Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rapid transit, squeaky floorboards and open top driving!!

On Thursday Buffy was working again and I went out to see the new Rapid Transit system in town. Again, it was a lovely sunny day and so I walked to town beside the river. I walked to Osborne Station. A new transit station built above a major road. It’s a smart looking glass structure and is pretty much halfway on the Rapid Transit Route through the city.

The rapid transit itself is basically a series of new bus routes, but on a newly constructed road, that doesn’t have any other traffic. I really liked it and it seemed to please the other people on board today’s free travel experience. I heard a lot of people talking about how nice and clean it was and how fast it went without all the usual stops for traffic lights and junctions. I also got stopped by a reporter from the local news channel who asked me a question and in doing so supplied me with today’s (3 part) quote.

Reporter: Hi, Is the Rapid transit system on your normal daily route?
Me: No, I am from England.
Reporter: (after a long pause) Oh!

She then moved swiftly on to ask some other bloke the same question. 

The Rapid Transit station

The reporter who walked off after finding out I was English

New Bus!!

It was a kind of party atmosphere on the bus though as people laughed and joked amongst themselves as well as taking photos of the buses and themselves as they travelled.

I eventually got off the RTB (Rapid Transit Bus) in the city centre and as it was close by, I went into the MTS centre, where the Winnipeg Jets play their home Ice Hockey games to have a look around. I had been told that you couldn’t see into the arena and the ice itself unless you went to a game. But, I had been misinformed. There are pull down shutters between the public areas and  the arena, which also have thick black curtains behind them, shielding the ice from public eyes – but luckily, someone before me had pulled the curtains to the side and I was left with a great view of the ice, the arena and the spectacular hanging scoreboard and video screen.

Inside the MTS VIEW 1

View 2

Later I went out to catch the bus, to meet Buffy and go to her parents house for a bit of dinner and for Buffy to get her Birthday presents, but due to one early bus, which I missed, one late bus, which I missed and a woman giving me directions, I ended up arriving at least half an hour after I should have and about a mile short of the real destination. Luckily, Buffter drove out in her dads BMW Z4 roadster to pick me up and take me to her parents.
We had a nice dinner and watched as Buffy opened her pressies and also as The Jets played their final away game of the season – losing in overtime unfortunately. Then we headed back home in the BMW, which Buffy’s dad has allowed us to borrow for the week while he and Buffy’s mum go away on holiday.

Friday was again, a lovely warm day and so we headed out of the city in the borrowed BMW and into the Prairies. It was a great day enjoying the sunshine with the top down on the car and actually being out of the city. We drove around for a few hours, visiting one of Buffy’s relatives’ massive houses in the middle of nowhere, although they weren’t in, before we eventually drove back into town and home before it started to get cold.

Later that evening, Buffy had invited a few friends around her place for a bit of a birthday party. It was mainly people from the choir she sings in and was a strange but fun evening. It was only strange as it’s not the kind of evening I am used to. Being a squaddie, means I am fully up to speed with lots of drinking, nakedness, music, more drinking, lots of food and general fucking about in order to have a good time. Obviously, being members of a choir and not squaddies, the gang that attended the party weren’t what I was used to!! They were all good fun and nice people; don’t get me wrong, but in a completely different way to my own experiences. I can’t say that any of the squaddie parties I have ever attended have included a scavenger hunt and ‘ultimate charades’ as party games – It was usually something like ‘shock’ and ‘dance of the flaming arseholes’, instead. Even though it was entirely out of my comfort zone, I did have a good night and a few beers, before everyone left well after midnight and I went to my bed.  

Us and the BMW

Out of the city on a lovely day!

Saturday was a recovery day until the evening when me and Buffter took a walk into town to the MTS centre, where The Jets were playing their last home game of the season. We didn’t have tickets, but wanted to take in the atmosphere before the game and then listened to the National Anthems being sung at full voice inside the arena. It really made me wish we had tickets as we watched all the excited fans enter through the turnstiles with their massive smiles and fancy dress – including two guys dressed as rabbits for no apparent reason.
The Jets lost their last game in overtime – again!!

Sunday came along and the weather had changed for the worse. It had started to get cold again and the wind chill made it even colder. We decided to take the Z4 out again but this time we only drove to the cinema to see The Hunger Games, in a nice warm cinema. A good film and a good way to have a mellow, Sunday Easter afternoon.  

Monday morning and I was up early. I have spent too much time doing nothing during the days and so I went out for a quick run – quicker that originally planned as it was briskly cold and even more so with the wind chill again – Down well below zero degrees.

After warming up I took the BMW out for a quick drive down to Safeway supermarket to do a shop. I expected to see a gleaming massive shop, with shelves full of food and meat that made me drool – But instead entered a dull, poorly lit shop, with a few things, but not enough things I recognised to whet my pallet. How I could do with a meat and potato pie now or even a normal sausage roll.. Missing good old English food has always been one of the hardest things about travelling and also about being abroad with the army. In fact this first week in Canada reminds me of getting a new army posting:-

You arrive, somewhere new and move into you new accommodation, sometimes sharing a room. The first few days are weird – you want to make a good impression and meet new friends and have fun, but also you want to get your own stuff in order and you feel tired a lot and sleep even more than normal. I always got a bit homesick for the place I had left, the same as I am now a little homesick for England. But over time, you settle in and get used to the new country, new friends, the food, the people and the differences that aren’t mentioned in any guide books or army posting aids.
It takes time though and I know this from my own experiences of postings and travelling alone. When I was left alone in Vietnam, I didn’t want to do anything and for a few days just slept and ate – but eventually got off my arse and had a brilliant time – visiting Hong Kong and China, making new friends on the way. I will do the same this time too and have today booked my first trip away from Winnipeg – I head west next Monday to Alberta, to visit Edmonton, Calgary and Banff. I can’t wait!!

Here are a few weird things that you don’t see in England, but are commonplace here in Winnipeg:-

Roads are terrible after winter time. They really are shite here!! They get destroyed by the cold weather and need repairing every year. It’s almost like driving on a train track because of the large indents made by large vehicles.
Cars have plugs hanging out of their engines, so that they can be plugged in during the cold cold weather – otherwise they wouldn’t start.
Big car parks all have at least one massive pile of dirt and rubbish in one corner – This is from when the snow is shovelled out of the way during winter and when it melts, it leaves all the shit behind!!
The floor boards in Buffy’s apartment are the squeakiest floorboards IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!! They squeak, all the time – all the time!! Loudly!! Aaaargh!!
People arriving for the Jets game

One bit of fancy dress...

The Rabbits!!

Week one  - done!

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