Edmonton Tourist: September Staycations

I get a lot of questions from people who live beyond the borders of Edmonton. I’m asked about things to do in Edmonton beyond the MALL. Questions about transit and accommodations or best places to eat. Honestly – I don’t take transit, nor do I stay in a hotel because my bed is super comfy and free. Other than offering my place to stay, I thought a monthly guide of things I might do in Edmonton might be of interest to actual tourists and locals alike.

If I was visiting my beautiful city I would stay central. Airbnb or an actual bed and breakfast in Old Strathcona, Windsor Park, Oliver or Glenora would be my first choices. Hotels downtown or Strathcona would also be on my radar if I didn’t have a car. That way walking or transit would be easier. I would want to be closest to the river valley or arts districts.

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I would consider coming in the summer during festival season. To be fair, Edmonton has festivals all year long with the Flying Canoe in February being my favourite (but the weather is TERRIBLE! It is often -40C), but the Fringe and The Works are a close second. September has Kaleido and that is charming too! I am seeing an Arts and Cultural theme here…maybe I have a severe bias.

I rank a restaurant on their breakfast menu, coffee or wine list. I am not hip and trendy, but I enjoy a great meal (mostly breakfast) and a really great cup of coffee. My favourites include but are not limited to, Café Bicyclette, Workshop Eatery, Little Brick, Sugar Bowl, Juniper Bistro and Mandolin.

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My favourite things to do are usually free or a nominal fee. You can often find me poking around any public art installation, browsing used book shops, exploring the river valley, visiting the art gallery, Royal Alberta Museum, strolling down 124 street or 82 Ave, or attending small community theatre at the Varscona, Westbury, Walterdale or Trinty.

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September has a few things I will be checking out in my city.

  1. I woke up on Sunday morning to learn about the #yegwalk or more formally known as the Commonwealth Walkway. Download the app. As you walk along the walkway you come across medallions and the app gives you voice recordings and photos of the history both colonial and indigenous as well as flora and fauna knowledge. I listened to everything already and have been on the trail thousands of times. It is a great walking tour of my beautiful city. Check it out!
  2. Something newish to the Downtown City Market is Market Sundays! IMG_6638Saturday Market is on 104 street and is my usual favourite outdoor market, plus the little shops along the way (wine and chocolate) can’t be beat for additions to my groceries. I am going to visit the Sunday market for the first time ever. It is located on 103 Ave between 96 street and 97 street. 96 street also is called the Armature – that is new-ish (new to me) and is the City of Edmonton’s first city-led green street.
  3. No Change in the Weather is a Newfoundland musical and will be at the Westbury Theatre running September 25-28. It promises to have traditional Newfoundlander songs and music. I am all for that. I love a good toe-tapper.
  4. This weekend is the Kaleido Festival It is September 13-15 over at Alberta Avenue (118 Ave between 90-95 Street). Billed as a family-friendly arts festival. There is a Front Porch music series. People playing on their front porch! How Edmonton is that? I love it!! I try to go every year. The Friday night lantern parade was super cool and begins at 9:30 pm Friday. It’s worth the price of admission (free). You make lanterns and carry them through the parade. It begins at The Carrot. I will miss it but will be back in town to catch the last bits of the festival on Sunday. While I am there, I am checking out a few of the Public Art pieces at that end of town. You should too because Edmonton is an amazing city.

Edmonton Tourist: Bountiful Farmers’ Market

There is a new indoor market in Edmonton I was curious about it. I have been to other cities with indoor markets like Seattle or Vancouver. I like the atmosphere of these places. Edmonton has a year-round indoor market in Old Strathcona. The Strathcona Farmers Market is busy and bustling with long-time favourite vendors. The new Bountiful Market is similar but not as bustling as the other ones I had been to. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the lack of people crashing into me. I think this is because of the wide isles. The number of people there had to be as many as found in Strathcona. The cars were parked as far as the eye could see in either direction on 97 street plus the parking lot was full.

The place smelled clean and not of fish or farm. It was bright and airy with a variety of stalls that I hadn’t seen before. Often you go to the City market or 124 street and you can find the same vendors. This all seemed new.

I arrived as it opened with my pal Andie in tow. Our first stop was coffee for here but I just looked around and chatted with her when she wasn’t chatting with people she already knew. People say I know a lot of people but Andie knows twice as many as me. The crowds hadn’t begun to build so it was easy to talk to vendors. I liked the way the stalls were built. Each had a frame and a sign. It was consistent and pretty. I had no idea how important that was until I experienced it. It made the space inviting.

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Most vendors were set up for taste samples. I tried everything from gin – deep regret that I didn’t buy it. I will need to go back to buy some- to gelato. There were pretzels and perogies plus endless fruit and vegetables. The flower vendor had the loveliest peonies available. It made me think of a friend of mine and her lovely garden. She should consider selling cut flowers at different markets.

