For all of you looking for Gatineau look for signs with the word: HULL!
2009 Update: Believe it or not, all HULL signs are replaced by signs with GATINEAU. So, just follow the new and cleary readable new signs :)
Ottawa is so interesting, because every single year when the first big snow storm hits, the drivers in the city go stupid. I do not understand it, every year it happens ... and every year it seems like people just do not know how to drive in bad conditions.
When driving in the winter, please be extra carefull, not just with your driving, but of others as well. The roads do get cleared very quickly, but still extreme caution needs to be used. DRIVE SLOW and leave plenty of space for breaking.
That little flashing man in white saying it's ok to walk doesn't last very long! But if it's any consolation the flashing orange hand seems to last a bit longer..
Take into consideration that that cars can turn right on red!
After sightseeing in Ottawa, we headed towards Montreal. It was already dark (7pm) but we were quite sure we would be able to find Route 417 easily. but we didn't! There were several signs but none of them didn't guide us well. we often ended up with dead ends. After finding 417, things were dead easy, but before that, it was hellish. If I have to go to Ottawa again, I will buy a detailed map in Ottawa, that's for sure.
We are from left-driving country, but my husband has lived in US for almost 8 years so in Canada he didn't have any problem in driving on the right. But in Ottawa, lots of one-way streets without a clear sign of it, we almost crushed our car into the cars coming right towards us (We managed to turn as a cautious driver sound the horn). Pedestrians don't follow the signal, it seemed they didn't care if they were hit by a car. I don't think we would go back to Ottawa by car...
These yellow things are called fire hydrants. They are all over the city on the side of the streets. Marked with yellow flags in the winter time so firefighters would see them under the snow.
DO NOT park near them! You will get a big parking ticket. You have to stay five meters clear from the hydrants.
Especially in the downtown, there is parking available, but it fills up quickly, and some parking lots are not cheap. Side streets usually are the best way to go. Some streets have a 1 or 2 hour maximum, but usually is unlimited after 5:30 (correct me if I'm wrong) and on weekends.
People here drive like maniacs. They tend to be very agressive, especially during lane changes (don't expect a blinker!). Also, when the lights here turn red, traffic doesn't so much stop as taper off. Be careful at intersections.
But if you think its bad here, its even worse as soon as you go across the bridge into Quebec!