Ferrero CheesecakeFreakshake: As the name suggests this was indeed freaky- a milkshake that was unusual and out of the ordinary. The highlight of this drink is the Cheesecake Factory Bakery® Cheesecakes are added either on top or by the side of the drink. The drink burst with an abundance of Ferrero rocher flavour. I am a big fan of the cheesecake factory cheesecakes and this one is right on top of my list of favourites for sure. Make sure to take the jar with you, bring it back to get a 5% discount which was confirmed by the staffs. Verdict: Must Try.
Steamed and Pan-Seared Chilli Momos: Momos are a popular street food in northern parts of India and are quite popular now even in Southern India. These are also known as Dim Sum or dumplings and made from flour with some flavourful filling. This was a spicy flavour-filled momos which had less oil as it was pan-seared rather than pan fried. The filling was well cooked and the out layer was a little bit more thick than the usual. The chilli sauce on top added a touch of spice to the otherwise bland food. Verdict: Hit or Miss. Can Skip.
Roadside Burger (Chowmein): Chow mein means fried noodles. This burger consisted of mix-veg patty, chowmein and holy eatery signature sauces stacked inside sliced Brioche buns. The touch of fusion was fantastic and innovative. For someone who does not like burgers, this was something that I enjoyed eating. The patty inside the burger and the chow-mein was well cooked and juicy. The side of masala fries topped with spicy habanero sauce was a class apart.I would not mind buying them on the side. Verdict: Very Good Try
Average Price per person: $20-$25.
Address: 1299 Barton St E Unit K04, Hamilton, ON L8H 2V4
Restaurant Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. The place was well-maintained and clean. The staff were courteous and welcoming. The only issue would be the number of seats in the location. Not a place for a group to sit and hang out. Special shoutout to Rajat for diligently preparing the delicious milkshake. I would have given them 5 ⭐️s had they fulfilled the offer that was displayed but they let us down by stating that the promotion is now closed.
After an incredible and hectic eleven months of 2022, my wife and I were looking forward to December. Most offices shut down the last 10 days of December across Canada and USA and people look forward to travelling even though COVID bowled a googly, in other words a curveball the previous 2 years. We were looking forward to this winter break to refresh and rejuvenate. The holiday started with one of the worst winter storms that Canada and the USA had seen. This threw a spanner in the holiday plans of many tourists. Flights, buses and trains were cancelled at the last minute, ours was no exception. The train operator “Via Rail” cancelled our plans a few hours before our scheduled start. But, an ad-hoc plan turned out to be an excellent experience. Here are some places that we visited during this winter that made our holiday season a very good one and might help plan your next trip to the Canadian Capital a pleasant one. Feel free to use this blog to create an itinerary of your own.
Abraska Laflèche: This place is a must-visit in the Ottawa/Gatineau region. This was a 30-minute ride from our Gatineau stay and downtown Ottawa. I would suggest booking the stay at Gatineau or the outskirts of Ottawa to save some dollars and avoid traffic. The staff at the location were very friendly and comfortable in both English and French. The guide (Our guide G.I. Joe, a.k.a Jonathan) knew well about the caves and the locations nearby. The hiking through the caves was about an hour. Hiking is a bit strenuous and involves walking through low ceilings and climbing steep stairs. But the experience is worth it. The guide was very helpful in helping us hike with ease and also shared some interesting insights about the caves and also asked some interesting questions about the cave. The experience of sitting inside the cave in complete darkness was spellbinding. I could sleep there with my eyes open. There is also an experience to camp inside the caves, we have added that to our bucket list. Winter hike through the forests is something we missed during COVID and if you get a chance rent their snowshoes and go for a good hike. Along the way, you also have some interesting riddles to solve along the way. The ziplining experience is reserved for summer and would be a great activity to do along with kids. Booking the ticket online is recommended.
Ottawa Winter Lights: The original plan was to see the Christmas lights in Quebec City but the winter lights in the capital were equally awesome. The streets of the capital were lit with thousands of lights. The dazzling lights are best enjoyed when you cover the streets by walking. Most of the streets that are lit are in and around downtown Ottawa. The icing on the cake is the multimedia projection on the Parliament center building. The multimedia takes us through the journey of luminous smileys that come alive in winter and travel across different landscapes of Canada illuminating the dark evenings. The lighting and the multimedia shows happen only during the holiday season, make sure to check the timings of the winter light show on the capital website before planning your trip. There is no parking in Capital Hill, so use SpotHero or any other app to find the best parking spot. There are many restaurants in and around the parliament building, check out York street. Do not miss out on Zak’s diner’s milkshake and the out-of-the-world moulin de Provence bakery.