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We stopped often and spoke to everyone. I sampled things that were delicious and tried some things that I wish never entered my mouth. But that’s how it goes and why you should taste before you buy. My taste isn’t for everyone.

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It excites me that we have another indoor market in Edmonton and on the south side that’s close to me. Soon all the stalls should be filled and then this place will really be hopping!

You can find it here:

  • 3696 97 Street, Edmonton
  • 9am – 5pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday — all year.

For more information visit Bountiful Farmers’ Market and say hey to the Trouble Monk people, their gin is delicious.

18 for 18: St. Albert Farmers’ Market

I love the rain. I woke up to buckets of rain falling from the sky and thought about my plans to visit the St. Albert Farmers’ Market with my mom. I immediately thought to bring my lovely umbrella that I do not get to use nearly enough! I packed another umbrella for my mom. I live as far from St. Albert as humanly possible for an Edmontonian. It is a good 40 Minutes from my house. We hopped onto the Henday ring road and made our way north. I had a vague idea where to find the market because google. I learned about the shuttle service from the village transit centre but we decided to take a chance on parking close to the downtown core. I am sure the rain kept the crowds away and we did score a sweet spot across the bridge. It was a perfectly lovely day for a walk.

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Everyone who has told me about this market raves about how amazing it is. Truth be told, it is pretty fantastic. Great selection, interesting vendors, and bigger than any market I have been to in Canada. Obernai, France is the biggest one I have ever been to.

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We tasted nifty things and saw very talented artisans showing their wares. I met some interesting Babas and Guidos, old-school farmers who invent their own tools and sell them or cook for days so you can recreate a Ukrainian feast in your own kitchen. A few garden markets had tomatoes, rhubarb, herbs and berries and two different craft breweries were on hand with samples. But my favourite? There was a birdhouse that was called ‘Train Station’, it reminded me of the front porch where I sat with my grandpa while he told me stories of the wild west and how he was a pioneer (all fabrication of course but that was part of the fun) and I loved that little birdhouse.

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I spent money on a wired knife gadget that did amazing things if you practice and I bought a new willow wreath for my fence. It is an exact replica of a wreath I bought the year I moved into my house in 2001. I needed a new one because it had disintegrated and just looked like a pile of sticks.

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My mom bought fresh Arctic Char and we reminisced about eating it when we lived in Yellowknife, she bought craft beer for my dad and she also bought the weird knife gadget from that guido farmer who I thought was a genius. We walked up and down the streets for about two hours, stopping to listen to music or chatting with vendors. I even ran into an old friend who looked fantastic. I loved everything about the morning and was so glad I made the trip. It is too far for me to go to every weekend when there are great farmer markets in closer proximity, City Market comes to mind, but I will go again and perhaps on the next rainy day.

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If you haven’t visited, think about it. Go early and stay long. Details can be found here.

Edmonton Tourist: Market Day

Summer officially starts in Edmonton after the May Long weekend. This usually means the chance of snow is almost over. I say almost because I have seen snow in May, June and August. The outdoor farmer’s markets often start the May long weekend as well. I had family obligations for most of the month of May, but yesterday my Mama Bear and I decided to spend the morning exploring the markets and enjoying the beautiful weather Edmonton had to offer. First stop was the City Market Downtown.

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The Market is located on 104 Street between Jasper and 103rd Avenues. I haven’t been to all the Farmer’s markets in Edmonton, but I rank this as my favourite amongst the ones I have visited.

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We parked on 104th Street by the Neon Museum and walked the short half block south. The city closed the roads for vendors and this just adds to the atmosphere. There is something decadent and forbidden about strolling on the road. There isn’t the same feeling when this happens in a park or town square. It reminded me of the market I visited in Obernai France, the only thing missing would be the church bells that singled Market opening in France.

The Market is open Saturdays between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. I like to go early so there is still lots of choices and varieties.

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The streetmosphere just adds to the flavour, Mama Bear and I like to stroll at a leisurely pace to explore the details of each booth.

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We left the market about 10:30 having purchased Moonshine donuts and Irish Moss. I have deep regret over not buying rhubarb. I will make note to get some next weekend when I explore other markets.

We left downtown and drove straight to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. I like this market in the winter because it is inside, in the summer, I prefer the outdoor markets. I did learn that many vendors had stalls here and the City Market. So now I can rest easy that my favourites are located downtown. Moonshine and Jack Horner, I am looking at you.

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The Strathcona Market also have great atmosphere with the musical stylings of these people, the Straw Flowers. Thanks for smiling Mandolin man.

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A notable difference between the two markets is there are artisans actually working on their craft in the old Bus Barns, that was fun to see.

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This sewing machine belonged to her Mama Bear.

We explored all the aisles and came away with pesto and pasta, so there was dinner taken care of. I just added chicken breasts and fresh veg. It was delicious. Enough sundries tomato pesto to add to my potatoes tonight!

Around 11 am we decided to head to the French Quarter to see the farmer’s market there. I had never been to that one in the summer, only during the Flying Canoe Festival.

