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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?

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12.000 kilometres for a birthday cake. “Oh Canada, eh!”

Travel With Locals, Travel Videos, Canada, North America, Travel Blog , , 0

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Sometimes in life, you just know. Know that “the craziest thing you may ever have done”, is also the right thing to do. Such as being true to yourself. Such as following your heart’s teachings. And honouring the presence of some of the most beautiful people on Earth, by organising one hell of a surprise for them on the occasion of a birthday. A surprise with a capacity to shake up the entire world around you.

(Never mind that I’ve only met Bill, Fern, and Adam a couple of months ago while travelling in Canada for the first time. For me, as well as for them, it is the soul that counts. The soul that creates the miracle of instant connections, of immediate understanding, and unspoken family bonds. Across continents. Across lifetimes. A beautiful story of a kind.).


12.000 kilometres for a birthday cake, then …


The morning I start off on the biggest travel adventure of my life is a frosty, dark December morning. The last day in the year, in actual fact. On may way to Vienna Airport, I snatch a few selfies of me & my big luggage, but then hesitate: Sharing them in the usual fashion is not quite the option yet? After all, at this stage, only a handful of people know where I am going, and I have decided to keep it a surprise for just a little longer.


“See you in Finland, Elena. Surely, you must be looking forward to your #NBEFinland Bloggers’ Experience …”

… and yes, of course I do. Going to Finland is part of my original travel plans for January 2017. However, as far as my experience of winter in Finland and my participation as a speaker at the Helsinki Matkamessut travel fair is concerned, I have opted for yet another, “slight detour” before arriving in the north of Europe. …

... an only ever so slight detour by the looks of it, really. ...

… ever so slight by the looks of it, really. Can you guess where I have beautifully detoured to here ..?


My last day in December 2016 has 30 hours in total, making it “the longest last day of the year” I have ever experienced.

Quietly, the plane lifts off from Vienna and touches down in Amsterdam. My nerves really only start tingling as I make my way to the international overseas area: “Your flight to Toronto is now ready for boarding.” Toronto. Canada. Yes. Oh Canada …!

Am I crazy? Perhaps. Yes.

Am I happy? Yes. Very nervous, and very, very happy, too.

Am I doing the one and only thing I would like to be doing right now, in this moment in time, at this stage in my life? YES.

There are but two people in the whole of Canada who know I am coming back to see them. One of them is my friend and graphic designer of my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, Ana Botelho from Toronto. I have met Ana over my Toronto book presentation in early October last year. The other one is named Aaron Sands, and he is working way out West for a company called the “Banff Airporter”. Way out West is also where I am headed for my surprise visit, but first …

… I take a couple of days off in Toronto. Undercover. Off the radar. So. Wonderful. Especially for a travel blogger like me, who is always and forever used to sharing her adventures online. I thus spend a few days resting, working through the six-hour time zone difference, digesting the jet lag, catching up over long, long hours of good coffee & even better conversations with my dear friend Ana, who originally hails from the Azores Islands – a place I might very well end up travelling to as early as next summer! Ah, those days. Brace, brace for what is yet to come …

Dear Ana ...

Dear Ana Botelho …


... thank you sooo much for taking me in on such a happy, spontaneous notice ...

… thank you sooo much for taking me in on such a happy, spontaneous notice. You’ve made a happy traveller even happier that day!


Next up on my surprise mission: Another four-hour flight from Toronto to Calgary (yes, it's a big, big country ..) ...

Next up on my surprise mission: Another four-hour flight from Toronto to Calgary (yes, Canada. It’s a big, big country ..) …


... and a beautifully frozen one at that: Central Canada, forever coated in white, glistening snow across the Prairies. Beautiful!

… and a beautifully frozen one at that: Central Canada, forever coated in a white, glistening snow blanket across the Prairies. I haven’t really started thinking about what this means as far as outside temperatures are concerned .. Not quite yet.


... where, landing on the evening of January 3, 2017 ...

Landing myself in Calgary on the evening of January 3, 2017 …


... I am still only taking pictures, such as this one of another Air Canada plane, for myself : The world has yet to learn where "on Earth" I have landed myself ...

… I am still only taking pictures, such as this one of another Air Canada plane in front of me, for no one but myself in particular : The world has yet to find out where “on Earth” I have landed myself this time. …


Right up that same night, Aaron Sands' company of the "Banff Airporter", gives me a ride back to #myBanff - as previously arranged, making him the only person at my final destination knowing that I am coming.

Right up that same night, Aaron Sands’ company of the “Banff Airporter” gives me a ride back to #myBanff – as previously arranged, making him the only person at my final destination knowing that I am coming.


“Hi Elena. Attached, please find your reservation confirmation with the Banff Airporter. Indeed a very exciting trip being planned, will be quite the surprise to all involved. …”

Oh Aaron. Thank you sooo much. Your help and assistance means the world to me, in times where my only trust for this long, long trip is my inner compass, knowing that the people I have come to surprise in this rather big, bold & beautiful move deserve all of it, and more. Have a look at #myBanff video following their loving inspiration:


Good morning, Banff !!! OMG, I am back. So cold. So beautiful!

Good morning, Banff !!! OMG, I am back. So cold. So beautiful! So happy to be back in my soulful place in the Canadian Rockies!


