The journey doesn’t start with a single step, but by exploring your own backyard

A young public servant, Mike Cullen is also a regular contributor to (Cult)ure Magazine as a music editorialist. His passions include music, coffee, writing, travel and comic books.

I was hanging out with a colleague and her two sisters over the weekend. It was the first time that the two sisters had ever been to Ottawa, and the colleague was looking for a few suggestions on where to take them. I realized that aside from the obvious choices such as Parliament Hill and the Byward Market, I did not really have any touristy places to suggest to her. That makes me pretty useless as far as tour guides go, but it got me thinking that I really have not been a tourist in my own city either.

I have lived in Ottawa for fourteen years, and while I know my city in the sense of where things are and how to get there, I do not know Ottawa as an entity; I have barely scratched the surface in regards to what this city can offer in arts and culture, history, and places to visit. I went to the Museum of Civilization for the first time this spring; to see an IMAX film, not to actually see the collection that the museum has amassed. There is a fundamental plan in that. I have visited the United States, the United Kingdom and have been to eight of the ten provinces/three territories in Canada, yet I barely know my own city. How can I really consider myself a well traveled individual, when I do not even know my own backyard?

My ambivalence towards Ottawa runs deep (as a slightly jaded public servant, this is required for employment purposes). I need to get out more, and I do not mean to bars and clubs, to truly experience what Ottawa is all about. I have started to make a list (my Ottawa “Travel” Bucket List) of the places that I need to visit, to experience and to take in. Along the way I’ll document those experiences, while also highlighting some of my favourite sites, tastes and sounds both past and present that Canada’s national capital has to offer.