Discover Ottawa with New Neighborhood Games

Published: January 12, 2022
Last updated: February 3, 2022
Olde worlde in Ottawa: the Norwegian residence in Rockcliffe
Old world in Ottawa: the Norwegian residence in Rockcliffe

For this blog, we asked our wonderful guide Hans on the Bike to try our Rockliffe Tour and give us his impression.  Here is Han’s take on our new self-guided games and The Rockliffe tour: 

Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals has developed a number of new routes that you can explore with the help of an app called Questo.

The Escape Team teamed up with Questo, a European company that offers gaming style walks as self-guided tours. The idea behind the app is that you download a walk or a ride in Ottawa on your smartphone and start to solve a puzzle based on a number of clues.

The platform and infrastructure are provided by Questo, a Romanian initiative by Alex Govoreanu, but the content comes mostly from local storytellers.

Many of the games are in Europe, with its rich history of castles, churches, cathedrals and conquerers, a fertile ground for games, providing enough material to create hundreds of walks and rides in medieval city cores.

However, you can also follow games based on more recent people and events such as Einstein (Switzerland), Jack the Ripper (England) or Communism (Bulgaria).

Where are the Self-guided Games in Ottawa?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go to Europe to experience the 3-8 kilometre walks/bike rides. Ottawa is on the list too. The team of Escape created 4 self-guided games/ tours for the Nation’s Capital:

  • The Rockcliffe Neighbourhood,
  • Street Arts of Ottawa (In the Eyes of a Street Artist),
  • Shapers of Ottawa and
  • Foods of the World

How does the self-guided game work?

The way it works is that you download the free Questo app, purchase a tour and start at a certain location. You read something about the location and its history in the app and you’ll get a question about a characteristic of the building or natural feature or something else related to where you are. If you answer it correctly, you’ll receive instructions on where to go next. Eventually, you solve the puzzle (it is quite simple and clues are provided if you guess wrongly).

Some games are free, others are a few dollars. You pay per person, but you can obviously pay for one game and walk or bike with the family. Make sure you agree on the answers if you only download only one game for the whole group. You don’t want this game leading to a divorce.

The Rockeries in Rockcliffe in Ottawa
The Rockeries in Rockcliffe in Ottawa

Rockcliffe Neighbourhood Game in Ottawa

Let’s just see how it actually works with one of the tours as an example.

You will start at one of the European embassies and you’ll have to look for a clue at the gate. You will then be sent to the next place and so forth. While you meander through Rockcliffe and the Rockeries, the story keeps developing: a man wakes up in a strange room and can’t remember a thing of what happened. While you solve and make your way through Rockcliffe, more and more clues are provided to understand what has happened the evening before.

You’ll be checking out a number of beautiful old buildings that are mostly residences (homes) of ambassadors from other countries but part of it will go to the rockeries, a park in Rockcliffe.

A description at one of the residences in Questo
A description at one of the residences in Questo
a screen shot of one the descriptions in Questo

A screenshot of one of the descriptions in Questo

As we are navigating through Ottawa’s wealthiest neighbourhood, we admire the different homes.

We won’t give the story away, but here are a few more screenshots to show what you can expect.

The residence of the Irish ambassador
The residence of the Irish ambassador

It also includes the very Loire Valley manor-looking Roman Catholic Church representation, definitely worth a photo! The leafy neighbourhood has some of the most expensive real estates in Ottawa and you will certainly appreciate why. Hansl & Gretel homes rub shoulders with Georgian and neo Gothic homes and you’ll find out where the Dutch princesses used to live during the war years.

A lovely manor, now home of the representative of the Roman Catholic church in Rockcliffe. See it with Questo.

A lovely manor, now the home of the representative of the Roman Catholic church in Rockcliffe. See it with the Rockliffee neighbourhood game. Take a peek inside the courtyard.

Visiting Ottawa with Self-guided City Exploration Games

If you are visiting Ottawa this summer or if you live in the Ottawa area, this is definitely worth checking out. It is a nice mix of learning about your city, a bit of walking or cycling and just plain old excitement and entertainment for the kids.

If you don’t have access to a bike you can rent bikes from us. And if you really want to try something different, we have e-scooters too. Use promo code [ESCAPEGAME22] when booking your rental and get a 10% discount.

The Danes actually shipped their own wood to Canada in order to build their residence for the ambassador. The resident is part of the Questo tour.

The Danes actually shipped their own wood to Canada in order to build their residence for the ambassador. The residence is part of the Rockliffe tour.

An example in Questo of a challenge. Sometimes you have to count colours, or statues.
An example of a challenge in our self-guided city games. Sometimes you have to count colours, or statues.

Self-guided City Exploration Games: a Great Winter Activity

This is also a great thing to do in winter. Many of us are holed up at home due to COVID so this could be an  entertaining winter walk to get out of the house with the kids. The game is really for all ages and a nice way to learn something new about the city. Top it off with hot chocolate and a dessert at the Ottawa Bike Café (79 Sparks Street) and you should have a great afternoon.

Ottawa City Games Webpage

Here is the website for the Ottawa games. It is important to have internet access on your smartphone as the app uses GPS services to display new questions depending on where you are standing.

Escape Tours and Rentals thanks Ottawa Tourism and the Destination Development Fund for their support of the Escape Tours and Rentals Self-Guided City Games.

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