Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drinks in Two Capital Cities: Winnipeg, Manitoba (Day Three, Part 1)

Baja Beach Club, The Forks, Winnipeg
Today was an easy go as compared to Day 2. We woke up early due to the time change to a mist-covered Lake of the Woods, and watched fishing boats and floatplanes motor off into the distance. The Best Western was comfortable and had a good view, but unless you like to hunt or fish, Kenora doesn’t really seem worth the stop.

We were excited to see that the Safeway grocery store also included a Starbuck’s, and paid $6 for a coffee and a latte (thank goodness for a gift card!) and were on the road before 8 a.m. The drive around the lake was picturesque, and we even saw a mama and baby deer on the side of the road before getting to the Manitoba border, which came more quickly than expected.

A pit stop to the tourism office was helpful: we picked up a map of Winnipeg and got some information about a short hike near West Hawk Lake, an appealing camping area just off Highway One. Approximately 4 km from the tourism office, we got off on Highway 44 and parked at the Nite Hawk Café, a place known for its delicious home-cooked food. We walked through a wooded area from the trailhead in the café parking lot, an area that serves cross country skiing in the winter.

A few hours later we arrived at The Forks historic/tourist area in Winnipeg , which was charming and full of local colour and culture. There is a nice walk along the Assiniboine River, and The Forks Market area has a lot to offer in terms of food, both fresh and prepared, in addition to clothing and other shops. The architecture and layout is reminiscent of other markets around the globe, including Covent Garden in London and Granville Island in Vancouver.

In need of a place to charge my camera battery, we were drawn in to The Baja Beach Club, where our waiter kindly served us mojitos, recharging our spirits along with my camera. We had a nice view of the river and could see both the pedestrian and rail bridges on either side of the outdoor patio. It seemed like a great spot to grab a cold beer on a hot summer afternoon or night. Overall, I think Winnipeg would be worth the visit for a few nights in the summertime. The people are friendly, the atmosphere light and fun, and there is a lot of history to be found.

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