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“I should let you guys know that I don’t drive…” I wrote to the Ford Canada team in response to their Fiesta Drive Experience invitation, “er, I hope that’s not a problem?”  Of course I didn’t want something as silly as the driver’s license I never got, and the lessons I never took, to get in the way of a weekend away with Ford, staying at The Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau-Ottawa. Signing off the email, I kept my fingers crossed.

After all, I’ve never spent much time in Ottawa and thought this would be a great opportunity to explore Canada’s capital as an adult. Mainly I wanted to answer the question: Is it really Canada’s “most boring” city as so many people have told me? It was time to put my Nancy Drew hat on and find out.

When Ford responded and reassured me that I would be paired with a professional driver I nearly jumped for joy. Especially finding out that I would be on the trip alongside my fellow bloguette, Michelle Bilodeau of Front Row Mag. Michelle too was on a quest to explore Ottawa, a place she had never been before.

Lucky for us we got to find out the Fiesta way! Which as you can imagine was fun-packed party of a time. Here’s what happened:

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Upon entering my suite I dropped my bags and ran to the window. HELLO VIEW! HELLO WORLD! It’s me Gracie, in O-T-T-A-W-A!! Then I tweeted and asked my Ottawa followers what the heck I should do (in my spare time) while I was there. Thank you to everyone who responded with awesome suggestions!

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It was time to head down for dinner but of course not before jumping onto my king-sized bed and letting out a big ahhhhhh! I was practically in a giant luxury European apartment. All marble bathroom! Honestly, everything!

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Bright and early the next morning Michelle and I were teamed up and directed to choose a car. She was my somewhat ‘professional’ driver for the day – thanks Michelle! Real pro drivers were on hand to race us around the closed track, and teach you to drive standard if you wanted to. Even I got behind the wheel for a little bit and I’m very happy to report that no lives were lost during that time.

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From this picture you might think we picked the red hot option, but really we went for the much more on-trend version next to it in the ‘colour of the season’ oxblood. We are fashion girls after all! Once we were buckled in the team handed us a booklet titled  ‘Let’s Fiesta’ that was full of emergency contact information, trivia questions, and best of all, a scavenger hunt.

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The first set of directions led us to the Parkdale Market – a magical place filled with glorious fruits and vegetables – where there were rows upon rows of stalls filled with seasonal goodness.

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We were instructed to collect corn, eggplant, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes once we got there. It was hard to resist setting fire to a garbage can nearby and roasting all the vegetables right there. If we weren’t going to donate the vegetables post-scavenger hunt, I totally would have done that.

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There she is! The lovely Michelle holding our enormous basket as we began our adventure to fill it up.

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Next up, we found ourselves at Happy Goat Company – a great coffee shop in a garage-style location with huge coffee roasters in the back on full view. You can imagine how good it smelled in there.

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After a quick stop to collect more vegetables from Byward Market, we then drove (and drove and drove) until we found ourselves at probably my favourite stop of the entire scavenger hunt:

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Boucanerie Chelsea Smokehouse is located in Chelsea, Quebec and is owned by an elderly English Man. The store seems to be in almost the middle of nowhere (but I really don’t know the area) but is chock full of amazing smoked fish and meats, and a vast condiments wall to match.

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There was an amazing spread waiting for us to dig into when we got there. Smoked salmon, scallops, shrimp, mussels, tuna – there was every type of delicious seafood you could imagine! Although I wanted to buy up everything in stock, I had to keep in mind that I would be sitting in a car for the rest of the day, and flying back to Toronto the next day. I settled on some nice local cheese and smoked duck.

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It was pretty incredible driving around the beautiful countryside. We passed this picturesque scene just before I convinced Michelle to let me drive on the empty dirt road (which then turned into a highway!) because I was obviously a total professional after driving around a parking lot for the second time in my life and not killing anyone. I must say, I think it’s the Ford Fiesta that makes you want to drive, that thing is fun!

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Our last stop before lunch was at the Juniper Organic Farm in La Peche, Quebec.This amazing little place is owned by a Toronto couple who fell in love with Wakefield, Quebec and decided to set up the farm along with their new family. They now grow over 60 varieties of vegetables for a Community Shared Agriculture project, and are dedicated to sustainable organic farming.

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Here we collected a few more vegetables before heading off to lunch at the Wakefield General Store – a quaint bistro overlooking the lake that’s set above the general store itself. They served a surprisingly good salmon quinoa burger on a gluten-free rice bread, I was very impressed.

Even though we were losing steam by the end of the scavenger hunt, Michelle and I were still dead set on heading back to the city to do some shopping (and check out Parliament Hill) before we had to head back to the hotel for the final Fiesta-themed dinner.

We didn’t get to spend much time in the actual city of Ottawa, but we were especially impressed with some of their home design and decor shops (there were a lot of them), as well as the beauty of the city. We both wish Toronto was greener and had a canal running through it too.

Although I am no car expert, I did have a blast riding around and getting to know the Ford Fiesta, here are some ‘Fiesta Facts’ to note:

– The MyKey system in Fiesta was designed to give parents of teen drivers peace of mind. The MyKey system keeps teens safe by setting limits on the top speed, volume limits, seat belt reminders, and does not allow traction control to be disabled (aka they can’t do donuts.)

– The 2014 Fiesta can be personalized with VEHICLE TATTOOS!

– Sony provides the audio system for Fiesta.

– 3 engines (1.6L TiVCT, 1.6L EcoBoost and the 1.0L EcoBoost) will be avail be in the all-new Fiesta.

– The Fiesta is available in TEN different colours! Race Red, Green Envy and Molten Orange are a few examples.

– MyFord Touch has been added to the new Fiesta to help you stay connected 24/7 with friends and your personal playlists!

THANK YOU FORD!

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