Travelogue Canada 3: Winnipeg – Churchill

October 2009




…but let me take a step back…

left winnipeg *yawn* and got to cute little churchill airport. shame man, you should see the little almost conveyor belt they have. it doesn’t even loop or anything, just sort of crescenty grey smile-in-motion sort of thing. anyway, does the trick, so i shouldn’t be condescending.

checked into the churchilll motel. room #17. it’s in the middle of the main <read: only=””> road in town and is lovely and clean and spartan and adequate. not even a distant relative of the Fort Garry Hotel plushness of the night before! … but (again) does the trick, so i shouldn’t be condescending.

ambled over the road to our welcome dinner at the Trader’s Table. had tomato soup starter (was either that or something called ‘salad’, so opted for the safer, more familiar option), filet mignon wrapped in bacon with roast baby potatoes for main and something unfamiliar and (compulsory) unrecognisable for pudding, which was something fruity with something baked, so dabbled with the ice-cream and left the rest largely untouched. phillipa had the salmon for main (served with a honey and soy sauce glazing) which was heavenly. have never ordered salmon before, but should have adventured it this time seeing as my steak was overdone (well, ‘done’ seeing as i had ordered it rare and it was cooked).

in bed by 21h30! new record! AND up (before alarm!) at 06h30! what is becoming of me?!

‘pancakes’ (flapjacks) and french (canadian) toast with bacon and syrup for brekkers and then (uncharacteristically) on-time for 07h45 departure for polar bear expedition.

it’s freezing cold, but nothing a pair of tights, fleece trackie pants, socks, ski socks, thermal vest, jersey, ski suit, ski boots, scarf and gloves can’t solve! got the front seat for best vantage point and spent the day ogling polar bears, arctic hares and artic foxes in the tundra, padding across frozen bodies of water, snoozing in the kelpy stuff by the water’s edge, just generally chilling and arbing about the place… and right up close to the buggies! total awesomeness! these creatures are incredible. so big and beautiful (and i STILL don’t think they’re as vicious as they’re accused of being). can’t wait to get back out there (we have town tour and dog sledding tomorrow and then back into the tundra on tuesday). phillipa’s taken a ton of really good pics with her new camera, so will bore whoever i can corner when i get the disk(s) from her.

had a laugh this morning when the tour guide was going on about how we should keep an eye out for Artesian Whales along the way. of course he was pointing at a trickling streamlet no deeper than 10 or so cms at the time, so we were marvelling at what these could possibly be, considering the possiblities of miniature this and that, the sea creatures on the back of comic books etc etc… until we realised it’s a dialect thing and he was talking about Artesian WELLS! duh! *giggle* been a running joke all day and never ceases to amuse :o)

same guide redeemed himself with a useful factoid though: eskimo is a derogatory term to the people we’ve always called eskimo. they are actually the Innuit (which means ‘The People’) and got the name from the Cree Indians who called them that based on the words in their language ‘e ski mo’ which means “eats raw meat”. tres interesant.

on the food front: delighted by another soup and sarmie combo for lunch. this time chicken noodle + turkey on portuguese roll. gotta say it for these folk, but they do understand the bread:filling ratios. very nice. very nice indeed. dinner at Gypsy’s with a tastytasty chicken cordon bleu burger and poutine (chips with melted cheese and gravy on top) and a couple of beers (Lebatts Blue)

on return to motel, made headway with Plan Niagara by befriending Doug, the dude at the front desk and (so we learned) owner of this place. and all the town’s school busses. and i say ‘all the town’s schoolbusses’ because all the tour busses are the traditional yellow schoolbusses – as well as the one which obviously transports the kids to school (189 kids in Churchill from nursery school to matric – Doug’s a veritable RainMan when it comes to this town).

so, doug’s lent us his phone, his laptop, his internet, his best advice… and i’m travelogue-ing instead of making Plan Niagara a reality. go figure.

Travelogue Canada 2: Toronto – Winnipeg

October 2009


had the world’s greatest city tour around toronto yesterday morning. brilliant guide with a good combo of history and trivia and (seeing as i was the only one on the bus most of the way he shared) some of the left-of-centre factoids that i’m guessing he doesn’t tell just everyone. ;o)

toronto is a very interesting city. love the fact that they have an entire mall/city under the city itself. what’s not to love about 17 square kilometres of shopping under the hustle bustle of the poor bastards that have to work for a living?!

