Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why are you going to Edmonton?

I spent the last 4 days in a little place called Edmonton.
It's actually the capital of Alberta, the province (like state) next to British Columbia (the province where Vancouver is). It took about 1.5 hrs to fly from Vancouver. It is north and east (which in Australia would take you warmer and actually into the ocean... but here it takes you inland and much colder.

I'm not really sure why I decided to go to Edmonton, it's not a very popular tourist destination for Aussies & most people I talked about it to were dubious about anything interesting actually being there.

But I loved it!

Edmonton has a lot of character. I was staying right near Whyte Ave, which is a street of historical and cultural significance. there are some historical buildings there, and also lots of cute shops! They were like Newtown type shops - interesting and cute things - shoes, vintage clothes, quirky nik naks and such. It was really nice to wander along!

Day 1 actually tricked me. I think the weather was about 2 degrees, so 2 shirt layers, a jacket, snow boots and a beanie and I was sweating! It was quite pleasant.

Day 2... was the coldest day of my life.
I dressed the same as the day before except for snow boots, because my feet got so hot the day before. The hostel was recarpeting, so once I left at 10am, I wasn't allowed back in my room till 6pm.
I have never experienced cold that cold. It was only minus 6... but the wind was horrible. According to the website the wind chill made it minus 19ish.
I wasn't actually outside for more than 10 minutes at a time, just enough time to wait for a bus or walk to the next place, but even in that time my clothes turned to ice, my legs & face began to sting and it was tricky to find the air that you breathe. It took about 2 hours to thaw. ha. oh dear. Needless to say, I took extra extra layers with me the next day and wore my snow boots :-)

Apart from the ridiculous cold I actually had a really good day! I was planning on doing the Science museum and art gallery, but I accidentally spent 6 hours at the Science museum and was there until closing.
The Science museum was really interesting! (obviously)
I wish they had science museums this good in Newcastle! Everything was interactive and broke complex things down really well for kids! The best bit of the museum is the Margaret Zielder dome. It's like one of those sky domes you lay under at the observatory and look at the stars...but ALOT bigger and digital and in colour! I think there was about 300 reclining, swivelling chairs under the dome. I watched two exhibitions in there - it was sort of like watching a movie in reverse-3D - with depth instead of coming-towards you 3D. Amazing! I could talk about it for ages, but I won't bore you.
There was also a Titanic Exhibition on display at the moment. At the start you get a boarding pass with the story of one of the passengers who was actually on the Titanic. My passenger was originally booked on the Olympic, but got nervous about it needing to go in for repairs so swapped to the Titanic.
It was so interesting to see artefacts from the ship and listen to eye-witness accounts (recorded I mean). It was a sort of unnerving experience to "travel" through the designing and construction and looking at the decadence of things created for the ship, when you already know how the story is going to end.
At the end of the exhibition is a list of names of people who survived and people who didn't. I nearly cried when I found the name on my boarding pass on the survivors list. I think it's easy to forget the personal aspect of things that have happened in history. hmm

Day 3
I went to West Edmonton Mall. It used to be the biggest mall in the world. I don't think it is anymore, but it's still pretty big... there is a water park, a theme park, ice skating rink, bowling, seal shows, an aquarium and putt putt golf within the centre.
I went on a rollercoaster, mostly just so I could say "I went on a rollercoaster in a shopping centre". It was a weird sort of one, the cart spins as you're going round the track, so sometimes you go down the hills backwards or sideways. ha funny.

Day 4 - the day of fun!
Well the day of fun started with getting a cute new camera, because it seems my other one didn't like the cold of Tuesday (neither did I actually). Then I went to the Art Gallery (which I could take a picture of because I had a camera... See!)

After a bit of looking, I walked to the Legislative Building on the other side of town. I got to do the free guided tour, which was actually really interesting (I do realise that I am a nerd), the guide took us to the 'magic spot' where the fountain, 5 levels below, sounds like it is pouring on your head, weird accoustic trick. She also showed us the first mace, which was made in a hurry (it seems it was a bit of an afterthought) from some plumbing pipe, bedknobs and a toilet float and painted gold. It was meant to be an interim mace, but they ended up using it for 50 years! haha funny Canadians.
Random fact: women weren't considered people in Canada until 1929, that's crazy!

Our tour ended abruptly when a Chinese gong sounded and some dragons started dancing. I stayed for the ceremony (I'm not sure if I was allowed to... but I did, mostly because there were Nanaimo Bars - not that I actually got to have one). It seems they were celebrating a 30 sister-city relationship with a province in China.
After the ceremony we all went outside and they lit up the ice sculptures with coloured lights. The sculptures were amazing! The opening of the Ice on Whyte was meant to happen simultaneously, but unfortunately alot of the sculptures there had melted because of the hot weather... I think it may have reached 2 degrees. So some other artists were going to be sculpting new sculptures ready to open today.
Anyway back at the Legislature they had free Chinese art workshops! So fun! I learnt a few new skills, drank some hot chocolate and was an extra in the CTV news report on the Ice Festival! Such a fun vibe!

After the art lessons I headed back to Whyte Ave on a free, newly refurbished, 1912s streetcar, with a live saxophonist! The streetcar usually only runs in summer, but the government put it on especially for the festival! So cool!

So all in all Edmonton was definitely worth the visit! I had so much fun! (And I'm very glad they were having unseasonably warm weather... I'm told it often gets to minus 40 there in winter...eek!)

Now I am in Toronto, which I will tell you all about next week! ha! It's funny being 15 minutes up the road from home, but not.


  1. Kaye! I just realised I have been a total lurker on all of your posts. Just thought I would let you know that I am reading along, enjoying your adventures, and missing you. So glad you are there though x

  2. Hey Kaye!!! Finally got to drop you a line!!! Edmonton sounded amazing~~!!!! Everytime I think of you in Edmonton it feels like it was named after 'Edmond' in Narnia and I expect to hear of you eating 'turkish delight' and meeting a white witch hahaha.
    But that aside, I just want to say that Annaleise reckons you stayed at the Chinese festival (with the gong) honour of 'HER' so she takes full credit for your visit and joy there (despite me explaining to her that she is only a 'quarter asian' otherwise known as a Quaision, and that your arent actually blood related, which she profusely disagreed with - so I will let you nut that out with her next time we skype.
    Oh how we miss you!!
    Please let us know when you will skype next, and no more tears til we can 'air hug' you over the internet, ok?
    xoxox MWA MWA MWA, and hope to chat soon xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxooxoxooxoxoxooxoxoxox