This is a travel blog. But, I haven’t been posting a lot to do with travel. Hmm…
So, as a way to “get my feet wet” I thought today’s post could be a bit different. It’s a dreary, rainy day today in Edmonton, so I’m currently sitting in bed researching Europe cell phone plans, hostels, packing lists etc. Yawn. Boring. Lame.
As I read other stories of travel, I find myself getting excited, wishing that I was there right now looking at the ocean from a seaside restaurant in Spain, or drinking Guinness at a pub in Ireland. Then, I realized, I have some travel stories of my own I can share!
I’ve lived in Edmonton, Alberta for 2 years, and I’ve done a fair amount of traveling around this province and B.C. next door.
So, I am going to write a short post for all of you aspiring travelers on your way to Alberta.
Many people will tell you that Edmonton is “ugly” and not worth visiting. Well, I’m here to tell you those people are wrong; very wrong. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend it in the winter. If you’re this far west in the winter, you’re best to head straight for the mountains (Jasper, Banff, Panorama, Golden etc), or Calgary because they have chinook winds.
But, if you come to Edmonton during the summer months (late June – early September) you will see how beautiful the city is. The river valley is especially gorgeous when the trees are in full-bloom!
My favourite places in Edmonton:
Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona. This is the “hip” part of town with great boutique shopping, unique restaurants and plenty to see. On a Saturday you can head to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. If you’re lucky, you may stumble onto Whyte Ave during an Art Walk or the International Fringe Theatre Festival. There is always something to do around Whyte Ave, and the University is close too! The campus is beautiful, and you’re only a short-walk from the River Valley!
If you do make it to Whyte Ave you should definitely head to Sugarbowl. It is my most favourite restaurant in Edmonton! It’s menu is 95% beer (yay!) but they also have delicious food! There before 3pm? Try their Eggs Benedict (sub for spinach if you’re a veg head like me). After 3pm? Try their popcorn. Yepp, you have to order the popcorn! You won’t be disappointed!
Also, if you’re in town on a Sunday head to the Parliament Grounds. They’re gorgeous in the summer, and filled with tons of people hoola-hooping, tight-rope walking, playing frizbee and playing music.
Although I live in Edmonton, Calgary is still one of my most favourite cities to visit! It’s famous for the Stampede, but I wouldn’t recommend going during this time. The city becomes insanely busy, and the actual events are over-priced! If you head to Ponoka, Alberta the week before you can go to a smaller, and much more fun, stampede!
If you’re a vegetarian, make sure to head to 17th Ave (Uptown 17th) for some great shops andthe best vegetarian restaurant in Alberta.
I recommend eating everything on the menu, but if you don’t have the money (or the stomach) to do that, then I recommend that you go with a few friends and split a few items on the menu.
- Falafel Quesadillas
- Tempeh Shawarma
- Upstream Burger
- Greek Goddess
Also, don’t be cheap: buy their cookbook. You won’t regret it!
Okay, I’m done raving about how delicious The Coup is. Seriously. Done.
Other places in Calgary: Stephen Ave (8th Avenue) is an artsy area, and if it’s nice they usually have street vendors and buskers.
Banff is worth seeing if you’ve never been to the mountains, and you have to go through it (around it if you must) to see anything else in the Rockies. First of all, it’s a tourist trap to the max! But, there are some beautiful sights (if you’re thinking of the Gondola, head to Jasper instead, theirs was higher!), and I always get a cookie from Evelyn’s Coffee Bar (Yogurt Chocolate Chip = YUMMY!).
I’ve stayed in a few hotels while I was in Banff, but the best experience I had was at the HI-Banff Alpine Centre. The staff is really friendly, the rates are affordable and it’s very clean.
Now, if you’re a vegetarian, you probably looked up vegetarian restaurants in Banff. Nourish Bistro is hidden in the second floor of Sundance Mall (there is a chocolate factory place at the entrance). It took us a few times to actually find it. Is it worth it? If you’re a vegan, be very careful. They have put dairy in our food twice during our visits (with my vegan friend). But, their Nachos (pickles, strawberries, blueberries and beans just to name a few of the 18+ ingredients) are to die for. Avoid the Falafel platter but definitely try their King Kong Noodles.
I’ve done the drive between Jasper and Banff more times than I care to count. There is plenty to see: wildlife, road-side waterfalls, and plenty of 1-2 hour hikes if you have the time.
Just a few pictures of what the drive in-between looks like:
My Dad and I traveled to Jasper a few times when I was younger, and as I got older I always thought of Jasper as the best place in the mountains. Honestly, the actual town is nothing exciting. But, there is more wildlife around Jasper, and better scenery if you know where to look. Horseshoe lake (pictured above) is less than a half-hour drive from Jasper, and was totally worth the side trip.
The Miette Hotsprings are nice as well. The road leading to the springs is what really makes the trip, (hope you’re not afraid of heights)!
I personally loved the Tramway, and want to travel up one more time before I leave this province for good.
For all of you Dino Freaks out there (like me!) I am going to give you a tiny taste of the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Well, I hope that wasn’t too over-whelming for you! This post took me over 2 hours to complete! Oh dear, I have to get ready for work! Happy travels everyone!