Three Plus Me and a Winnipeg Mini-Holiday
Aidan and I took a short trip in July. I realize that I should have written about this back in July, but I couldn't, because that month was all about working too much and playing too little, so here I am in August to record that one period of time last month between the 11th and 13th when I wasn't staring at my laptop.
One time? In July? We took a road trip to Winnipeg with a couple of our friends, Dave and Shimona.
Ford Canada kindly loaned us a 2014 Ford Escape Titanium for our road trip to Winnipeg. I drove a 2013 Escape for a while last summer, and I liked it quite a bit, so I was happy to take this new version out on the highway. Thanks, Ford! (Also, this isn't a sponsored post. See my note at the bottom.)
We stayed at the Mere Hotel in Winnipeg, which I am mentioning somewhat at length, because I liked it so much. Again, I was not paid for this mention. I just liked it a lot. Simplicity and good design were its main features, and I not-so-secretly want to move in for a month during the fall to write and stroll along the banks of the Red River, which is just a few meters down from the hotel.
If you click on the image below, you can watch the light display that decorates the hotel at night:
And if you click on the next image, you can watch Aidan paint on the giant information screen in Mere's lobby. We are easily entertained and are happier for it:
Because I can be cheap and a bit germophobic, I almost never drink the in-room coffee or wear hotel bathrobes, but I decided that world plagues and economic disasters would not be started by my wearing a teddy-bear-soft, fluffy hotel robe and drinking a Nespresso. Seriously. Sometimes getting a grip means living larger.
Just a block from our hotel was the "Nutty Club" building. When I was a kid, I associated the "Nutty Club" brand with hotels and diners on family trips. It meant less rules and cute little packages of treats I didn't usually get, so I nearly bounced out of my seat when I saw the "Nutty Club" building.
My tourist satisfaction bar is set ridiculously low, which is probably why I make such a happy tourist.
We had three goals for our time in Winnipeg: 1) to eat good food, 2) to poke around streets and shops, and 3) to hang out with my little brother's family. We managed to do all three rather well.
The first thing we did was eat at Purple Hibiscus. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it is well worth stopping in if you like food from Trinidad & Tobago. If you want it spicy, make sure you let them know that you like it Trinidad spicy, not just Canada spicy, because they will go milder by default if you look as Mennonite white as I do.
The Purple Hibiscus is a true family affair. The grandmother was in visiting from Toronto, and she told us stories about her early days in Canada after she moved here from the island and how she hand chooses the peppers that go into their handmade hot sauce every week at the market. The grandson was our waiter, and his parents both came out to tell us about the restaurant, their love of great food, and how much we really need to get out to Trinidad. If I lived in Winnipeg, they would be really annoyed at me when I showed up at their family reunions.
On the Saturday, we poked around shops. and, no, I did not buy this hat. The hat was giant, and yet, as you can see, it was still perched high on my gigantic head. Hats have this remarkable ability to make my head look like bun dough being squeezed down out of a fist, and we are having none of that in this lifetime.
I like the idea of boxing, and I like watching other people box, but the idea of physical pain scares this delicate flower.
This is Aidan at the end of this building's television programming day. Only old people know what I mean.
Aidan and I stopped in at Deer + Almond, because I went there a few months ago with René, and I remembered the delicious, flaky brown sugar and rich coffee. I want to package Deer + Almond up and plunk it down in the parking lot behind my apartment building.
It reads as a true hipster haven, but I like hipster style, and I'm no anti-hipter-ist. Plus, their design theme seems to be Put Antlers On It, and I like it when people put antlers on things.
Antlers on everything!
Aidan, Dave, Shimona, and I found Across the Board, a gaming cafe, and how could we say no? Actually, we all waffled between that and a movie, but I am so glad that we chose Across the Board instead, and I'm not even a gamer. They have something like 2000 games to choose from, flavoured popcorn, and other food and drinks, so you can settle in for a small table fee and play pretty much whatever you want.
We played this game about building railroads across the U.S., which I even won once, so I approve.
In between all this stuff, we ate at Bistro 7¼, went to Assiniboine Park with my little brother and his family, ate at Carlos & Murphy's, met a very demanding gopher with a weight problem, and bought egg tarts at Viena Do Castelo.
I was underwhelmed by Bistro 7¼, which has changed management since I was last there in 2012, there are no pictures of my nephews because of a promise I made not to post their photos on my blog, Carlos & Murphy's fed me great hot wings, the hefty gopher needed a lesson in begging etiquette, and everyone — everyone — needs to eat Portuguese egg tarts. Dave and Shimona introduced us to egg tarts, and we are forever grateful.
We ate our last breakfast at Cibo Waterfront Cafe, a restaurant adjacent to the Mere Hotel, which is the converted Pump and Screen House building that once provided water coolant to Winnipeg’s Downtown Steam Heating Plant. I kind of get a hard-on for repurposed industrial anything. Breakfast was sexy.
And then we drove the six hours back from Winnipeg to Regina. Because we had Dave and Shimona with us, we managed to get full reviews of the Escape's back seat this time, which were "it's pretty comfortable" and "I have no complaints". For Dave and Shimona, these are pretty glowing terms. They probably want to move in and have puppy babies back there. Or something.
Home again, home again, jiggety jig.
Last year when I drove the 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, I think I was a little tough on it when I gave it 3.5 Kitty Cats. There was tons of room for four adults, the sun roof saved me from feeling claustrophobic even with all those hours spent on the road, the ride was smooth despite all the highway construction we encountered, and our mileage wasn't horrendous, averaging in at around 10.2L/100km between our city and highway driving.
This time around, I will give it a full four, four, FOUR KITTY CATS! Mwah ha ha ha.
And that, my friends, was our July weekend trip to Winnipeg. I really had no idea that I would like Winnipeg as much as I did, and now I want to go back and eat my way through more of its restaurants and spend many more hours wandering through Assiniboine Park with my nephews hanging off my fingers and uprooting flower beds (shhh).