When visiting Ottawa do not take the cab (taxi). Taxi rates are very high in Ottawa. Appearently the highest in the country. You save lots by walking of by taking the public transportation (OC transpo: see transportation tips).
Plus taxi drivers will ask you for tip if you did not give them enough! And eve worst, all my taxi experiences where bad: the taxi driver did not know how to get to my location, taxi driver was not pleasant or the wait was very long!
Unique Suggestions: If you have to use the cab make sure that public transporation can NOT take you where needed. That you fill up the car (the more people the cheper per person). That you have accurate direction and adress of the location where you want to go and that the driver is pleasant!
Fun Alternatives: OC transpo
We don't walk around in Rawhide, nor do we sit in leather Teepee's or wear pelts (although I'm sure they were very popular back in the 1700 and 1800's).
Unique Suggestions: Good Canadian souvenirs to buy would be
1. Maple Syrup
2. Canadian flag
4. A snowball. ;)
Souvenirs of Ottawa might include a replica of Parliament Hill or a painting of the Rideau Canal.
Some people might call this a "must see", but I wouldn't. I would call this a "must see if you have absolutely nothing else better to do with your time".
Essentially, there are two mints in Canada. One is in Winnipeg, Manitoba... where Canadian money is made for every day use.
The other is here in downtown Ottawa, except this mint is different, as they don't make the currency that gets used. At the Ottawa mint, they make special edition coins that are made purely for souvenir purposes. These coins serve no other purpose than to be gifts and collectors items.
If you're going to come here, you can take the tour for $2. It's kind of neat, because you get to see all the machinery that punches out the coins. And if you're lucky, you can see the gold and silver bars they use to melt down to turn into coins.
I didn't find the tour that interesting because the walkways are in these glass-encased hallways that look *over* the mint's factory rooms. You're looking down over the machinery. Personally, I didn't find looking at the machinery all that spectacular or amazing. You don't see rolls of coins rattling around. You just see a lot of machinery. It looks like your typical warehouse.
I also felt quite distanced from any activity going on in the factory. I usually am not one to get bored, but this did bore me. I was happy to leave. These were 45 minutes I could have easily spent elsewhere.
Unique Suggestions: You can visit their gift store for free. If you're going to visit the mint, at least drop by the gift store
Fun Alternatives: If you're really interested in coins and money, take a walk down to Sparks Street to the Currency Museum. Not only is the Currency Museum free, but it's an entire museum devoted to the history of money... money from all around the world. Definitely much more interesting than the Royal Canadian Mint.
Don't immagine your average ice icicles. Here in Canada icicles can be as large as 3 meters and over 60-Kg / piece. These usually hang from the roofs of homes and buildings. You have to be very careful not to stand underneath them. Especially around march when the weather is getting warmer and when one of these icicles get loose, it can kill a person in a second.
Unique Suggestions: Always look up to make sure you are not standing underneath these cubes.
Fun Alternatives: If you like ice, visit the ice sculpture competition in downtown during Winter Lude.
Located along Sussex Dr away from the downtown center and close to numerous foriegn embassies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and 24 Sussex, this museum is dedicated to promote and exhibit all things Canadian. Some of the exhibits go something like..."Well gosh darn, did you know John Candy was Canadian? And Celine Dion, and Alanis Morissette, and Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, the Mackenzie brothers, Wayne Gretzky, William Shatner, Margaret Trudeau, Margaret Atwood, the Barenaked Ladies...." With these kind of exhibits, Avril Lavigne is sure to get her own room with a marble statue soon. Also included are various inventions that have been made (or at least contributed to) by Canadians, an exhibit on UN Peacekeeping and Canada's good trading relations with other nations.
Being American, perhaps I have a bias. Don't get me wrong, I love Canada--much of my father's side comes from there, and the country's one of the loveliest places out there. But honestly I thought this museum was a pat-yourself-on-the-back place to re-enforce what people already knew. Mentally, I place the Canada and World Pavillion somewhere in between "kinda/maybe" interesting and an example of the dreaded Canadian inferiority complex.
Unique Suggestions: The architecture of the building is quite original and good-looking, plus the various parks around the pavillion's vincinity are good for a walk, bike ride or picnic. The staff inside is friendly and exceptionally helpful. But If you really do want to see all the pictures of famous Canadians, see Canadian inventions, Canadian sports, Canadian technology, Canadian footballs, Canadian...ummm...trade relations with EU and U.S., then please come. But if you're not Canadian like myself, you might be bored out of your mind.
Fun Alternatives: Stop by, take a gander around the place and grounds, and move along to other sites on Sussex Dr.
The Canada and World Pavillion's website is at: http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/international/index.asp
Not sure if this should fall under "Tourist Trap" or "Must see activity". I think it's both. The Rideau Canal is one of Ottawa's top attractions and a lot of fun to skate on -- although it's outside, the surface is generally quite smooth.
Unique Suggestions: The canal tends to be extremely crowded, especially on weekends and especially during Winterlude (February). It's best to go on a weekday (morning), preferably in January, if you can arrange it. Much more fun and less risk of collision / injury / lawsuit. ;-)
But whenever you go, you must sample a "Beavertail"! Vegetarians, don't worry: It's just like a flat doughnut covered with cinnamon & sugar (or whatever topping you choose).
The boat tours of the Rideau canal are the worst I can think of. I've never been, but the people always look bored, and hey, you can see much more by walking or getting on a bike. The trails along the canal are beautiful, with lots of detours that you can't take from the boat.
The parliament is a tourist trap, but like every canadian and tourist from abroad (especially Japanese tour groups) you have to go see democracy in action! Go see the history, the architecture and sit in commons and observe the politicians.
This at one time use to be a great restaurant, but has since gone down hill.
The service is poor and the food and drinks are expensive.
There are many other restaurants to choose from.
As much as I LOVE the National Aviation Museum, 15$ for 3 drinks, 2 cold steamed hotdogs and 2 Jello puddings and 1 bag of chips is WAYYY too pricey..
Canadian souvenirs...read it backwards listening to Judas Priest and you'll keep hearing:
'Tourist trap! Tourist trap!!'
Well..maybe not, but you get the picture..
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