Published: October 31st 2012October 31st 2012
After a wonderful trip of the east, we finally flew to my sister & brother-in-law’s home-base – Edmonton. Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta
. Albertans like to claim that they have the best of everything the country has to offer. From the finest beef to the best national parks, the most beautiful towns to the oldest First Nation tribes, the largest malls to the prettiest lakes, Alberta has it all.
Edmonton is a huge city, home to 1.1 million people and is the northernmost city in North America of at least one million people. Edmonton is famous for its beautiful river valley park system, the North Saskatchewan River Valley, which offers many kilometers of recreational trails, wildlife viewing, and city views. If the great outdoors is not your target, the city also offers West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. On top of that, Edmonton has a vibrant theatre community, a busy cycle of annual festivals, national sports team’s active year-round, and wonderful winter recreational opportunities.
We were directly taken from the airport to my cousin’s house for one activity that everybody living in Canada has to do in summers – Patio Barbeque. Kamal &
Malvika welcomed us with some Glenfiddich on the rocks & delicious Grilled Salmon. They don’t call this city – The Festival City of Canada for nothing. Their claims of not even a single day of the year going without some or the other festival in the city is not wrong. The next few days went acclimatizing & exploring this culturally rich city, via the means of majorly walking, and their efficient public transit. A large part of the city, built before and during the Second World War, is laid out in a grid pattern of straight streets, which make for easy navigation…a.k.a our very own City Beautiful. The walking part didn’t go too well with Deenaz & Mummy, but then the sights & sojourns of the eclectic downtown & beautiful river valley aptly made up for it.
The city’s primary claim to fame has to be West Edmonton Mall, considered to be the world’s largest retail space before a rival in the Emirates rudely dethroned it from its numero uno position. Housing more than 800 retail brands, 100 restaurants, 9 theme parks, a built-in hotel, an amusement park, an artificial beach and indoor wave pool, casino, movie theatres, indoor
lake and Santa Maria ship replica, all under one roof, the sheer size & dimension of the mall are gargantuan. Among all the sight-seeing, I also got the opportunity to meet another old classmate – Tony in Edmonton. We had a great BBQ evening with Tony & Priti.
Edmonton's summer brings many festivals, as much that one can expect to find some kind of festival any weekend during the summer months and they are usually located in the central region either around Whyte Ave or downtown at the Legislature grounds or in front of City Hall – Sir Winston Churchill Square. Within a couple of days, these locations became our favourite hang-outs. Churchill Square is always packed with activities – Food streets, Works & Design Festival, Dance Festivals, Live Jazz performances, you can just pick up a home-brewed Beer & enjoy the feel of this lively city.
Edmonton also boasts of one of the largest & most beautiful River Valley park systems - The North Saskatchewan, providing a natural corridor for all-season recreation and relaxation. The river valley is the longest expanse of urban parkland in North America – 22 times the size of New York’s Central
Park – with golf courses, 22 major parks and over 160 kilometers of maintained multi-use trails for walking, cross-country skiing, cycling, and more. Several attractions are located along the river valley including Fort Edmonton Park, the Valley Zoo, and the Muttart Conservatory. The ‘Pets in the Park’ event at one of the most popular parks in the city - Hawrelak Park, was a unique experience with numerous varieties & types of pets & their activities. Edmonton has excellent cycling routes which allow for all-year cycling. So, Deenaz & I joined the local community’s favourite mode of travel – with couple of borrowed bicycles, to explore the city in a totally different manner.