This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Ah, Ottawa. The city that had been dubbed the "world's most boring city." With a mix of skepticism and curiosity, I recently embarked on my first-ever trip to Ottawa, fully prepared for a yawn-inducing experience.
But the trip wasn't dull at all, and I wasn't nearly as bored as I thought I would be. I'm not sure if it was the lovely summer weather casting its magical spell or the fact that Ottawa's tulip festival was in full swing, but something definitely transformed this supposedly monotonous city into a vibrant playground of excitement.
Here's everything I checked out during my two-day trip and my honest review of how less of a letdown it was.
Byward market. Right: Rhythm Sachdeva having a sandwich at Byward café.
As I stepped foot into the lively Byward Market, I was instantly surprised.
The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement as pop-up art stores and clothing boutiques lined the streets. Live music filled the air, drawing crowds and encouraging spontaneous dance moves. I couldn't help but join in the fun, twirling around like a carefree child.
The Byward Cafe was a huge win too. Let me tell you about their grilled chicken sandwich — it was a flavour explosion in my mouth! Every bite brought a delightful mix of tender chicken, zesty sauce, and perfectly crisp veggies. My taste buds were doing a happy dance, and boredom was left in the dust.
Dow's Lake was an oasis of beauty, captivating me with its serene surroundings.
It was a treat to watch sunsets on it while taking a stroll in the day through the picturesque parks, marvelling at the vibrant colours of the flowers and the tranquillity of the water. The ducks quacked and waddled alongside me, adding a touch of whimsy to the scene.
This wasn't an exciting activity per se, but the parks were brimming with picnics, food trucks and paddlers on the lake. It was nice to see a bustling crowd enjoying the views and sun with me.
Rhythm Sachdeva eating shawarma. Right: Shawarma Palace.
Now, let's settle the age-old debate: Toronto versus Ottawa Shawarma. I made my way to Shawarma Palace with high expectations and a growling stomach.
With the first bite, I knew Ottawa had the upper hand. The shawarma plate was a true masterpiece, packed with succulent chicken, mouth-watering sauces, and a colourful medley of veggies.
It was a taste explosion that had me declaring victory for Ottawa. Sorry, Toronto, but Ottawa took the shawarma crown, leaving me in awe of its deliciousness.
Carleton University was the least exciting activity of my journey. It's a reputable institution and all, but in terms of sheer excitement, it fell a bit flat.
As I strolled through the campus, I couldn't help but feel a slight pang of boredom creeping in. Maybe it was because my expectations had been raised by the lively experiences I had in other parts of Ottawa, or perhaps secluded university campuses just aren't my cup of tea.
It was cool that the university had many views of the water and lots of spots for students to hang out while they grabbed a bite. Most of the campus buildings were closed, so I didn't get to see too much of what the classrooms and indoor hangout areas looked like.
The National Art Gallery
Rhythm Sachdeva at National Art Gallery. Right: National Art Gallery.
Ottawa's National Art Gallery of Canada could give the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) a run for its money!
As I wandered through the halls of the National Art Gallery of Canada, I was blown away by the quality and diversity of the artwork on display. From stunning masterpieces to thought-provoking contemporary pieces, the gallery had it all. The exhibits were meticulously curated, and each artwork seemed to have a story to tell.
There were plenty of spots to check out, and with so much to see, I was exhausted within two hours. But it was definitely worth a visit, and goes down on my list as one of the better museums and galleries in the country.