Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winnipeg: It's the New Buffalo!

A play by play of our spontaneous weekend trip to Winnipeg, complete with numerous pictures of  us looking ridiculously happy and some delicious food - this post is so long it may take you a whole weekend to read it! :)

Before we moved to Nunavut, we lived fairly close to the Canada/US border, and would often drive the 45 minutes to hop over and do some shopping and eat some food. This past weekend was sort of the same...only instead of driving for 45 minutes, we flew for 6 hours. Almost exactly (not really) the same thing! Either way, it was with the same intentions: buy things we can't buy here and eat food we can't eat here.

Jeff told me around lunch on Friday that it looked like we could go to Winnipeg on the early evening flight out of Baker if I was so inclined. Naturally, I jumped at the idea and spent my lunch hour packing faster than I had ever packed before in my life. Actually, there wasn't much to pack - a very tiny suitcase held our clothes for a few days, and that suitcase went inside a medium empty suitcase...which then went into an empty large suitcase. I was ready to use up the luggage allowance on our way back!

We left fairly uneventfully and arrived in Winnipeg around 10:30pm. It was too late to actually figure out a place to go, so we just ended up at the sports bar attached to the hotel. It's a small world because we actually ran into a co-worker of mine who had left a couple days earlier and was headed to Toronto the next day and onto Mexico thereafter (soooo jealous!!) A quick bite to eat and we went to bed so we could get up early the next morning and take full advantage of all Winnipeg had to offer.

Day 1
Saturday morning dawned and it was a miserably grey looking morning. We went to the car rental place and in the short walk we took, it started to snow pretty heavily (we joked that it actually was snowing harder than what we'd seen in Baker Lake to date). To cheer us up, the car rental girl offered us a Beetle...which Jeff wasn't all that thrilled about, but he tried to be a good sport. Here you can see how happy he is with it:
Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for Jeff), he was too tall to sit comfortably in the driver's seat, so we got a Kia Soul. Jeff felt much more at home in the Soul since that's the car he drove before we moved up North. Here he is showing me just how much he loves that we didn't get the Beetle...I think he was pretty happy:
After we settled into the car (heated seats, how much I missed you!!) we headed off to Winnipeg's Chinatown in search of a dim sum restaurant I had read about, called Kum Koon. It was snowing pretty hard and there were no plows in sight on the roads, so we took our time even though it wasn't a very far drive. Sadly, when we got to the restaurant it looked pretty I checked the business hours and it wasn't going to open for half an hour. I didn't want to lose our primo parking spot (since there was no one else there) so we stayed in the car and played games on the iPad.

We were the first ones to walk through the doors when they opened, and we were given a pretty good table close to the kitchen where all the carts get pushed out. Shortly after we were seated, the restaurant started to fill up and by the time we left, we heard it was a 2 hour wait! I don't know if it was because I really craved it, or it had been so long since we had dim sum and I missed it so much, or if the food was actually that good - but it was amazing. Probably one of the best dim sum meals I've had in years. We were very happy to be there, as you can see!

After we ate enough to feed a small country (and lamented that we had no more room in our bellies), we headed off to the mall to see if we could get some Christmas shopping completed while we were surrounded by stores. We were told by the hotel that we should go to Polo Park, which is a pretty large mall. Of course, large malls mean a lot of people, and lots of people + heavy snow = impossible to find a parking spot. We must have circled the lots for half an hour (while I increasingly lost patience and developed parking lot rage...good thing I wasn't the one driving!) and finally ended up going up a snowy ramp to the upstairs parking instead of wandering around all the covered parking downstairs.

I used to be able to shop all day and not be phased, but by the end of our shopping day I was pretty malled out. Jeff actually had better patience than me and encouraged me to go into different stores, etc. I just wanted to get out of the way of the approximately 239827342 people who obviously felt their time was more important than mine because I kept getting pushed out of the way. Being short has its disadvantages for sure, because sometimes I wonder if they even saw me (though in my Canada Goose parka and my huge pink backpack, I wasn't exactly invisible)! We did manage to get a few presents crossed off our list before we left, so all in all, it was a successful trip to the mall!

After the mall, we passed by a Costco and decided to go in and see what things we could buy to stock up on. A few hours after we got in (that's what happens when you go up and down almost every aisle) and a shopping cart full of food later, we were finally headed to the checkout. It's funny that it's only been 4 months and I already started to run low on things - when we moved up here I thought I was buying a lot of things to last us at least until the summer...but we've been going through the supplies much quicker than I anticipated. Things that we never seem to have enough of: ketchup, cereal, oats, dried fruits, baking supplies like flour and sugar, snacks for entertaining (chips, crackers)...and then we bought things we can't get here/can get here, but they're super expensive: bagels, goat cheese (so excited!!), pate, guacamole. We stayed away from buying fruits and vegetables because I had just put in a big grocery order and didn't think we could get through that much produce before it went bad. We also ended up getting all that we bought into the suitcases we brought up - my Tetris-stacking skills definitely came in handy!

