Stuck in Winter, Canada for Christmas. Help?
December 22, 2007 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Stuck in Winterland, Canada for Christmas. Help?

I feel a kind of shadenfruede here, but my desire to help is winning out.

Because of an assignment running overtime, a close friend of mine who's from Costa Rica will be stuck in the coldest possible place on earth (Winnipeg, Canada), alone for the holidays. I'm trying to arrange my schedule so I can get there and keep her company a little, but no matter what she'll be spending the better part of a week on her own.

Now, I have also spent time in Winnipeg, and I don't envy the time this equatorial person will "enjoy" at temperatures 20 or 30 degrees below zero in a city that doesn't have a lot of excitement or activity compared to the world's bigger centers. I'm worried that boredom will make the whole experience worse for her.

The snow is a bit of a novelty to her, so I can suggest a short trip to Assiniboine (sp?) Park or "The Forks" I suppose, just for the shock value / experience, but she won't be up to much extended outdoor weather, so such fun as skiing or skating or clubbing baby seals (that's a sport in Canada, right?) has to be removed from the list. Also, I suspect the snow will stop being amusing after a few days.

Other than wandering around indoor shopping malls, turning the hotel room heat up to 11 and making long sad phone calls home, can anyone make any suggestions on how she might make the stay less horrible? Does anyone who's in Winnipeg know of any activities or places that a solo traveler might go to get out of the hotel during this holiday time? She won't be winter-clothing equipped but I imagine $50 would go a long way at the Golden Tiger or one of those Bargain-Bargain clothing places downtown?

(Suggestions from citizens of other cities are also welcome: just imagine a tropical person who has never owned a winter coat stuck somewhere like Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Krakow or Moscow in the dead of winter. Eyes wide open, teeth chattering, the whole picture.)

(PS to folks who mistake MeFi for Craigslist: She might be cute but (a) no, she doesn't like men and (b) no, I won't show you a picture.)
posted by rokusan to Travel & Transportation around Winterland, NL (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry that your friend has to be be stuck somewhere small, cold and quaint for a few days, but you might want to dial back the snide if you want to inspire a few more people to give you useful answers. Yeah, Winnipeg ain't Manhattan, as you have found out for yourself, but projecting your disdain for the city on your friend -- and us -- doesn't help much.

Does your friend have any interest in the arts? The Winnipeg Arts Gallery has several exhibits running right now, including one on Warhol. Sadly, she's just missed the Art for Lunch series, hosted by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, and their other exhibits at WAG won't be open until February.

Giving us some sense of your friend as a person with any interests at all beyond staying warm would be helpful. For now, browse through this to see if anything fits.
posted by maudlin at 9:44 PM on December 22, 2007

I'm up in Winnipeg right now; it's not as much of a frozen wasteland as you might suggest, but then I grew up here so I'm used to it. If she's looking for activities, I can suggest off the top of my head:
  • The Winnipeg Art Gallery is good for an afternoon.
  • The Manitoba Museum is pretty neat, especially the Nonesuch and the Winnipeg 1900 gallery.
  • If she likes live music, check out the listings in Uptown. In particular, the New Meanies show on Dec. 28 should be a good one if she likes blues-based rock & roll.
  • Art-house cinema can be found at the Cinematheque, but unfortunately it's closed until the 27th. The Landmark Globe Cinema, on the top level of the Portage Place mall, shows the "prestige picture" type of movie, and there's several main-stream theatres scattered about the city.
Also, is she religious? If she'd like to have someone to spend Christmas with, she might try finding a church of her denomination and seeing if a family would be willing to set an extra place at the table or some such. Winnipeggers are, by and large, friendly folks (being both Midwestern and Canadian), and I'm sure if she made her situation known to the pastor/priest, she'd be invited home readily.

I'll try to think up some other ideas & post them tomorrow.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2007

It's a fine city, sorry for the tone. I still spend time there and really, there's nothing "bad" about it that wouldn't be true of any same-size city in very cold weather for someone who's not used to cold. In my experience, it's exactly like being suddenly in Pittsburgh or Cleveland etc, but I don't mind the cold that much myself.

The "horribleness" of the situation was more about the surprise lonely stay than the city itself. The coldness was just cruel icing, and I'm stuck for suggestions on how she could distract herself.

Apologies to any Winnipeggerians (?) if I did a bad job explaining that. I probably did.

She's a photographer, so the Art Gallery is a good idea. It's even close to downtown.

I'm digging through that Destination site now, thanks... I've never seen that before.
posted by rokusan at 9:55 PM on December 22, 2007

Church isn't a bad idea. She's not what I would usually call religious, but then again she is Latin American... which means she still owns more crucifixes than can be believed. And before I get attacked for lolchristianing... I mean all that lovingly. :)

posted by rokusan at 9:58 PM on December 22, 2007

I can't believe I forgot: The Assiniboine Park Conservatory is a nice indoor greenhouse in Assiniboine Park. If she needs a dose of green & growing things, that's where to go.

Also, yeah, what maudlin said about dialing back the snark — asking residents of a city for help while simultaneously looking down your nose at it ain't exactly a good idea. I thought you big-city folks were more savvy & sophistimacated than that, unlike us igloo-dwelling yokels.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:58 PM on December 22, 2007

S'OK. I've never been to the city myself, but an old friend from high school is flourishing there and I get pretty protective about the place.
posted by maudlin at 9:59 PM on December 22, 2007

Seconding the museum, art gallery and the conservatory (although the conservatory doesn't take much time to look at, so if she's using public transportation and finds it too cold to check out the rest of the park it might not be worth the trip). If she's there until the beginning of January, Manitoba Theatre Centre is usually a nice warm night out. Also, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is showing the Nutcracker till the 30th.
posted by waterlily at 6:28 AM on December 23, 2007

I'm going to assume that since she's from Latin America and has a lot of crucifixes, she's Catholic; my apologies if this isn't so. If it is, though, St. Ignatius Church (255 Stafford) has a Spanish-language mass at 3:40 PM today and 3:45 on Christmas Day. If she's looking to connect with folks from a similar cultural background to hers (and who isn't, at Christmas?) then that might be worth a shot.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:10 AM on December 23, 2007

Johnny A, that's a brilliant find. Thank you very much!
posted by rokusan at 3:54 PM on December 23, 2007

I've lived in Winnipeg for over 7 years and I look down my nose at it constantly; however, there are some good things to do. I can vouch for the Globe Cinema in Portage Place Mall as a more sophisticated alternative to the giant cineplexes. Manitoba Theatre Centre, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Assiniboine Park Conservatory, Winnipeg Art Gallery, are all worth stepping out into the cold for a little while to get to. Winnipeg also has a number of nice restaurants; I recommend Gluttons, Mise, Wasabi on Broadway (great sushi bar), Sydneys at The Forks, 529 Wellington. She can spend an afternoon browsing books in McNally Robinson's; the one in the Grant Park Mall is lovely and has a great cafe in it. It's one of my favorite places to kill time.

She can also email me if she's desperately lonely. I have to work Wednesday through Friday this week, but I might be able to take her to lunch or coffee if she likes.

Also, if she needs a warm coat, don't send her to Giant Tiger, it is a crap store. Have her go to The Bay at Portage and Vaughan, downtown.
posted by Koko at 7:01 AM on December 24, 2007

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