Day 30: Saskatoon to Winnipeg (by train)

The attendant at the Via Rail Station had given me a website yesterday to check on the whereabouts of my train. I had checked in the evening and also during the night and the delay of my train had been building up to about four hours.

So, I took it easy and got up at 6 AM. I looked around in my tent and thanked it for having protected me over the last three years. At that time I did not know why.

While I was preparing breakfast I checked again and now the status of my train was “arrival in 25 minutes”. Holy shit! I threw my coffee and oat meal into the bushes and buckled up in record time.

I raced the 5 km to the train station. In fact, the train was already there but had not left yet – good! The attendant greeted me with the words “… and you must be Karsten Drath”. That was hilarious but there simply were not many passengers let alone with a bike.

While I was waiting for the crew to get ready to load Rosinante, my bike, I noticed that my tent was gone. I had put on my rear rack as always but it must have fallen off as I had cut a few corners to get here in time. Damn!

On the other hand, I had always wanted a different tent with more headroom and an entry that would not let in the rain when you open it. Maybe this was meant to be?

The Canadian – there are only four of them

Finally, my bike goat loaded and I could board my sleeper compartment. Thankfully, I had one all by myself.

The train had been build in 1964, I.e. it was older than me. It was quite classy and really innovative for the time. It had seats that could be converted into full beds, showers, wagons with a glass dome, a nice restaurant … and no Wi-Fi.

My luxury temple

All attendants were super friendly and service oriented. They had all started their tour in Winnipeg, went to Vancouver and were now on the way back. That means it was day 7 for them on their trip.

For breakfast I was seated together with two other Germans who lived in Sweden: Anke, a medical doctor, and her 19 year old daughter Laura who had just returned from a wilderness & leadership program with an organization called Outward Bound Canada. Her mother had picked her up and now they were traveling pretty much through the entire country to Toronto.

Fun fact: Outward Bound goes back to it’s founder Kurt Hahn who established the „Reform Pedagogy“ in Salem, Germany after World War II. Also the zis Foundation has its roots in Salem.

We met again for lunch and chatted about our experiences in Canada.

What I noticed was that I totally enjoyed the access to cold drinks and nice food. It was so great! This was such a luxury for me after the 4 weeks on the bike. I was smiling like a happy child over Coke on ice and ice cream.

For the first half day the prairies continued. But now there were more lakes and swamp which meant more mosquitoes. We even saw bisons grazing from afar which I found very spectacular.

Every now and then the train would stop to let a cargo train pass. When it was running the speed was often less than 50 km/h.

Later in the afternoon we entered Manitoba and crossed another time zone. The landscape slowly became hillier again with little forests here and there and beautiful rivers.

When I returned from dinner my bed was already made so that I had a hard time finding my compartment because there are no numbers which doesn’t help with orientation.

In the evening we entered Winnipeg were the crew changed after their long journey.

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