Weather in Winnipeg: Morning = warm but over cast. Afternoon = warm, overcast with spots of rain. Evening = warm, over cast with lots of rain.
Okay so after my last blog I went out for a proper meal; on my way I reflected what I hadn't eaten in a while, and decided a fish meal was needed. 30 minutes later I was tucking into fish and chips (fries) in a nice pub restaurant. I decided to push the boat out on this one and I went for a pudding - wild berry crepes - which were cold pancakes with cream in them, with a selection of berries to complement (and ice cream). It tasted fantastic; the dull texture of the pancake, followed by the cold and fresh taste of the cream with the striking, strong and full taste of the berries was mouth watering. It was so good that it nearly took over my number one all time pudding choice (treacle sponge with custard).
There were three pancakes but I ate one before remembering to take a photo!
23rd May - Flaming Marathons!
Okay so today was the day I was to leave Halifax; I was pretty sad as I had really enjoyed my stay. As my plane didn't leave until 4:45pm I had a relaxing morning getting ready and then finally I went out in search of breakfast. As I approached town there were hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of people, lines of parked cars and traffic jams ... this could mean only one thing, a Marathon. Yes indeedly another marathon was happening whilst I was travelling within a city (it happened to me in Berlin and Brussels); however instead of being a hindrance I thought this time the marathon might help me ... I mean food shops will be open to sell breakfast to all these hungry marathon runners ... no. It was Sunday at around 11:00am and everywhere was shut (I even went to the food court in a shopping centre and all the food stores were closed ... then proceeded to get lost in the centre for the next 10 minutes). I eventually abandoned breakfast (though I did have one Mars bar left ... so I ate that) and decided to quicken my movements towards Halifax Airport because, with the marathon taking place, some of the hotels were blocked where the airport shuttle would normally serve ... and it was probably running late.
To play it safe I checked out of the hostel, said goodbye to the nice English couple from Leicester (Lucy and Tom) and headed to a hotel to pick up the shuttle .... only to find out that this hotel wasn't being served by the shuttle due to the ^*&(£" marathon (what is it with running! ... surely it's quicker to drive the 26 or so miles) and therefore I had to quickly walk to another hotel 5 minutes away to catch the shuttle bus that was due soon ... I made it.
At the airport I met a great guy from the airline Westjet, who helped me check in and wanted to talk to me for ages about my travels as he wants to travel. I then went for lunch (chicken burger and chips for $6 ... bargain) and headed to the observation deck that the guy from Westject recommend. It was great just to watch the planes come in on my own (got some pictures on my Flickr account) ... until Canadian families with children came up and started to go over the top as usual:
"... Daddy, that plane is Awesome!..."
"... Mummy this plane is Awesome!..."
FOR PETE SAKE!
Finally my flight was due and I sat down at my window seat (which was next to the wing ... which was good as I could keep an eye on one of the engines ... make sure it didn't slack). Luckily there was nobody next to me but there was some fat Canadian woman in the isle seat; the cabin announcement asked people to turn off their mobile (cell) phones and she completely ignored it and kept texting. I hate people like that; everyone else on the plane probably listened to the announcement and did as they were told but somehow this woman's time is more important than others ... I didn't talk to her for the entire trip.
In stead I turned on the TV and, to my amazement, an old episode of Mr Bean was on TV ... so I watched that. For the whole flight I continually flicked between watching the news (and a programme called 'the family guy') and looking out of the window.
We arrived in Hamilton first (right near to Toronto ... where my tour all started) and I had to wait on the plane until passengers had left and new passengers had boarded (first time I've been on a 'two-part flight') and then we were off.
Flying over the agriculture heartland of Canada was quite an experience; from this height the land looked like a patchwork quilt with squares of black, yellow and green as far as the eye could see. It's really hard to grasp just how much land Canada has. As we approached Winnipeg it looked beautiful; up in the sky the city has so many trees that it looked like the city was built in a forest ... it looked stunning and I was really looking forward to staying here. There were strong winds as we approached Winnipeg Airport and it did feel like we were approaching the runway at a slight angle; I was a little nervous but the landing was fine ... the pilot certainly earned his salary on that flight.
