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Dollar Flight Club Review: Is it Worth It?

Do you remember travel? I'm not talking about the grocery store or a park. I mean hopping on a plane, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, hurtling across the globe to some foreign destination? Do you miss eating miscellaneous meat from a Dutch vending machine? How about laughing at some over-the-top play on Broadway? Or rowing a boat up to a haunted doll island in Mexico?

Okay, maybe the last one is just something I want to do…

But we can both agree that one of the biggest issues with travelling is the cost. It costs so much to get out of Canada. It costs so much to even fly from Regina to Saskatoon. Did you know in the UK they have penny flight sales? A penny! You can fly from London to Madrid for one-fifth the cost of a five-cent candy. Unbelievable.

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What Is it Like Inside a COVID-19 Quarantine Hotel?

When I walked into the lobby of the Kyiv International Airport, I was surrounded by bald men in leather jackets. Each of them was a taxi driver, and I was a Westerner – somebody with lots of money and no sense of direction. However, as I had read up on these men earlier, I chose to ignore them all.

"Those men aren't there anymore", my friend Kate told me. That isn't her real name, but her experience was real enough. These days the airport is empty, and visitors aren't allowed. However, those men are still waiting outside, and there's just a lot less of them.

"Also, please don't go with them. They aren't real taxi drivers. They're just trying to make money. It's better to just call an Uber."

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Exploring the Ruins of Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The old ruins emerged from the grass like a forgotten obelisk. The walls stood tall and proud, yet crooked from time, buckling in on themselves. The only sound was the wind whistling between the empty sepulchre's shattered stones.

"Don't get too close", Jessica gestured to a nearby sign. "It's private property".

Although I doubt the owners of Wheatwyn-Bethlehem Care Corporation would care if I went inside the old church, it was probably for my own safety to stay outside. The stone window arches had begun to buckle, and any unnecessary strain could lead to collapse, and possibly death.

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Can You Fly A Drone in Regina?

Without advanced permission from Nav Canada, you cannot fly a drone above Regina. If you choose to do so anyway, you open yourself up to a $1,000 fine for recreational users or a $5,000 fine for commercial users.

Additionally, if you fly an unregistered drone, you can be fined another $1,000, and if you don't have a licence to fly, you'll be fined an additional $1,000.

But before you rush out and take the $10 exam and register your drone for an additional $5 to prevent these fines, what if I told you there was another way?

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Sorry, But Vaccine Passports Already Exist

It is a race against time to vaccinate the world against COVID-19, especially as case numbers rise and many countries are forced into their third or fourth lockdown. The new virus variants are expected and are a reasonable cause for concern. Some vaccines can slow the spread of it, but others are not as effective. However, this shouldn't be surprising, as even a 100% effective influenza vaccine is impossible to make, and we've been working on that since 1933.

For the sake of this article, however, we aren't talking about the COVID-19 vaccine or the possible "vaccine passports" that might soon be a reality. Instead, we are talking about current vaccine requirements that restrict international travel.

There aren't a lot of vaccine travel requirements, or "vaccine passports", in North America, Europe, or Antarctica (which kind of goes without saying, but I know somebody would ask), but in developing countries, it is very common. It is recommended to get vaccinated for illnesses like Hepatitis A and B, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza, rabies, and others, but it is not required. Some countries have additional recommended vaccines too, like Japanese encephalitis, but these are only recommended and are also not required.

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How Radioactive Are Bananas?

Bananas are the second most popular fruit in North America, second only to apples. However, unlike apples, bananas in North American often only come in one flavour... or at least they do now. If you were eating bananas during the 1950s and 1960s, you were eating the Gros Michel banana, which is a sweeter, almost artificial tasting banana. However, because bananas were mass replicated and are so similar, they are also prone to disease. As a result, the highly destructive and deadly Panama disease attacked the bananas and wiped them out, causing a world-wide banana shortage.

The solution was to start selling a new type of banana. These are the Cavendish bananas and while they look similar, they don't taste as sweet. In fact, you can compare the difference between them by simply having a real banana and having candy bananas or banana-flavoured medicine or ice-cream. The banana flavour was extracted from the old bananas, which have a much stronger taste.

But banana flavours aside, what about the radiation? While I don't know if the Cavendish bananas are any more radioactive than the Gros Michel bananas, both are full of radioactive potassium. As bananas decay, they release K-40 atoms, which are slightly radioactive and can cause skin tissue damage. How severe is it? Bananas release 0.10 µSv / hour, which is equivalent to 1% of the daily amount of radiation you receive normally. This means if ate 100 bananas in a single hour, you double your daily amount of radiation. You'd also get a stomachache from all the fiber.

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Who Are The Prisoners Buried in Wascana Park?

