Nice (but very cold) Edmonton

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December 19th 2005
Published: December 19th 2005
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Finally I have started my 2-week North American trip. The first stop of my trip is Edmonton, the provincial capital of Alberta. On Friday, I reached the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver and I exchanged the proof of purchase of the Greyhound Discovery Pass for the actual pass. With this Greyhound pass, I can take an unlimited number of bus rides within Westcoast America within 21 days. The journey didn't start as smooth as I expected. Firstly, the Greyhound bus from Vancouver to Edmonton was late... Very late in fact... This was because there was too much people going to board the bus, so Greyhound decided to split the passengers into 2 buses - one bus would be stopping between Vancouver and Kamloops, and the other bus would be stopping between Kamloops and Edmonton. The arrangement took a long time, as there was some confusion among the passengers and among the Greyhound staffs and drivers. In the end the bus I was taking left Vancouver more than one hour late...

When the bus reached Kamloops (a small city in interior British Columbia), the bus needed to go for servicing, so all of us was told to alight and have our supper break... Along a long wait, the bus left Kamloops and headed towards Edmonton. The bus ride was very very long. Despite of the long time spent on the bus, I didn't manage to get a good sleep, as the bus made a rest stop every 2 to 3 hours and I could only sleep uninterrupted for a maximum of 3 hours. Nevertheless, while I was awake, I stared out of the window and admired the beautiful scenaries of the Canadian Rocky Mountains... (It was a full moon on that night, and there was a lot of snow on the mountain, so I could see the mountains clearly.)

The bus reached Jasper (a small town in Alberta) the next morning and there was a delay because there was a change of drivers. 3 hours later, the bus reached Edson (a small town in Alberta) for a breakfast stop. The driver told everyone to get back to the bus 15 minutes later, but in the end the breakfast stop took more than 30 minutes... (There were 2 other Greyhound buses at the stop, so the queue for the cafe counter and the queue for the washrooms were long...) From Edson to Edmonton, the bus made several stops, because some passengers were alighting and the driver needed to deposit and collect parcels (for Greyhound's courier service)... Everytime the bus made a stop, moans and grumbling could be heard from some passengers, because the bus was already behind schedule. By the time we reached Edmonton, the bus was already more than 1 hour later than the scheduled arrival time...

Once the bus reached Edmonton, I immediately went to Downtown to explore (while dragging my luggage with me)... I went to Churchill Square, a downtown square surrounded by municipal and commercial buildings. The most striking building around the square is the modern Edmonton City Hall, with its giant glass pyramid and a tall bell tower. I arrived at the square just in time to hear the bell tower play a charming melody at 1pm sharp. Other interesting buildings around the square includes Edmonton Art Gallery, Winspear Centre for Music and Milner Library. Later, I walked around Downtown Edmonton and I saw the Chinatown Gate, Shaw Conference Centre, and Fairmont MacDonalds Hotel.

One thing I noticed when I reached Edmonton was that, despite the cloudless sky and bright sunlight, I felt very very cold. Before I left Vancouver, I checked the weather forecast and the temperature was estimated to be around -10ºC. To prepare for such coldness, I wore 5 layers of clothings (1 singlet, 1 long-sleeve thermal shirt, 1 woolen sweater, 1 jacket and 1 coat), 2 layers of pants (1 pair of cotton pants and 1 pair of jeans), a tuque (a woolen cap) and a pair of thick cotton gloves... When I first walked out of Edmonton Greyhound Depot, I was feeling fine... But after I explored Churchill Square, I was feeling cold. My face felt frozen and my nose became very runny... After I walked around Downtown for a while, my whole face and neck were numb, and so were my hands (even though I wore gloves)... This is my first time experiencing such cold temperatures. (I spent most of my life in Singapore where the temperature is constantly around 25 to 30ºC, and in Hong Kong where the temperature rarely drops below 10ºC.) Originally I still wanted to see the Alberta Legislative Building, but since I felt so cold, I decided to head straight to the hostel. I took bus 9 to Old Strathcona (a historical district where the hostel was located) and entered the hostel at around 2:30pm. During checking in, I was surprised when I was told that I had to pay, even though I used my mum's credit card to reserve a bed. The staff explained that the credit card was only used to hold a reservation and nothing was deducted from the card. When reserving a bed online 2 weeks ago, I thought I had already paid for the bed... (For hostels in Europe, I paid everything during the online reservation.) In the end, I had to pay the fee by cash... (I didn't bring much cash in the first place... Because of the unexpected payment, I had nothing to spend on shopping in Edmonton.) I was again surprised, when I was told that the hostel did not offer breakfast... (In all the hostels that I have visited in Europe, every single one offered breakfasts.) Fortunately, I brought my own supply of cornflakes, so at least I have something to eat for breakfast.

