Ottawa, Canada
Katrin, 25
Graphic Designer
see her Ottawa city guide

What do you do and why do you do it?

I am a graphic designer who loves to paint, bike, and screenprint. I love being creative and walking around cities, so travelling is another love of mine. I love finding little places to explore, and I love to sit and draw in these places. I think life is about learning and feeling fulfilled, so doing things that I enjoy help me love life even more.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

I think the album "My Woman" by Angel Olsen is one of my biggest heartbreak sounds. She has such a lovely voice and her music helps me think. Modest Mouse helps make me feel better too. Their songs "Float On" and "Sugar Boats" really help me feel better!

What are the best TV shows of all time?

I'm pretty in-love with a wide range of television shows. I think my all-time favourite is an animated television show called The Legend of Korra, which is kind of a spin-off from the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. It just brings back so many memories and the thrill of it all makes me fall in love with it even more every time I watch it. A second would be Game of Thrones. I'm a sucker for fantasy tv shows!

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

I buy almost all my clothes from Simons at the Rideau Centre. The prices are good but the sales are even better.

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

Any sort of McDonalds or fast-food restaurant. Ottawa has so many great local small businesses that serve amazing food. I think it's a total waste to buy from fast-food restaurants when theres so much else out there. Supporting local is incredibly important.

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

Taking a boat cruise on the canal! I remember doing it as a kid but I haven't been able to do it since. I'm not sure how many they do these days but I remember loving it when I went last.

What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Ottawa and where did you get it?

For my graduation, my parents took me to a very tiny restaurant called Atelier. I had never heard of it before, and when we got there the place had no sign. There's a few months wait to book a table here. Atelier serves a 12-course meal with a focus on molecular gastronomy (google it). The one dish I remember the most was one of the 3 desserts, where you were given a plate with a large glass dome on top (it looked like a sort of terrarium) and inside was smoke with small pieces of chocolate and moss. When the domes were lifted, the smell of a camping fire and memories of when I was a child flowed through me. It was so cool.

Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Ottawa that you particularly like?

The Manx, on Elgin, is an all-time favourite of mine. It's literally a hole in the wall, in a basement under a building. It's one of those places that you feel like you can stay forever in. It's dark, the food is delicious, and the vibe is just so comfortable.

What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in Ottawa? How much did it cost and what did you get there?

Definitely Atelier for the most expensive restaurant. It was about $150 for a 12-course meal, but utterly fantastic. I got to try such amazing food, each with its own interesting taste. I haven't gone back yet but I'm hoping to eat there again in the future.

What restaurant in Ottawa looks crap, but the food’s amazing?

So Good restaurant in Chinatown. I've been coming here for so long and they have a crazy amount of options. A great place for vegans and vegetarians as well, and each dish is honestly phenomenal. I always get the salt & pepper tofu! It's seriously fantastic, don't let the outside fool you.

Where would you take your partner in Ottawa if you wanted to really pamper them?

It's not exactly in Ottawa, but we go to Nordik Spa in Gatineau if I want to pamper her. Right outside of Ottawa is the most amazing spa ever, I go maybe once a year (but I try to go more)! I'd recommend getting there as early as possible and just get a day-pass. It's the more relaxing time you can have at any time during the year.

What are the Ottawa spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

The National Gallery of Canada is a beautiful museum that I wholly recommend. I've been to many different galleries all over the world but this one really is something else. Just the architecture of the building is impressive enough to go, and each section of the museum has a lot to show. It's a great place for a first-time visitor to experience, and a walk around the back of the building afterwards gives you a beautiful view of the river and Gatineau.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Ottawa. How do you spend it?

I would go up to Lac La Peche on the Quebec side. I know it's not in Ottawa technically, but that beach will take your breath away. It's about a half-hour drive from Parliament. The water is incredibly clear for a Canadian lake, and small fish will swim up to you and kiss your legs. I could spend hours there!

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

Berlin will always have a special place in my heart. I love a city that has almost too much personality without feeling like a huge city. Berlin is full of art and cool people and amazing food, and I love the atmosphere of the place. People stay up late, drink outdoors, party, and live life. Vegan food is cheap and easy to get, and I just love that you can constantly explore the city and discover new things even if you'd been there for a while.

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Zara Ansar