A quiet day and a not so quiet day!

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
Trip End May 24, 2012

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What I did
Exchange District, The Forks & Market, Downtown

Flag of Canada  , Manitoba,
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yesterday I said goodbye to Dan and Laurie and Dan drove me to the airport. Check-in was smooth and we boarded our flight to Winnipeg in good time for the 09:50 take-off. This was my first time with Air Canada and it was a good experience - their pilots have been engaging in unofficial strike action and many flight shave been cancelled everyday, thankfully this one was okay. The plane was completely full. I am now nearly 1000 miles further west and a time zone further behind BST!

I had an middle seat and the first thing the guy at the window did was to pull down the shutter and it didn't go up again until we were on the stand at Winnipeg - I saw nothing of the journey and was even surprised by the landing as it happened before I was anticipating it. I hate it when that happens. The journey did however give me the chance to catch a movie - the review is here.

My next host, Vic kindly picked me up from the airport and we made our way to an excellent Indian restaurant for lunch. Afterwards we went to Vic's office - the headquarters of the Mennonite Church of Canada - where I was allowed to occupy a desk for the afternoon and web while Vic got on with his work. He had an evening meeting but was home by 8:20 allowing the opportunity for us to watch a movie which we duly did. The review of Another Earth is here.

This morning I was dropped off downtown just after 8:00. It was beautifully sunny but the wind was bitingly cold. After a coffee to thaw out I made my way east along Portage Avenue. I then became aware of many emergency vehicles in the area and then I saw a plume of smoke. As it was only a couple of blocks away, I made way over expecting to find a dumpster on fire - but it was much bigger than that. The full set of photos is here. I counted at least 25 Fire Appliances centred on Albert Street in the Exchange District.

I began by taking pictures from across the street and gradually plucked up courage to get nearer - although the acrid smoke was at times choking. There were no police around and the Firemen didn't seem to mind my presence. When i saw another guy with a camera closer still, I edged nearer the action until I was right across the street from the fire. Three buildings on fire - no visible flames but lots of smoke. After about 10 minutes I noticed that i was now within a police cordon - and so did the police who asked me to move on. I duly obliged.

From there I continued around the Exchange District before heading east to the Red River. From there I walked south along the river taking in the Esplanade Riel Bridge and Festival Park before arriving at The Forks. In summer there must be lots of outdoor activities and entertainment but today I was glad to get out of the wind and enjoy the Market. Lots of interesting food options: Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Chilean, Jamaican, Fish, Italian and fresh baked goods - including Cinnamon Rolls, which again I managed to resist.

I then walked back into the downtown area and explored Winnipeg Square - an underground shopping area before going overground on one of the city's 'Skywalks'. There are four of these. The Graham Skywalk links office buildings, shops, doctors' surgeries and the library at first floor level and is at least 600m long. It is quite amazing passing from building to another seamlessly. I then returned to Albert Street to see how the clean-up after the fire was going. there was still one crew there periodically spraying the smouldering ruins with water. The scale of the devastation was clearer to see! I was then glad to be picked up and taken 'home'.

The evening afforded another opportunity to watch a film. My thoughts on that one are still 'cooking' - i will write a review tomorrow, but it will be on my usual blog which you can find here.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring!
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