I finally had a couple days off (I work 8 on 2 off/ 8 on 4 off). My schedule is horrible. No one is able to work that many days in a row and keep their sanity. I have been struggling but fighting back. I hope to get a transfer this year. Wish me luck ‘cause I am going to need it. Well anyways I had a long weekend and my roomie and I decided to visit Winnipeg, Canada. We had been talking about it for some time and actually had days of together so we headed north. I have finally purchased my new truck and I wanted to take it to see if she was worthy of the purchase. She, Beatrice, did not disappoint. The drive was about 3 hours and I have to say there isn’t much in Canada. We drove through swampland and country side until about 40 minutes outside of Winnipeg where there was another small town. I understand that Canada’s roads are crap, I hear it all the time, but seeing is believing. They are really bad. I lost traction doing 30 on a dry road, that’s how bad. However, we carefully made it to our hotel in downtown Winnipeg. We were not able to get our keys but could park and then walk to get some food. We chose downtown because of a place called the Forks. It is a little artisans place with a bunch of handicraft shops and ethnic food. For our breakfast we had Caribbean and maybe a few local beers. Afterward we were feed and watered we took note of the other food places we would want to eat at and wandered through the stores. Then we worked back to the hotel to get our keys and unpack a bit. Maybe a nap. The room was large and very comfortable. On the way back to the hotel from the Forks we saw a sign for a Cirque du Solei show in the area. Tickets were the right price and we booked for the next night. We had a few recommendations for places to eat for dinner and went out for Tapas and drinks. Food was exotic and good and a pitcher of sangria made us quiet happy.
The next day we awoke early and went to our continental breakfast. I have to say that these other guest were the most rude people ever. Cutting in front of you to grab a fork or piece of toast. There was very limited places to sit and many people, having finished their meals, were sitting reading the paper. Super rude and inconsiderate. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about. So we ate quick and made our way to the Winnipeg Zoo. Both of us are big zoo and aquarium fans and we stop at any that we can. This once was a little poorly designed and many of the exhibits were under construction. We still saw many animals such as, polar bears, camels, wild horses, tigers, and many smaller mammals and birds. It was a great way to spend the morning. We returned to the room and walked around down town looking for used book stores. We found a few and wandered. We found a place that was selling shawarma meals, which is a North African dish. You must try it. We found an Ethiopian place near there and we figured that would be perfect for dinner. Naps were in order to prepare for a long evening of entertainment and good food. This du Solei was called Kurios and was in an actual big top tent. Like the real circus are in. So cool. Our meal at the Ethiopian place ran long and we were a bit rushed to get to the show on time. We were about 3 minutes late and only missed the announcements about no cameras or recording. The next two hours went by way too fast. There was great music, outstanding acrobats, and fabulous tricks. It was beyond imagination and was the perfect way to spend a few hours. After the show and still floating on a cloud we parked at the hotel and walked to a restaurant bar that was open really late. Beers and munchies were delicious and carried us happily to bed.
The next day we needed to be back in the states to meet a friend who has a food wagon. For breakfast we went to the Forks (better than the hotels) and had good ol’ eggs and sausage, deli quiche, and porgies. All very good! We walked around the park and were trying to kill time to stop in a local brewery before we went south. Happily packed with beer and food we started back south. We stopped at the “middle of Canada” and made it in time to meet my friend to pick up some more food. All in all it was fantastic break from the dull grind of work. However, I am back to that dull grind and hoping for a break again… My mom is on her way up… gulp
So last Tuesday, my Roomie and I went to La Boheme. This is the opera of operas or at least that is what I thought. Beyond Phantom of the Opera what other opera can most non-opera people list. La Boheme. I really didn’t know much about the story line. The little bit of research I did said it was a love story of a group Bohemian people. Regardless of lack of information I was very excited. We left home and started the forever long drive to the big city. We stopped at our favorite thrift store and Shopko, taking our time heading to our hotel. I found our hotel on Hotels.com and was very excited to stay there. If you have never been to downtown St. Paul, MN (or even if you have) I recommend staying at Hotel 340. This is the old St. Paul Athletic Club. It is an amazing building with a lot history. Being from an era long past it was like stepping into the past. The ceiling, many stories above the lobby, had hand crafted detail and there was a fireplace so large you could walk into it. Just gorgeous. The hardwood floor looked original and there was random cabinets with beautifully carved detail. Our room was a tad small but we didn’t spend much time in it so that was ok. As soon as we unpacked we wandered around the area by the hotel.
