Ottawa, ideal for over 50s travel


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Ottowa, CanadaI am just back from three splendid days in Ottawa. I was attending the annual Rendezvous Canada marketplace where I meet with many of our suppliers learning all about their plans for the next twelve months. It is a marvellous opportunity for what I would call catching up with old friends, but what the professionals would undoubtedly tell me is networking. Whichever, it was great fun.

However, the icing on the cake was the fact that the conference coincided with the Ottawa Tulip Festival which takes place every May for about three weeks. What I did not know was that the festival was established in 1953 with the gift of tulips from Holland.

Canada provided a safe haven for the Dutch Royal family during the war, Princess Margriet was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which was temporarily declared extraterritorial by the Government of Canada, to ensure the princess would hold exclusively Dutch, rather than dual nationality. (Princess Margriet remains the only royal person ever to be born in North America.) As a thank you for this and for the Canadian troops fighting for Holland’s freedom in WWII, the Dutch gave thousands of tulips to Canada from 1953 until Queen Juliana’s abdication in 1980. There are now over a million tulips flowering in the city every May and the sight is truly spectacular.

Ottowa, CanadaIt was ages since I had been to Ottawa; it really is a splendid place for a long weekend. The totem gallery in the The Canadian Museum of Civilisation made my jaw drop in awe when I went in. The sheer height (6 storeys) with a glass wall lit the line of totem poles. The room also houses the original plaster pattern for Spirit of Haida Gwaii by celebrated Haida artist Bill Reid which is one of my all time favourite sculptures. In its way, it is as moving to me, as Michelangelo’s Pieta in Rome.

Ottawa is a good walking city: the Rideau Canal runs through the city providing lots of green space full of runners in the early morning but later in the day makes for a pleasant stroll. It freezes in winter making it the longest skating rink in the world! You can discover its history in the Bytown Museum, this being the original name of the settlement here, named after Colonel John By. The colourful Byward Market is full of boutiques selling everything from jewellery to roller skates as well as farm fresh food and aromatic spices by day and a cornucopia of attractive, restaurants in the evening. The Parliament buildings and Peace Tower, reminiscent of Big Ben, are well worth a visit too.

Ottowa, CanadaOttawa, in the east of the country, is the capital of Canada and hosts around 7 million tourists a year. This isn’t perhaps surprising as in 2010 it received the ‘World Festival and Event City’ award. And the list of festivals is long, varied and at times, unexpectedly quirky, the Ottawa Turkish Festival or the International Chicken and Rib Cook-Off anyone? Music, theatre and art events are both mainstream and specialist, with Canada Day on July 1st being a serious highlight and deservedly internationally famous for the late night pyrotechnics.   

Summers are warm, winters very cold, with cross country ski trails in the heart of the city and downhill runs just an hour away at Mount Pakenham. The architecture is stately and formal as indeed befits a capital city. Roads are in a grid layout, incorporating the meandering river and Rideau canal, which is, truth be told, the reason the city exists at all.

For holidays and travel to Ottawa, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Frontier Canada.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 3 Comment(s)

  • SilverTravelUser_1520
    almost 2 years ago
    Hi Lin,
    Thanks for all that info - really useful. I don't know the Les Suites but will certainly look them up next time I am lucky enough to be in Ottawa. One of my colleagues was there recently and stayed at the Andaz just by Byward Market which she loved.
  • Lin
    almost 2 years ago
    I couldn’t agree more: Ottawa has everything, not only for the over 55s but for all ages. We stayed at Les Suites Hotel near Byward Market (much cheaper than the Lord Elginand not quite as salubrious but with a fully equipped kitchen and excellent, roomy suites in a great location). Walking around was a doddle: if you are reasonably mobile you can walk anywhere in the city and,if you are not, download the taxi app and call taxis whenever you need them (if you don’t have the app most hotels,bars and restaurants will call a cab for you - Les Suites had a direct line phone to a taxi firm available in the lobby).
    The weather was hot: up to 27C last week (May 2018).
  • DRSask
    almost 7 years ago
    For a centrally located hotel in Ottawa, the Lord Elgin fits the bill. While there I made full use of the fitness centre and was able to check in for my flight home in their business centre. Aside from being a beautiful building where you will receive great service, it is located right in the thick of things. Ask for a room at the front for a view of Confederation Park across the road. The helpful map provided by the concierge details over 80 points of interest within walking distance of the hotel. Turn left out the front door and you will find the National Arts Centre, the National War Memorial in Confederation Square, the Rideau Canal Locks, the Parliament Buildings, the Peace Tower and Centennial Flame. For one of Canada’s oldest public markets there is the Byward Market just east of the Rideau Canal between York and George Streets. The Byward Market shopping area extends between Rideau and Cathcart Streets and has over 80 restaurants of various nationalities. Turn right out the front door of the hotel and you will find numerous options for dining at any time of the day or night and to fit any budget on Elgin Street.

    Lord Elgin Hotel
    100 Elgin Street, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8
    Tel: (613) 235-3333 Toll Free: 1-800-267-4298

    Other helpful websites:

    To find out what is happening at the National Arts Centre-
    To check out the entertainment in a smaller venue -