After putting down my luggage, I decided to visit the Alberta Legislative Building. However, when I walked out of the hostel, the sky was getting dark (even though it's only 4pm)... Hence I changed my mind and decided to visit West Edmonton Mall instead. (A shopping mall would be a good place to visit after dark.) When I arrived at the mall, I was speechless. Known as the "Biggest shopping mall cum entertainment complex in the world" (the official slogan is "The greatest indoor show on earth"), West Edmonton Mall is simply "xxxxx". (I cannot find an adjective to describe the massive scale of the mall and the astonishing amount of stuffs available in the mall.) Where in the world can you find an indoor amusement park with roller-coasters and various rides, a wave pool with tall water-slides and bungee jumping, free sealion shows, underwater submarines, a giant replica of Columbus' ship "Santa Maria", indoor golf courses, an ice-skating rink, a casino, a chapel, fabulous European fountains, colourful neon signboards, habitats for flamingoes, penguins and other exotic animals, cineplexes with more than 20 screens, and more than 800 shops and services, all under one roof?????? Despite the gigantic size, the mall is clearly organized. The mall is divided into several areas with different colour codes, and there are several areas with a theme, such as Europa Street, Chinatown, and Bourbon Street. A picture tells a thousand words, and I will let my photos do the talking... (If not, I could spend hours and hours just talking about the mall. Haha.)

After visiting the mall, I went to Downtown again, this time to see the christmas decorations. Churchill Square was beautifully illuminated at night with many light displays. However, despite the beautiful lights, the whole downtown was almost empty... (Maybe people found the place too cold, or everyone had flocked to West Edmonton Mall.) In fact, Downtown Edmonton was so empty at night that I would use the word "eerie" to describe the place. (The freezing cold made the atmosphere more desolate.) Later at night, I made a visit to Alberta Legislative Building. Although the building itself was officially closed to public at night, the interpretation centre, the gift shop and an underground corridor linking the legislative building and the interpretation centre were still open. There were many interesting displays along the underground corridor and the displays showed the history and facts about the legislative building, the city and the province. To make the atmosphere more lively, there was a display of gingerbread houses created by school-children. Some of
A sculpture at Churchill SquareA sculpture at Churchill SquareA sculpture at Churchill Square

The title of this sculpture is "Lunchbreak".
the gingerbread houses were really creative, and some were really cute... Some were so opulently decorated with sweets and candies that I felt hungry just by looking at them.

I returned to the hostel at 9pm and I took a good sleep after a shower. On the next day, I woke up at 8am and the sky was still dark. By the time I dressed myself up, had my breakfast, and walked out of the hostel at 9am, the sun began to rise... (This was the latest sunrise that I have ever experienced.) While the sun was rising, I took a walk around Old Strathcona. Once a city independent of Edmonton, Old Strathcona is now a historic district with many well-preserved original buildings. Whyte Avenue, the main street running through Old Strathcona, is lined with historic buildings, specialty shops, cafes and boutiques. I walked past the Strathcona Farmer's Market, but unfortunately it was not open. (It's only open once a week, on Saturdays from 8am to 3pm.)

I returned to the hostel, packed my luggage, and checked out. Dragging my luggage, I decided to walk from the hostel to the Greyhound depot, since I wanted to save money
Churchill StatueChurchill StatueChurchill Statue

Churchill Square would not be complete without the statue of Churchill himself!
(and to get a chance to exercise). I stopped at the Alberta Legislative Building again to admire the grand architecture and to take some photos. From the legislative building, I took a walk along the Heritage Trail, a designated walking trail that leads walkers along the historic route from Old Town to the former site of Fort Edmonton. Along the way, I saw some historic buildings, such as the McKay Avenue School, the first public school in Edmonton. I arrived at the Greyhound depot just in time to catch the 12pm Greyhound express bus to Calgary.

Right now, I'm typing this blog in my hostel in Calgary. (HI-Calgary has free wireless internet access! Yay!) Tomorrow I will explore Calgary, and I will update my blog if I can find time... (However, I guess I won't have much time tomorrow, as tomorrow night I would be flying from Calgary to Las Vegas... I'm so excited...)