We had dinner reservations a Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant. It was a grand restaurant and quite loud. We were looking forward to having some very yummy food and a glass or two of wine. Our appetizer of Tomato Basil Bruschetta was divine. The mozzarella puffs on top were like heaven in your mouth. Roomie had Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli that looked like a deep dish of goodness. The ricotta made the ravioli creamy and the spinach gave it the perfect zing. I had Three Meat Cannelloni that was almost too good to eat. But I did anyways. The meat was beautifully spiced. The white and red sauces, mixed together, complemented each other perfectly. The only complaint I had was there was too much cheese! I know I am going to hell just for saying that. You can never have too much cheese but it detracted from the meal. We complemented our meals with a glass of white wine. Over all fabulous.
From the restaurant it was just a few minutes’ walk to the Opera House. I was a little self-conscience walking around in an evening dress but soon we caught up with the Opera going crowd and fit right in. We were seated on the Balcony with a great view of the orchestra pit and nearly center stage. The story opens with 4 gentleman in a rundown apartment. They are very poor and in the dead of winter they all were freezing. The poet volunteers to burn one of his stories. “Quiet, my play is beginning…/…to the fire. I find it really sparkling!” The entire story is amusing with little lines like that. However, as a story it was somewhat light. Not a lot of depth. I will say these young men (and women) were fantastic. I imagine to sing opera in a foreign language and act at the same time takes a lot of talent. It was a wonderful experience.
The next day, on the way home, we stopped and shopped and spent way too much money. It was nice to have access to things we don’t in the Frozen North. We also found a new second hand book store that we spent way to much time browsing. This is a great way to spend the weekend. Now back to the grindstone. However, I leave in a week to Orlando and spend some time with my mom and sister. So much to do, so little time.
So after working over two weeks straight, (why do I do that to myself) I finally had a couple of days off. On my first day off, Friday, I took the time to do all the house cleaning that I have been putting off. Made food and spent the day slowly. Not rushing; not on the clock. It was lovely. Saturday, I worked another overtime shift. Work was busy and the time went by quick. That night I packed and prepped my kitties for being away overnight. Sunday morning we got up fairly early to start the drive to the big city. My roommate had worked until 2am and I volunteered to drive the 1st leg of the trip. It was raining and dull. I listened to the audiobook of 2001: A space odyssey. It was a wonderful diversion. After a short nap my roommate took over the wheel and we drove around one of the largest lakes in the state. My mother happened to call at that point and after telling her where we were she had an interesting local lore tidbit. My grandfather’s Uncles and Aunts died on that lake. I was a little awestruck and thanked her for such an interesting snippet. Slowly we continued our drive that was only slightly delayed by construction. Our hotel boasts the largest water park in the area. However, there was no pool for guests unless you paid for the water park. Our room was lovely and large. After a few moments of relaxation we prepared for a night of fun. We had tickets to Disney’s the Lion King with off Broadway cast. I was super excited. Before the show, dinner was planned at an Indian place not far from the theater. The food was amazing; full of flavor and new tastes. We walked two blocks to the theater and took our seats just before the show started. And WOW. That’s all I can really say. The opening scene just like the movie was grand. All the animals of the plains coming to acknowledge the birth of the future king. The voices of the actors were beyond my expectations. The costumes just…. WOW. An elephant came down the aisle, one person in each leg. Giraffes were walking around on their stilt like legs. Zebras and antelope pranced over the stage in magical flight. It was amazing. The actors played their characters with grace and knowledge. It was the best show I have seen. Afterward we wondered over to a British inspired pub with a bowling green on the roof. We threw back a couple of pints and watched a band encourage drunken movement from the crowd. It was fabulous. A wonderful evening full of fine dresses, lovely food/drink, and magical moments. A perfect evening. The next day, Monday, a quick tour of the mall and a better stocked liquor store then at home, we made our way home, and back to the daily grind.