Posts filed under ‘Edmonton’

Photo Post: Edmonton


One of the few splashes of colour on a grey day in downtown Edmonton — First Presbyterian Church


Just a visual example of why I didn’t care so much for downtown Edmonton…


The Alberta Legislature was easily the most handsome building in Edmonton. Many thanks for the folks at the visitor centre for telling me to go!


And if “The Leg” was the most handsome building, then the Art Gallery was the most interesting!


Example #2 of why I found Edmonton unattractive: the downtown library


And of course the railway hotels never disappoint. Edmonton’s is the Hotel MacDonald, which is now run by Fairmont.

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July 3, 2010 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

Alberta Disappointments

Well, I knew that my entire trip wouldn’t be perfect. I knew that I would run into bad weather some days, and I knew that some places wouldn’t live up to my expectations. However, I wasn’t expecting Alberta to be the first big downer—I had pegged the prairies for that.

In Alberta’s defense, it wasn’t all Alberta’s fault. The southern part of the province has been getting unseasonably high rainfalls this spring. When I got to Calgary, it had apparently already been raining for about a week. Everyone was sick of it, not just me. So I did my best. I went ahead with my plan to explore the Rockies on Wednesday, despite the bad weather. I put on a smile and a sweatshirt, and tucked an umbrella into my bag. I brought a plastic bag and a towel to keep my camera dry. I was determined to have a good time.

I did not anticipate that I would not actually be able to see the mountains, due to fog. Rainy, sticky, wet, grey fog.

So I tried to shoot artsy, mysterious photos with the fog, and I bought postcards featuring what the mountains looked like on sunny days with blue skies. I found a coffee shop in Canmore that brewed Illy coffee, my absolute favourite espresso, and sipped out of giant ceramic mug while I wrote in my travel journal. A cheery woman in a souvenir shop gave me a sample of her fudge, and then I bought some for Erin & Kyle, my Calgary hosts. I followed a twisty mountain road up to the park where the cross-country skiing events were held during the 1988 Calgary Olympics. It was a decent day.

Then I got to Banff, which was more touristy and commercialized than I had anticipated. I wandered Main Street for a bit, but the Lululemon and the designer shops caught me off-guard. The light, misty rain turned into a steady shower. A friend of mine had recommended Evelyn’s Coffee in Banff, so I found one of the shops on Main and tried to enjoy a latte while I wrote, but a sour young British couple sitting at the counter next to me kept complaining about the friendly Australian girl working the counter. I waited for the rain to stop, but it didn’t, and I waited for my disappointment to fade, but it didn’t. I went back to my car and checked my GPS. Lake Louise was an hour away, and then it would be two hours back to Calgary. I sighed, erased Lake Louise from my GPS, and set it to take me back to Erin’s in Calgary. Lake Louise would have to wait for another trip. I didn’t want to ruin my experience of it with dismal weather.

And it rained all the way back to Calgary.

On Thursday, I got up early and left for Edmonton at the same time that Erin & Kyle left for work. Well, I left for Edmonton via a stop at Second Cup. The Second Cup that I picked on my GPS just happened to be near the Stampede Grounds, and I drove right by the Saddledome on Thursday morning.

Hello, bright spot. For those readers that aren’t part of my skating family, here’s a brief explanation: I love figure skating. I currently work in skating media as a photographer and writer, but I loved skating for a long time before I got involved with it. Although my first concrete memories of falling in love with skating are tied to the 1992 Olympics, I like to think that I vaguely remember watching some of the skating during the ’88 Olympics with my mom. The figure skating at the ’88 Olympics was in the Saddledome. In 2000, one of my favourite pair teams won their first national title in the Saddledome. That same year, my two favourite dance teams both qualified for their first World Championships in the Saddledome. And in 2006, one of those favourite dance teams stood on the World podium in the Saddledome. It’s been a good rink to me, and I’ve never been inside it, but just driving by it cheered me up considerably.

So I turned north from Calgary, stopped in Red Deer for a visit to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and pressed on toward Edmonton. Sometime between Red Deer and Edmonton, the rain stopped. I spotted a bright section of the clouds…could it have been the sun? The people in the tourist information hut just south of Edmonton were friendly and funny. They gave me some tips on where to go in the city for scenic photos, and I was excited about Alberta again. That is, until I actually got downtown.

I expected another city like Calgary. I wanted to feel at home again, but Edmonton seems to be a much younger city. The Legislature building is stately and historic, but it’s separate from the rest of the downtown core. Downtown, I was disappointed by the drab beige colour and awkward 1960’s architecture. I guess Edmonton, although it’s the capital, really started growing a lot more recently than Calgary, so it doesn’t have the same grand feeling. It felt faded and dated, more like shag carpeting than Van Der Rohe sleek or Victorian charm.

I stayed near the West Edmonton Mall, so I went to the mall in the evening, expecting to be wowed, but I felt let down again. The mall was big, clearly, since it is the largest in the world, but it didn’t feel as large as the Mall of America in Minneapolis, and it wasn’t nearly as busy, even for a weeknight. Since the amusement park and the water park are in their own wings, separate from the shopping corridors, it didn’t have the same hysteric quality as Mall of America, with Camp Snoopy in a central four-story atrium.

Overall, I realize that I probably need to give Alberta another chance, hopefully with better weather involved, but I think I’d rather spend more time in Calgary and the mountains than in Edmonton. We’ll see, though—both cities have skating history, so I expect to have reasons to visit both places again in the future.

June 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.

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