Girl’s Getaway to Ottawa with my Ford Fiesta

November 2010


An email arrived in my inbox recently.

“Are you interested in going on a girl’s getaway road trip in a Ford Fiesta?” The email asked.

“When, where and why?” I answered back in a millisecond.

“We’re looking for writers to try out the car and write about their experience. We’ll deliver the Fiesta to you and you can decide where and how long you want to go on a test drive.”


Who can pass up an opportunity like that?

I quickly made plans and asked for the Ford for the following weekend. I wanted to act fast just in case the PR Company in charge of finding Fiesta drivers decided to give my Ford Fiesta to another eager writer. Yes, I was already possessive of my Ford Fiesta and I also discovered that I loved how those three words rolled off my tongue. My Ford Fiesta.

And just like that, I had the keys to a chili red Ford Fiesta in my hot little hands and we were on our way. My daughter, Sarah, kindly volunteered to accompany me on my road trip, the sacrifices that poor girl has to make for her mother! We decided to head to Ottawa Canada, an easy drive from Toronto for a weekend getaway, and since it had been years since we had visited the capital city of Canada, we were eager for a return visit.

First, lets talk about the car. The Ford Fiesta turned out to be a fun drive. It’s a peppy little thing. We decided to forgo the very boring highway drive to Ottawa and instead we chose to travel along the scenic Rideau Heritage Route. It was the perfect choice for trying out the Fiesta, beautiful curving roads and awesome scenery.

The only hiccup was that the drive to Ottawa was wet, very wet. The late morning drizzle changed to pouring rain in the afternoon, and then snow once we got closer to Ottawa, but the Fiesta handled itself well through the miserable weather. I was especially impressed when, at one point, driving through a small Ontario country village, we ended up on a tiny road that had been torn up for road repairs, and because of the rain, was just an enormous stretch of thick red mud. I was convinced we were going to be stuck in this goopy mess, but that little car was a trooper and easily sped through the muddy patch, going uphill no less!

FordFiestaDashSarah’s take on the car was “I love all the fancy thingies.” The ‘fancy thingies’ she was commenting on were pretty spiff I must say. The car came equipped with Sirius satellite radio, voice-controlled Microsoft SYNC, and hands-free Bluetooth. USB iPod and audio line-in jacks located on the center console. She hooked up her IPod and we sang along with Radiohead, Edith Piaf and the Beatles. An additional plus was how quiet the car was. At one point Sarah asked if it was an electric car, she couldn’t believe a regular gas powered car could be that quiet.

JunkfoodAll in all we loved the car, it was easy to handle, and a joy to drive. We had plenty of leg space in the front, the backseat area was teensy tiny which suited us just fine for our road trip. We filled it up with ‘car food’ and nothing else!

We arrived in Ottawa late on the Friday and spent the next two days rediscovering how much fun you really can have in Canada’s capital city.

Where to Stay

Hotel Indigo

Even though this hotel is geared towards the business traveler, it’s a great option for those who want to stay in a sleek, boutique hotel smack in the center of Ottawa without breaking the budget. It’s location on Metcalfe Street means that you’re just steps away from all the important tourist spots in Ottawa. Parliament Hill, Byward Market, Sparks Street Pedestrian Mall and the National Gallery are all within easy walking distance from the hotel.

HotelIndigoPros: Lovely good-sized rooms, great beds with duvets and triple sheeted linens, my new favorite thing! Sleek, well-designed front lobby and I noticed that the entire hotel smelled wonderful, none of that stale, stuffy smell that is so often associated with hotels.

Cons: Parking! Indigo shares parking with the Marriott located around the corner on Laurier Street, which means you need to check into the hotel and then drive around to Marriott to access underground parking. The garage ramps were NARROW, I was glad that I was driving my little Ford Fiesta! One plus was that the two hotels are interconnected so that it wasn’t a problem to get back to the Indigo once the car was parked.

Things to Do in Ottawa

Parliament Hill: This is the place to experience Canadian history close up and personal. From the changing of the guard to its grand location overlooking the Rideau River, this place is a true Canadiana experience.

OttawaMuseumofCivilization_300Museums, museums and more museums. Ottawa has lots of them and this is a very good thing. While in Ottawa, we visited two of, in our opinion, the loveliest museums in the country, the Museum of Civilization and the National Gallery of Canada. Highlights of our visits were the model town constructed entirely indoors on the 3rd floor of Museum of Civilization, and the National Gallery’s collection of contemporary art.

Ottawa Wine and Food Show – 25th Anniversary

One of the reasons we decided to travel to Ottawa for our ‘Girl’s Getaway with my Ford Fiesta’ was that we discovered the Wine and Food Show would be on during the weekend we had scheduled for the car. Eating and drinking are two of our favoriteOttawaWineandFood activities on a girl’s getaway, and so this event was highlight of our visit to Ottawa. We sipped and nibbled the afternoon and evening away discovering new wines and yummy treats. I made a beeline to the Jackson-Triggs booth to check out the new wines from my favorite Canadian winery. The Jackson Triggs Black Series Sauvignon Blanc was divine, Sarah passed up wine in favor of trying out Alexander Keith’s new Harvest Ale. We hung around the Caesar School and picked up a few tips on how to create the perfect Caesar cocktail, and I also tried out many of the tropical mixes offer by various tourism agencies.

Our favorite food tastings: Bison tartar with arugula, wasabi and soy caviar – from the Wakefield Mill and Dining Room, this was a visual as well as a taste sensation.

Hand-made truffles from Rochef Chocolatier, I tried the blueberry chocolates and Sarah picked the dark chocolate and almond, we approved of both and went back for more.

highteaChateauLaurierAfternoon Tea at the Chateau Laurier

This is a must for any girl’s getaway trip to Ottawa. Sarah is not a tea fan but we both loved the sophisticated fun of the Chateau’s Afternoon Tea Service served in Zoe’s Lounge.

Byward Market

What’s not to like about the Byward Market in Ottawa? This place is home to the top restaurants, shops and pubs in the city, it also boasts great tasting Beavertails, need I say more? If you’re wondering what the heck is a beavertail and why would you want to eat one, check out the video below.

Best bets: Workshop Studio and Boutique showcases the work of talented women designers. Everything in the store is handmade, local, sustainable, and made by women.

Young Janes is the top spot in Ottawa for cool vintage clothing, recycled jewelry and designer labels.

The French Baker: I’m very particular about my chocolate croissants, and these delicious, flaky pillows of chocolate yumminess are good, very, very good.

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