they say it’s getting resolved, but who knows. Travel Tip: I now know it’s significantly easier to deal with these situations if you buy directly through the airline company and not a travel website like Vayama or Travelocity.

I went to my friend’s and was able to nap for a few hours. Now, I’m going into this trip absolutely exhausted because I just finished the Model UN conference. So even a few hours was helpful. I was up at 3:00 AM and back over to Logan for my 5:30 AM flight.

I had the weirdest flight….Boston to Philadelphia to Ottawa. Let me show you that craziness on a map. At this point, I was wondering if it would have been easier to drive to Ottawa!

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Well, I made it to Canada about 18 hours later than expected, around 11:00 AM on Sunday, May 20th. Going through immigration was pretty smooth….except I think my answers raised some flags! When you go through customs/immigration, the common questions are, “Are you here for work or personal?” “What are your plans?” “Who are you staying with?” “Do you know anyone here?” “When do you plan to return?” Well, I had nothing planned for this trip, and I knew no one in the area. So, I looked a little suspicious saying, “I don’t really have any plans, just here to explore on my own.” So, I was asked quite a few questions after. Lesson learned, have at least somewhat of a structured plan. And don’t freak out when immigration flags you.

Next, I went to my Air BNB and settled in/rested for the remainder of the day. I had planned to get up and explore a small strip of stores up the street for dinner, but I was exhausted and just decided to catch up on sleep! After 36 hours of travel and 6 days without a full night’s sleep, I think I deserved the 15 or so hours I slept! And thankfully, I was then up early the next morning (today) to hit the ground running.