am pleased to report that fast food underground is just as satisfying as overground (altho i guess i could have just checked that with The Wombles), having been persuaded through some not-so-subtle indoctrination by tour guide to sample Tim Horton’s – the biggest fast food chain in Canada started by some famous sports guy (and that contraversially bought out Subway and is now based in America – oooo). they’re famous for their soup & sandwich combos… and you know how i feel about sandwiches. had a (magnificent) french onion soup and chicken / BLT / honey mustard club on sourdough. woah, awesome!

all fed and ready to go, headed to airport to meet (almost literally) Phillipa. did a catch-up at the airport (including me giving her a guided tour of Canadian sandwaiches – they are EVERYWHERE here) and then hopped on plane, managing to swap seats to be next to each other.

chatted and giggled like old friends and an indeterminate (thanks to changing time zones and the added complication of daylight savings) few short hours later we were in the booming metropolis of winnipeg.

caught a taxi to our hotel and found that we’re indeed the dowdiest people here. tres chic indeed. fortunately the Clan Cameron reunion – complete with freezing Canadians in kilts and accoustically-bold foyer and incessant bagpipe combo – meant we slipped through relatively unnoticed.

after our long planestrainsandautomobiles journey, the big poofy cloud-like beds almost caught us, but we resisted just long enough to get off to pizza hut to eat way too much. didn’t last long on return though and again i’m wondering, post 23h00 to 07h45 sleep, if my bio-rhythms aren’t trying to tell me something…

big brekkie this morning – denver omelette with cheese, ham, spring onion and mushrooms + back bacon + some other pea-something bacon that’s crumbed and sort of like gammon. have pocketed all sort of little nibbly-bit cheesey things for the flight.

did a quick whip around winnnipeg. not much to report. except are trying to lose the extra day here on way back so can get back to toronto and try for a niagara falls tour.

on our way to churchill now. we’re told no comms, so might be a bit til next we speak!!

Travelogue Canada 1: Joburg – Heathrow – Toronto

October 2009


almost didn’t get out of the airport, thanks to Virgin and changing the boarding gate at the last minute without warning. still, manage to get on (3rd last passenger) and score the emergency exit seats.

flight was without incident – bar the battle of wits it took to convince the steward that chicken OR beef could actually be chicken AND beef. am pleased to report that the chicken casserole and roast beef and mash were equally yummy and worth the effort.

the heathrow 5 hour stop-over went by faster than anticipated thanks to:
1) hmv sale: have narrowed it down to about 176 items (totally the GDP of a small African country, say The Gambia) which i will obsess over until my return to heathrow next next sunday
2) a take-away called EAT. which does an awesome toasted swiss cheese and hickory ham croissant
3) marion keyes, officially my new favourite travel partner

made friends with the old duck next to me on the air canada flight. she’s from winnipeg, which is where i’m headed, and has been on the polar bear tour which she says is AMAZING (always good to hear).

enlisted the help of the travel aid desk (an australian – they really are everywhere) to sort out my stay here in toronto. had arrived with no plans and an open mind and we sussed the best plan to be the Canadiana hostel and public transport. the polar bear people had recommended hotel @ $138 for the night and coach @ R28, we managed hostel @ $30 (+$5 deposit for towel and $5 deposit for linen) and $2.25 for the transport, which was a bus and 2 undergrounds depositing me 2 blocks from the hostel.

found it easy enough. and luckily the evening’s planned actvity was free pool, so showered and headed out to The Charlotte Room with a motley bunch of people from all over. played shocking pool, but blame the table as is half size as opposed to the thirds we have at home. not enamoured with $6.25 a pint either!

headed out from there for a flit through chinatown and little italy, stopping to Fast Food Meze along the way with a KFC snacker (difficult choice as there’s SO much we don’t have at home. was conflicted about starch choice as didn’t want a whole chips and mash & gravy so couldn’t justify the $8 and don’t like the whole sloppy poutine experience they have with chips drizzled in mash and gravy), Taco Bell double cheese tortilla and a McD’s cheese and bacon burger (SO the future – we NEED them at home!!)

then ambled through the main bar streets – Queen St and King St West – and headed for home, which is bunking (literally) in a Quad room i’m sharing with an Indian and French girl. they’re both ‘living’ here at the hostel so it feel more like a slumber party.

was asleep by 23h30 and woke naturally at 06h45 which leads me to believe that my bio-rhythms think they’re home!

am waiting for my free pancake breakfast – at 09h00 (these people areso civilised,breakfast from 9-10 AND they have free wireless even in a hostel. EVERYONE wanders around with their laptops – as you can imagine i feel very left out!)

today i’m going on a city tour – and hope to find a wendy’s, BK and Popeye along the way for snacks and nibbly bits – then it’s to the airport to meet philippa and off to winnipeg.

will keep in touch as and when possible!

on the move