Dom: Saulte ('sue')-Ste Marie
This place was just a stop off for one night and deservedly so in my opinion. We arrived to find the kitchen closed because there was a baby shower. I didn't understand and assumed I'd misheard and what's that got to do with the kitchen anyway. Later we got in there and had beans on toast. That was a big deal for me.
I keep a diary while we travel. In that and on this site, I refer to Crystal as C. Now I can't stop calling her 'C'.
As we left, the guy sat in reception told us we should check out the stone house. Then a lady pulled up by us as we walked to the bus stop and told us we should check out the stone house. We though we should find it. I may be uncultured in these things but it was a stone house. That is all. It is famous here because it is the oldest stone house north-west of Toronto. It was built in 1830 (which is practically pre-historic round these parts) or something. That is one hell of a claim to fame!
The guy at reception also said we should walk down to the river's edge and if we're lucky we might see some freighters. We couldn't see any. Life can be so unfair!
We'd booked our hostel in advance. Over the phone the guy had said not to show up before 8am as he'd be in bed. I didn't have high hopes. He was a dick. The place was a dump and he was a mess. We got back one evening and the guy was drunk and trying to have a discussion with a Libyan on Gadaffi etc. It was hilarious to listen to. C also swears that the guy called us 'pricks' because we weren't staying an extra night.
Some interesting facts about Winnipeg:
-it claims to be the home of Winnie the Pooh but so did Thunder Bay, 8hrs back down the road. I don't know who to believe. A Canadian Army dude took the bear to Britain as a mascot for his regiment and donated it to London Zoo when they went to war. This is where A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, would visit.
-Winnipeg is in the massive province of Manitoba and over half the population live in Winnipeg (okay, that one wasn't interesting).
-it was the first city in the world to have the 911 emergency telephone number.
-guy from Winnipeg invented first mobile phone.
-famous Canadian and Winnipegian, World War Two spymaster, Sir William Stevenson, was inspiration for 007.
-Jim Carrey is a famous son of the city.
-i also think Neil Young may have lived here for a while as a kid.
We managed to get tickets to see Swan Lake at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Theatre. The dancing was impressive, especially watching the ladies dancing 'point'. I couldn't believe it when C said they have a block in the end of their shoes that they tiptoe on. It just looks funny when the guys prance about as, unlike the women, they can't be delicate and dainty.
C - The 'Soo' and Winnipeg are in 'The Praries' the large flat area inbetween all the beautiful places in Canada. Canadians seem both shocked and impressed that we didn't just fly over it. It's a really really long way over nothing in particular so the stops were welcome to get off the Greyhound bus/home. Everybody in 'The Soo' was just so darn friendly. We popped in to a grocery store to buy some milk and left about half an hour later with a full family history of the owners and plenty of talk about the Queen. They love her over here and being Londoners they suggested that we must have met her of course? We didn't want to break their hearts so we lied. On our way out of town a little old lady stopped to offer us a ride to the bus station as she thought our bags looked heavy. We really are far far from home. By the time we finished talking about England and the Queen they really were heavy. Winnipeg is famous for it's cheap but very good ballet courtesy of the 'Royal Winnipeg Ballet' (Queenie gave them the Royal bit after a visit) It lived up to it's reputation and we caught a brilliant Swan Lake for about 10 quid each. Nothing else there is particularly worth mentioning. I met a Winnipegian girl in Jasper who seemed very please that we hadn't been attacked in some way on the "beautiful" riverside walk that the guy in the Hostel had recommended but had clearly never been there in his life.
Seems like all we have been doing in Canada so far is hitting the cities and that is not what you come to Canada for! Finally we are heading for some National Parks in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta. On our first day we head up the Jasper Tramway for what we decided was, although beautiful, the most expensive view we might ever see and found out that nearly all of the hikes in the area were closed as most still had winter conditions. No bear spotting opportunites for us which was probably lucky as they are just waking up for the spring now and are hungry! Dangerous time of year. So half way in to our time in Canada, still no bears, no moose, no beavers and no mounties? Perhaps they are made up to draw the tourists in. We have however had our fair share of elk, deer and squirrels. Wow.
When we arrived in Jasper we learnt that it was the last week of their ski season and so of course we just couldn't resist. We were umming and arring as to whether we were going to go up or not as the end of season spring conditions aren't too good but our decision was soon made up when Dom somehow managed to chat up a Slovakian girl and scored two free lift passes and cheap hire gear. Nice one!
It felt great to be on skis again! One shouldn't complain when one gets to travel around the world but I was a bit gutted that I would miss the ski season for the first time in years, so to get to ski in the Canadian Rockies has completely made my year! We basically had the slopes to ourselves and managed to find a few great runs.
Dom: Believe it or not what C says about this Slovakian beauty appears to be true. When i first met her she couldn't have been more helpful and smiley. As soon as i went back to the shop to pick up the free passes (with C this time) she bacame all cold and unfriendly to me, but perfectly nice to Crystal. And when we returned the skis the next day she tried to charge me for damage to a ski. I think she may have loved me. It all keeps C on her toes!
C - Due to bad organisation it seemed we would have to backtrack and take a 14hour bus journey to go one hour down the road. It seems Greyhound don't run on scenic Highway 93 down to Lake Lousie, I imagine due to the competition of other tour buses. Rubbish.
However .. lucky us, one night in our hostel in Jasper were telling this story to a couple from Edmonton and they decided that they hadn't been down that road for years and hell, they might aswell run us down there. This was good news as the 'Columbian Icefields' (lots of Glaciers) were on route so we got a very scenic day out rather than a very smelly bus ride. It was all pretty random seeing as we had only met them 5 minutes ago and talked to them for about 5 minutes - all part of travelling I guess!
Dom - The skiing was great fun despite the marginal conditions. But nothing compared to what we got a few days later.