"Life, I say, is short and the sword is always hanging over us, and we do not know how soon it will drop. It is not worthwhile to be sinful then. That is all I have to say. Good-bye, and God bless you all." ­

Those were the final words John Morrison spoke before a black cap was pulled over his face and the Lord's Prayer was said to him. He would then croak "Deliver us from evil" and with a dull thud, he was dead.

John Morrison was executed on January 24, 1901, at the North-West Territorial Jail and Lunatic Asylum in Regina for the murder of a family of eight. He was not a good man.

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How I Would Revive Regina's Tourism Industry

The year is 2022 and the COVID-19 pandemic was so last decade. Regina, like most cities, is trying to revive its incapacitated tourism industry. People want to go to festivals and concerts but are still leery about getting too close to strangers. After all, they might not have COVID, but they might have something else, you know?

But Regina is special. They will be hosting the first Grey Cup in three years (sorry Steve). People will be swarming into the city from across the country – and beyond – to celebrate the great game of football. Every sports camera in the country will be watching the city.

But just like before the pandemic, Tourism Regina is underfunded. It is staffed by passionate, determined, hard-working individuals, but they do not have the funding to prop-up a battered tourism industry alone. Instead, grassroots programs and small businesses must take the lead. So, with that in mind, here are some ways I would improve Regina's tourism industry in 2022 and beyond.

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Valentine's Day Gift Ideas in Regina

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and if you forgot to get something for your significant other (or yourself), I don't blame you. With everything going on these days, it is tough to remember a holiday that was made to capitalize on something as priceless as love. But I think we can all agree that if you are going to spend money telling somebody you love them, you'll want to spend that money locally. From bakeries to candy stores to charcuterie boards, there is something in Regina for that special person in your life.

In December I bought a $50 chocolate box from Dessart Sweets with every intention of unboxing it and make a video about it. However, the chocolate temptation got the best of me and I ate the entire box in a single sitting. The box has a wide variety of chocolates in it, ranging from specialty-flavoured KitKat bars to European specialities to unique chocolate bars like the Charleston Chew.

If chocolate is not your thing, Dessart Sweets also has miscellaneous candy boxes for the same price. They also have imported chocolate and candy boxes for the broken-hearted globetrotter in your life.

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Come Discover Canada!


Exploring the 2017 Ford Explorer

I recently had the opportunity to test drive a 2017 Ford Explorer. I grew up learning how to drive a Ford Windstar so I figured an Explorer shouldn't be that much different. Sure, one is an SUV the other is a van, but a Ford's a Ford, right? Well, not exactly. From the moment I sat down, I knew it would be a very different experience from what I was used to.

There were things about the Explorer I liked, and some that I didn't, but it was overall a very nice vehicle. It drove smoothly, turned nicely and handled grid roads very well. I found the brakes to be a little touchy, but by the time the week ended, I mastered how to brake without awkwardly lurching myself forward.

Beyond the learning curve with the brakes, here are my positive and negative experiences with the 2017 Ford Explorer:

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Birthday Freebies in Regina

As of last week, I am officially in the final year of my 20s. That has me a little worried because they say it is the 30s when you are forced to finally grow-up... and I really do not want to do that. So, with that sense of impending doom in mind, I decided to embrace my inner child and find some birthday "freebies" around Regina.

There was just a pesky little pandemic in the way.

Because of this, I didn't feel it was right (or safe) to visit a dozen stores around the city, many of them restaurants, asking for free things. A lot of small businesses are hurting right now and asking for free things "just because" doesn't help them at all.

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Where to Experience Alberta's Wild West Heritage

Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.

I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.

 Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.

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Come Discover the United States!


My Deadly Hike to the Delicate Arch

Utah is known for a lot of things, but it's their national parks that make it world-renowned.  The state is not only home to Arches National Park, but also Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Fishlake National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Monument Valley, to name a few. It's a rugged, diverse, beautiful and deadly state unlike any other in the country.

Although I spent plenty of time in Salt Lake City, the reason for my trip was to explore Arches National Park midway down the state. For those who have ever been, the park is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Salt Lake City, and the highway will take you through blown out mountains, fields, small cities and old towns. If you have a full tank of gas leaving Salt Lake City, you should get to Arches without a problem. If you need gas, Provo, Spanish Fork, Price or Green River, among many other communities, all have gas stations. If you need to fill up before going back to Salt Lake, Moab is just a little south from the park and is the perfect place to rest and refuel.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks cost $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle to enter. These passes are good for seven days. If you want to visit other parks around southern Utah, it would be best to get the Southeast Utah Group (SEUG) Annual Pass for $55. This covers Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments. If you want to visit national parks in other states, or outside of the SEUG, it would be best to get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass which is $80 a year, or $20 a year if you're a senior. Seniors can also get the America the Beautiful National Park lifetime pass for $80.

