Canada: Winnipeg Manitoba

I’m stating the bleeding obvious here but those Canadian Prairies, the Great Plains, the breadbasket of the world are incredibly vast. Millions of tons of wheat and canola are grown and harvested here and the sheer size of the farms is replicated in the trucks and machinery that drive this billion dollar industry. Even the trains that transport the grains are excessive. I counted 150 rail cars on one train.

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After two days of driving, I was glad to pull off the road at Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a large city and I’m not sure why, but it seems to be the butt of jokes. I need a Canadian to enlighten me. The winter temps here plummet to -30. How do people manage? We didn’t see a lot of this city since we were here for just one night, but on our drive through Broadway St, it looked like a place we should have stayed in longer.

I don’t usually tout hotels in my blog, but the Fort Garry Hotel deserves a thumbs up. It’s heritage listed, built in 1913 for train travellers getting on and off at nearby Union Station and it’s lively inside and out.

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We loved our room, made good use of the gym as we warded off car lag and took advantage of their bar/lounge. Kicking back after a day on the road with a good Canadian beer or in my case, a Pina Colada listening to the band crooning mellow hits from Carol King and Billy Joel, was pretty damn relaxing. When the band sang the Proclaimers hit, ‘I would walk 500 miles’, I sang along with my own lyrics, ‘I just drove 5000 miles.’

The night got even better though when Keanu Reeves sauntered into the lounge. He hails from Toronto, was staying at the hotel and patiently obliged with some obligatory photo taking before sitting down and enjoying drinks with a friend. No one interrupted his evening, no one took sneaky photos of him. The more I get to see Canadians in action, the more I admire their naturalness.

We had a great night, slept really well and prepared ourselves for another long drive – this time to Thunder Bay.

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