Four hours north of Calgary is the capital of Alberta, Edmonton. In the oil and gas province, big trucks are everywhere, so much so that it dominates most lyrics of the country music. Aside from pick up truck watching, I wasnt sure what to expect from this city. Shantelle and I arrived by bus and were greeted by Shantelle’s friends, Kevin and Kelly. The city is split by the North Saskatchewan river, and whilst the downtown was in the north, my hostel across the High Level bridge. As we drove across the bridge, an amazing panorama of the city across the river opened up. It was an impressive first impression. I was staying on Whyte Ave and despite it being late, the street was alive with activity. Lights, fancy cars and street musicians mixed with the heat of the day gave the impression of an exotic happening city. We had a late night bite to eat in a gorgeous cafe and even as we were ending our day, it was clear for many that the night was just beginning.
In the morning the same street was alive but with a different crowd. Saturdays were for farmers markets. Quaint bakeries and book shops intermingled with fresh produce. Edmonton’s nickname is city of festivals and after a long, cold winter, it is clear that any reason is enough to celebrate. First, a parade of twins closed down the street, led by police escort for “Twin fest.” Their banners sported slogans such as “Twins Rock!” On the next street over it was street performer festival and magicians tried their luck to wow big audiences who surrounded them.
Edmonton’s other claim to fame is North America’s biggest mall, the mall with a never ending imagination. We entered through a theme park of rollercoasters, waltzers and candy floss. Next we were thrown into an endless shoppers heaven, interspersed with a Sealion sanctuary, waterpark and food court with enough choice to satisfy every tastebud. There was the European quarter of Victorian shopfronts, gold staircases and endless quirks.
With only 24 hours in the city it had been a little excursion ahead of my first train journey onwards to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Luckily Canada’s railways are notoriously delayed and after checking in at the station, I was free to spend the evening with new friends, eating Turkish food and playing board games until late into the night.