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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Saskatoon: My take on First Nation & Foodie Travel in Saskatchewan.

Gently, ever so gently, the VIA Rail train pulls out of Jasper mountain station. As it steams along, the blanket of the evening twilight settles upon the waning mountains, only to give way to what is commonly known as “The Great Prairies” beyond.

“Do you really want to go there, Elena? Thousands of kilometres of flat land? And Saskatoon? What brings you out there??” Numerous have been my fellow travellers’ questions about my choice of going East via the Canadian Prairies, and countless were the explanations that followed: “As somebody from Central Europe, I very much appreciate travelling across ‘The Great Prairies’, learning more about the First Nations culture on my stops, and understand how present-day cities, and settlements, have all but developed into modern-day, thriving communities. How exciting. In actual fact, I can’t wait to go !!”

That’s me beaming at all the doubters in delight. My fresh enthusiasm would eventually make them smile, and even encourage them to say something like:

 

“Well, Saskatoon. Did you know the ‘Paris of the Prairies’ is actually quite pretty?!”

I didn’t, but I certainly do now. Let me tell you more about my 48-hours stint at the “Berry Capital – Paris of the Prairies” in the heart of Lower Saskatchewan.

As with the journey from Vancouver, my trip to Saskatoon is powered by VIA Rail, a great way to overcome the long travel distances in Canada in style (more about my adventures on the train soon here on the blog!) ...

As with the journey from Vancouver, my trip to Saskatoon is powered by VIA Rail, a great way to overcome the long distance traveling in Canada in style (more about my VIA Rail train travel adventures here in one of my next articles!) …

 

... where bear sightings & bulging mountainsides have, over night, miraculously given way to .. this. Welcome to the Canadian Prairies!

… where bear sightings & bulging mountainsides have, over night, miraculously given way to .. this. Welcome & good morning from the train to the first sighting of the Canadian Prairies!

 

Arriving in Saskatoon, I am whisked away and taken in by this lovely family ...

Arriving in Saskatoon, I am whisked away and taken in by this lovely family as I ask for directions at the station: “Come and have lunch with us, we can take you!” Oh, just so sweet and Canadian! Craig, Jackie & Cindy here (from left to right) …

 

... who show me around ...

… who take me under their wing and show me around …

 

... Saskatoon Farmers' Market ...

… beautiful Saskatoon Farmers’ Market …

 

... while inviting us for lunch at their daughter's restaurant called "The Hollows", a place you must absolutely check out while in Saskatoon!

… while inviting me for lunch at their daughter’s restaurant called “The Hollows”, a place you must absolutely check out while in Saskatoon: Great food, friendly atmosphere, and one of the trendiest places in town right now.

 

The food frenzy continues with lunch at Una Pizza & Wine, a great spot on Saskatoon's Broadway ...

The food frenzy continues with lunch at Una Pizza & Wine the next day, a great spot to relax and enjoy a bite on Saskatoon’s Broadway …

 

... (yes, it's Broadway we are speaking!) ...

… (yes, it’s Broadway we are speaking! And a lively, nice little Saskatoon quarter at that) …

 

... a district that besides great little shops, bars & restaurant also offers some fantastic Street Art Graffiti ...

… that besides great little shops, bars & restaurant also offers some fantastic Street Art Graffiti …

 

... that puts its finger on present-day issues in Saskatoon and around.

… expressing some present-day issues in Saskatoon and around.

 

So why “Paris of the Prairies”, then?

Even I was first musing at this expression: A Prairie town of about 200.000 inhabitants being likened to the French capital of fashion, food & chic? Well, you may or may not believe it, but Saskatoon has a lot going for itself there. You can find everything from world-class art museums, great street & park art, fancy foodie places, stylish designer shops and some of those high-street boutique places that really make you think you were in “La Bohème”, not Riversdale, Saskatoon!

“Our downtown district Riversdale has especially undergone a lot of change in only the last couple of years”, Chad Reynolds, of Tourism Saskatoon and my fantastic guide for the day explains. “Look at the line-up of these shops: The fashion designers at ‘Hardpressed‘, for instance, have created a totally trending, YXE label based on Saskatoon’s airport code! There’s great coffee here at ‘The Underground Café’, and I already look forward to sharing dinner with you at the ‘Odd Couple’ later tonight ..!”

The world-class art museum "Remai Modern" right by the Saskatchewan river bend ...

The world-class art museum “Remai Modern” right by the Saskatchewan river bend …

 

... has a larger-than-life size map of the entire provinces of Western Canada at your feet: In just a few minutes, we walk from Winnipeg all the way "back to Banff" ...!

