Spend a Night in Jail

For 110 years, the thick-stoned building on Nicholas Street was known as the Carleton County Gaol, an imposing hell designed to imprison the city’s most notorious offenders. Today, budget travellers spend the night bunking in the original cells, drink beer in the canteen that once fed prisoners slop, and take spooky ghost tours down death row.


Length of Trip : Overnight

Cost : April 1 to August 31 rates: $34 a night for shared 8-person cell bed. $59 for private 1-bed cell $85 for 2 single bed cell $90 for double room with double bed $96 for suite (double bed, private kitchenette and bathroom)

Best time to go : Open year-round. Check in 1pm, checkout 11am.

Wheelchair friendly : Yes

Family friendly : Yes

Where to eat : High-end: Play Food & Wine Mid-level: Heart and Crown Irish Pubs Aulde Dubliner & Pour House Budget: Grab something delicious at the ByWard Market

Official Site : HI-Ottawa Jail 75 Nicholas Street Ottawa, Ontario For Reservation & inquiries: Ph: 613-235-2595 Toll Free: 1-866-299-1478 For the Haunted Tour: Ph: 613-232-0344 Web: www.hauntedwalk.com/ottawatours.php

Where to Stay : After braving your night in jail, head over to the decidedly less-creepy Holiday Inn in Ottawa.

Getting There : Located downtown in the heart of Ottawa, sandwiched between the Rideau Shopping Centre, the University of Ottawa, the Byward Market, and Highway 417.

Note from Robin : If you don’t want to actually spend a night in jail, take the nightly Haunted Walk Crime & Punishment Jail Tour, which departs from the lobby at 7pm. Visit the website for more info: www.hauntedwalk.com



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On Hostels

Top Reasons to Stay in a Backpackers hostel-1Hostels, also known as backpackers, have transformed from dormitory style youth accommodation into slick social centres designed to go easy on your wallet, but heavy on the travelling experience. Here's why anyone, of any age, would want to stay in a hostel 1. Budget Around the world, you’ll find more and more travellers are choosing to spend more on their experience, and less on their comforts. A dollar saved on a hotel room here is a dollar spent on an unforgettable adventure there, so it’s no wonder backpackers have become the number one tourism segment in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Any reputable backpackers provides towels, sheets, a clean bathroom and a comfy bed – all more than adequate when it comes to stretching your travelling dollar. But there’s more to backpackers than just penny pinching, so even if budget isn’t a major concern for you, keep reading. 2. Social Hub Someone not-so-famous (i.e. me) once wrote: It’s the people you meet who create the paradise you find. You can be lonely on a paradise beach, and have the time of your life in a dive bar, depending on who you surround yourself with. Backpackers are social hubs, attracting a diverse group of spirited people from all nationalities and of all ages. As odd as this sounds, I’ve checked out of five star hotels and moved into backpackers simply to meet people and share the experience of discovering some place new. I’ve made lifelong friends, romantic ones too, simply by hanging out in backpacker common areas. Unlike hotels, which tend to centre on privacy, hostels encourage interaction amongst its guests, helping you meet interesting people to find your paradise. 3. Facilities Although you’ll still find the occasional stinker, gone are the days of the bed-bug infested fleabag hostel. Modern backpackers have been built ground up to offer every available convenience to the busy traveller. Lockers provide security, there’s internet terminals, laundry and full kitchen facilities. Bedside lamps, DVD libraries for rainy days, board games and book exchanges all add more to your accommodation experience than just a bed and a bathroom. Over games of chess and complimentary coffee, I sometimes feel like I’m staying in a friend’s house as opposed to a hotel, and by the time I leave, that usually turns out to be the case. Parking, in-house travel agencies, pool tables and storage for longer excursions, all at a fraction of the price you’ll find in a normal hotel. 4. Location It’s easy to find a hostel, just follow fellow backpackers from the airport, train station or bus depot. Hostels are usually located right in the action of your destination, making it easy and convenient to discover a new city without the aid of taxis and buses. Sure, they’re usually in old buildings and houses, but real estate is all about location location location, and many hostels truly take this to heart. 5. Privacy Nowadays, most hostels offer private rooms, offering one of the best kept deals in modern travel. At half the price of a regular hotel room, it’s possible to find a clean room with en-suite facilities, just like a cheap hotel, although a private room in a good hostel is far bigger, cleaner, and cooler than a bland room in a cheap hotel. Since many travellers pair up to save costs, staying in a hostel no longer means sharing a dormitory, and more and more hostels are offering more and more private rooms to accommodate them. Having your own room in a hostel gives you the best of three worlds – cheap, social, and private. 6. Internet Booking Social networks, blogs and online forums provide sincere feedback from fellow travellers about the quality of the hostel. Then there are booking websites like hostelworld.com and hostels.com, which have up-to-the day user reviews and collated feedback about cleanliness, safety, location and atmosphere. Associations like the YHA are worldwide and always deliver a standard of quality. The days of not knowing what to expect are history, and online reviews have forced many hostels to clean up their act or go out of business. 7. Age is a Mindset, not a Destination Drop the youth. I’ve met couples in their 70’s in hostels, and couples in their 20’s at stodgy hotels. Without sacrificing too much in terms of comfort, older folks with open minds are relishing the opportunity to socialize. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have been with older patrons in hostels, who tend to have fantastic stories and advice. It’s no surprise either that many hostel owners are retired travellers who simply decide to bring the world to their front door. With private rooms, central locations and social lounges, hostels appeal to a mindset, not an age group.




New 2017 Ford Escape

It’s a rare occasion when the name of a car aligns so perfectly with what I’ve used it for. Whether rocketing along the notorious Trans-Labrador Highway, or cruising among the mountainous candy of the Icefield Parkway, the Ford Escape has indeed lived up to its name. It has stood up to some pretty epic challenges, and that includes taking a 6-month baby on a 30-day cross-country book tour. Compact yet spacious, powerful yet fuel efficient, and loaded with features you’ll soon wonder how you did without, the Ford Escape more than lives up to its moniker. – Robin Esrock




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