Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dino's Gourmet Pizzaria in Mankato

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience a great restaurant in North Mankato, Minnesota.  Located on Belgrade Avenue, Dino's Gourmet Pizzeria has a great atmosphere with an old school brick wall and tin roof.  The restaurant had a number of different specialty pizzas on the menu, but alas, as I was with children, we did not get too ambitious with the order.

The service was timely, and they actually had some neat stuff for the kids to do while waiting.  Each table has a large paper on top of it with a bucket of crayons for the kids to practice their artistic abililty.  The waitress also brought out a small ball of pizza dough for the kids to play with.

When the food came, the both the cheese breadsticks and the pizza were quite good.  The atmosphere and food contributed to a great dining experience.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Marriott Rewards MegaBonus

Marriott Rewards is again offering a MegaBonus that rewards guests with a free night for every two nights spent in a Marriott property between September 15, 2011, and January 15, 2012.  There are, of course, a few stipulations to keep in mind.

First, you need to be a Marriott Rewards member.  Members earn points for every paid stay at any of Marriott's properties.

Second, you need to register on the Marriott Rewards website by October 15, 2011.

Third, you need to stay two nights between the dates listed above and pay with a Visa.  Marriott Rewards has a Visa card that earns points for every purchase, plus a pretty big bonus for the first purchase.

If all of the requirements are met, you get a free night in a category 1-4 hotel to spend by May 31, 2012.  There is a FAQ's section on the registration page.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Winnipeg Day Trip--Pictures Included

Last week, I took the family on a day trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  While this may seem like a long trip, from Grand Forks, it's only about 2.5 hours drive (counting the 15-20 minute stop at the border station).  Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba Province, and is home to somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000 people, so it's definitely larger than any town that I've lived in, not to mention it's the closest big city to Grand Forks.  

While in Winnipeg, we stopped at the Manitoba Children's Museum for a while to let burn some energy from the kids after a stop for lunch at McDonald's.  The museum is in a section of town known as The Forks, which is just at the edge of the downtown district.  This neighborhood got its name from its position at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.  One of the incentives that encourages visitors to the Forks is the free parking that is abundant.  The Forks district is built up around the Winnipeg Union Station, and several of the old buildings are still in use, although generally for reasons different than their original intent.  The Children's Museum itself is housed in an old locomotive repair facility.  A few of the buildings house shops and restaurants.  We visited the Forks Market, which houses several of these shops and ethnic restaurants.  The various cuisines that one can sample, for a price of course, include Sri Lankan, Carribean, Asian, Greek, Italian, and Ukranian.  Winnipeg is actually home to a fairly sizable Ukranian population.  We ate our evening meal at the Forks Market.  Pizza from a Greek joint shown below.

Just across the Red River from the Forks is the French Quarter of Winnipeg, which is known as St. Boniface.  Although French is one of the official languages in Winnipeg, most of the buildings have English names.  However, several of the buildings in St. Boniface have only French signs.  One of the more famous sights in this section of town is the St. Boniface Cathedral.  The original building burnt in 1968.  Today, the facade of the original building remains, while the new church sits behind it.  Here are some pics that I took on the grounds:

Note the big hole.  This held a large stained-glass window before the fire.  Although it looks like there are doors, the new building appears where the doors should be.

I assume that this is supposed to be St. Boniface himself?  There were few markings that I could find outside the church, and the ones that I did find were in French--a language of which I have very limited proficiency.  We arrived after business hours, so there would have been no one to answer any questions I had anyway.

The cornerstone of the original building.

There is a sizable graveyard on the church grounds, presumably the final resting place for members of the parish.  Louis Riel, the father of Manitoba, is one of the more famous figures buried in the graveyard. 

Finally, here is a side view of the church.  This view probably gives a better idea that this is just the facade of a building that once stood on this site.  When looking at St. Boniface Cathedral, I can't help but think that this landmark could make a good sermon illustration on a few levels.  While we had a great time in Winnipeg, there is still much to see.  However, that will have to wait for another day and another trip.