This is the first of several posts from Tim Larison from familytravelgurus.com in his visit to the province of Alberta, Canada in March, 2016.
Edmonton – Capital City of Alberta
I landed in Edmonton mid-afternoon and I was immediately reminded of the city’s rich hockey history. The Oilers have struggled in recent years but the team’s fortunes are looking up. We were later told of the new hockey arena, Rogers Place, that will open next season. It will be “the best arena in the world” according to our guide – no expense is being spared to make this the showcase rink in the NHL.
Soon we were transported to our hotel for the night – the Matrix in downtown Edmonton.
After a quick checkin I was at my 6th floor room. I liked the view of the city outside, the location of the hotel (within walking distance of many sights in the downtown area), and the size of the room – perfect for my one night stay after a long day of travel.
While driving to dinner our guide for the night, Jon Schmiemann, gave us a wonderful overview of the city. We learned that Edmonton is the northern most city in North America with over 1 million people (the metro area has 1.2 million residents). The West Edmonton Mall is currently the largest mall in North America. The River Valley, at the center of the city, is a public park that is 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park. While the decline of oil has hurt economically, that has not stopped the over 5 billion of new construction in the city. Edmonton has a rich arts district – with more small theaters per capita than any city in North America. Every neighborhood has an outdoor skating rink. These facts and more made for a very interesting bus ride to our dinner. And oh what a meal it was.
We were treated to what our guide Jon called “his favorite place to eat in the city.” Kitchen by Brad. Chef Brad Smoliak created a wonderful meal for us. He was very engaging in showing us the various parts of his kitchen and explaining the culinary delights he would make for us this night. The Kitchen is used for corporate and private parties, group cooking classes, and more.
The small size of The Kitchen was perfect for our group – consisting of travel agents from across the U.S. During our 3 1/2 hour meal there was plenty of time to get to know everyone as well as ask questions of our host Brad.
I found Edmonton a fascinating city to visit during our half day here. I look forward to seeing more of the surrounding area tomorrow, before heading to another gem of Alberta – Jasper.