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OTTAWA

Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Ottawa is home to many of the world's cultures as thousands of immigrants from around the world now call Ottawa home. The city is probably best known as the nation's capital but has become one of the fastest growing cities in North America owing to the booming high-tech business sector.

The primary attraction for most visitors is Parliament Hill. edit Parliament Hill is in the middle of downtown Ottawa, overlooking the Ottawa River. Not only is the building a fine example of the Gothic revival style, it makes an excellent starting point to visit all other points of interest in the area. There is a 30-minute Mosaika Parliament Hill Sound & Light Show which features a film about Canada projected on the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings.

The Museum of Civilization presents the story of Canada's population beginning with Aboriginal migration across the Bering Strait through European settlement by the Vikings around 1000 CE, and the British and French in the 1500s. The museum is full of a variety of items ranging from full size Salish totem poles to the recreation of a small prairie town complete with grain elevator. The museum also includes an exhibit on Canada Post and a separate museum for children.

If you enjoy the outdoors, especially if you are a cyclist, you should definitely visit Gatineau Park just across the river from Ottawa. Ottawa and the surrounding area boasts over 170 km of public paved trails on which you can run, bike, walk or rollerblade. If you are looking for a place to start, head to the nearest waterway: paved trails line both sides of the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, and the Rideau River.

Sparks Street is a pleasant pedestrian street one block off Parliament Hill and a common tourist thoroughfare for seeing the sights. Along this street you'll find the majority of the tourist shops selling postcards, magnets, and maple syrup. The Astrolabe Gallery, located on this street, is a treasure trove of antique maps as well as vintage posters. There are several outdoor cafes and restaurants to choose from also. Larger shopping malls include the Rideau Centre (downtown), St. Laurent Shopping Centre (East Central), Place D'Orleans (East End), the Bayshore Shopping Centre and Carlingwood Mall (West End).

Try the tasty BeaverTail, a doughy, deep-fried pastry associated with Ottawa, although a number of places claim to have created it. It's available in sweet and savory versions, topped with cinnamon, sugar, icing sugar, etc. In the winter, many places will offer it on the canal. During the summer, the only place downtown to offer it is in the Byward Market on George St. There are a variety of toppings and the taste of the beaver tail arguably stands out more with the classic sugar & cinnamon. However, the locals' favourite is the Killaloe Sunrise, a topping of cinnamon sugar and lemon juice. Try a poutine from Smokes Poutinerie, or a Shwarma from one of the many around the city.

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