I can’t quite believe it, but I’m off to Edmonton in Canada tomorrow. All the excitement!
Whether you just fancy a nosy peek at my plans or you’re hoping to do a similar trip I thought I’d share the itinerary I’ve mapped out.
I’m a bit of a planner anyway as I like to at least have a vague idea of what I want to see and do. When you’re on an open-ended trip you can be a bit more relaxed because you have plenty of time to stumble across cute cafes and soak up the city in a really natural way.
However, when you’re visiting for a holiday that has to fit in with an annual leave allowance it’s different. I never want to miss out on anything and always have the fear of going home to find out I should have walked left instead of right to see that amazing plaza/landmark/restaurant* delete as appropriate.
When you’re travelling with a baby it’s another game in itself. I haven’t got the luxury of time to get lost, let alone when I have to push a little baba or find somewhere to feed him. That said, I also need to allow a little bit of buffer time because babies like to do their own thing and decide their own schedule.
Where is Edmonton?
Edmonton is a city in Alberta, Canada. It’s a gateway to some epic outdoor adventures thanks to nearby Jasper National Park and Elk Island (naming just a few of the phenomenal options), but it’s also a cool destination in itself.
It’s home to Duchess Bakery aka “arguably the best bakery in Canada”, the world’s largest indoor wave pool at World Waterpark, and it’s also home to one of the longest urban stretches of River Valley Parkland in an urban area in North America.
It’s an 11-12 hour flight from the UK, with KLM offering a route from my local airport, Birmingham, to Edmonton via Amsterdam.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather forecast and it jumps around a bit. At one point it said it would be cold and snowy one day and then super hot the next! The weather in May should be mostly hot though and the forecast is showing between 20 degrees and 29.
The 10-Day Plan
Day 1: We’re flying with KLM, leaving late morning and thanks to the time difference, landing mid-afternoon. It’s a great flight time as we don’t have to get up at silly o’clock and we’ll be arriving before darkness descends. We’ve hired a car and a baby car seat via Hertz so once we’ve cleared passport control we’ll pick our wheels up. Sadly Jay wouldn’t let me book the Dodge Charger, so we’ve gone for a more conservative Toyota.
We’re staying at Metterra Hotel On Whyte which is in a historical neighbourhood known as Old Strathcona. As well as being just a 20-minute drive from the airport, this neighbourhood has been voted as one of the “Top 10 Coolest Neighbourhoods in Canada”.
The hotel looks pretty stylish and contemporary, and the rooms are loosely themed around the four elements. It wasn’t too expensive, so hopefully it’ll prove to be a good find. We’ll probably just eat at the Mexican spot next door, Julio’s Barrio, as we love Mexican food and it’s on our doorstep. I’m guessing jet lag might start to appear (or sheer tiredness from a long haul flight with a six-month old!).
Day 2: We’ve purposefully kept this day free to allow for sleepiness. We’ll be making sure we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at normal times to try to combat any jet lag. If a miracle occurs and we feel fine we plan to just explore the area on foot. The neighbourhood is sposed to be full of lots of cafes, shops and restaurants.
Day 3: We’re going to attempt to see as much of the River Valley Parks as possible, but that’s a tall order. It’s the largest urban park in Canada, with more than 150 kilometres of maintained pathways and over 20 major parks – supposedly 22 times the size of New York City’s Central Park!
You can run, Segway and even paddle your way through the river valley, but we’re planning to go by foot. We were going to hire bikes through River Valley Co, but Nova is just a tad too little. As well as regular bikes, they have a vintage restored Tandem Bike and a three person Surrey Bike with seating for young children, so maybe next time.
Day 4: Elk Island is just a 40-minute drive from Edmonton so we’re planning on spending our day here. We’re going to take a picnic and lots of snacks. It’s home to bison, as well as other wildlife – including over 250 species of bird, so hopefully we’ll spy some. We’ll be doing a bison handling tour, learning all about these creatures.
We’re then going to head back into the city for dinner at The Burg. As you can guess they serve burgers. They’re sposed to be next level, so we’ll sussing them out and I’ll let you know!
Day 5: Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market is every Saturday and there are over 130 vendors. Bring on the food! We’ll be skipping our hotel breakfast in order to fill up here. We’re also going to buy our lunch and some snacks for our road trip to Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We’re going to drive along Yellowhead Highway, so the journey is about four hours. I’m sure there will be some great scenery and we’ll be making a pit stop after two hours to give Nova a break from his baby car seat. We should arrive at our hotel by the evening.
We’re staying at the luxurious Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. It’s a huge resort and whilst I’d had visions of a secluded log cabin a lot of them were booked up when we looked. It turns out we’re visiting over a bank holiday. The ones that were left looked extremely outdated and just not my cup of tea. I needn’t have worried though because the Fairmont is made up of both hotel rooms and cabins, and to be honest looks a lot more stylish and indulgent. We got a really good bargain by booking through a third party site too.
Day 6: We’re going to drive 90-minutes or so to the Glacier Skywalk to see if we’re brave enough to do it! It’s a glass ledge that sticks out from the mountain, showcasing the beautiful views of the area (and the sheer drop below!).
We’re then going to drive back and head to Evil Dave’s for a late lunch/early dinner. All of the dishes have hilarious names, but the food itself sounds pretty tasty. Their signature dish is the gluten free Malicious Salmon; Blackened Atlantic Salmon drizzled with sweet curry aioli, on jasmine rice with seasonal vegetables.
That night we’re planning on making the most of the fact that Jasper is the world’s second largest dark sky preserve. You can visit Jasper Planetarium to learn about the stars and even look through the largest telescope in the Rockies to see them up close. I can’t wait!
Day 7: Just 20-minutes from our hotel is Jasper SkyTram. Jasper Tramway is the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada, offering impressive views of six mountain ranges, glacial fed lakes, the Athabasca River and the town-site of Jasper.
We’re then going to head to Jasper Brewing for a late lunch. It’s been recommended by a few other bloggers, so I’m looking forward to trying it out. Think good beer and good grub like burgers, nachos and steak.
We may then check out Medicine Lake, but as it’s a bit out of the way we’ll play it by ear. We may just head back to Edmonton.
Day 8: We return to Metterra Hotel On Whyte for the rest of our trip, so fingers crossed we enjoy it the first time!
There’s also a rumour that El Cortez has Taco Tuesdays, so it’d be rude not to scope it out.
Day 9: We’re going to spend the day at West Edmonton Mall. It’s more than just the 800 stores/services and 100 dining spots, though I’m sure that would keep us occupied. The mall’s size is equivalent to 48 city blocks and supposedly it would take three 24-hour days just to visit each store/service just once!
We’re heading to the mall mainly for World Waterpark. Nova loves the water and as it’s heated to 31 degrees he’ll love splashing about. This place looks insane! It’s home to the world’s largest indoor wave pool and some crazy looking water slides that I’m trying to persuade Jay to go on with the GoPro!
This mall is also home to the world’s largest indoor amusement park and the world’s largest indoor triple loop rollercoaster, but I don’t think we’ll even have enough time for that. We’ll be trying our best to cram it all in!
Day 10: We fly home in the evening (sob!), so we’ll be spending the morning close to our hotel at 104th street doing any last minute shopping.
We land at lunchtime the following day so hopefully we can get some sleep on our KLM flight home. If I write it here I’m hoping that it’ll have to come true!
I’ll be Tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking my trip using the hashtag #CharWithKLM so please do follow along and join me! And obviously if you have any tips or other recommendations please do let me know.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! So much excitement!