Take me to Ottawa

by - October 20, 2019





Dear Travel Diary, 

Arriving at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in late August by plane, the hustle and bustle at the airport felt exhilarating in an odd way. I was extremely excited because this was the first time I had ever travelled outside of my home country... IN MY LIFE! 

Truthfully, I was a bit afraid when there was turbulence on the plane.. Ha ha… silly me...I survived it.

I think all of you can understand the panic when the captain announces that you should stay in your seats because it’s just a “little” turbulence. Have you ever watched any movies with passengers on a plane? There is always a little turbulence that we don’t have to worry about before the plane does an infamous nosedive into... well... anything that kills most or all of the passengers.

You really shouldn’t watch films about planes before taking one.

Anyways, my time on the plane was pretty smooth after the initial shock that had my heart stunned and frightened when the seat-belt sign came on… no worries.. I am brave. (I am on land, so yes guys, bravery is now my superpower…)

Upon arrival to Canada, I was greeted with warm weather and a somewhat chilly breeze. It would soon be wintertime and I realised much later that I liked the winter season the most of them all.

Canadian winters really aren’t that bad but what do I know? Ha ha... I was cuddled up in bed sleeping the winter away. “Hibernating” I believe that’s what it’s called. (Just kidding...)

I didn’t feel the jet-lag either so that was great for me as I quickly got busy making myself feel “at home”.

Now this is the part where I tell you what I liked and disliked most about Ottawa and Canada as a whole. Buckle up guys, we are about to experience some more turbulence. What do you want to hear first? The good points or the “bad” ones?

Hmm… I think I will tell you the good ones first. (Cabin crew… ready for take-off)...

Tim Horton’s extra large French vanilla coffee, with a shot of caramel definitely tops the list. Yummy! I would say that second place goes to meeting other international students at St. Lawrence College where I studied Hospitality and Tourism Management. Next there is the learning of French, having the opportunity to speak with locals in French and travelling around Canada where I got to sample different dishes.

Ceramic cup of coffee
On the other hand, experiencing “racism” was certainly something to remember. Culture clashes were also a part of the experience and assistance as an international student was not a priority for the persons in authority who were supposed to be there to assist you. I must say that I was highly disappointed.

Was this treatment because of the colour of my skin? Even more, I did not feel “accepted” or “welcomed” by some locals but hey, this was just my experience so when you visit, yours may be different. Plus, these particular locals were a small minority.

Fast-forwarding now to better things once more…

The food in Canada was great, well… more like awesome and I tried a variety of dishes from cities like Kingston, Toronto, Montréal and Ottawa. I must say that my favorite place to visit was Montréal, hands down. The locals were extremely friendly in my opinion and the guys were definitely cute. Bisous,😍love you guys. I was able to practise my French there too. If you haven’t guessed by now… I love languages and I’m proud to say that I am a recipient of an Associate Degree in Italian and Spanish for Business and Tourism. Cool, right? Maybe my next trip will be to Italy.

Now this is what I recommend with respect to places to have lunch or dinner,

In Kingston, Ontario
  • Tom’s Place at Best Western Hotel: You definitely shouldn’t go to Canada and not try their barbecue spare-ribs. They are unfortunately only available on Saturdays though. The restaurant is quite cosy and the waiting staff is just fabulous. 
  • Sally’s Roti Shop: This place is perfect for my Caribbean family and anyone who wants to have an authentic taste of Trinidadian Cuisine. 
  • Tandoori Sizzle: It’s a great place to have Indian cuisine and the owners are very welcoming and pleasant. (Vegetarian options are also available.) 
  • Cambodiana and Pat’s Restaurant: Two (2) great places to dine for Cambodian food. I know, because I lived with a Cambodian.
In Montréal
  • Schwartz Deli: This deli is famous for their delectable, soft and juicy smoked meat. (For those of you who are not familiar with smoked meat, it’s a meat product made from salting and curing beef briskets with spices). This is served in rye bread with mustard. It is absolutely delicious. 
  • La Banquise: This is definitely the best restaurant in Canada to frequent, for quality poutine, trust me, their poutine will have you coming back for more. Yes, it is worth it. (Poutine is one of the most famous dishes in Canada and it is basically French fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy).
Montréal has many shops with delicious pastries and breads so feel free to try them ALL when you go… ha ha, I’m only kidding. You wouldn’t want to get fat now, would you?

a collage of shopping images
For those who love shopping sprees, there are many gigantic malls with many clothing, confectionery and food stores available. Some suggestions are:
  • Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto
  • Cataraqui Centre in Kingston, Ontario
Canada is a wonderful destination for persons who are very artistic; there are many theatres, museums, graffiti, and picturesque views for nature lovers to enjoy and during the winter season, you could go skiing there. It's quite popular.
Parliament Hill Building in Ottawa
I must conclude that my trip to Canada was an eye-opener in many ways, hey, I even had my first touch with racism but all in all, the friendships I made and the food I ate … yum… are definitely things to be missed. Hibernating too… Through all the bitter-sweet experiences I hold Canada close to my heart. I’m even feeling nostalgic and I implore you to take a trip there. I wish you the best time ever. If you have been to Canada, I’m sure you love it as much as I do.

Until next time… Au revoir!

Yours truly,

Shamariah


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