I was away to explore Ontario, and so I flew with Air Canada to Ottawa, just a 7-hour flight. Before take off I was invited to Air Canada’s Lounge at Heathrow – spacious, comfortable, and a lovely way to start my trip
Ottawa is the Capital of Canada and is a green, clean and wonderful city. One of its famous spots is the Rideau Canal, which in the winter is the largest ice skating rink in the world – frozen along its whole length. In the summer it’s a hive of bikers, joggers and walkers enjoying the outdoors.
Ottawa is full of history – like the original Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel called the Fairmont Le Chateau Laurier, museums like the Bytown, the Museum of Civilisation, the First Nations Park and much more. But in no time at all you can be in the beautiful countryside of Gatineau Park, which has every possible outdoor activity on offer.
At Rockport, not far from Ottawa we cruised through the ‘1000 Islands’ right on the American Border – the views were spectacular!
Did you know the former Capital was actually Kingston? Nowadays Kingston is a small thriving university town, full of interesting historical sites on the St Lawrence River. It’s also called ‘Limestone City’. The ‘living museum’ Fort Henry gave us a fascinating insight of 19th century life within a British Garrison. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit.
Out here in rural Ontario I found Elmhirst Resort on Lake Rice. What a beautiful resort and such a beautiful setting! The cottages are set on the shores of the lake; the restaurant is fabulous, as is the Spa. It has an indoor and an outdoor pool, and lots of water sports on offer. Elmhirst has its own wine cellar, and even a light aircraft for joy rides over the lake!
Of course Ontario’s most famous city is Toronto! Chic and trendy, Toronto has the largest underground shopping complex in the world with the PATH, a 28 km underground shopping network. A melting pot of cultures with a truly Canadian feel. Set on Lake Ontario, the lake lends the city some beautiful views, as well as great recreation and sports on the water!
Toronto has many festivals always celebrating – wonderful restaurants and so many shops: small and large, designer and quirky and you can enjoy some celebrity spotting too! Holt’s is a great place to be ‘seen’ and great for people watching while you enjoy lunch.
And still there is so much to do: Segway, touring on your own personal transportation, in the old Distillery District, a tour of the Arts Gallery of Ontario or the Air Canada Sports Centre, for an afternoon watching an exciting ice hockey match. Even a tour of the city in a “hippo bus”, an amphibious vehicle, is fun to enjoy the sights by roadways and waterways!
And talking of water, just an hour and a half away is the world famous Niagara Falls. Exciting, breathtaking, awesome, the Falls are beautiful from all angles – close up in the Maid of the Mist or up above in a helicopter. The views are just stunning, night and day. Niagara-on-the-Lake, a little way down the river, is the centre of the local wine region, and is famous for Ice Wine. We visited the Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Winery and enjoyed the wine tasting, food, and the lovely atmosphere in the heart of Ontario!
Last, but not at all least, we got all dressed up for dinner at the top of the CN Tower! I’ll spare you the facts and figures of this amazing icon of Toronto but once whisked up in the glass fronted lift we had the most ‘awesome’ views of the whole city from the revolving restaurant and through the glass floor on the observation deck!
Ontario was my first glimpse of Canada, it was all I had dreamed of and more, which just makes me want to return as soon as possible to enjoy some more of this wonderful country!