Soon we arrived in Winnipeg and got on bus #15 towards my hostel. On the bus was a couple who I talked to a little bit and then a young (quite attractive woman actually) joined the conversation. As it turns out she had just returned from a week long exercise where she is learning to become a priest (damn! ... still you don't hear that everyday!). We then got onto the topic of Winnipeg and she said the area that we were currently travelling in was dangerous at night and that I should be careful; I then asked whether my hostel was within this area (I showed her the address) and she said yes (brilliant!). The more she talked about the area the more it sounded like I was in Somalia ... I was fully expecting a jeep to cross our path with 4 Somalians in the back with an RPG and a machine gun.
I think the final icing on the cake was when she said that normal Winnipeger's don't even travel down this area at night as they are afraid, but she liked the area. Now I'm not a religious man; however I do think that priests don't normally lie. The reason why she liked the area was probably because there were loads of people that needed help. Therefore I had decided that I would get back to my hostel in day light whilst I was here ... 7pm .... maybe 4pm .... hell why just stay in the hostel all day.
As the bus driver pulled up to the stop a couple said to me 'stay safe son' and the driver said 'I'll watch you, make sure you get into the hostel' ... I thought 'brilliant'; my first night in Romania flashed back.
I got to my hostel to find that my reservation hadn't gone through but they had plenty of room ... $29.00 per night is a bit steep though. Within my room there were only three of us; we have an on-suite bathroom and I almost have a double bed ... I could see why the cost as $29.00.
After this I was pretty tired and so I headed to sleep.
24th May - Victoria Day
Waking up early I decided to make the most of the day light (before the city, apparently, turned into a scene from 'I am Legend' at night). I headed out along the main road towards the centre; Winnipeg seemed deserted, there was hardly anyone around the whole place just felt like a scene from silent hill (apart from the fog ... and the bad demon things ... got to play this game when I get back). I then realised that today was 'Victoria Day' ... a Canadian public holiday and so most Canadians were out in the countryside.
The central district looked okay but nothing special and so I headed on towards the 'museum of man and nature'. This museum was rated highly in my guidebook with ' an explanation on the northern lights, Boreal Forest Gallery, insects of Manitoba, the ship the 'nonsuch' and an Urban Gallery'. Also attached to the museum was a science museum and a planetarium; you could purchase a ticket for all three but I decided on the nature and planetarium only and managed to blag a student rate ... result.
The man and nature museum was really good; there were replica Buffalo, polar bear and arctic fox models and the ship, 'nonsuch', was a 1:1 model of a British ship that sailed to Winnipeg in the 18C (you could walk around it). The planetarium, on the other hand wasn't quite so good. The planetarium it self was normal but the shows were very 'American' and dumbed down allot. There was a bit about star signs and star constellations which, I'm sorry, are rubbish ... anyone who says they can see a star constellation is frankly lying through their teeth ... those stars do not look like a lion.
After the museum the weather was closing in and the clouds were getting dark; I therefore decided to head to the rail station to find out about tickets to Calgary (the quicker the better) and then head back to the hostel. Earlier in the day I tried to locate the bus station only to find it had moved to the airport ... doh! As I went into the train station the ticket offices were closed and I looked at the times of operation ... closes at 2:30pm!!! You have got to be kidding me ... no transport office in the UK closes at 2:30pm, especially not a county capital.
So empty handed I returned to the hostel to use my netbook to find out about trains, planes and coaches to Calgary. After a bit of searching the up short is that I think I'm going to take a 20hr coach to Calgary as the train only goes to Edmonton (and worst still, the next train is on the 27th ... meaning I'll have to stay here an extra day). When looking at the coach times I found the only one at 11:30pm everyday therefore I've pretty much decided to cancel my last night here and get the coach tomorrow; it still means I have a full day in Winnipeg to see the art museum (apparently the largest collection of Inuit art within Canada) and then I can leave Winnipeg as quickly as possible ... not really liking the city, though to be fair I haven't really given it a chance, been a bit spooked by the priest.
So I don't think there will be a blog tomorrow as I'll be travelling, possibly the day after.