Thursday, May 9, 2013

Canada travel tips: Winnipeg

Stories / Cultural tourism / Canada

Winnipeg, Canada
Welcome to “WINTERpeg”! Canadian city of Winnipeg, also known as “Winterpeg”, is the capital of the province of Manitoba. Winterpeg is just another unofficial name for Winnipeg. It is quite easy to guess why the city has this funny name, simply because of the cold which takes place in wintertime. It might be extremely cold, windy and stormy in winter.

Where: Winnipeg, Canada.
What:Travel Smart” series

My own experience is that I had a chance to face the real cold, I mean a little colder than -30, and, as the opposite, pretty nice winter weather, i.e. -5 with the charming shining sun, making people happy. But I was told it might get even colder sometimes, but it just takes a couple of days in January and February.

Kildonan Place (shopping malls area) at Regent Ave. W  (Route 37)
Kildonan Place (shopping malls area) at Regent Ave. W  (Route 37)

Summer Winnipeg is typically very nice and green; you can walk in different parks, on the main streets and avenues, going to the countryside and so on. Winnipeg is amazing in its different look and it is reach in history.

A church in downtown Winnipeg, Canada
A church in downtown Winnipeg

If you compare Winnipeg to other Canadian major cities, you might find it rather small than huge, but it is not really true. Winnipeg is quite big, but, of course, not the same big as Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. Winnipeg was supposed to be a very big city but due to historical reasons it has not become very big. The name Winnipeg means “muddy waters”, which is explained if you take a simple look at the Red River, which goes through the city.

Portage Ave. headed to the intersection with Main St.
Portage Ave. headed to the intersection with Main St.

There are two major streets in Winnipeg, Portage Ave. and Main St. You can find all the required shops, cafes, malls, anything you might need, right on one of those streets. The skyline is amazing when you observe small old historical buildings followed by tall and contemporary skyscrapers. History is alive in the city. My advice is: find time to get to the Union Station, it is a railroad station on the intersection of Broadway and Main St.

Union Station in Winnipeg Canada
Union Station

Inside of the Union station you can visit a railway museum, where you have a chance not only to observe but also to touch the history, i.e. old trains, equipment, listen to the information and short videos, and purchase souvenirs.

Railway Museum in Winnipeg Canada
Railway museum

Railway Museum in Winnipeg Canada

One block away from the Union Station you can see the amazing Fort Garry Hotel on Broadway. That is a unique luxury hotel, attracting people from abroad. If you keep following Broadway away from the station, you will see the Parliament building

The Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg Canada
The Fort Garry Hotel
 The Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg Canada

If you decide to follow the Main St. to the intersection with Portage Ave. you can find different tall buildings, among which there are the Bank of Montreal with a small square in front of it, and just a few steps away you can see the Fairmont hotel, which has a very good location for tourists. 

Bank of Montreal in Winnipeg Canada
Bank of Montreal
The Fairmont Winnipeg keeps its harmony with the nearest buildings, but it is radically different with the inside. As a guest or a visitor you can see the luxury style of the Fairmont with comfortable furnishing. 

The Fairmont Winnipeg
The Fairmont Winnipeg

The Fairmont hotel has the underground level which leads to the underground mall with Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s, the Bank of Toronto, souvenir shops and other required places. You can go upstairs anytime you need.

Downtown Winnipeg Canada
Downtown Winnipeg

If you keep going on Portage Ave. you will see lots of shops, banks, such as the Scotia Bank, currency exchange companies, and attractive cafes. There is the biggest Dollorama Store in Winnipeg, but you can see this store in every city in Canada. There you can find the cheapest stuff, which might be not so attractive but useful.

When you move further on Portage Ave. you will see Radisson Hotel Downtown, which has Starbucks on the first floor right in front of the reception. 

Radisson Hotel Downtown in Winnipeg Canada
Radisson Hotel Downtown

The inside of the hotel is restful and comfortable. The location is very advantageous and visible, especially during celebrations when all the major corteges move on Portage Ave. 

Santa Claus Parade in Winnipeg Canada
Santa Claus Parade

Down the road you can see some other hotels, shops, and the official store for the local hockey team, Winnipeg Jets, the Winnipeggers’ pride. A couple of blocks ahead there is a huge downtown mall, Bell – Portage Place. Basically, it has all the major shops, entertainment and some areas to rest.

Young people are never bored in Winnipeg; there are so many different attractions available, places to go and different routes. For example, Polo Park, it is a huge mall with movie theaters, cafes, restaurants, bowling clubs, gaming zones, clubs, shops, and so on. It is on the same avenue.

Now you might want to know something about the Forks, the most famous place in Winnipeg.

The Forks Park in Winnipeg Canada
The Forks Park

The Forks is the place, basically the park areas and the Forks market, which are located by the Red River. That is a historical place, where the First Nations were trading fur, wood, food and so on. So, the name is kept to highlight the meaning of Winnipeg not only for Canada but for the United States, as well. 

