My first visit to Winnipeg was a short one. A work conference kept me busy and I wasn’t able to tack on any extra vacation time to explore the city in more depth. Luckily, on my travels back and forth near the conference site and hotel I was able to come across some interesting public art. There are a number of installations around the Millennium Library in the middle of the city, most notable is “emptyful” by Bill Pechet. This form lights up and sprays water and fog, but I caught it during a period of inactivity. It’s meant to symbolize the openness of the prairies and how weather can flow through/from it. At almost thirty feet tall, it is a striking piece.
After a little over a year living on the prairies, I’ve learned that some of western Canada is playing catch up to the rest of the country in the growth of craft beer. Certainly that’s true in Saskatchewan, and I came to learn it’s also true in Manitoba on my recent visit to its capital city of Winnipeg. Playing catch up doesn’t mean you can’t find a great craft beer, it just means you’ll sample you’re way through the available choices much quicker.
After a morning flight to Winnipeg a late lunch beckoned, and given the choice by my dining companion, I selected Peg Beer Co. so I could get a tasting flight to accompany my meal. The craft brewery in the Exchange District is my kind of place – industrial feel, a good selection of their beers on tap, and a fairly solid kitchen. On a hot afternoon, I stuck to fairly light beers in my tasting flight. From left to right: a wheat (that I got through most of before snapping this picture), a really solid ISA, a sour beer (my favourite from this visit) and a slightly spicy rye ale. All delicious and the good first impression would bring me back later in the trip for another meal.
The idea for a guys weekend in Montreal with my dad started with a desire to relive some old times in the city. Aside from family road trips to visit my mom and dad’s relatives in New Brunswick, my first real travel experiences were with dad visiting Montreal to take in Expos games in the early 1980s. Those trips were fun times and the memories of them still float around in my mind from time to time. The excited feelings I had when I first arrived in Montreal as a child on the train on those trips are pretty much the same feelings I have today when I visit a place for the first time.
So with nostalgia sparking the idea, and a couple of Blue Jays preseason games in Montreal this past March forming the cornerstone of a trip, I invited my dad on a guys weekend in a city we both love. I flew in from Saskatoon, him from Halifax, and we met in the Montreal airport ready to relive some good old times and to see what kind of trouble we could get into. Trouble is all relative of course, and 40-somthing me and 70-something dad were both up for some unhealthy but delicious eating. First order of business was a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s.
When my wife and I visited France back in 2009, we stuck close to Paris with the exception of a very memorable, and emotional, day trip to Normandy to see Juno Beach. On this return trip to one of our favourite countries we decided that our day tripping should be all about wine. Having already had an exceptional day touring Burgundy, our second wine-related day took us to the city of Reims in the heart of the Champagne region.
After an early morning high speed train ride from Paris, a quick bus ride and walk took us right to the front gates of our first Champagne house tour at Pommery.
One of the unexpected features of Pommery that made this a great stop was the art both inside and outside their facilities. From an oversized fruit tree on their dramatic front lawn, to a Daniel Firman work depicting an elephant balancing on its trunk inside the chateau, we were engaged and entertained even before our tour began.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we committed to part of our trip to France being based in Lyon. I love big European cities, so I knew the overall vibe would be great. What I didn’t expect was the how much I would be drawn to the older parts of Lyon.
Vieux Lyon was always right there, just across the Saône, looking down on Presqu’île where our hotel was located. On our first trip over the river to wander around, we didn’t even make it the whole way over the bridge before stopping to photograph the beautiful early spring morning.
For the better part of six days, my wife and I called Lyon home during a two week vacation in France. Lyon is beautiful. Gorgeous, really. And if you were dropped into the city blindfolded, you’d know you were in France from the architecture alone. I really wasn’t expecting to see much modern public art while visiting here, but was more than pleasantly surprised by a few sculptures and installations as I wandered around Lyon. These pieces all caught my eye as physical representations of a noticeable modern vibe running through this historic city.
On a stunning afternoon in the sprawling Parc de la Tête d’Or, this installation, “Ensemble Pour la Paix et la Justice” caught my eye. It was commissioned for the G7 meetings in Lyon in 1996.
If I had to pick one wine, and only one wine to drink over the remainder of my days, it would be a toss up between pinot noir from Burgundy or the effervescent bubbly from Champagne. Coincidentally, on our visit to France this spring, we spent a couple of days touring these respective wine regions to help me solve this dilemma to which there really isn’t a wrong answer. I’ll leave the account of a day in and around Reims tasting world class Champagne for another post… this one is all about a spectacular day spent in Burgundy.
We took an early morning train from Lyon to Beaune and waiting for us at the quaint station was Patrick, an expert on all things Burgundy. He was our guide for the day and after some quick hellos and a sketch of our plans, we got into the back of his car to make our way to Auxey-Duresses for our first tasting and visit with a winemaker.
It couldn’t have been a better start to the day. Michel Prunier warmly welcomed us into his small facility. Although Patrick was available to translate where needed, Michel spoke in French slowly and we followed along except for the most technical of winemaking jargon. Michel explained his winery and its 5 generation family history and spent some time showing us the small batch of bubbly he makes each year in addition to his pinot noir.