yes to YEG!

talus dome

talus dome

Visitor: ‘Well, what is it you like best about your city?’
Edmontonian: ‘Calgary.’
Visitor: ‘Eh…..ok, and second best?’
Edmontonian: ‘When winter is over, somewhere in April.’
Visitor: ‘Let’s rephrase. What don’t you like about Edmonton and please don’t say Calgary!’
Edmontonian: ‘Mmmmm, the Talus Dome.’
Visitor: ‘For real? That’s a great work of art!’
Edmontonian: ‘Well, yes maybe, but it’s location is balls….’

river valley

fall in river valley

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada a.k.a. YEG is a place over 1 million Edmontonians love to hate. Winters are too cold. The Oilers can’t push a dent in a pack of butter (Dutch proverb) since Gretzky left the team a century ago, winters start after Thanksgiving (which Canadians celebrate on the second Monday in October) and….Calgary. On top of this the crew of KLM, the Royal Dutch Airline that recently started service between Amsterdam to Edmonton, admit they are a bit at lost when spending a few days in between flight in YEG.

elk island sunset

elk island sunset

But, as the growing number of Dutch and European visitors boarding the daily direct KLM flight are discovering, Edmonton has far more to love than to hate. Take for example the stunning foliage that put a golden crown on top of the city’s head each September-October. It is one of those magical gifts from nature that in Edmonton you can enjoy while walking, biking or Segwaying along the paths and trails that run through the River Valley, a public park 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park.

el cortez

el cortez

Another place to be set on fire by the foliage is Elk Island National Park. Home of the mother of all Bison herds once again roaming the great North American plains, this is a close-to-Edmonton paradise where sunsets are stunning and star gazing is magic.

On and (Edmont)on it goes regarding the good stuff YEG has to offer. What about the cocktail and food scene in for instance the historical Old Strathcona neighborhood? Here you find for example &27 (www.ampersand27.com), MEAT (www.meatfordinner.com) and El P1000969Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar (www.elcortezcantina.com). Working with local ingredients and artists that decorate their walls, it’s here you can enjoy a Caesar, tender BBQ plate or a ceviche you won’t forget. Downtown you can indulge yourself at Corso32 (www.corso32.com – reserve well in advance) or try out the Canadian classic Poutine at one of Edmonton’s foodtrucks like Truck 1879 (for location check: www.twitter.com/truck1879). The foodscene in the northernmost North American city is growing fast and the latest developments in the scene can be checked at this tasty site: www.baconhound.com.

west edmonton mall

west edmonton mall

What else is there to do in Edmonton for KLM crew and non-crew members? NHL ice hockey? Check! Segwaying cross the River Valley? Check! The history of both First Nation as well as pioneers? Check! An insane shopping mall including a beach, pirate ship, sea lions, penguins, a crazy rollercoaster, zombies and…shops? Check! A Neon Signs museum? Check! The best chocolate in Alberta? Check! A street full of boutiques and restaurants? Check! A theater festival that’s starting to claim world fame? Check! Public Art? Edmontonian: ‘You mean those silver shiny balls?!’ Check!

elk island national park

elk island national park

Is that all? No, but it is a start. More great stuff on this ‘hidden gem’ populated by over a million people can be found here and here and here.

So, where to stay when visiting the – oops almost forgot – Gateway to the Rockies? There are two very good choices, both offered by the same local hotel ‘chain’:

The Metterra in Old Strathcona, ‘a luxury boutique hotel that combines the simplicity of contemporary custom-designed furnishings with an eclectic collection of global artifacts and art located on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton’s coolest neighborhood amongst bistros, cocktail bars and boutiques.’

P1010219The Matrix Hotel in downtown YEG, ‘combining the sleek sophistication of custom-designed furnishings with the simplistic beauty of natural materials to produce an environment that is both elegant and serene. The Matrix surroundings highlights the urban lifestyle of the city center and offers a complementary executive breakfast buffet, parking, Wi-Fi and evening wine and cheese tasting.’

Breakfast at the Matrix is quite a treat and – like in the Metterra – rooms are spacious and – the Matrix being a high-rise – offer nice city views.

So, when visiting Edmonton for (oil) business or the pleasure of going to Jasper and the Rockies, book at least 1 more night to get acquainted with this wonderful city. Oh and in case you drive south to Calgary and they ask what you like best about their city, feel free to answer ‘Edmonton!’

P1000974Metterra Hotel on Whyte
10454 82 Ave, Edmonton, Canada
T: +1 (780) 465-8150
W: www.metterra.com

Matrix Hotel
10640 100 Avenue, Edmonton, Canada
T: +1 (780) 429-2861
W: www.matrixedmonton.com