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Ottawa in June

Oldham
Level Contributor
20 posts
55 reviews
Ottawa in June

Hi,

I'm travelling to Ottawa/Gatineau for a conference in June. As I'm coming from the UK, I'm not just going to stay for one night! I'm planning to fly Sunday, conference Monday, have tues - fri to myself and then fly back Saturday.

I think I'll probably stay in an Air B&B to keep costs down, unless anyone has any other good suggestions. The conference is at the Hilton Lac Leamy, but I think that's probably out of my budget!

My main dilemma is whether or not to rent a car.

I want to do some of the tourist stuff in Ottawa. A bit of shopping and eating and generally wandering round, and also visit Gatineau park I think.

Is this all doable by public transport? Or should I rent a car? (Bearing in kind I've never driven on the 'wrong' side of the road before ;) )

And any oth r tips about things I really should see and do?

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
10,002 posts
141 reviews
1. Re: Ottawa in June

It all depends on where you will be staying. There are lower priced hotels near the Hilton Lac Lemay such as the Ramada.

I would stay either at the Hilton or Ramada just for the duration of your conference and then move downtown Ottawa, that way you will not need a car.

Does your conference offer shuttle to the hotels that are affiliated with the conference? that would be worthwhile checking.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,864 posts
4 reviews
2. Re: Ottawa in June

First thing to know is that our country is celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1, and accommodation has been sold out for months on and around that date. You didn't say what your dates are, but the closer to July 1, the more limited and expensive your choices will be. So find something and book it fast.

The core of all the main sites in Ottawa is at the intersection of Wellington and Elgin Streets. From there you can easily walk to many points of interest, so try to find lodging that is on a main bus line to get near that intersection. You can see the bus routes at the OC transpo website. You will have no difficulty finding all kinds of tourist info at your hotel during your conference, and the hotel staff will be able to give good advice. Take advantage of that.

You know, Gatineau Park is lovely, but it's huge so you do need a car, and I don't think it's worth renting a car and driving in an unfamiliar way just for that. If you want the same sensation of walking in a maple forest, take the bus along Sussex Drive to Government House and wander in the grounds there. It's the residence of the Governor General, btw, the place the royal family stay when they visit Ottawa. ,

Much as I love our city, you've allowed a generous amount of time. I'd like to suggest you take one day for a side trip to Montreal, by train (see VIA Rail website) or inter-city bus (Greyhound). It's an hour and a half away, a truly great city, and a completely different cultural experience. You won't see it all in one day, but you'll get a taste, and you should!n't miss that, since you're so close.

Ask away if you have more questions. You're coming at a great time. This city is ready to welcome the world this summer.

Ottawa, ON
Level Contributor
2,660 posts
62 reviews
3. Re: Ottawa in June

You won`t, of course, find any airbnbs in the immediate vicinity of the recommended Elgin and Wellington junction. But you will find many in the residential area immediately south of downtown between the Rideau Canal and Bronson Street, as well as in the still convenient Sandy Hill to the east and the further south Glebe neighbourhood.

June is a good month to visit - a number of festivals, including the Fringe (Jun 8-18), Italian Week (also Jun 8-18), Franco-Ontarien (Jun 15-17), Canada Scene (Jun 15 to Jul 23), Jazz Festival (Jun 22-July 2), Dragon Boat Festival (Jun 22-25).

I think renting a car for a day to drive up into the Gatineau would be nice. Wait to see what Ottawa driving is like before deciding. While driving on the wrong side of the road can be daunting at first, the fact that all cars are automatic so you don`t have to learn to shift gears with the wrong hand makes it easier. A passenger to remind you which lane to turn into is helpful.

Oldham
Level Contributor
20 posts
55 reviews
4. Re: Ottawa in June

Thank you, and thanks everyone.

I wasn't very clear about the conference! Sorry.

The accommodation for that is being paid for, along with my travel (hence I'm feeling very, very fortunate right now), so they are paying for two nights at the Lac Leamy - then when I have to pay for myself, I'll mor than likely move out!

Thanks for the tip about Montreal - I did really fancy going there, so I think I will take a day trip.

And good point about seeing what the driving is like before I commit myself - I can always make that decision when I get there.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,864 posts
4 reviews
5. Re: Ottawa in June

Good for you, what a great opportunity! If you do the Montreal day trip, get an early start. If you read through the rambling thread I started YUL (Montreal airport) to Ottawa in the evening, you will see that return trips in the evening are limited.

For your accommodation, as a woman on your own, I would avoid the area around Montreal Road and Vanier Parkway. I wouldn't walk around in that part of Vanier in the evening. The Hampton Inn 100 Coventry Road would be a great choice if you want to take the train to Montreal. It's very near the train station. Have you checked whether there is accommodation available at Ottawa University? It's student digs, but very reasonable price, and in a great location.

Oldham
Level Contributor
20 posts
55 reviews
6. Re: Ottawa in June

Thanks for the tip on locations, and I will definitely look at the university accommodation.

While I'm here, I was wondering about languages. I'm learning French at the moment, and although I'm really, really useless at it, I'd like to practice.

Are most people in Ottawa bilingual? Or do most just speak English OR French? And is French the first language, and English second?

So if I walked into a cafe - what's the politest thing to do? Have a go with my rubbish French, or start in English (don't want to offend anyone!)

Ottawa, ON
Level Contributor
2,660 posts
62 reviews
7. Re: Ottawa in June

English is the predominant language in Ottawa. Essentially all Francophones are bilingual. I would guess less than half the Anglophones are. Start with English is fine. When you are across the river in Gatineau, you can start with your "bon jour". Upon hearing your accent, most every Francophone will switch to English.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,864 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: Ottawa in June

As now says, you will have no problem with language. Speak English, and no one will be mad or insist on French. Most Ottawa long-time English residents do pick up enough French to bumble along, but language is not a political issue here in the normal course of the day. The same, btw, is true in Montreal. Speak English, nobody is going to throw a crepe at you!

The experience of most anglophones is that the minute they utter a word in French, Frnacophones immediately switch to English. If they persist in French, most Francophones get a pained expression and patiently carry on in French. Because they assume the Anglophone is taking language training, and they have now been co-opted into being an unpaid teacher. Such are the complexities of life in a bilingual country.

Oldham
Level Contributor
20 posts
55 reviews
9. Re: Ottawa in June

Yep! I think that would be me. Causing pained expressions everywhere.

When we went to Paris, a very patient man said my French was very good. I think what he really meant was 'not as awful as most British people and at least you can say hello and thank you'.

I have progressed a little since then, but I can still only really talk in the present and past tense, so I can't tell anyone what I want to do tomorrow, only what I did yesterday!

I think I'll stick to English!

AirB&B is booked. Very excited about that. Flights are arranged. I think I now just need airport parking and money and I'm good to go!

Oh, and I bought a hat in case it's really sunny. So if you see a short, pale woman wandering round in a silly hat, looking lost, yet strangely excited. That'll be me.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,864 posts
4 reviews
10. Re: Ottawa in June

You'll do just fine, and I've learned that when a French person tells you your French is very good, it usually means it's beautifully correct - and that's a compliment. Because as we know, in English, a lot of spoken English is not always correct, it just works on the ground. So it is too in French, in my experience.

Have you thought of contacting your British MP to say you will be in Ottawa, and would appreciate any consideration the High Commisioner could afford you here? I say this because sometimes a word from an MP can open doors. My cousin from Alberta contacted her Canadian MP before she came to Ottawa, and got treated to a special behind the scenes tour in the House of Commons. Not saying you can get that, but you might just let them know you are coming....