Syracuse and the Drive Back to Ottawa

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The morning we left New York City, the temperature had dropped and it was pouring rain. We took it as a sign: time to head home! I had no regrets: we visited everything we wanted to see and had a blast. Of course, it’s always tempting to hang around but I learned that when traveling, it’s better not to overstay—take the best and leave the boring routine to the locals. Otherwise, lovely places can show their ugly side and ruin travel memories.

We drove through Manhattan to exit the city, and reached New Jersey an hour later with the traffic. New Jersey, and then Pennsylvania, felt extremely rural and deserted compared to the densely-populated urban area we just came from.

We took the Interstate 81 North and headed straight to Syracuse, our pit stop for the night. We were both wearing pants and a sweater because of the cooler weather, and it felt like arriving in cold Canada after traveling in some exotic part of the world!

I didn’t know much about Syracuse but for the fact it is home to Syracuse University. We didn’t have a hotel booked and picked the Red Roof Inn Syracuse randomly, on Thompson Road, for the price and the convenient location. The room was pretty nice but the design of the motel puzzled us: the building was wide open, with large balconies/hallways outside, much like motels in California or in Mexico. The only problem being… this is Syracuse, Northeastern U.S., the weather isn’t quite as warm! It was pretty chilly that day (around 18°C, which was a shock after the 35°C weather in NYC) and we were cold at night. I can’t even imagine how it feels in the middle of the winter, with the wind!

We headed downtown Syracuse to have a look at the city, but frankly, there wasn’t much to look at. The downtown area, around Clinton Square, felt deserted and dingy and there weren’t a lot of businesses or restaurants around. Little Italy, along Salina Street, wasn’t too inspiring either.

University Hill and the Syracuse University campus were much nicer, with old building and wide open spaces. With the dark clouds looming over, it felt a bit like in a Harry Potter movie.

We ended up heading to Carousel Centre, a huge shopping mall, to find something to eat. The size of the mall was rather impressive but unfortunately, neither Feng nor I are interesting in shopping and we didn’t buy anything. We actually joked about it: for once, we could have a duty-free allowance since we had been out of Canada for a few days, and we didn’t shop! Most Canadians would have killed for the chance, cross-border shopping is a national sport around here.

The following morning, we drove the last leg of the road back to Ottawa, going through Watertown. We took our time and explore the shore of Lake Ontario, around Pulaski. The light and the clouds were amazing, and it was hot again (phew!). New York State really is a nice place to go for a drive!

I hope you enjoy the Albany, NYC and Syracuse journey with us! Soon back with Canadian adventures…

You can see the set of pictures taken in the U.S.A. on Flickr.

Clinton Square, Syracuse

National Grid, Syracuse

New That We Are Here, Nothing Else Matters, Syracuse


Syracuse University Buildings

Syracuse University Buildings

Syracuse University Buildings

Syracuse University Buildings

Syracuse University Buildings

Syracuse University Buildings

Interstate 690

Driving in NY State

Around Lake Ontario, NY State

Around Lake Ontario, NY State

Around Lake Ontario, NY State

Around Lake Ontario, NY State

Around Lake Ontario, NY State

Watertown, NY State


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Wow, I’m taking the same road trip to Ottawa this August. It’s nice to see upstate NY through an Ontarian’s eyes. 😉

    Would you by any chance be available for hire?

  2. Hi Zhu,

    I think that from what I saw & read, you both had a busy and fun trip! I guess that the return leg of the trip is sort of “side B”. It looks very austere in Syracuse.
    I liked the pics of the campus at Syracuse University. Beautiful old buildings and campus.


  3. Hi,

    This is my first time to Ottawa…. need to drive ther with family this week end for visa stamping and know that its going to be really cold.

    DO the Interstate I 81 and other roads to Ottawa remain open.
    Do you have any advice abot precautions ?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. I would like to know if the distance will not be too far for my children to go to school in U.S.A while I’m living in Ottawa back and forth every day and what is the closest border between Ottawa and U.S.A?

    • There are several borders, the closest one from Ottawa is probably Prescott/Ogdensburg. Honestly, I wouldn’t go back and forth and I can’t imagine the logistic… border crossing can be quick but also very slow at times.

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