A few months ago, I was honoured to be chosen to attend this educational trip to Canada and could not wait for the time to arrive! Excitement just doesn’t cover it!
At long last the day arrived and off I flew to Heathrow from Newcastle to meet up with some of the others before heading to Ottawa on an Air Canada flight, which included an upgrade to business class, how fantastic is that? Ottawa
After booking into the Ottawa Marriott, which is a short stroll from Parliament Hill, we were met by our local tour director, who walked us over to D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub. What an amazing atmosphere here. I met some fellow travelling buddies from different travel companies throughout the world.
In the morning we were off, after a hearty but healthy breakfast to the fabulous Museum of Nature to see some of Canada’s finest from dinosaur fossils to an enormous blue whale skeleton. What a time to be in Canada, there is so much going on with its 150th Anniversary and the weather is stunning, not a cloud in the sky!
For lunch, we experienced the awesome Lone Star restaurant which is famous for its chips and salsa, BBQ ribs, fajitas and steak. The table was groaning with food and the staff kept bringing more! Everything is just so tasty! After this amazing lunch, it was time to work it off, with a cycle along the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage site. What an amazing experience!
No rest for the wicked, not that I’m not complaining. I’m loving it here and can’t wait to get onboard a boat that will cruise along the Ottawa River, offering us fabulous views of the city.
Back on dry land we head up to Bier Markt Ottawa, offering a European style inspired market dedicated to the art of brewing, with 150 beers from 30 countries and fantastic food to match (I didn't taste them all, by the way).
Breakfast the next day is in the stunning Fairmont Chateau, which is an ideal place to stay, especially being so close to the Parliament buildings, which is where we headed to next to visit Parliamentary precinct. With our lovely guide, Margo, we saw the Cenotaph and Houses of Parliament. We had lovely lunch in the Lord Elgin Hotel.
We then transferred to the 1000 islands region boat cruise, taking us through some stunning scenery and visiting Rockport along the way.
Next stop Gananoque, which is a beautiful waterfront colonial style town in the heart of 1000 islands. With breath-taking views from all angles only matched by the warmth and friendliness of its residents. We stayed her overnight.
Day three and we are heading off to the 1000 islands helicopter tours for a short flight, taking in the amazing views from up on high. From here we were off to Kingston. This was once Canada’s original capital city and I just loved it here! It’s a very vibrant but hip and constantly evolving city that is also steeped in history, with 20 museums and the awesome Penitentiary and Fort Henry.
Fort Henry was built in 1812 at the time of the war between Great Britain and Canada. We had an amazing visit here with people dressed in authentic period clothing and guards to keep us in check!
The Penitentiary visit gave us a rare and unique insight behind the walls of Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum-security prison. Closed in 2013, I was so glad I only had a visitor’s pass! Afterwards we jumped on a trolley bus and had a tour, guided by the enigmatic Bryan, around the lovely city of Kingston.
Our dinner tonight was at the Atomica Pizza and Wine bar. Fabulous food in a vibrant atmosphere.
Day 4 and we arrived at the most amazing place: Elmhirst Resort, on the shores of Rice Lake. We had a fabulous tour by horse and carriage. Elmhirst’s Resort offers accommodation in the most spectacular setting, in fully equipped private lakeside cottages. This 240-acre resort is family owner operated and breeds its own cattle, chickens, grows its own vegetables and herbs, perfect for the dining rooms. So much to see and do here, at all times of the year, it’s definitely on my tick list to came back and stay! Did I mention I had the best ever Thanksgiving Dinner here!
Next stop, Toronto! We book into the Chelsea Hotel, where we have some spare time, before the Toronto leg of our trip starts with a vengeance tomorrow.
Day 5 and we had a fantastic tour around Toronto which is just stunning. This city is more cosmopolitan than Ottawa in my opinion, but everyone is just so friendly. This will be my overriding impression of Canada; the Canadian people are just so warm. I even seen friendly road rage!
In the evening we paid a visit to Toronto’s iconic CN Tower where I managed to walk over the glass floor, looking down on the ‘ants’ of people 2000ft below! We had an amazing dining experience in CN Tower’s fabulous revolving restaurant at the very top. The views from here are spectacular!
I don’t want to leave! After breakfast is a seminar where we meet all the other travellers and chat to the suppliers before we leave for the airport, with a heavy heart!
My overall impression of Canada, for the short time I was here, is amazing! I have had one of the best experiences in my life. I was in California last year where I felt I was home, but Canada and especially Kingston, is in the mix now too!