Canadian War Museum: I have always found Canada a safe country, never have I heard about Canada’s involvement in any war. Many could even wonder why Canada needs a military. All those questions would be answered when you visit Canadian War Museum as they walk us through the different wars that shaped Canada from pre-contact warfare to the current warfare across the world. If you are a lover of history, you could probably allocate a day to this fascinating display of different eras of war. The Museum is located in Ottawa near parliament hill. Plenty of paid parking space is available. The museum was divided into 4 different zones, the Early wars, the First world war, the Second World war and the Cold war to the present. The artifacts on display like trenches, and war zones must catch your eye for sure. Some other displays like letters from the family, paper ads during wars, Hitler’s car, guns, and artilleries like cannons and tanks take you back in time. Some documentaries on war zones are sure to attract your interest. As a product manager, what I also liked about the museum was it had a mention of the estimated time you will spend in each section of the museum which helps you to plan better. Entry to the war museum can also be booked through Canoo App.
Parc Omega: A complete package for the family and I would call it the ultimate winter experience as we get to see Canadian wild animals in their natural surroundings. The snow-clad rocks, forests and freely roaming deers and other animals almost makes you forget that you are in a zoo. You can feed the animals like deer and boar that are considered safe with carrots. The 12-kilometre car trail lets one visit various types of wild animals like silver foxes, red foxes, wolves, turkeys, boars, deers, bison, elks, moose, mule deer and others. Due to winter, we missed out on the bears as we were told they were hibernating. The park also has some walking trails like the First Nations trail and the land of the pioneers. All along the way you would be treated with the joy of observing a plethora of wildlife. During winter there was also a show on the wolves where you get to know a lot about them and their behaviour. You also have a picnic area, a restaurant for a quick bite, and hot beverages in the middle of the car route. I would recommend packing your lunch for the trail especially if you go on a light day which might give you the entire day to enjoy the splendid beauty of the park. Omega park is located an hour from Ottawa or Montreal. Adding this to your itinerary is totally worth it. I am going back to the park in the summer for sure.
Canadian Parliament: Are you interested in knowing more about the place where important national policies are discussed and decisions that impact the lives of Canadians are made? Book some time to take a guided tour of the Canadian parliament and it is absolutely free. The tours are offered in both French and English. If you are interested in taking this 45-minute tour, book this when you plan your travel and the other activities around this one. Our group loved this experience completely and interestingly you can also attend the live session on a first come first serve basis. All tickets need to be booked online and there is no in-person ticket. Historic paintings adorn the walls of this beautiful Neo-Gothic structure. The tour takes you through the different chambers in the parliament and also guides enrich your knowledge through some fun trivia questions in between the tour. Fun fact: The word parliament came from the French word parler, which means ‘to talk’. Book your tickets through https://rts.parl.ca/en-CA/Home?
Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly places tried
Pacini Gatineau: Italian; Plenty of vegetarian options. Avg: 35-40$ per person
Zak’s Diner: All-day diner, near Parliament hill, Must-try milkshakes $15-20 per person
TanjaiOttawa: Authentic South Indian Restaurant, Good try, $25-$27 per person. Full Review.
Indian Cafe, Ottawa: Take-outs and short eats, Good channa masala and samosas, avoid their tea. $10-$15 per person. Not a must-try.
If you are wondering where to travel in Fall, check this post- Fall 2022
“Humpty might not have had a good summer, but Humpty will surely have a great fall.” – read a quote in Wilno Tavern. This quote pretty much summarizes how my summer and fall of 2022 were. The summer was occupied with work, and hectic travel, in between fell sick and recovered, the lawn and plants took a beating due to the harsh winter and I could not wait for the fall weather to kick in.
“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”
– Chadd Sugg
I grew up in southern India which is highly tropical in nature. The sarcasm in the region is that the weather is just hot, hotter and hottest. But we did study that there are 4 seasons when I had actually experienced only 2. Fall was a season I had never heard of but it is the season that I look forward to every year since I moved to the United States. What makes the fall season so special?
Fall is a season that is all about pumpkins and one of the favourite drinks is not so spicy “Pumpkin Spice Latte”. What made fall even more beautiful was the ever-present warning of “Winter is coming”. The trees that were once green burst into gold, pink, brown, red and many other beautiful colours. The season activates your 5 senses: taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight, making you fall in love with the Fall season.
Things to do in the fall in Ontario.
Day 1 was about driving through Madawaska valley consisting of the beautiful locales of Wilno, Combermere and Barry’s Bay. The trip was planned in a way that we avoided the traffic on Highway 60 and went through routes that gave us a lot of surprises and many scenic spots to click beautiful pictures.
Kamaniskeg Lake Lookout: The trip started with this awesome place that is definitely worth the stop. This place was initially planned to be our lunch stop. There are no restaurants here, we planned to have our homemade food here. This picturesque place actually delayed our lunch by an hour or so. Such was the beauty of this place. This place overlooks the Ottawa river basin and an island dedicated to the Mayflower tragedy, one of the biggest inland tragedies in Canada. The place also offers some information on this tragedy and the locals mentioned that the trail around the lake is a must-try. One place added to our bucket list for the summer of 2023.
St. Mary’s Church: This magnificent church was our next stop; unfortunately, the church was closed. The region is known for being the first polish settlement in Canada. The views from the hilltop were spectacular and the church grounds are so well maintained. The fall colors was just awesome will never forget those views. This detour is completely worth a quick stop. Wilno Tavern restaurant is located close to this church. Fun fact: This is where i read the “Humpty Quote”, referenced at the beginning of this blog.
