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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Friday, 4 July 2003
Winnipeg, Manitoba --> on train to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

A 7 o'clock wake-up was way too early for Michelle and me to wake up. Fortunately Michelle had given me her bed while she slept on a mattress in the sun room. Her excuse? "I have never slept there before."


We got to the radio studio of Hot 103 in downtown Winnipeg just after 7.30. The radio hosts of the morning show, Frankie Hollywood and Jojo, have been speaking with me by phone as I was in various countries around the world and now I was here and I had to come over. Sure.

We had some good talks and fun laughs on air, as I told them about my travels and I pulled in Michelle, because lots of media lacks to put some attention to my great hosts, because without them I won't be able to do this entire venture, would I?

Michelle's friend Christian had invited us for a complimentary breakfast at the restaurant he manages, Decanters. Christian will be managing the place for another two weeks. "I sent in my resignation letter today," he said. "I am quitting because the owner is too involved but too much out of touch with his audience."

After this good-filling breakfast Michelle and Christian took me along for a tour around the downtown city centre. Michelle was desperate for new furniture. And where is the best place to buy new furniture? Indeed, at the antique stores and second hand stores that are dotted around on almost every street in the city. I just loved those stores with eclectic stuff from the 30s, very old books stores and galleries. Eventually Michelle didn't buy anything yet, but she definately had a good look around to see what's available.

Back home at her place, Michelle decided to take me along for a drive to Lockport, a small town north of Winnipeg. "You have to see some of the country of this province before you get that train this afternoon."

At Lockport they treated me on the famous foot long hotdog. Lockport is famous for its hot dogs and it is the place where Michelle's father grew up.

It was a perfect day for this drive. We drove up and down from Winnipeg to Lockport with the windows wide open. While the wind kept us cool I enjoyed the endless fields with yellow canola flowers. They make the air smell so sweet!

But I had to be back in time again for that train. Back home at her house I packed my stuff together and Michelle made me a small snack bag for on the train. At 5 PM I said goodbye and thanked Michelle and checked myself in at the ViaRail train station in Winnipeg.

Because ViaRail offered to help me out all the way from Halifax to Vancouver, it was time to get in contact with them again with the last leg of my Canada trip: from the Prairies to the west coast of Canada. And when I emailed my contact person there my schedule for the last few weeks, I received a confirmation number to get all my necessary tickets.

For me, this still is an incredible gesture, especially when I realize how much these tickets are all worth!

I got on the fully packed 5pm train to Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan. It was going to be an eight hour train ride through the prairies.

But as soon as the train left urban Winnipeg in exchange for the rural flatlands, I was amazed by the lack of actual prairies. I thought prairies would be dry and dusty, like in those country and western movies, but I kept seeing green patches of land and strips of yellow canola fields!

When the sun had set, I realized the train wasn't going through this endless flatland anymore, because I still saw green hills and fertile valleys with little twisted rivers. My expectations of the prairies were totally wrong! Or is my imagination still to come if I travel west from Saskatoon?

With a seat in economy class, I plugged in my laptop on the power supply in the entertainment room and while everybody watched a movie on the television, I typed away some previous reports.

I crossed the border to Saskatchewan in the darkness of the night and gained again another hour because of another time-zone (+7 GMT).

Is there such thing as a trainlag?

Good night green prairies!

Ramon