Winterpeg, the coldest capital over 500,000

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 23, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , Manitoba,
Thursday, May 14, 2009

So despite the incident from last night we came into Winnipeg relatively on time. Getting off the train with Beth the first thing I realize is this is not weather for shorts. It was -11 when we got into Winterpeg, after being 19 over the past couple of days. Now Winnipeg is a little different for me because I am not staying at just any accomodation, I am staying with my long time friends, the Novaks. But arriving in the morning at 8 am and not having a cellphone it was difficult for me to get in touch with them. So quickly to the pay phone I ran and put in 50 cents and called my friend Myrrhanda. I got the message machine and left an less than detailed message of how I had arrived in her city, I was freezing cold and I had only slept for two hours on the train. Deciding I didn't want to spend the day, one of two that I had, in the train station I agreed to walk with my new friend Beth to her hostel. So we walked out into the freezing cold of Winnipeg, me with my dirty pants and having not showered for the last day. Now I had briefly been to Winnipeg before this trip. I came for my friends the Novaks' wedding so I had a slight idea of the city. I remember when I came the first time thinking this is a concrete jungle but after going through Asia, my eyes have been open to looking at cities in terms of character and Winnipeg, Winnipeg has character. If you are Winnipeg and you are the coldest city for a population over 500,000 people you need to survive on something. Beth stopped many times to document the different pieces of art painted on the older buildings downtown. Also she pointed out the unique stair cases that littered the backs of many buildings in downtown Winnipeg. So we trudged over the Hi hostel where she would be staying. Lucky for her it is right beside the Portage Place, one of the oldest malls in Winnipeg. She went into her accomodations and I stayed down in the lobby and posted the blogs from the train the day before. She came down refreshed and we headed out to find somewhere to eat. Now Beth has an advantage of me in terms of traveling. She brought alone a lonely planet travel book of Canada so we looked in it to find a good place for breakfast/lunch. We both agreed on a place called the Underground Cafe which brags of fresh food in a cafe style atmosphere. Lonely planet was right to recommend the restaurant, the food was great and the price was right. For a large caeser salad and a chicken melt, both obviously prepared fresh, I only had to pay $14.68. Since I knew I was going to receive free accomodations and dinner it worked out in terms of my budget. Now we decided in the restaurant to visit the french quarter of town which boasts the St. Boniface Cathedral, the oldest building in Winnipeg and Louis Riel grave. We took the bus over which was only $2.75 and arrived close to the cathedral but along the way we noticed the effects of the Red River flooding. Half of the path down to the river was still underwater. When we arrived at the Cathedral, part of the cemetery was partly still covered in water so that ducks swam beside grave stones placed there hundreds of years ago. The Cathedral is a beautiful structure. Having partly burnt down in 1968 it still has the beautiful stone workings of the original structure and then there is a modern pine addition to the church in the back. After looking around inside we ventured out the front doors to what was suppose to be the oldest house in Winnipeg and also the grave site of Louis Riel. The grave site was nothing really fantastic but the oldest home was a little eccentric. It was an old chapel which had been converted into a museum. In it we found the history of Winnipeg from its early coureur de bois age to the 1970s to the coffin of Louis Riel to upside the different games children have played over the years. Beth and I sat down to a game of checkers but after a while we realized the game wasn't as fun as it was in our youth.
Then we decided to explore the forks. The original site of settlers to Winnipeg it now hosts little shops, many train tracks and even more trains as they move back and forth across the country. We went through the Forks Market which hosts many individual stores and highlights the lack of corporate food items available through the kitchens of Winnipeg residents. Then back to Main street. It had gotten warmer, 6 degrees hurray!! I went off on the bus to meet up with my friends the Novaks who did feed me an excellent meal and provided me with my first 8 hours of sleep on this trip so far. God Bless friends, the best travel companion a guy can ask for.
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