Somewhat settled in, I finally have time to properly write about my first impressions of Saskatoon and...I love it here! Manitobans are raised to hate on our prairie counterpart to the West. It's actually part of the curriculum in middle school. From playful, booze-fueled taunting at a Banjo Bowl tailgate party to a former crown corporation* using questionable stereotypes as a punchline in their recent advertising campaign, Saskatchewan is the butt of many jokes - and I heard them all, thrice, when I informed people of my relocation plans. But I can alter your perception, change your opinion and make you question everything you think you know (including the existence of Cher).
Here are my reasons why Saskatoon > Winnipeg:
1) Safe, Lively Downtown I would not live in downtown Winnipeg. At times, I didn't like working in downtown Winnipeg. It's a depressing place suffering from neglect, apathy and one dozens of boarded-up buildings that may or may not be used to store Jimmy Hoffa's corpse.
Compared to downtown Saskatoon, where I have taken up residence, I have yet to be confronted by - or even encounter - any vagrants, the sidewalks are phlegm-free and people actually take the time to say 'hello' to each other. Plus, we're getting a grocery store soon. Automatic win.
2) Circle Drive It's not technically a circle, more like a deflated octogon that is missing a few sides. But nonetheless, Circle Drive BLOWS MY MIND! It is an incredibly efficient way to get around the city and the closest thing I have encountered to a freeway on the prairies. Sure, Winnipeg has the Perimeter...but you are pretty much out in the boonies for 85% of its duration (the other 15% lies near the outskirts of *shudder* Transcona). To get anywhere within the city, you are forced to trek down a route that has a stoplight at every block...none of which are synchronized.
3) Bridges Seriously, who doesn't love a good bridge? They make traversing the water so much drier.
4) Super Wal-Mart I have never claimed to be classier than a 70s-era polyester leisure suit. And when I need to buy one, I head to Walmart. I can now fill my cart with all the tacky clothing, bulk toilet paper and arterie-clogging food I desire as Saskatoon has not only one, but two(!) SUPER Wal-Marts! It's like taking a daytrip to Grand Forks...only without the border hassle, poor exchange rate and boring as hell two hour drive. If a Target comes here, I think I will spontaeously combust from the excitement.
5) Bonanza Bizarrely, Saskatoon does not have a Taco Bell...but there is a Bonanza Steakhouse. I wrote a blog post long, long ago that talked about my love for this restaurant chain. When I was a child, my family would go there every payday for a nice flame-grilled steak. It was a simple time before boys, zits and puberty and I look back on it fondly. They've since filed for bankruptcy, but Saskatchewan remains a viable market and is currently the only place in Canada where you can dine at one.
So excuse me while I get dressed in my finest paisley garb and head out for an evening of fine dining making out like a swine at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
EDIT: I would like to add a sixth point that I discovered just this afternoon. The Province of Saskatchewan provides FREE wireless internet across the business districts of Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw. Progressive.
*Try making fun of Toronto. You will hurt their feelings.