i love winnipeg

change of heart

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. ~ Marcel Proust

I pulled back the curtains in our hotel room and the beautiful Winnipeg cityscape demanded my immediate attention. To my left I saw Esplanade Riel, The Forks, The Goldeyes Baseball field, and the stunning Canadian Museum For Human Rights. To my right I saw the iconic intersection of Portage & Main with interesting old architecture from the Exchange District peeking out from behind. This moment was the start to a beautiful 48 hour Winnipeg love story.

I live in rural Manitoba and only manage to head to Winnipeg a couple times a year. Those infrequent trips are usually filled with gigantic list of errands or I simply use Winnipeg as a starting off point for another destination, only visiting the Winnipeg Airport. This type of behavior does not promote love for The Peg which generally goes against my desire to discover my new home province. I always knew that Winnipeg had lots of wonderful things to offer, but like so many other rural Manitobans I just never gave it the time and respect it deserved. Instead always choosing to view Winnipeg as a necessity city instead of a tourist city in my own backyard.

Recently I asked Winnipeggers to reach out to me and offer their suggestions to help me create my own “Winnipeg Recipe Of Love”. I wanted people to tell me specific attractions to see, restaurants to frequent, and neighborhoods to explore to help change my perspective of Winnipeg and to encourage me to throw away my typical interaction with the city. My goal was to change my attitude and experiences and to begin an epic love journey with the great City of Winnipeg. I was overwhelmed with the messages and love shown by Winnipeggers. So many reached out offering great advice and love for their community and that is something that should make all Winnipeggers proud. It became very obvious to me that Winnipeggers love their city and are enthusiastic about all it has to offer and wish to share it with the world. When Tourism Winnipeg reached out and offered to arrange a short trip and agenda for me I knew immediately that I simply must go and see Winnipeg with a new perspective. So with a fresh set of eyes and 48 hours to fall in love with the city, I set out to create my own Winnipeg love story.

It is amazing how much you can see and do in 48 hours if you simply head to Winnipeg to play tourist instead of running errands. From chatting and laughing with locals over food and drinks during the Devour The District Food Tour to learning about the new Canadian Museum For Human Rights that has changed the city’s skyline on the Rights Around Us Tour, there is something for everyone in Winnipeg. You can be thrown back in time and discover so much about the province at The Manitoba Museum or simply stroll through The Forks and  relax in the sun. From breakfast at iconic Stella’s Cafe, to discovering artistic beauty at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, to shopping in Osborne Village, with 48 hours in Winnipeg you can find so many unique and interesting ways to create your own personally tailored love story. My short time in Winnipeg left me feeling relaxed, happy, well informed, and proud. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs “I love Winnipeg” and drag every person I know to the city to show them all the wonderful things I discovered and experienced in only a couple of days.

So rural Manitobans, I beg you to join me in this Winnipeg journey of love. This summer take a little time to discover the amazing city in your own province instead of setting out on vacations elsewhere. I know I am not the only rural Manitoban who wants to see Winnipeg in a new light. Go to Winnipeg without your errand list, perhaps book a hotel and spend a couple days checking out some new to you attractions. Head to a unique part of the city and eat at a local Manitoban establishment. Push away your typical Winnipeg experiences and set out to make new ones. I guarantee Winnipeg will change you and you too will fall madly, deeply in love with the city.

Little Gray Bird’s Recipe For Love

Do you want to fall in love with Winnipeg too? This recipe of love calls for only a few simple ingredients: 48 hours, hotel located downtown, excellent local restaurants, and unique Winnipeg attractions.

Big thanks to Tourism Winnipeg for arranging this great agenda for me. I am certain this recipe of love will leave you dreaming about your next trip to Winnipeg!

Day 1:

Check into The Fairmont Winnipeg. This luxury hotel offers an excellent location to explore Winnipeg, and stunning views of the downtown core. With fantastic customer service, delicious food, and beautiful rooms, this is the ultimate hotel to begin your Winnipeg experience. For more information visit http://www.fairmont.com/winnipeg/.

Devour The District Food Tour. This three hour guided walking tour in the Exchange District takes you to six different restaurants where you will eat and drink your way around the community, all while sharing laughs with other Manitobans. For more information visit http://www.exchangedistrict.org/tours-attractions/walking-tours/specialty-tours/exchange-district-food-tour/.

Explore The Exchange District and admire the beautiful architecture and atmosphere. Pop into one of the many pubs or restaurants and sample a few local beers. For more information visit http://www.exchangedistrict.org/.

Day 2:

Breakfast at Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe. Eat a delicious full breakfast while you watch local newsroom action. For more information visit http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/cafe/.

