Wednesday August 16, 2017 (Canada)
Ahhh, we get to spend three consecutive nights in the same place! It’s a heck of a lot more relaxing than packing up your stuff every day and moving to the next location. In light of that fact, our first full day in Winnipeg was full of mostly… nothingness!
We had learned upon arrival in Winnipeg that not only was the Folklorama festival an ongoing concern during our stay, but that the Canada Games were also just wrapping up. What luck! Summer in Canada is pure magic for this type of stuff. Summer in a place like Winnipeg that gets about a week of reasonably warm weather is unadulterated crack rock. I managed to snap up some tickets to the Women’s Volleyball Gold Medal game for $15 a pop online, so our plan for the day in Winnipeg consisted of:
- Go to the gym (Sandra’s request/demand)
- Get to the volleyball game
The gym process proved a bit more challenging than expected. We arrived at precisely the location Google told us the nearest Goodlife Fitness facility was located and were met with… a parking lot? Google even had pictures of this fictitious Goodlife location. Nowhere to be found. It wasn’t even a case where there was a Goodlife corporate office or something! There was just no such place. It’s pretty rare that Google gets it so far wrong! No big deal: we extended our walk a little bit to go to a downtown location, and after that the situation was fine.
After the gym it was brunch time. Sandra did a quick phone check and found a place called Clementine Cafe was very nearby. When she said the name, I immediately remembered reading a headline in a newspaper back at Rushing River lent to me by a fellow camper from Winnipeg about this place! It was being nominated for some kind of “greatest restaurant ever, always” award. Funny how travel and life can work like that – it was just a bizarre coincidence that I’d read about this place two days prior as being a lovely spot, and now we search for a place near the gym and up it comes! I’m not much of a fatalist, but I definitely take these moments as “we definitely need to do this” moments. Although the wait for seating could have been shorter, we had a lovely meal at the Clementine Cafe and would recommend it to anybody looking for a reasonably-priced and very tasty brunch! I had the Turkish Eggs and a Tamarind & Lemongrass soda, and Sandra had the Duck Chilaquiles and a Matcha Latte. Delightful!
By the time we’d gotten finished with all of this mid-morning business it wasn’t long until the volleyball game! We arrived a respectable thirty minutes before game start. At least, I thought it was respectable. It became evident that there was an issue when we were instructed to walk to "the end of the line" to wait for entry to the facility. As we began the march, it became evident that this was the snakiest snake line that ever has snaked. The crux of the problem was that the Bronze Medal game was still ongoing (and continued until about thirty minutes after our game was scheduled to start!), so effectively a number of people equal to the entire capacity of the arena was waiting in a single file line that wrapped alongside the building, twice back and forth across the length of the parking lot, and then around a corner (we couldn’t see how far it ended up going back because the line was eventually obscured by cars!). There were murmurs of “they’ve oversold the event!” and “there’s no way they have this many seats!”. A young child laid face down on the hot pavement in confused protest. My concern was that even if they did have enough seats, it’d take them an hour or more to get us all inside! Eventually the line started moving, and we realized upon entry that they weren’t checking tickets at all. Makes a lot of sense when you have to fill the arena as quickly as possible!
The game was between Manitoba and Alberta. I ordered those nasty tortilla chips with pre-heated liquid (but eventually hardening) cheese dip. Sandra said they tasted like vomit. I was only slightly more enthusiastic. We cheered hard for Manitoba (“‘TOBA!, ‘TOBA!, ‘TOBA!”) and shook our free noisemaker clappers with vigour. After losing the first set, the home team was victorious! The crowd went wild! Here’s a video of the last point! The video doesn't do Alberta justice. There were some amazing rallies in the game. I was incredibly impressed with the play on both sides. Well done ladies, and congratulations to the hometown heroes!
We started our second day with a late lunch at BMC Market, which was a tiny Mexican joint Sandra discovered after some online sleuthing. The food was tasty and well-priced, and right next door was a games store where we picked up a copy of a game called Jaipur. I was looking for a small two-player game for us to play together on the trip and this one seemed to fit the bill. We’ll let you know how it goes!
After lunch we went to Shoppers Drug Mart and Safeway to pick up provisions for the mini-trip on which we were about to embark. We won’t say where we’re going. Yet. That’s a surprise for the next post! But suffice it to say that it’s a tiny community without road access whose rail lines had recently been mangled by flooding. As a result, it’s now fly-in only. Also as a result, we thought prices in the community would probably skyrocket, so we wanted to bring some basic stuff to leave in the town for the locals (pencils and paper for the upcoming school year, granola bars, peanut butter… that kind of thing). Anyway, we had a bit of a shopping spree picking up random stuff we thought might be useful and then carted it all back to our place!
Since we did almost nothing photo-worthy on our first full day in Winnipeg, I insisted to Sandra that as our next order of business we must at least go to the Human Rights Museum. It’s a newer building on the Winnipeg scene and its architecture is gorgeous. I’ll admit it: we didn’t go inside. I don’t think either of us were ready for the kind of heavy material I’m sure would be presented in the museum. So we just gawked at the exterior and that was that! But on the same self-guided walking tour we found Nellie McClung beside the Manitoba Legislative Building (women’s suffrage pioneer, born in Ontario and resided in Winnipeg!), parking plugs (the weather gets so cold that everybody plugs in their car to keep the engine warm in the winter!), the Esplanade Riel (a beautiful pedestrian bridge!), and the Forks Market (a ton of great local beers on tap, empanadas, and frozen yogurt!).
As we commenced our walk home from the daily excursion, we happened across an art installation entitled “The Weave”, which was a massive hammock capable of simultaneously supporting four adults. Sandra and I hopped in and hung out (cough) for a while. How fun to have such a unique space available in the middle of the city! Well done Winnipeg!
It was very nearly dark by the time we arrived back at our accommodation. We packed a small subset of bags for our super-secret trip and prepared for an early morning taxi ride! Shh, don’t tell anybody if you know where we’re headed!