Basecamp Edmonton

Welcome to the continent of chain stores, heavy trucks and endless raffles! Welcome to North America, more precisely the city of Edmonton (population 782439), capital of Alberta.

Information from YellowPages.ca:

Starbucks in Edmonton = 44
Second Cup in Edmonton = 41
Tim Hortons in Edmonton = 45

Not many people can boast that their first overseas adventure began in Edmonton. I dare say, not many tourists can boast to have visited this city, as it is not a major tourist attraction and is overshadowed by cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and even Calgary. Though I shouldn’t mention Calgary in a blog about Edmonton, seeing as they are ardent rivals.

My plan is to stay in Edmonton for an entire month, while getting to know the life in Edmonton, something which has proven a bit difficult since I don’t have a driver’s license and buses seem a rarity here. Though having a city population of near to 800000, and an area population of 1.15 million, it seems that the system of public transport is far from thoroughly developed. This is surely due to the widespread practice of owning one or more cars, or perhaps the amount of cars is a consequence of the lack of sufficient public transportation. Nonetheless, there are only a few buses and a swarm of trucks, some of them the size of buses.

The trucks look like dogs, and to me they would seem grotesque in any city centre. However, as Edmonton is a city with such open space and far distances they become less obvious in the city scenery. In Europe the owner of such trucks are frowned upon, and it is the fashion to think environment and economy when choosing what often becomes a small hybrid European or Japanese car. But this fashion has yet not reached Edmonton to any great extend, highly likely because of the long distances, lack of public transport and cold winters. But enough about my fascination with the ‘dog-trucks’.

As mentioned Edmonton spreads out on a large area covering more land than New York, or so I have been told. In the middle of the city lies a large valley of green which separates the new and ‘old’ city centres. This valley is apparently 22 times larger than Central Park, NY and is dominated by the North Saskatchewan River over which runs old rustic metal bridges for the use of crossing from one city part to the other. In this way, though Edmonton holds some long distances, it also has a welcoming green feel to it.

My neighbourhood

I am visiting my boyfriend who is currently residing on the border to the more dodgy end of Edmonton at the Avenue of Nations. Though dodgy, this place however has its charm and I am happy to get the chance of experiencing it up close. It is a neighbourhood that according to several posters around does not tolerate prostitution and encourage people to report-a-John (John being the nickname of a pimp). It is moreover a neighbourhood of many different nationalities hence the name of the central street. Around the corner from where I live lies the Hellenic Cultural Centre, A Chinese Memorial, a local mosque and across from the apartment lies Olson’s Curling and a pawnshop. This is all mingled in with the local Starbucks, Second Cup, 7-Eleven, Blockbuster and so forth – only lacking a Tim Hortons to be complete. It is not pretty, but it has a certain feeling to it of a neighbourhood that encompasses everything, – excluding the John who has to work in secret of the haunting posters.

In the local supermarket, at the customer service; three raffles are going on. According to the man behind the desk these are hugely popular. I even encountered one sneaky customer who, knowing that the raffle for the stove was on its last day, bought a ticket and with all his hand in the raffle box tried to place his ticket somewhere in the middle, so it would be well placed. Sneaky he thought – until I mentioned the possibility that they might shake the box before finding the winner.

I am really looking forward to becoming better acquainted with both the city and the neighbourhood this following month.

Zofka

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