Winter holiday travels in Ottawa, Ontario & Outaouais, Quebec! Parc Omega wolf & bear suite, Nordik Spa Chelsea.

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Happy 2024! Let’s make this year the most amazing one yet.

I have a lot more Japan content coming your way, but let’s start things off with a Canadian winter / holiday season recap…

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In December, I explored Outaouais (Quebecois  region north of Ottawa) and Canada’s capital with Sancho Angulo! Read on for our “ice queen” adventures in Ontario and Quebec.

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How cozy is the enormous fireplace at Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Quebec? Built in 1930, the luxury hotel looks like a giant log cabin.

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In December, snowy Ottawa and Outaouais feel like a winter wonderland. The regions have charming European-style Christmas markets and events, which made Sancho and I feel as if we were in a Hallmark holiday movie!

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Even this Goth was feeling merry and bright at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Located halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, the hotel holds the record for the world’s largest log cabin.

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I enjoyed an eggs benedict breakfast with this snow-covered view, and a deep massage at the spa that got me in “serenity now” mode.

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It’s a good hair day… time to explore the village of Montebello with Sancho!

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We had lunch at Le Bistro Montebello. The Quebecois family-style menu included bison steak and poutine made with local ingredients — oui, oui.

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Then, we walked over to the charming Marche de Noel / Montebello Christmas Market, which was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There’s no entry fee, and the neighborly staff greets you at the entrance with free cups of spiced hot mulled wine… We loved walking around and seeing the artisanal vendors, such as chocolatiers Chocomotive.

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I don’t get to do many winter outfits these days (due to The Collapse’s global rise in temperatures) — but I had fun styling my new Snowman New York coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses (which have a Y2K vibe).

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Snowman New York produces luxury outerwear with high performance materials and 90/10, 700 fill power down. I love how they create puffer coats that have a chic and non-bulky look, yet keep you warm in bone-chilling weather.

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Their coats are handmade to last, and insulated with highest premium down — you can tell that this is luxury outerwear.

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Love the sleek, lightweight, cyber-like design of Snowman NY’s long black puffer… I felt like a character in The Matrix. (My shoes are Comme des Garcons x Salomon collaboration sneakers, from Tokyo.)

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My Adidas Originals shades (OR0089 ) are oversized cat eye sunglasses made from durable acetate: functional meets fashion-forward eyewear.

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Back to my Ottawa Tourism adventures… “Sancho Claus” and I popped into Elf’s Pub, a Christmas pop-up bar at Ottawa’s Fairmont Château Laurier. Sip on eggnog cocktails, and feel as if you’re in the North Pole.

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I stayed at The Metcalfe Hotel in downtown Ottawa, and the lobby was festively decorated — giving me a chance to pretend that this was my tree.

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‘Tis the season to eat and be merry. My Ottawa restaurant favorites included Metropolitan Brasserie (French tuna nicoise salad, steak tartar, and Sancerre and Chablis wine), and The Grand pizzeria. Sancho and I also feasted on Asian fusion like kimchi beef wraps at Sidedoor restaurant (above).

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At Ottawa’s Aviation Museum, you can board a “Flight with Santa” this season that lets you sit in his “sleigh” as you fly over the Canadian capital.

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Ottawa also has a popular Christmas market, and attractions like skating on Rideau Canal.

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I also descended into the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War museum. In the early 1960s, Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s government built this top secret, four-storey underground bunker to shelter VIP officials in the event of a nuclear attack. (It was decommissioned in 1994, and became a museum.)

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A tour of the Diefenbunker is a must. I was fascinated by the Cold War era technology and cultural quirks (there are early computers, and no plastic — but ashtrays everywhere!). I was particularly tickled by the food freezer that served as both a meat locker… and a makeshift morgue. (Or perhaps the two are the same, if  we run out of food in The Collapse?)

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The Diefenbuker also has an epic escape room themed around spies and nuclear missions. I can’t wait to come back with Sancho to slay the puzzles.

parc omega bison nature park ottawa

There’s so much to see around Ottawa… Sancho and I went north of the city to Parc Omega in Montebello, a nature park that lets you get up close to adorable Canadian wildlife!

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Parc Omega has a car safari, or self-driving route that lets you see a variety of animal species along the way. Pick up a bag of carrots before you go…

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… so that you can feed the cute deer and elk that poke their noses into your car windows!

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Just don’t feed the bears like I did… (Kidding, they were in hibernation at this time of year.)

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How sweet are the animals, with their thick winter coats? Parc Omega lets you see them in their natural habitats as you explore.

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Our tour guide taught us about the animals such as the short and stocky Mongolian horse, which was once nearly extinct.

parc omega wolf and bears suite cabin chalet

Then, Sancho and I checked into the Wolf and Bear suite for an overnight stay. The luxurious two-floor chalet adjoins an enclosure of young wolves and bears…

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We got to wake up next to a panoramic window overlooking an enclosure of wolves!

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Sancho built a fire, and we watched our wolf neighbors run and play. As you can see from my Instagram reel, it felt as if we were one with the wolfpack.

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Feeling “hungry like the wolf,” we headed to the onsite Omega Bon restaurant for refined dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients.

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We devoured the pot of fondue made with Montebello’s famous Adoray cheese, rum cocktails with maple syrup, and other Quebecois favorites.

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Finally, we had a wellness day at Nordik Spa-Nature Chelsea — located at the entrance of Gatineau Park, and only about a 15 min drive from downtown Ottawa. Nordik Spa-Nature is the largest thermal spa in North America with 10 outdoor baths, 9 saunas, and a variety of relaxing treatments like a float in a saltwater pool, and a bewitching choreographed Aufguss ritual in a sauna.

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We indulged in winter cocktails as we soaked in a variety of steaming outdoor pools overlooking snow-topped landscapes (the onsen one was my favorite). Watch my video of our Nordik Spa day to see what we experienced!

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Still thinking about the food at Nordik Spa’s main restaurant, Restö — warm brie, mushroom toast, gnocchi with duck, I could go on…

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I spoke more about these experiences in a travel article for Huffington Post.

As I told Huff Post: “I predict more travelers will plan getaways to Outaouais, the region of Quebec located about an hour’s drive north from Ottawa. It’s home to one-of-a-kind nature experiences like Parc Omega, a wildlife park with self-driving adventures that let you get close to (and feed!) Canadian deer.” She recalled waking up to see a wolfpack on the other side of her window. “I also loved soaking in the steamy outdoor baths at Outaouais’ Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest thermal spa in North America that reminds me of the vibe at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon,” she added.

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My recent adventures with Sancho make me keen to do more cold-weather travels! It’s also an opportunity to do more winter styling: I’ll be living in my Snowman New York hooded coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses this season.

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Did you have a happy holiday? How are you feeling about the start of 2024? I’m manifesting more road trips, travel adventures with friends, and time in Japan this year… let’s make it the most amazing one yet!



  1. Nikki_boagreis
    Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I love your puffer coat, it looks adorable on you.i look forward to new blog post with Japan content. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season, stay safe and keep up the amazing blog post.

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