Sunday, May 07, 2006

Winnipeg: Royal Crown Tower

As I leave the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the humid air that had accompanied me all morning is beginning to break. A shop front thermometer had told me that it touched 26 degrees today, and the humidity suggested a thunderstorm would be brewing. Sure enough, as I walk towards the Manitoba Legislative Building, rumbles of thunder start to be heard. I begin to be able to perceive the light sky flashing to a strike of lightning. Looking around for shelter, my eyes fix on a target - not exactly close, but a good place to shelter from the approaching storm.

As I walk down York Avenue, a roll of thunder shook the street, and sets off a car alarm. I quicken my pace, and head straight for my destination - the recognisable silhouette of that compulsory feature of every major Canadian cityscape: a revolving restaurant.

Thirty storeys above Winnipeg, you can find the Royal Crown Rotating Restaurant and Lounge on top of the Royal Crown tower. It's just behind the Fort Garry Hotel, off Broadway Avenue. I find the entrance and take the elevator straight up. The lounge is quiet, with just an eldery couple taking afternoon tea. For such a modern building, the decor was somewhat.... er.... confusing. Fake embroidered tapestry fabric on chairs that I used to see brought in in bulk for weddings back home; cheap looking chandeliers hanging above the tables; and to set it all off, a strip of lace curtain lining the top of the panoramic windows.

Someone shoot the interior designer...

But that's not what I'm here for. I take a seat, ordered a beer, and begin to rotate. The storm's heart passes to the south and east of the city centre. I do two full rotations, watching the grey clouds thicken and then disperse, watching clouds of rain fall onto the city's suburbs. I'm drinking a bottle of local ale - Fort Garry Dark Ale to be precise. It's always a pleasure to drink a local brew when visiting a new city.

The waitress tries to interest me in the menu, but I'm not hungry. I stay for an hour or so, waiting for the weather to calm. It's on my second rotation that I notice the west bound 'Canadian' has arrived at the station below me. I take a few fuzzy photographs of it below me, and imagine a couple of well to do retired holiday makers looking up, and making some witty remark about how every Canadian city seems to have a revolving restaurant.

When the rain clears, I pay the small bill and head downstairs. $4.75 is a bit steep, but then you I did get a pretty decent view with it.

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