24 hours in Ottawa, Canada

In August of last year, we did a road trip to New England (from Tn), visiting several places for the first time - Gettysburg (Pa), York and Ogunquit (Me), New Bedford (Ma) and Ottawa, Ontaria in Canada. We were visiting friends in Montreal, and decided to do a day trip to Ottawa, which is less than two hour's drive from their place. What a charming capital city! It's clean, nicely organized with wide boulevards, impressive architecture and history, and not crowded like Montreal or Toronto. We were impressed. 

Perhaps we were early, parking was a breeze. Our first stop was the Parliament buildings. Apparently, the historic Centre Block Parliament building has been undergoing a major overhaul for a decade, and the massive renovation won't be completed for another eight years. You can read more about the project here. Despite all the construction equipment and cranes photo bombing the picture, the iconic landmark is still majestic.
Centre Block, main Parliament building
East Block
Had we known to reserve tickets in advance, we could've gotten a free tour of the East Block building and learned what life at Parliament was like in the 19th century.

Next stop: lunch at Sansotei Ramen noodle shop. We chose it after reading their rave reviews. Our ramen and pork belly were delicious! We had come early and were seated immediately. When we left, the place was packed, and when we passed the location later, there was a line.
Miso Black Chashu (pork belly) ramen
After lunch, we strolled over to the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Flanked by Fairmont Château Laurier on one side, Bytown Museum on the other, the Rideau Canal connects the Ottawa River to the St Lawrence River at Kingston, Ontario. The Ottawa Locks has 8 locks providing a total lift of 79 feet (24m). Watching the operators crank open the wooden gates (by hand!) at each lock was fascinating. It captivated us for three hours as we followed the boats going through the locks along the Rideau Canal. For more detail information on the Ottawa locks, click here. This attraction is also  popular for bicycling, kayaking and weddings (we saw two on this lovely day).
Rideau Canal viewed from the Plaza Bridge
Boats entering the locks
Map and history of the Rideau Canal
Fairmont Château Laurier
On our way to the Byward Market., we ambled over to the National Gallery of Canada and the lovely Notre Dame Basilica.
National Gallery of Canada
Notre Dame Basillica
The Byward Market is a vibrant market that encompasses four blocks, offering produce, handicrafts, all sorts of goods and goodies. There are eateries, pubs and restaurants galore. By the time we got past all the buskers and outdoor entertainment, our stomachs were rumbling.
We had selected a restaurant, but found it closed for a private party. Thanks to wifi, we found Luxe Bistro, where we had a superb al fresco dinner. 
Crispy duck leg
Steak Frites with a side salad

Moules (mussels)
Ottawa is a wonderful side trip from Montreal. Highly recommended.
This post is shared on Skywatch Friday Through My Lens and Image-in-ing.


Falling for New England: York and Ogunquit, Maine

Lobsters, charming seaside towns, lighthouses, wild blueberries. These are what come to mind when I think of Maine. Last August, we visited our cousin's new vacation home in York, and got the opportunity to explore both York and neighboring Ogunquit, which is only fifteen minutes' drive away. Years ago, friends had recommended Ogunquit, so we were excited to visit.
Perkins Cove
lobster and fishing boats
A unique footbridge caught our eye as we walked around the little harbor of Perkins Cove. It was fascinating to see the drawbridge opening and closing to let boats through. We later learned that the drawbridge was scheduled for demolition this year, and a new bridge will replace it.
Perkins Cove Drawbridge
We went up the drawbridge to get a bird's-eye view of the lovely little harbor. It was exciting to watch the drawbridge open for a lobster boat, as you can see in the video.
It was pure serendipity that Footbridge Lobster was having a promotion for $5 a lobster (1.25 lbs or more.) After we ordered, the employee literally walked across the street to the docks to fill our cooler with fresh off the boat lobsters. It sure can't get any fresher than that! 
ordering our lobsters at Foot Bridge Lobster
lobsterman bringing in their catch
Needless to say, we feasted on lobsters for several days. Lobsters for dinner, lobster sandwiches for lunch, and lobster with oatmeal for breakfast. We were happy campers.
We enjoyed a stroll along Marginal Way, the 1.25 mile walkway that meanders along the rocky shoreline. There are plenty of benches to sit and view the stunning ocean vista.
views along Marginal Way
A trip to York won't be complete without a visit to Nubble Light.
Nubble Light, York
People flock to New England for its stunning fall foliage. If you prefer less crowded places, the Maine coast is a good alternative. Happy Fall, Y'all!