Winnipeg, Edmonton and The Prairies

There’s something very romantic about train travel. The same could also be said about the Prairies themselves. There’s a heart and character to the people we met that’s hard to quantify. We found the same spirit in the fresh, local food we ate (there was a lot of it) and the art we stared at for hours on end. Markets and rolling fields, sunrises and Winnipeg’s modern architecture, and welcoming little pubs and shops — this was a trip where we actually came home relaxed and refreshed … as opposed to needing another vacation.

Day 1
Arts and eats
The best way to begin a trip from Winnipeg to Edmonton? A few locals told us to check out this diner in the middle of a bridge, which was the perfect place to pad stomachs for the day. We then walked over to the Buhler Centre of Contemporary Art before touring around St. Boniface. The legislature building was as grand as any we’d ever seen, and stood in contrast to the charming Osbourne Village. To cap off the day, we spoiled ourselves with a dinner in the Exchange District that showed exactly why all the local farms are so loved.
Day 2
The Exchange District and beyond
Our last day in Winnipeg began with tall stacks of fluffy pancakes. We waddled out a bit later for a jaunt through the market, where we encountered fudge and candy apples that made us wish we’d saved more room. We finally made it off to the Exchange District, and fuelled up with espresso before diving into vintage clothes, books and antiques. Night came, and we headed for what would ultimately be the finest meal of the entire trip. Above and beyond incredible tapas and steaks, Segovia had a hip, big-city ambiance, with decidedly friendly, small-town staff.
Day 3
In training
Packing our bags, we waved goodbye to Winnipeg, and boarded our VIA train. A checkers tournament over coffee apparently ended in defeat for my team — but we still officially contest the results. Fields and grain elevators whizzed by, and a fellow passenger played us a little acoustic guitar. There was planning for the upcoming day, massages, and wafts of dinner coming in hot from the nearby dining car. The taste of the meal more than delivered on its earlier aromas, sending us off to our cozy sleeper cars with dreams of sunny weather for tomorrow’s Edmonton Fringe Festival.
Day 4
Out on the fringe
The sun peeked into our cabin as we woke up. Soon, it was breakfast in the glass-topped diner car, where we joked about Kristin’s snoring. After we pulled into Edmonton, we checked our bags at the Fairmont Hotel and decided to wander a bit, beginning with a little shopping and a ride on an old streetcar. We walked up to the Alberta Art Gallery, which is like boarding a UFO. The wild steel and glass is a surprise in this Prairie city. We went over the river via the wooden car, then on it via riverboat. Finally, we arrived at the Fringe Fest (the biggest in North America), and quickly discovered the magic of deep-fried Oreos. As the day ended, performers took the reins, entertaining and amazing us — even pulling John in for a close shave with a fire dance.