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Blogger Interview: Dates in the States

Earlier this year I was featured on Dates In the States, an American-based travel blog. They interview various different bloggers to share their travel stories so I was really excited when they approached me. It was a pleasure to work with Crystal and Shane and I love their work, so I thought I would return the favour and interview them back.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your blog and how it all got started.

My name is Crystal and I am the writer and creator of Dates in the States. Shane, my boyfriend, is the brains and helps me come up with the content and ideas. Without him, Dates in the States wouldn't be where it is now! We've recently grown our social media exponentially, created an online course, and a Patreon Membership for our followers.

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Journey to Ted Bundy’s Cellar

There are three things Salt Lake City is known for: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ted Bundy and skiing. Since we talked about the former already, and I'm no good at the latter, you can probably guess what this article is about.

From 1974 to 1978 Ted Bundy kidnapped, murdered and raped young women and girls across the United States. Between 1974 and 1975, he spent much of his time killing in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, with his base being in Salt Lake City.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School, and left his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer in Seattle, Washington. However, he was not faithful to Kloepfer (besides the raping part) and would date at least a dozen other women while in Salt Lake City.

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Come Discover Europe!


My First Hostel

When I was planning my trip to Poland and Ukraine I wanted to make everything as cheap as possible. I picked the cheapest flight, I went on the cheapest tours and I picked the cheapest places to sleep. I have read about other people staying in hostels, and that they can be much cheaper than hotels or even AirBnb, so I figured I would give it a try.

My first hostel was Kiev Central Station Hostel, located about a 6 minute drive or a 21 minute walk away from Central Railway Station. If you visit this hostel I would recommend either getting a ride from a bonafide taxi driver or just walking the distance.

One of the problems with Kyiv is the number of unofficial taxi drivers in the city. They hang around the airport and train stations like buzzards, charge ridiculous rates and, at least in my experience, speak zero English and deliberately get lost. I was warned about the taxi drivers at the airport but not the ones at the train station, so I took a chance and got burned. My driver took me as far south as the Central Bus Station and then back north again, which cost me 1,900 Hryvnia, or about $100, when it should have only been a 6 minute drive. For a less experienced traveler the experience would have been harrowing, especially when the taxi driver refused to respond to my requests to "Stop and let me out" after driving me around for over half an hour.

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St. Goar

We have arrived in Germany and St. Goar! Flip told us that German's have the lowest cultural pride in the world -- and I believe this. However, in my opinion, Germany is kind of like that weird kid at school that gets picked on for doing nothing (World War I and the Treaty of Versailles) and finally snaps (World War II), but is still found responsible for his actions.

Flip also told us how and why Hitler came to power, what happened to Berlin after the war, why the wall was built and why it fell in 1989. I learned all about this in history class and I know the majority of people lived through the falling of the Berlin Wall, so I don't think another history lesson is needed. After yesterday's rant, I don't think you'll want another lesson for a while.

Flip went over what we were doing the next few days in St. Goar, Munich and Innsbruck, Austria. We also got a copy of all he optional tours. The website didn't say anything about the group photo in Venice, nor the Venetian dinner we can have. We can also get our own t-shirts!

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European Discovery

While getting ready for my excursion around town, I thought I would straighten my hair again. Bad idea. While I was doing my hair, I suddenly heard a loud pop! sound and a whole bunch of smoke emitted from my power converter. I changed the fuse in it, but the whole thing has a very strange, almost burnt smell to it. I hope the fuse is the only thing that blew! I'm only 1/6th done my trip and I don't want to lose my camera again!

I may try the power converter out somewhere else when I come back to see if I can still charge my camera. Maybe. The last thing I want to do is wreck it any further or have my camera burst into smoke also!

I'll write more later. The sun is up and I'm going to hit the town -- with my semi-straightened hair.

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Come Discover Asia!


Unboxing TokyoTreat's Hungry, Hungry Halloween

I've talked about TokyoTreat before, but for those unfamiliar, TokyoTreat is a monthly subscription box that brings Japan's bizarre array of food to your doorstep. I purchased a box from TokyoTreat earlier this year, and it was "Spring" themed. However, due to the mail backlog from the COVID-19 pandemic, it took several months to get here. Since then, TokyoTreat has added shipment tracking, priority shipping and sends off the packages at lightning-fast speed. Although my first experience with them was a bit off-putting, follow-up experiences have been fantastic.

In honour of Halloween, TokyoTreat put together a box full of various Halloween treats. From ghosts and ghouls to pumpkins and apple-pies, their Halloween box was filled with a variety of tasty treats. Please check out my video or read below to see my thoughts on each of the different candy that came in their Halloween box:

I like Crème Brûlée and I like milk tea, but I did not really care for this drink. This is one of the few items in the box I got that I did not finish. I am a fan of other Lipton products, so I was surprised this one wasn't very good. Perhaps it would be better if it were served cold instead of room temperature, or perhaps even served warm. However, I'll never know because I poured it down the drain immediately afterward.