Besides preparing my cake, I also get to try one of Canada's favourite sweet snacks: A classical "Beaver Tail"!

Besides preparing the birthday cake for my dear friend, I also get to try one of Canada’s favourite sweet snacks: A classical “Beaver Tail”, essentially deep-fried pastry with lots of sweet stuff on top.!


And once you, too, make it to beautiful Banff, do stop for the most relaxing cup of coffee at my favourite café in town, the "Wild Flour Café" on Bear Street.

And once you, too, make it to beautiful Banff, do stop for the most relaxing cup of coffee at my favourite café in town, the “Wild Flour Café” on Bear Street. Can’t beat their delicious flat white coffees!


Next up though, it's time for my surprise: "Happy Birthday, Adam ..!"

Next up though, it is time for my surprise: “Happy Birthday, Adam ..!”


January 4, 2017, then. The day of my dear friend Adam’s 35th birthday, I wake up to a staggering cold of -27°C. Welcome to winter in the Canadian Rockies!

After breakfast at the Banff International Hostel (and checking their oven for its cake baking capabilities), I bundle up (both against the cold, as well as against being seen!), take to the local supermarket, and buy all the ingredients necessary for a delicious little birthday cake. “Carrot cake is my favourite ..!” Well, yes Adam. Mine too! 😉

And this has been my only plan all along. Travelling to Banff, Alberta, Canada, the country’s most beautiful “Wild Wild West”, to a place where my heart got happily stuck in the first place, saying, “Surprise …! Happy Birthday, Adam!”

Crazy, yes. But beautiful, too. Story of our lives, really. “You know, Elena … This kind of supersedes anything I have ever experienced in terms of a surprise. I might quite likely find myself bursting out laughing two months from now, still processing that you have really shown up here. Thank you. It means a lot to me, to all of us ..!”

I walk down from the hostel, warm carrot cake in hand, down to Adam’s house. I have no idea anyone’s home. Only a faint feeling that this might work, because it’s like in a conspiracy: If the universe wants you to succeed, and you put all your passion and heart in there, the stars will align for you. And sure enough, everyone was home that day. Including me.

Home really and truly is where the heart is. …

... thanks Adam, for taking me out to ski at Lake Louise, "shredding powder" ...

Thanks Adam, for taking me out skiing at Lake Louise, “shredding powder” and creating more of those beautiful memories (read more about my fantastic ski trip in the Rockies here).


... for the fun parties at your house ...

Thank you, my dear Banff family, for the fun parties and happy vibes as one big, international family …


Thanks Bill & Fern for the most natural, heart-felt welcome again ...

… and to you, my wonderful Bill & Fern, for your most natural, heart-felt welcome to your beautiful home yet again.


So this is the story you have all been waiting for. The story of how there is ever, really, only one truth in this life: The one you are creating. Your world. Your passion. Your life. It is full of miracles: From the warmth of a smile, to the beauty of a life-changing journey: You simply have to follow along, and steer your own wonderful course in life.

And one last thing I have read, and adhered to, from a rather life-changing, powerful book called “Three Cups of Tea“: “When your heart speaks, take good notes.

I have. See you in Banff!


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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!
#StoriesOfMyReaders: "The Creative Traveler's Handbook" in Portugal, Austria & Canada.
Podcast "The Creative Traveler’s Handbook"


  1. Sheri

    Elena, with your stories and adventures, you have confirmed my thoughts. I need plan more staycations in my back yard of Canada. ❤

    • Elena

      Thanks Sheri. Honoured to know my story has moved you in this way!

      See you soon for that “staycation” in your beautiful backyard (guess I should be joining you again, shouldn’t I ..) 😉

  2. Allen Byrnes

    Ah, such a lovely story….filled with happy caring people….Sharing!
    Made me smile reading your story and seeing all the photo’s-:)
    I could actually feel the excitement in your voice, as if you were telling me this story…..

    Stay passionate, caring and Loving…..it is a great gift you offer to us all who are privileged to meet you.
    The people of the World are now in desperate need of Love and Kindness.

    And I declare you a true citizen of the world…are the “Ambassador of Love”!

    • Elena

      Thank you so much for the kindness expressed in your words, dear Allen.

      It is a beautiful story, and one that would not have been possible without receiving so much kindness, passion, and love in return … The people truly are what make this world, a place happy to be living in .. as in feeling alive, sharing love and kindness amongst all of our brothers and sisters.

      Truly happy we connected! Stay the world citizen you equally are, and keep filling the world with beautiful stories.



  3. Cindy Feng Xin Lai

    I miss your carrot cake dear Elena!

    I am so so surprised by your Canadian trip because you left for Calgary a day after I left Austria! Anyway, I have read all your amazing posts about my beautiful country and I am always amazed by the love and warmth in your writing and photos. Miss you so much and wish to see you in the East Coast in a not too long future!

    Keep exploring and stay wild! HAHAHA!

    Lots of hugs,


    • Elena

      You know what Cindy?

      I will come back in not too long a time, and make another beautiful carrot cake for you, your family, your friends .. How’s that? 🙂

      If you find love and warmth in my writing and photos, it is because I have received, felt and been gifted with a lot of it in return. Especially in your wonderful homeland. “Keep exploring and stay wild!”, now that’s a good one to live by. Thank you my friend !!!

      Warmest hugs and until we meet again xoxoxo


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