The Forks Park in Winnipeg Canada
The Forks Park

The park is very beautiful, in summer it is all covered with green trees and bushes, the mighty river flows to its destination, and you see lots of people outside hanging around.

The Forks Market has lots of unique shops with hand-made stuff; it can be food or souvenirs, pictures or delicious coffee, and also a wide choise of world famous maple syrup. Take your time to wander around and purchase something as a good memory of the city.

The Forks Market in Winnipeg Canada
The Forks Market
The Forks Market in Winnipeg Canada
And yes, it is Canada and you can bargain about the discount. For example, if you buy some souvenirs you can always ask for a discount. It is OK to do so in Canada. The prices vary but most of them are quite affordable. In winter you can rent skates (it is less than $4CAD as per January 2013) or bring your own pair and skate for free right in downtown Winnipeg. There you can find a small place for skating and a big area a little down the hill, where you can also play hockey.

Another place to mention is, of course, the University of Manitoba. It is one of the largest universities in Canada and one of the best ones. 

University of Manitoba Administration Building in Winnipeg Canada
UofM Administration Building

Of course, there are many universities, colleges, schools, for example, University of Winnipeg, Red River College, etc. UofM, the short form for the University of Manitoba, has special location, although it has several campuses in the city center. UofM has many departments and school within it, for example, Asper School of Business, which is the 3rd best and largest business school in Canada. 

Asper School of Business in Winnipeg Canada
Asper School of Business

There are many buses going to downtown or other directions, so you can easily get to the required place. The information monitors show the time remaining till the next bus. There are two major companies, Winnipeg Transit and Rapid Transit, serving in the city. Since there is no subway system in Winnipeg, buses replace it in all possible ways.

Obviously, many people would like to ask about clubs, and the answer is going to be YES, there are lots of them spread around the city. You can find most of them in the city center, but also in the suburbs, for example, there is a very good club called Cowboys. There you have a chance to hear live performances of country music, and dance and drink. This club is a part of Canad Inn hotel as well as Stereo club

Canad Inn Hotel in Winnipeg Canada
Canad Inn Hotel

I personally recommend it because it gives you the spirit of North America. To get there you can take bus 75 from the UofM to Windsor Park and ask a driver to stop at the club. Or you can take bus 19 from downtown and go to Windsor Park and get off at Elizabeth Rd. The entrance fee is $5CAD (as per December 2012) and as usual you need to show your ID. 

Windsor Park District in Winnipeg Canada
Windsor Park District

Winnipeg has lots of routes going east, west, north or south. If you decide to go to the north, you can get to the place where you can observe the northern lights. Traveling from Winnipeg is easy, you can choose between buses, airplanes, trains, cars. If you decide to take a train, you should know it is the least popular transport and thus the least comfortable, but it has its own advantages. For example, a trip to Toronto will take you 2 nights and 1 day, but you will see wild nature, animals, lakes, and very beautiful landscape. But trains are quite expensive; moreover, there is no Internet on the train, no cell phone coverage, so basically you are out of the city life for a whole day. But you can hear lots of musicians playing during the trip.

A school bus in Winnipeg Canada
A school bus

What comes to the airport, it is the most comfortable transport, and the fastest one. All the airports in Canada are very huge and comfortable. But there is one important thing I would like to mention about the Winnipeg airport. Be aware of the following: if you want to pay for an extra bag, you need to have either cash in Canadian dollars, or a credit card. But they do not accept Visa cards, and all the ATM’s are not supporting Visa cards.

So, if you have Euros be prepared to change the currency on the first floor at a special exchange booth (kiosk), but the exchange rate will not make you happy. Moreover, the person working there starts at 9 a.m. only and is often late, so you need to make sure your flight is long after this moment. This is the major obstacle that might spoil the whole trip. But just be aware of that and Travel Smart!

Portage Ave. downtown Winnipeg Canada
Portage Ave. (downtown Winnipeg)
Fort Garry Hotel on Broadway in Winnipeg Canada
Fort Garry Hotel (on Broadway)

The journey continues and there are more and more places to be explored!

Kirill “Traveler” Malyutin

About Travel Smart series:
“Travel Smart” is a section, narrating about different countries and good travel tips, advised by the author, Kirill Malyutin. The series contains recommendations, including selected places to visit, character accommodation, and reasonable shopping. Simply get inspiration!
All stories of the series →  

О серии «Travel Smart»:
«Travel Smart» – раздел, в котором автор Кирилл Малютин рассказывает о разных странах и дает необходимые в путешествии советы. Серия включает в себя рекомендации по посещенным автором местам, характерным средствам размещения, а также разумному шопингу. Вдохновитесь приключением! 
Все выпуски серии →

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  5. thank you all! Yes, there will be more coming up! As for now, i'm working on translations into Russian for Russian audience and also on new "chapters of the journey" in Finland. It is also a very nice country worth visiting. But Canada is going to be continued for sure, and you can find more about Canada in Travel Smart. Thank you again! P.S. I'll be happy to read your suggestions on future places, they can complement my forthcoming plans

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