McRae Lookout Park: This place was not a part of the agenda and stopped us in our tracks. This scenic lookout park overlooks the Bonnechere river and the flowing water through the ruins is a sight to behold. The spot has plenty of parking lots and seems a bit of a detour, but I am sure this place will pull you to stop. This spot is a good place for a picnic or a hangout with friends. You can also find a nice shelter here to rest and hangout with friends.
Mount Molson Dairy Bar: This one was a quick pit stop before our dinner. The dairy bar is run by friendly staff and is located in a spot where you would lose track of time. This place is situated on top of the mountain overlooking the Ottawa river. They serve Kawartha Lakes Dairy and this is a window service takeout. Grab an ice-cream, sit at the top of the ski hill and enjoy the stupendous view of the Ottawa River!
Day 2 was spent in the majestic and beautiful Algonquin park. The provincial park is home to different kinds of flora and fauna. The fall(autumn) is the best season to visit the park and highway 60 is the most popular route used by tourists to enjoy the colours. You do not need a permit to access the highway but purchase a permit and book a date to access the facilities like parking, trails, and rest area.
Sand Lake Gate, Algonquin Park: This gate is located on the East side of the park. This place contains information on the park, permits for various parks, information bulletins, and restrooms. I would advise using the restrooms here as the restrooms near the trails are not super clean. If you plan to cover multiple trails getting a daily pass is a better deal. The staff here were very friendly. The place also sells some Algonquin park merchandise.
Barron Canyon: The sand lake gate is the entry to Barron Canyon. The drive to the trail offers various photo-ops. Set your google maps ahead of time as you will lose signal after you cross Sand Lake Gate. This is a medium-level 1.5 KM loop trail. I have trekked this trail in both Fall and Winter, and the hike is totally worth the time. The course and the cliff are very picturesque. This is not a kid-friendly trail and has a high unfenced cliff which can be fatal. So, make sure to keep a watch on your loved ones.
McManus Lake: The truly hidden gem and a must-visit spot. This is a bit of a detour from the Barron Canyon and there is absolutely no signal in your cellphone so make sure you trust your map and stay on the route. The route is a little tricky to handle as it is narrow so do not speed, and be cautious while driving. The lake is accessible and a good place to hang out with friends and family. The view of the mountain and the forest on the other side of the lake makes the place even more special during the fall season.
Driftwood Provincial Park: The park is located on the Ottawa River directly across from the mouth of the Dumoine River. This park is located very close to the highway making it easy to locate. During the summer, this water is warm enough to swim, and the small trail that takes you to the top of the rock is an experience worth it in the fall season. There is a small boardwalk leading into the lake which can be used as a runway to jump into the lake or take some excellent photos. The boardwalk sways a lot so caution is advised when using the boardwalk.
Deep River Marina: Small little town took me by surprise during my first visit. This place reminded us more of Schitt’s Creek as this was a self-contained town. There is a sand beach here for you to enjoy the warm water during the summer and a small trail leading to a boardwalk which makes the view romantic. We also found many boats docked by the locals and the place is known for canoeing.
Disclaimer: This post is not related to my employment with CBC and I am not paid to write this post. This post is a true reflection of my views on why Kim’s convenience is a runaway hit. I still hope the creators can come back together and give this show a closure that all the fans are longing for.
There are many shows that my wife and I start watching but there are only a select few that catch our attention and we manage to complete. One such show that we watched was Kim’s Convenience. As per me, an episode of this hit sitcom can give you energy on a draining day. There are various aspects of why this show is a success and I was able to see parallels and learning for product managers which can help them succeed. Here are my takeaways as a Product Manager from Kim’s Convenience.
Keep It Simple: The primary reason for the success of this show was the creators of the show kept the show simple enough that the users had no trouble connecting with the show. The seamless flow of story helped the audience understand the value of the show without the need for re-emphasizing. In the digital world, a product is a success when the user can understand the flow without the intervention of a specialist. Keeping it simple is a not an herculean task. Think of a product from a customer’s perspective, users should not require hand-holding to understand your product and the value it brings to them.
Building Strong Persona(s): The show had a father, mother, son, daughter, friend(s), and a boss and each one of them had a strong character. Some key tips for a strong character includes Building characters by describing their attributes and what they do with those attributes, focus on why those attributes are important, Show their motivation and also include their strengths and weaknesses. This ensured that the audience were able to relate with the show and consume the content with joy. Similarly, when a persona is built in the following sequence it will help stakeholders an opportunity to discuss critical features, develop a common understanding of the audience, build an informed design and creating more empathy and understanding of the product’s users.
Key Steps in building a Persona:
Give them a fictional name
Give them title and build core responsibilities
Define their core characteristics
Provide more information around their demographics: Gender, Ethnicity, Age, and Education.
Their background and dependencies/constraints
What is the motivation behind them using our product, What is their objective?
What is stopping them from taking it a level up? Frustrations and pain-points
Binge watching shows can sometimes leave a lasting impact on us and some shows give us a valuable lesson that changes our perspective. Feel free to comment if there was a show that had a similar impact on you.