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Winnipeg: The Exchange District

Derrick and I spent a few relaxing days in Winnipeg for The Red Hot Chili Peppers show a few days ago and here’s what I learned:

1. When sightseeing in winter, concentrate on one neighborhood at a time — with plenty of stops to warm up — or you risk freezing your feet off.

2. I take way too many photos. (Check back for a ton of Winnipeg shopping info after the holidays!)

In the meantime, here’s a look at a wintry Winnipeg neighborhood.

Our home base, The Marlborough Hotel, was conveniently located on the edge of the beautiful and historic Exchange District.

We started our trip with coffee and fabulous chocolates from Morden’s of Winnipeg, courtesy of Gillian and the helpful folks at Tourism Winnipeg. (Other cities send a map, but Winnipeg suggests a map and chocolate. Canadians truly are the nicest people in the world.)

Then we set off for a winter stroll through the Exchange District, one of the most intact historical districts in the country.

The area was the center of the grain industry and other commodity exchanges in the 1800’s and 1900’s and most of the warehouses, early terra cotta skyscrapers (they were tall for their day) and Chicago style architecture dates from this era.

The day started off cloudy and then suddenly the sky was that incredible blue that you find in prairie towns when the temperature is especially brutal.

The neighborhood was stunning, but the shops and galleries that dot the neighborhood are mostly closed on Sundays (and by this point we couldn’t feel our feet),  so it was back to the hotel to warm up.

We ate poutine (fries with brown gravy and melted cheese) at our hotel bar, The Regal Beagle.  Derrick found the Three’s Company reference amusing and the poutine was pretty good, too. The gravy and fries combo makes sense to me.

When we needed something more substantial than bar food, we went back into the Exchange District to Bodegos (98 Albert Street), a casual little joint that serves international food – noodles, fish and chips, salads, chicken fingers, deep dish pizzas and stuffed pitas – with vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and halal options.

We grabbed a pile of local papers to see what was going on in town and settled in to wait for our food – butter chicken for me and kung pau beef for Derrick.

It was great – and filling. (Those cartons look little, but don’t believe it.) To make a good deal even better, we got dinner and a movie (Skyfall, if you’re curious) at The Towne Cinema 8 down the street (301 Notre Dame Avenue) for the insane price of $11.99 a person. Canada is magical.

Be sure to check back after Christmas for a look inside some of my favorite shops in Winnipeg.

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