First impressions of Canada's capital. Spoiler alert: it totally worked its way into my heart! //

First Impressions // Ottawa

Last fall I decided it was time to travel solo, so I started planning a trip to Montreal over a school break. I only started planning about a month in advance and Montreal was a little more expensive of a trip than I wanted to take on with that short notice. As I thought of another place to travel to, one city came to mind: Ottawa.

First impressions of Canada's capital. Spoiler alert: it totally worked its way into my heart! //

I almost went to Ottawa years ago. It wasn’t a place I was too excited to visit at the time, but the idea of going there has been in the back of my mind ever since. “One day I’ll go to Canada… One day I’ll go to Ottawa.”

Airplane tickets to Ottawa were in the price range that I had in mind and the idea of visiting the capital of Canada as my first adventure in that country totally made sense.

“I’ll be in Ottawa this weekend,” I pointed the dates out on the calendar when talking to one of my bosses.

“So you’re just going to Canada? In a month?” he asked.


“Well… that’s cool!”

I honestly thought I’d visit Ottawa, marvel at the beauty of fall in a Canadian city, enjoy my stay, see a few sights and cross Ottawa off my list of places to visit. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with such a vibrant city.

Beautiful, yes! The fall foliage was stunning and the architecture in certain parts of the city was so fun to see. I spent quite a bit of time standing in the rain to look out over the Rideau Canal.

I also loved learning about the history of the city. I only spent a few days there, but I created an itinerary (with the help of someone staying at my hostel who had visited Ottawa before) that helped me learn about the history of how this city came to be. It was so cool to have that background knowledge as I walked around and explored. (Of course, I’ll share more of what I did in the coming weeks.)

When I left I realized that I had a lot more fun exploring Ottawa than I anticipated. Still, I had checked Ottawa off the list. It was fun, it was over.

Only it wasn’t. I keep thinking back to the vibrant energy of Ottawa. I miss walking the streets amidst the bustle of its residents. I miss exploring ByWard Market and stumbling across new sights to see as I meander the streets. I miss exploring in the rain and ducking into coffee shops to warm up and take a break.

There was a lot of construction as they put in new transit lines to make the city even easier to navigate and there’s so much more to see.

I’m excited share more of this beautiful city with you. It surprised me (but it might not come as a shock to others) that… this city captured my heart. And I might be going back very soon, this time with my mom for a specific event I think she’d love. It’ll be so much fun to introduce her to Ottawa!

First impressions of Canada's capital. Spoiler alert: it totally worked its way into my heart! //


  1. Brittany

    February 21, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I love spontaneous travel like that where it all just works out! I’m glad you had such a great time in Ottowa! I’ve only ever been to cities in western Canada but they’re also vibrant and fresh feeling!

    • Crystal @ Dreams, etc.

      February 28, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Yes! It was so much fun and that spontaneous trip is really what I needed. I’m so excited to visit more of Canada soon. What cities have you been to?

  2. Heather Gullett Denniston

    February 21, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I loved Ottawa. I did not know I would like it and after driving around all day with her I was blown away!

    • Crystal @ Dreams, etc.

      February 28, 2017 at 11:12 am

      I was talking with someone the other day who said, “You don’t really hear people say that they want to go to Ottawa.” And that’s true, but like you said, it’s an amazing city! I’m encouraging people I know to check it out. 🙂

  3. Christine Everyday

    February 22, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I love that you fell so much in love with Ottawa! That’s awesome. 🙂

  4. Mistle

    March 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I have never been to Ottawa! I visited Banff in January and loved it! I can not wait to go back. I will have to add Ottawa to my list!!!

  5. Robin

    March 8, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Looking forward to seeing more photos! I know what you mean when you’ve checked a place off your list but it’s still nagging at you. I felt that way about Quebec City–I went there with my husband when we first met, and we just went back last month and did it much better the second time around by going during Carnival! Absolutely beautiful!

  6. Karen L

    March 9, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Ooh thank you for this! I’ve been wanting to visit (I haven’t been since I was a kid)! Maybe this time I’ll appreciate the rich history!

  7. Anne Markey

    March 9, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I grew up in Ottawa!!! I love the city. Since I moved away, I miss it so much. There is nothing like the Byward market!!

  8. Valerie Hansen

    March 9, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    LOVE this post! I am Canadian and have never been to the east. I was raised in Vancouver and have lived most of my life in the Seattle area now….I am dying to see Ottawa and Montreal both, you have fueled my fire for sure, loved the pics!


  9. Joscelyn | Wifemamafoodie

    March 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve only been to Niagara and Niagara on the Lake in Canada, but there’s so much more to see and do! Looks like a cool city with lots of history!

  10. sophie

    March 10, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Wow! I went to this place like 2 months back , and I loved it there but after reading your piece I just realized that there is so much more to see there as well. Looking forward to it on my next trip in 2017

  11. Bobbi @BobbisKozyKtchn

    March 10, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I would love to travel there. I keep adding more and more places to my bucket list!

  12. Carly Ned

    March 13, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I’ve never been to Canada and have been dying to go! Looks like you had a great time. It’s awesome that you traveled alone! I am still nervous to.
    xx Carly |


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  • I wasn’t particularly close to my aunts and uncles growing up. I was born when my parents were a little older and I always felt like my aunts and uncles had done the aunt and uncle thing and didn’t need more of it by the time I was born.

But my Uncle H and Aunt J were different. When my uncle was dying I was asked what some of my biggest memories were. This question came up again over the weekend. And there were so many to choose from. The biggest was, of course, sticky buns on Sunday morning. (And usually going to the store with him to get them.) There was also ✨ “driving” the tractor through the fields on the farm
✨ fishing during the summer
✨ trips to the store and getting a candy bar that I didn’t have to tell my parents about (but always did)
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✨ “scaring the fish away” by talking, but he was fine with me talking anyway
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✨driving the golf cart around the golf course
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He wasn’t a perfect man and I saw that once I was an adult. But for someone who was only close to one uncle growing up, he’s part of some of my best childhood memories. 💙
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🌻 a family brunch
🌻 followed by a family dinner the same day
🌻 fresh WI cheese curds
🌻 long talks with my cousin

What were you thankful for this weekend?
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🐾 Asked my grandhuman for tummy rubs.
🐾 Realized my tummy rubs weren’t his priority. 🙄
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