Thursday, May 11, 2006

Winnipeg (twice in one week)

When I descend to the Winnipeg station ticket hall, the monitors are advising the train 2, my eastbound ‘Canadian’ is running on time, and will be departing at 12.25. It should even arrive before then to allow for servicing, so I decide not to stray too far from the station. I cross the imposing foyer, and out onto the street. A little roadside diner across the street caught my eye last time, so I head over the VJ’s Drive Through to eat the ‘special’ hamburger. It was very special indeed, and although the air is still fresh, I sit outside with a newspaper and enjoy the sunshine.

When I cross back to the station a short while later, the screens are telling a different story, and the train is now running late. So I leave my bags at the ticket desk and go for a walk in the Forks. This redeveloped are sits to the south-east of the railway station, in the small parcel of land cut off from downtown by the railway tracks. Old warehouse buildings have been refurbished and opened up into the Forks Market, and what looks like an old pumping station or generator house is a television and radio station. An old CN caboose and an old passenger carriage stand in the car park. The Caboose is intact, the train car is now a sweet shop.

I have a look round the indoor market, which is bustling at ground level with dozens of food joints, fruit and vegetable stalls and other small shops. I spend thirty minutes on a computer sending a few e-mails and bashing out a quick blog entry, and then wander a bit more. To one side of the markets is more modern steel and glass viewing tower, with a stair and an elevator that carry you up to an open air platform. The views from up here of the Forks, the river and across the train tracks towards the skyline of downtown Winnipeg are pretty impressive, and I take a few photographs in the warm sunshine. This would be a good place to watch the ‘Canadian’ sweeping across the bridge into the station, but since I don’t want to miss it, I decide it would be safer to go back to the station.

I cross beneath the tracks just south of the station, stopping briefly to peer into the windows of a car similar to one that I’ve arranged to rent when I get to Halifax. Despite a bit of driving when I was in California, I don’t how easy it will be to return to piloting myself in a vehicle; I’m rather used to being chauffeured around (so don’t forget BMM… bring your license :-)

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