Additional photos below
Photos: 68, Displayed: 28


Chinatown GateChinatown Gate
Chinatown Gate

A gift from Edmonton's Chinese sister city, Harbin.
View of North Saskatchenwan RiverView of North Saskatchenwan River
View of North Saskatchenwan River

The weather was so cold that the river froze up. The sloping roof of Shaw Conference Centre is visible on the left.
Fairmont Hotel MacdonaldFairmont Hotel Macdonald
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

Completed in 1915 by the Grand Trunk Railway, this hotel is the ritziest place to stay in Edmonton.
West Edmonton MallWest Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall

Ice-skating rink (There was an ice-skating show at that time.)
West Edmonton Mall 2West Edmonton Mall 2
West Edmonton Mall 2

Christmas tree in the middle of a fountain
West Edmonton Mall 3West Edmonton Mall 3
West Edmonton Mall 3

Ferris wheel in W.E.M.'s Galaxyland Amusement Park
West Edmonton Mall 4West Edmonton Mall 4
West Edmonton Mall 4

Haunted house in W.E.M.'s Galaxyland Amusement Park
West Edmonton Mall 5West Edmonton Mall 5
West Edmonton Mall 5

A warning sign besides the Haunted house
West Edmonton Mall 6West Edmonton Mall 6
West Edmonton Mall 6

Roller coasters and rides in W.E.M.'s Galaxyland Amusement Park
West Edmonton Mall 7West Edmonton Mall 7
West Edmonton Mall 7

Mindbender roller-coaster - the most exciting ride in W.E.M.'s Galaxyland Amusement Park
West Edmonton Mall 8West Edmonton Mall 8
West Edmonton Mall 8

A dinosaur "museum"

19th December 2005

so nice
thank u the city is so nice inthe night I really loved this pictur by
10th June 2006

Reading and viewing your pics I found very fun! My daughter is full of pics of her travels and I love it. I made a bus trip from Ontario to Sask. so I can relate to the lack of sleep but nice views!! Keep having fun touring! Great site!! Jan
26th June 2006

My wife and I are planning to migrate to Canada and hopefully live near to Edmonton and after reading and viewing your journey to Edmonton has inspired us.WOW!!!!! What a place to be!!! Hope you enjoy the rest of your tour..... Chris
9th July 2006

Hi! I have lived in Edmonton for 6 years and I loved seeing it through your eyes, much more fresh and new than mine! good luck on your travels.
1st December 2006

23rd July 2007

edmonton looks amazing
hiya thanks for your comments on edmonton, im planning on going there for a hoilday sometime this year or next year,and when do you think is the best time to go then? because if i go at winter it looks really cold so i might have to pack my warm clothes, so what time of the year is the best time to go then so i know what clothes to bring? also i enjoyed your pictures too
17th September 2007

Introduction of Edmonton to an Edmontonian
Thank you very much for the nice comments of Edmonton. I have lived here for 36 years and still do, I guess I have taken it for granted, now I appreciate this city so much more through your eyes and your wonderful article. Come back soon.
12th November 2007

12th November 2007

12th November 2007

SORRY FOR NOT SIGNING MY NAME..........,...............UM......................UMM...YUM.......YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU....... COOL
20th April 2008

I too have lived in Edmonton nearly all of my life. It's interesting to hear the things that people find interesting. It's unfortunate I hadn't seen this much sooner, I would have recommended a tour of the Muttart Conservatory. 4 glass pyramids in the valley....each has a different theme, and oodles of plants/birds etc. Very beautiful and serene. Over 700 species of plants.....if you're into that sort of thing.
4th August 2008

i can't believe you think -10 celcius is cold
28th October 2008

hahahahah, I just moved FROM edmonton. It's an ok city, but I never really thought people visited it! hahaha. I definitely laughed at all the clothes you were wearing at -10. I have to say, that was a bit extreme. no need to layer up at that warm a temp ;o)
5th March 2009

Haha. I thought it was funny you need that many layers of clothing for -10 degrees Celcius!! And were still cold?!? I've visited Edmonton twice, and absolutely loved the mall. I stayed overnight at the Fantasy Hotel and still have yet to make it around the entire mall. (Recommendations on the Polonisian Themed room). I hope the rest of your adventures went well!!
28th November 2009

You are lucky it was ONLY -10 and not -40 Celsius. :)))) I live in Edmonton. It is an OK city, I love the summer but the winter is very long and COLD!!!! Brrrrr!

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