So a few weeks ago, I received two tickets to the Ottawa Travel and Vacation show, in the mail. I have no idea why. I mean, I went last year, yes, but I didn’t sign up for a mailing list or anything. I entered a contest for a free trip, though, so maybe I got a consolation prize? A “sorry we’re not sending you away, but we will make you totally jealous by giving you free tickets to a fair that will showcase all the fantastic places we aren’t sending you” prize.
Doesn’t matter. I decided to take my mom, ’cause she’s always fun, and she has strong arms to carry all the brochures I was going to acquire. (Tip #1: Always plan ahead by bringing someone who will be useful. Either for carrying things, or having really sharp elbows to jostle people out of your way.)
It was held at Ottawa’s new Convention Centre, right downtown. When we walked in, we decided to start on the left hand side (the side we were closest to) and work our way aisle by aisle.
Aisle one was Europe. Different countries had booths, of varying size (Seriously Italy, step up your game. And France, tone it down a little. That’s compensating for something. Also, tip #2: Don’t be fooled by the size of the table, or the crowd in front. Especially in Ottawa. The cruise ship tables were overrun in retirees in runners.)
I did pick up a few pamphlets in Europe – namely for Poland, and the Baltic States. I have yet to visit any of those countries, and I am (not literally) dying to see Latvia and Estonia. Perhaps I’ll be able to swing through the Baltic States plus Poland sometime.
After Europe, we ended up visiting Africa, where I got lots of info on my upcoming trip to Tanzania. I also got to talk with some wonderful ladies from Kenya, which is fortuitous, as it might make more sense to fly into Nairobi, as it is closer to Mt. Kilimanjaro than Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. We also got to talk with representatives from Côte d’Ivoire, Lesotho, and Uganda.
The next aisle had exhibits from Asia, the Caribbean, and adventure travel (think Arctic Tours). The countries from the Caribbean tend to be different from your typical resort destinations – Turks and Caicos for example. (Tip #3: This is a great aisle, because Cuba brings out the rum. By this point, you’re ready for something to take the edge off.)
The last two aisles represented North America – one aisle for the US, and the last one for Canada. Or rather, the last half aisle was Canada. The other half was allllll Newfoundland. And a bagpiper provided by Nova Scotia. (Tip #4: Newfoundland is great for freebies – pens, magnets, and salt-water taffy)
I often come into contact with people in the region who are unaware that there is a world outside their home-work corridor. Alternately, their idea of “travel” is a resort in Cuba or Mexico that they’ve gone to every year for the past 5 years, or Florida to visit their snow-bird relatives. I was happy to see that the travel bug is still alive and well in the Ottawa area.