The Manitoba Museum. Stroll through this fantastic museum where you will learn all about the history and features of The Province of Manitoba. Star gaze in the planetarium and board the Nonsuch, a full size replica 17th century ship. For more information visit http://www.manitobamuseum.ca/main/.

The Forks. Meander through this traditional meeting place and admire the beautiful grounds. Next do some shopping at the multiple vendors in the The Forks Market. Why not sample some pickerel fish and chips, or grab a slice of Saskatoon berry pie and have yourself a little picnic by the river. For more information visit http://www.theforks.com/.

Rights Around Us Tour. This new (and free!) tour departs from the VIA Rail Station and sets out to discuss the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights that is scheduled to open in 2014. For more information visit http://museumforhumanrights.ca/programs-and-events/programs/2013-summer-tours.

Dinner at Deseo Bistro. A Spanish inspired menu that will fill your belly and make you yearn to return. I personally recommend the black truffle gnocchi, arctic char, lobster spaghetti, and saffron creme brulee. For more information visit http://deseobistro.com/.

Day 3:

Breakfast at Stella’s Cafe & Bakery. Have some delicious buttermilk pancakes or french toast. Don't forget to purchase a bottle of their special berry jam to take home. For more information visit http://stellas.ca/

Winnipeg Art Gallery. Check out the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the 100 Masters Exhibit, on until August 18th. This exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and offers the opportunity to view Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol, Picasso, and many other well noted artists. Also check out the largest collection of Inuit art in the world. For more information visit http://wag.ca/.

Lunch at Unburger. Make your way over to Osborne Village and chow down on a delicious juicy burger. Choices include the blueberry yum yum, the tropic thunder, and sweet yam fries, all of which are focused on local, natural, fresh and tasty products. For more information visit http://eatunburger.com/.

Shopping in Osborne Village. Stroll along this great community of Winnipeg for some window shopping and unique items. For more information visit http://www.osbornevillage.com/.

If you would like some assistance in creating your own Winnipeg vacation agenda please visit Tourism Winnipeg at http://www.tourismwinnipeg.com/ for more great Winnipeg ideas and adventures.

I hate winnipeg

I hate Winnipeg. I know, I know, I’m not really supposed to hate Winnipeg, I’m just supposed to say that I hate it but secretly love it. Isn’t that what unites all Manitobans - our mutual love/hate relationship with Winnipeg? You know, where we sip on our slurpees bitching about The Peg, but giving each other this look like a special secret handshake that whispers “nah, I’m just saying that, I really love Winnipeg, there is no place like home”.  But the truth is I actually do hate Winnipeg. I despise it.

Now that I have that off my chest, let me back up a bit and try to explain myself. I live four hours from Winnipeg in rural Manitoba. This means that every time I go to Winnipeg I have a massive list of to-dos from finally checking out Ikea to renewing my passport, specialist medical appointments, stocking up at Costco, and generally shopping for all the things that simply are not available elsewhere in the province.  It always feels like I rush into Winnipeg and run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying desperately to cross everything off my to do list. This usually leaves me exhausted and cranky and hungry. Instead of trying to discover a local gem of a restaurant or checking out one of Winnipeg’s nice tourist attractions I usually hurry and grab something predictable at a chain restaurant, the whole time while glancing at my watch wondering if I can speed things up, and then get on the road to home before it is dark. 

I know this isn’t an ideal way to discover and experience Winnipeg, but it has been my reality. It has become nothing more to me than a place where I load my car up with required supplies and goodies, empty my wallet, and become very frustrated and tired. Over the last few years I have managed to squeeze in a few touristy type things amongst the chaotic quick trips to such places as The Forks, The Assiniboine Park Zoo, and Fort Whyte Alive. All of these were very nice attractions, but even these beautiful spots haven’t been able to squash my inner voice that chants “I hate Winnipeg”. Maybe it is the long drive to Winnipeg, or the fact that I really enjoy country living and am no longer a city girl. Maybe it is because the traffic in Winnipeg is annoying (I’m still afraid of confusion corner!) and the city never seems to repaint the lines (not everyone innately knows where the turning lane is located!). I dunno. But I know one thing. I want to change. I don’t want to hate Winnipeg. I want to love Winnipeg. It is completely against my nature to hate a city and I know there is a lot to love about the city if I just change my typical Winnipeg behaviour. So please help me, Winnipeggers. Take a moment away from drinking your slurpee and uttering tongue in cheek comments about Winnipeg and instead tell me where to go and what to see and where to stay and where to eat in Winnipeg. Share with me your best kept Winnipeg secrets and encourage me to throw away my usual Winnipeg errands list and instead visit Winnipeg for the simple sake of fun, relaxation and discovery. My goal is to change my perception of Winnipeg and look back on the summer of 2013 and say “Wow, I love Winnipeg, what a great city!”.