Crid's 1999 Grand Tour of Canada

3 weeks travelling by train from Toronto to Vancouver

Toronto - Winnipeg - Edmonton - Jasper - Kamloops - Vancouver

Day 5 (Wednesday) - VIA Rail (Silver & Blue) + Winnipeg (Twin Pillars B&B)

Sleeping wasn't so difficult.  Prior to travelling I was worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep on a train.  I did wake a few times during the night, but I got straight back off to sleep.  I left the blind open because it was dark outside for much of the time.  Anyway, I was in bed, so I was decent.

This morning it's cloudy and we have rain.  The scenery is still lovely though.  Mile upon mile of forests and lakes.  Occasionally we pass small towns and sometimes tiny gatherings of houses on the lake sides.  I'm not sure if people live there all year round or if they are summer retreats.

I can see why so many Canadians are proud to be Canadian though.  This country is amazing.

Took breakfast at 7.30 and met yet more Brits.  A couple from England and an ex-pat who has lived in Canada for 30 years.  He has never been across Canada like this before though.

Monika found a group of Germans to have breakfast with.  I'm glad, since she was struggling a bit trying to speak English.

After breakfast we were reminded that we had changed timezones, so we should put our watches back an hour.  We were told about this last night, and told that clocks should go back after breakfast.  It was undoubtedly done this way to avoid confusion about breakfast times.

Manitoba was easily recognised.  The forests and lakes ended and everything suddenly became flat.

Very flat.

And it's going to be flat from here to The Rockies

I took lunch with a couple of German girls.  Most of the people I've spoken to seem to be getting off at Jasper, and that's what these two are planning to do.

We arrived in Winnipeg five minutes early.  For a 29 hour journey, I find that pretty impressive.  If only some of the British rail companies could accomplish such punctuality.  I had to wait for about 10 minutes for the baggage to arrive.  Mine was second on the conveyor belt, which was a pleasant surprise.

Took a taxi from the station to the B&B.  It's not all that far, but the traffic was a bit heavy (since it was around 5.15pm on a weekday).

I must admit I was a bit nervous about coming to Winnipeg.  Being on my own in a strange city is a bit nerve-wracking.  Moreso when that city is abroad, and I'm not all that familiar with the country (despite having been to Canada once before).  Watching the local news on TV has helped to relieve my concerns a bit.  Things are pretty much the same as back home, just with unfamiliar surroundings.

The local TV station is called CKY5 and seems to be pretty good.  The main thing dominating that channel at the moment are political commercials for the forthcoming Manitoba elections.  The three main parties being the Conservatives (who are currently in power), the Liberals and the NDP (which I believe stands for New Democratic Party).

The B&B is very nice.  Unlike the last place I only have one room truly to myself (which is what I would normally expect with a B&B).  I am on the top floor (3rd floor Canadian, 2nd floor English).  On the next floor down is a shared kitchen and bathroom.  Lots of local information  leaflets too.  Of the four rooms, only mine is currently in use.

The owners weren't about when I arrived, but their son showed me in (I gather he doesn't live here himself).  He seemed a bit lost as to where everything was, but he managed to muddle his way through nonetheless.

The room I'm in is called Casa Maya - the owners seem to have given each room a different character.  This room is decorated with pieces of furniture and decorations from Central, South and North America.  For example, there is a wall hanging from Peru, a Mayan wood carving and a chair made by a Manitoban aboriginal artist.

The house itself was built around the turn of the century (there is a brief history in the visitor information in the room), and at some point it was converted into two apartments (hence the upstairs kitchen and bathroom).

The road contains a real mixture of house styles.  It looks as if people bought a plot of land and built whatever they wanted.  Certainly none of the other houses around here look like Twin Pillars.

I didn't bother getting any food this evening.  Instead I tucked up in bed and watched TV.  An enjoyable evening of comedy programmes.  The Drew Carey Show (which I've never seen before, but I recognised his voice from cartoons I've seen), the US or Canadian version of Whose Line is is Anyway?, and a rather good cop/lawyer show called Law & Order.

Tomorrow I will take a walk downtown to see how far it is and what I can visit over the next few days.

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