We tried to get some last minute reservations to restaurants that were recommended to us, but we didn't have any luck (boo). We felt like steak, so we ended up going to Chop because it was in the area and Jeff had had it the last time he came for training and he liked it. We weren't overly hungry even though it'd been hours and hours since brunch, but we also didn't want to have a meal go by without taking advantage of it! Jeff ordered the "stuffed gorgonzola filet" and had wasabi-infused mashed potatoes as his side.
 He loved it and said that the steak melted in your mouth.
I had the french onion soup (it was ok) and the "chop salad" with steak instead of chicken. I will probably say something that will shock a lot of you, so brace yourselves: there was too much bacon in the salad. I know; I can hear you asking, "how can there be too *much* bacon, Lily??" I made the comment to Jeff and he was taken aback - until he helped me finish my salad and LEFT bacon on the plate (unheard of)...and then agreed, the bacon to salad ratio was a little crazy. Aside from that, the salad was pretty good and a great value at under $20 but with a fair amount of steak on it.
Finally, a disappointing dessert: the "Caribbean rum cake" with cream cheese gelato. Sounded better than it tasted.
When we were finished dinner, we went to the movies and saw Skyfall - and here I'll make a confession that I hope you won't judge me on: Skyfall was my first Bond movie. Ever. I know, I live under a rock. I hope you don't think less of me. That being said, it was a pretty great movie that we both thoroughly enjoyed. It also makes me want the Adele song from it pretty badly.

Our intention was to leave on the early morning flight out of Winnipeg on Sunday morning so we could get home and have plenty of time before work on Monday, but we got bumped from our flight and couldn't get out until Monday morning. Well then ! Another day in Winnipeg? Okay. If you insist!

Day 2
Sunday was a bit more relaxing in the sense that we didn't have anything planned because we weren't expecting to still be there. We had gone to bed well after 3am so I let Jeff sleep in (I try to sleep in, but it just doesn't work anymore. Boooo!) until 11 and then we went to book the car again. We had to re-book hotel and car because we weren't supposed to be there!

We decided that if we wanted a lot of things cheap, with a wide variety but not necessarily in super-mega-jumbo size, we would head to the closest Walmart. Again, another cart full of stuff and many, many hours later, we were ready to go. Since our luggage was full, we bought a couple Rubbermaid containers and packed everything into them after we checked out. We filled 3 containers between 30-62L and they were so heavy!! We then drove over to the cargo building by the airport and labeled them/taped them up so they'll be sent up on as cargo instead of our baggage. It'll be like Christmas when we get them and open them up!

We decided one movie wasn't enough, so we went to see Rise of the Guardians in 3D. For a cartoon, this was pretty scary!! No wonder there were warnings when we went to buy our tickets. It was a really good movie though - lots of action and a good moral to learn out of it all. I really enjoyed the act of going to the movies this past weekend; it was nice to do something so "normal."

After the movie, we drove around for a bit looking at Christmas lights and enjoying the view of trees (such a welcome sight after a long time!) - we were passing a street when I recognized a restaurant from the Food Network show, You Gotta Eat Here - so we pulled over and went into Boon - Canada's first all vegan burger cafe.

The food was fantastic and we both really enjoyed what we ordered. They were hearty burgers; definitely more filling than we expected.

It was a great dinner to cap off a great day! If we only knew how much energy/patience we would need for the trip home, we'd had ordered more food!

Day 3
We were trying to get out on the 7:30 flight so we had to be up super early on Monday. We made it through security and check-in relatively quickly and headed straight for Starbucks the second we got through. When rushed to our gate and found that it was delayed due to mechanical issues. About an hour after we were supposed to have left, they came back on over the intercom and said, "the plane's not as broken as we thought, so you'll hopefully be leaving soon." Ummmmmmmmmm pardon? That doesn't exactly make me feel better getting on the plane!

Finally, we are on a very full flight to Rankin so we could switch to a smaller plane (and get off the jet - since jets can't get into communities like Baker, when they have very short landing strips). As we were landing, we watched our connecting flight taxi off the runway...had they waited an extra 5 minutes, we would have been on that flight! Instead, because our plane left, we were put on the next flight...6 hours later. Ugh!! We hung around the airport and got a quick tour from one of the people Jeff knew, and then we got to see their Northern (it's bigger) and I refilled my prescription - instead of going back to Baker and having them call Rankin to send some up to me. 6pm came and went, and we didn't actually get out of Rankin until after 7pm. It was a very long wait!!!

We made a stop in Chesterfield and had to wait there for a bit - apparently the cargo pick-up had backed up into the plane, so we had to wait for those passengers to get on our plane since they couldn't fly out on theirs. Finally, we land in Baker after 9pm - a full 8 hours after we had anticipated had the other plane just waited for us. Frustrating, much??

After we got home we unpacked the bags and discovered that the water pipes in the kitchen had frozen again so we couldn't get water unless we went to the washrooms. It was the icing on the cake and we just resigned ourselves to going to bed for the night!

Despite our delays and other minor issues, this weekend was allowed us to come back refreshed and with a clearer perspective on things. We had a lot of fun, ate a lot of delicious food, and reminded ourselves that life outside Baker is still "normal." It was exactly what we needed.


1 comment:

  1. Loved your reflections of visiting the 'peg... it's been 18months since I left there! Hearing you mention so many of the places that were my old stompin' grounds ROCKED! Glad you had such a fun trip!!! :)