… has a larger-than-life size playground map of the entire provinces of Western Canada: In just a few minutes, we walk from Winnipeg all the way “back to Banff” ( I miss Banff …!) …

 

Further up, we enjoy exploring Riversdale on 20 Street West, including "Hardpressed" fashion & design store ...

Further up, we enjoy exploring Riversdale on 20 Street West, including “Hardpressed” fashion & design store …

 

... as well as a great Flatwhite at The Underground Café ...

… as well as a great Flatwhite coffee at The Underground Café …

 

... before having dinner at the "Odd Couple" Asian-style restaurant. What a great and diverse foodie day out!

… before having dinner at the “Odd Couple” Asian-style restaurant. What a great and diverse foodie day out!

 

As for staying the night, I can recommend you my hotel, called "The James", super centrally located and offering great views across town and the Prairies skies beyond ...!

As for staying the night, I can recommend you my hotel, called “The James”, super centrally located and offering great views across town and the Prairies skies beyond …!

 

It is here where lovely Cindy and I gather and have our farewell drinks, after only meeting for two days in her town and exchanging life philosophies around "The Creative Traveler's Handbook" ...! Thank you for your warm welcome, dear Cindy & family!

It is here where lovely Cindy and I gather and have our farewell drinks, after only meeting for two days in her town and exchanging life philosophies around “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook” …! Thank you for your warm welcome, dear Cindy & family!

 

If in Saskatoon, do set aside at least half a day for exploring Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The First Nation cultural learning is stunning, and includes everything from language learning, to berry gathering & bison jumps!

“Bison jumps?!”, I gasp quite incredulously at the larger-than-life-sized bison bronze statues in front of me. At Wanuskewin Heritage Park of the Cree First Nation people, a building whose architecture itself takes the shape of a bison, I learn all there is to know about the seasonal migration patterns of the first people here, following the bisons around the Great Prairies. “We collected Saskatoon berries, made Moccasins out of bison skin and fur, we used everything in the animals for nutrition, health, spiritual beliefs, as well as protection and insulation in our Tipis”, Bonnie smiles while showing us around Wanuskewin. “Wanuskewin, in our native Cree language, means ‘being at peace with yourself’. On our culture days, we organise events such as ‘Migrating Moon Indigenous Plants & Food Gather’. Check out our website, https://wanuskewin.com, for events and interactive workshops that are happening when you come. We would love to have you back here!”

Oh, and so do I, excited to learn there are more creative workshops being offered for visitors like myself. I just love Bonnie’s natural, peaceful way of being and showing Chad and me around her land. It is through her that I begin to understand a little better the great context, and spiritual connections, of the local First Nation people with the Great Prairies: A place they have lived in, and felt at peace at, for thousands of years.

Welcome at Wanuskewin Heritage Park ...

Welcome at Wanuskewin Heritage Park: Only about a twenty minutes’ drive from downtown Saskatoon, modern-day city life has all but vanished …

 

... giving room to our understanding of First Nation culture, explaining how the "Bison jumps" hunting season of the Bison took place in former times ...

… giving room to our understanding of First Nation culture, explaining how the “Bison jumps” hunting season of the Bison took place …

 

... another big part of the "lifestyle" on the Prairies has always been seasonal food gathering, such as these rather delicious berries here ...

… with another big part of the “lifestyle” on the Prairies always having been seasonal food gathering, such as these rather delicious berries which we have also tried here …

 

... or using birch tree "powder" off a tree's bark as sun protection!

… or learning how to use birch tree “powder” as a type of early, yet efficient natural sun screen! …

 

... as well as, naturally, using everything off the bison in any clever and ingenious way possible ...

… as well as, naturally, using everything off the bison in any clever and ingenious way possible.

 

Wanuskewin is furthermore special for me, as it is the first time I (finally) get to go inside a real Tipi ...

Wanuskewin is furthermore special for me, as it is the first time I (finally) get to go inside a real Tipi …

 

... marvelling at the living structure's sheer size, complexity and clever way of building.

… marvelling at the living structure’s sheer size, complexity and clever way of building.

 

Thank you so much, dear Bonnie, for such an insightful visit: I hope to be back soon for any of your creative culture workshops, too ...

Thank you so much, dear Bonnie, for such an insightful visit: I hope to be back soon for any of your creative culture workshops, too …

 

... what a great day out on the Saskatoon Prairies !!!

… what a great day out on the Saskatoon Prairies !!!

 

More? Yes please. Enjoy the entire of my Saskatoon travel photo gallery here:

 

I have also produced a travel video that highlights some of my travel adventures in Western Canada, all the way from Vancouver to the vast open plains east of the Rocky Mountains. A fascinating, funky take on what has truly been a life-changing journey. Enjoy with sound & smile 🙂

 

Disclaimer: I have been supported on this trip to Saskatchewan by VIA Rail as well as Tourism Saskatoon. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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