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Tsuen Wan

After my blunder yesterday, I only had one plan for today: travel to Tsuen Wan and meet my pen-pal Iris.

As a result, from about the time I got up at 9 AM until 2 PM, I did nothing in my hotel. After traveling to so many different cities the past few weeks, I needed a day. I unpacked my clothing, repacked it neatly, organized all my papers and souvenirs by city, checked on my wax hand to make sure it didn't break (it hadn't, thankfully) and got ready. Because we were meeting later in the day I wasn't as worried about the heat, but I knew it was still going to be another muggy day.

Two o'clock came, and armed with my gifts and tablet, I left my hotel and headed towards Olympic Stadium. I went North like yesterday, switched trains at the Lai King station, and headed West to Tsuen Wan. The whole trip took about a half hour.

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Win A Trip to the Strangest City in the World

Frank Albo is known to many as "The Dan Brown of Canada". He gained this informal title through his many decades of research, interviews and investigations into the secrets of the Manitoba Legislature. Through his work, he claims that Winnipeg was meant to have a much larger role in Canada – going so far to say that it was to be the "Jerusalem of the New World".

It may sound odd, but there are a lot of strange motifs within the Manitoba Legislature that otherwise wouldn't make sense. These include being the exact dimensions of King Solomon's Temple, having medusas and demons guarding the entrances, and a "black star" of sacrifice beneath the rotunda. Stranger still is that none of these symbols are in the visually similar Saskatchewan Legislature which was constructed about the same time and for the same purpose. For some reason, the Manitoba Legislature was uniquely created in this manner.

Albo's research has not only gotten a lot of attention in Canada, but international attention too. One of these people was His Excellency Konstantin Zhigalov, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan. While visiting Winnipeg in 2014, Zhigalov attended Albo's tour. After it concluded, Zhigalov pulled Albo aside and invited him to the capital of Kazakhstan. The request was peculiar, but the moment Albo arrived, he knew exactly why he was chosen.

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110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

I've known Jenn Smith Nelson for several years now, and I often look up to her for inspiration and guidance on how to grow with my blog. I remember hearing about her book over a year ago, and I've been holding my breath in anticipation ever since.

Smith Nelson teamed up with Doug O'Neill, another talented travel writer, to cover two Canadian provinces. Their new book, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, is a part of a Firefly Books series that showcase Canada's diversity of nature.

 (Other books in the Firefly Books series include 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta, 100 Nature Hot Spots in British Columbia and 110 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario.)

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Himeji

Today I woke up, and skipped the shower. I normally don't do that, but the lodge didn't have any warm water, except for the bath water from last night which, but that had long been drained.

I brushed up, did my hair and went down to the morning meditation service. During the service, each member of the group would ring an iron cauldron with a metal hammer. Then each person sprinkled some scented dust into the smoldering incense and asked Buddha for enlightenment.

After the service, we excited the lodge and walked a building down the street and participated in the fire ceremony. Unlike the calm chanting of the first service, this one involved an ever growing fire, with much louder chanting. But like the first service, we participated in this one as well. Each member of the group was given a piece of wood and we were to write one thing we wanted to improve on in our lives on it. We then handed it to the monks, and they burned them all together, sending our wishes into the universe.

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Welcome to London!

I lost my pen! I knew I should have brought 2 with me. Oh well, now I have a new one anyway; and it says "The British Museum" on it! That’s right, I safely arrived in London and found my way to my hotel (and the museum, which is just down the street), but not without some trouble, of course.

Here's a travelers tip for you: always listen to you mom. Mom told me that once I got my luggage – after having to fill out a form twice because I was overtired and wasn't totally sure what it meant by "Where did you come from?" Sure, it sounds simple now, but if you're jet-legged and exhausted it wasn't very simple at all! – I had to make my way to the London Underground. I was to take a train from Gatwick Airport straight to the Victoria line, and then to Piccadilly Circus and I should be a half block from my hotel. Instead of listening to my mom, however, I asked the Information Booth worker for directions. He told me to take the Belfast train to another train station and it'll get me there in "no time". Well, as you can tell, I forgot what the name of the first stop was and I ended up having a lovely 2-hour tour around London!

Or, it should have been lovely. I believe I went straight through the slums of the city for the majority of the train ride for I have never seen houses in such ruin! The houses all appeared to be collapsing, with slanted foundations and mold covering the rooftops. Many buildings had broken walls, looking as if they had been in disrepair since the Blitz. Tarps covered some of the broken walls like curtains and broken furniture lay sporadically in the yards. Then, the train took a turn and I saw something completely bizarre. I saw a huge clearing with trees on the far side and dozens if not scores of lean-to shelters. Some were made of wood, while others look liked scrap metal. I couldn't believe my eyes! Was this really London – the once grandest city in the world?

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