After an exhilarating “VIP” ride in the cockpit to Winnipeg, I finally arrived at the hotel where Max was staying. I had never ended up updating him on whether I was getting on the flight or not, so in reality he had absolutely no idea that I was even in town. Upon checking in, the front desk lady needed his approval to grant me access to his room. At the time, he was working late at the office. Although my plans of hiding in the room and surprising him did not go to plan because they required his approval for access, I still got a kick out of having the front desk lady tell him over the phone that I was there. She later told me that he sounded “confused and surprised”! And then he immediately messaged me:
It was such a huge relief when I finally got in the room. I just let myself go on the bed and just lied there to let everything sink. Then, I freshened up, FaceTimed my parents to tell them the whole story, and then Max came back from work.
The next morning, we had breakfast early in the hotel lounge before Max went off to work a 9-5 shift at the office. I had just enough time to return back to the room, FaceTime my parents while drinking some coffee, and plan out my day.
Winnipeg is a quieter city than most other metropolitan cities across Canada. The downtown area has less people roaming around and its livelier areas are right outside the city across the Esplanade Riel bridge. It wasn’t necessarily cold in March, but still a little warmer than Montreal. My first stop out into the city was a museum just down the street from the hotel.
A Walk Through the History of Human Rights
One of the things on my to-visit list for Winnipeg was the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. It is highly praised, and has raving reviews on Google. It quickly made it to the top of my list after reading some reviews and after getting a personal recommendation from one of Max’s coworkers. As someone who carries a deep interest in human rights, this was a perfect place to visit on my own because I had the entire afternoon to take my time and not rush through it all.
First and foremost, I have to note the museum’s stunning architecture.
I was in awe of this architectural building, so I looked up the inspiration behind its creation. According to the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, the museum structure and all its floor levels were built in a way that would have visitors start off in a sombre cave-like hall with low lighting, and as you progressed upwards the tower, you’d be exposed to more light as you walked along these massive limestone bridges leading you to the next hall.
Halfway through, there’s a Garden of Contemplation for reflection where people can walk around this shallow water surrounded by volcanic Mongolian rocks. This is where we start to see the light as we move upwards.
I still cannot put a finger on the exact feeling I had after I walked out of the museum. It was an array of differing emotions, and each section of the museum left me feeling eerie, heartbroken, helpless, or optimistic about the recent changes and what’s to come. I had spent approximately 4 hours doing the entire exhibit.
Upon entering the museum, a host immediately greeted me at the door and walked me to the complimentary coat check where she explained that the exhibit itself could take several hours to go through and that I was able to freely come back down to the cafe on the main floor and return upstairs to continue my tour. After I bought my ticket, I proceeded to the first floor where I was met with a host of that specific floor. Normally, I’m accustomed to having just security guards in each hall of a museum, but I was surprised to find that this one in particular had hosts on each floor and each section who were readily available to answer questions about all the pieces in the room. They were educated, passionate, and kind people who were dedicated in spreading that knowledge. I was also surprised to find that I was greeted in both languages – until I found out later that Winnipeg itself is more bilingual than I thought.
If you happen to be in Winnipeg at some point, please do the world a favour and visit this museum. More people should learn about human rights and spread its knowledge. It also makes for a great conversation starter. If you’re interested in learning more about the museum, they are currently offering a free 20-min virtual tour of the 2nd floor while the exhibits are closed due to the Covid-19.
Canadian Museum of Human Rights link: https://humanrights.ca/
Steaks at a food court, wait – what?!
After exploring the city a little, I returned to the hotel to join Max and his coworkers after their shift ended. We all decided to head out and eat at the Forks, a market with little shops, an upscale food court, and activities indoors and out. The Forks was located just next to the museum I had visited earlier, so it was a quick 10-15 mins walk with the gang. Along the way, we came across some cool structures and caught a glimpse of the museum at night.
When we arrived at the Forks, the little shops were unfortunately closed, so we toured the place around to scope out a restaurant to eat from.
In the end, we weren’t showing our diverse side and ended up all ordering food at the same place – Simon’s Steaks. Here’s the thing: a part of me was, in some way, opposed to the idea of actually ordering a steak at a food court hall. I kept thinking, can a food court steak actually be of quality? And then another part of me said, “what the heck, just try it!” Although it did take about the same amount of time you would’ve waited for the meal in a sit-down restaurant, it was definitely worth it. While we waited, some of us ordered some good ol’ craft beer.
After about a 20-25 mins wait, we finally got our steak – complete with a bowl of salad and onion rings. Although the sides did not really impress, the steak really hit it for me. I wish I can say it was by far the best steak at a food court I’ve ever tried, but really, it’s the only food court steak I’ve ever had in my life. Max and I weren’t so hungry, so we ordered a giant slab of 20oz rib steak to share. Steak, if cooked really well, tastes fantastic on its own without any seasoning. However, it doesn’t mean that a steak with seasoning isn’t good either, and the one we ordered had a mix of herbs on it. It seemed like part of it had parsley, but we couldn’t really figure out the seasoning.
All this to say, never doubt some crazy idea. Sometimes thinking (or tasting) outside the box might do wonders, so keep an open mind to the strange stuff – especially if there’s a pretty decent waiting line at the restaurant – which there was and is always a good sign!
While the whole gang was eating at the table in a delicious silence enjoying our steaks, suddenly one of his coworkers Mathieu had the craziest spontaneous idea that came to him. He asked everyone around the table if we had $6 we were willing to spend. Obviously, we had absolutely no idea why he was suddenly asking such a thing, and then that’s when he proudly stated “IT’S HAPPENING, WE’RE GOING SKATING!”
And then 5 mins later, BAM!
We found ourselves in skates, and skated for the next hour and a half right outside the Forks market.
It was such an exhilarating night mostly because it was spontaneous. After having spent the entire day walking and then skating for nearly two hours at night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to feel my legs the next day, but if it was for this much fun, I just couldn’t let this opportunity pass.
After we returned the skates, we made our way back to the hotel … to run to the spa before it would close for the night! After spending all that time outside, the first thing I wanted was to just plunge myself in a hot tub. We arrived at the hotel at 10:30pm and had just enough time to swing by the spa before it would close at 11pm. And that’s how we ended the fun night with a cool gang in Winnipeg.
My journey back home was nothing compared to how I got to Winnipeg, but it was at least less stressful and less chaotic. Although some might say that Winnipeg is a quiet little town and only worth just “passing by”, I do believe that this trip brought out the best in Winnipeg. I got lucky in so many ways and met such kind and generous people all around. Every time I take a sip out of my Starbucks Winnipeg mug, I see the little skates and Forks sketches on it, and it always reminds me of the fun times.
Thanks Winnipeg! 🙂