It is my last day in Edmonton before I head out on a one month trip from Vancouver, cross the US, to Toronto. But before I leave the capital of Alberta, I will write one last blog about some of the many things that Edmonton has to offer.
Edmonton is not a beautiful city. It is way too spread out and unless you have a car, living here would be a hell. However, in between the more or less disastrous skyscrapers and thousands of dog-trucks, Edmonton has a certain charm. Most of this comes from the people living here. As I have said before, people in Edmonton, Alberta and Canada seem so welcoming, chit-chatting and easy-going. Half the experience of Canada, I would argue would be in meeting the hospitality of the Canadians.
But there are other things that make Edmonton worth a visit.
Every Saturday in Old Strathcona, near Whyte Avenue, Edmontonians gather at the Farmer’s Market. Now I have been to many markets around Europe and enjoyed the good food and specialities from France to Turkey, and from Sweden to Spain. I have also grown up as most Europeans knowing that I should stay clear of American produced food since you never know what pesticides, genetic manipulations and flying saucers have been involved in their production. Therefore, I was very (emphasising very) pleasantly surprised by the Farmer’s Market in Old Strathcona. Not only is the Market full of shopping Edmontonians in all ages, sizes and colours. It is also a central hub for some of the most amazing things that the surrounding Alberta and BC can provide. Here are tasty cherries, blood red tomatoes, home-made cakes and salsas. There are pottery, patchworks, sugary popcorn and several variations of honey. There are tastings and good humour, and all the products are organic and grown and produced with love. – My favourite stand was the Lebanese The Happy Camel where we bought some great salsa’s and cream cheeses for our lunch.
This Saturday, while shopping around Farmer’s Market a major festival was happening all over Edmonton. The city is known throughout Canada for its multitude of festivals and events, and this week it happened to be a festival celebrating street art and street performance. Hundreds of local artists were showing off their paintings on Whyte Avenue, cascading a huge variety of semi-professional artwork.
Another festival running its curse in July is Taste of Edmonton down at Churchill Square where local restaurants and food vendors make little tastes for the public. The 27 year old tasting tradition is hugely popular and filled with live music and lots and lots of different food.
Close to Churchill Square and the 50 or so food vendors is the bus stop for the Historical Tours of Old Edmonton. Though the city doesn’t have much history to boast with and the tour quickly becomes directed at Edmontians with information such as: ‘at the 9th hole of the golf course to your left you can see the remnants of an old brickyard’ it is still an excellent way to get to know the city. The old 1950th bus adds to the attraction of the tours.
West Edmonton Mall
An endless haze of shops and build in attractions, West Edmonton Mall was for almost two decades until 2004 known as the worlds largest enclosed shopping mall. With 570.000 m2 and more than 800 shops the mall can still boast to be the biggest in North America and the fifth largest in the world. Except from the endless shops, the mall also houses an amusement, a waterpark, a large cinema and a year-round ice rink.
It is consumer heaven. It is far from charming and to a large extent disturbing. However, due to its enormity it is worth a visit.
But what has left the biggest impression on me during my time in Edmonton? Rainbows
Never in my life have I seen such beautiful rainbows as in Edmonton, Alberta. Though the province is named Wild Rose Country, I would argue that at least the capital should be known as Rainbow Edmonton. Often rain-clouds encircle the city while the surrounding area is still clear. This means that one of natures most stunning phenomenons, rainbows, show up on the sky. And not just any rainbow, but complete and strongly visible rainbows which seem to encapsulate the entire Downtown.
Good-bye for now Edmonton. I hope to enjoy your hospitality again some day!