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When we arrived, we learned Market day is Sunday. I heard a giant Wa Wa… in my head because I was severely disappointed. But this is the site of my favourite cafe so we decided to have lunch here. There is a rumour the best poutine is served here sand Mama Bear disclosed she had never tried poutine before. I looked shockingly at her and called her the worst Canadian ever.

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I am going to agree, Cafe Bicyclette does serve the best poutine I have ever had in Edmonton and perhaps the best I have tried anywhere. Please note that I have never had it in Quebec, I should think it might be better there but being served by French Canadians in the French Quarter of Edmonton is amazlingly  delicious. Pair it with one of the best lattes in the city and you have yourself a decadent meal.

Next week I will visit the French Market, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

Organic Food or a Snickers bar – easy choice…now

Over the past couple of years in my Edmonton Tourist Journey, I have made an attempt to change habits for the better. Particularly food habits. It isn’t enough to just reduce calories, I need those calories to count towards healthy fuel building vitamins and junk like that.

My first time around in University, I would drink a coke classic and eat a snickers bar to get me through the day. Then have dinner with the family.

Coke = 160 of empty calories

Snickers = 250 mostly empty calories – it has a 1g of fibre and 4g of protein

Why? Well, I liked sugar. My boyfriend/fiance at the time preferred his women skinny and measured my belly fat on a regular basis and always gave me that disapproving look. Don’t GET ME STARTED! So, if I limited my intake during the day I could eat real food at night, I got my coke and chocolate fix and I existed on about 800 calories a day. Totally messed up my metabolism and health and life and DON’T GET ME STARTED! The biggest point I am trying to make is people can make positive changes in their life and stick it out.

I have discussed this with my dietician and I understand the need for variety in my life. I also understand why I need 4 – 6 servings of vegetables a day. 6 cups of bagged lettuce is not optimum. It will do in a pinch, but Lisa my dietician gets on my case about variety.

Here is my problem: I am a creature of habit. I go to the store and buy the same thing every week. Then I go home and make the same thing every week. Then I eat the same thing every week.

My metabolism is looking at me thinking “are you crazy? this is BORING!” then it falls asleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So, I decided to do something about it. A Blogger Friend I read No Giving Up Now (although lately he is outside running all the time and has stopped blogging) orders a farm box and gets produce and other organic yummy things delivered to his home. It is an effort to buy local and support local organic farming. He lives in Ohio. That is not local for me.

Then a friend on facebook announced that she is doing the same thing only with a local company (of course) here in Edmonton! WHAT??? SIGN ME UP!

So I did.

And my first delivery came yesterday!

The delivery guy came to the door with this giant box.

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I opened it up and found this

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I unpacked the contents – it felt like an awesome trip to the farmers market! and found this

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Here is the list:

1 per Mango – Tommy Atkins
1 per Melon – Cantaloupe
1 per Apples – Gala
1 per Apples – Gala
2 per Apples – Pink Lady
1 pint Strawberries
2 per Oranges – Navel
1 Bunch Bananas – Fair Trade
1 Bunch Beets – Bunched Red
1 Bag Potatoes – Yellow – Local (T)
1 2 lbs Yellow Onions – Local
1 per Cucumber – LE – BC Local
1 per Avocado Haas – Fair Trade
1 per Eggplant – Black Globe
1 2-3 per Vine Tomatoes – BC Local
2 Head Lettuce – Red Leaf
1 30 g Broccoli Shoots – Local

The Broccoli shoots ended up being Sunflower shoots. I sampled them because I never had them before – yummy nutty and are going into my garden!! I am making a veg sandwich today with those in it! The strawberries that I had for breakfast taste like wild ones I pick in the mountains. I am super impressed with the quality.

The concept is easy. You sign up on the web page for the size box you want/need. I picked the large box for $55 because I have teens to feed – although my son thinks vegetables are a waste of money. It is my responsibility to keep him alive until he moves out then he’s on his own…

There are smaller less expensive boxes available. They send out an email each weekend telling you what is in the new box coming up. You can make changes. I didn’t take parsnips this week because no one else will eat them, so I got more lettuce and fruit instead.  They have other organic things like meat, milk, eggs, cereals etc that you can add to your box. You never have to go to the grocery store again. I love that idea.

The box came with a newsletter and a recipe. I leave the box on my porch next week for pickup and they bring me a new box filled with farmer’s market goodness. The variety will challenge me and all of it is good for me. I think I am liking this process.

If you head over to www.theorganicbox.ca and decide to sign up, tell them I sent you and use this email ragrobyn@gmail.com

Just spreading the yummy love around.

 

 

We Aren’t Lost! We Just Don’t Know Where We Are Going!

Today was one of those days where “out to lunch” had several meanings. We eventually went out to lunch for a well deserved break. My colleague drove with me on the way to the restaurant. She mentioned to me that traveling outside of Canada had never happened for her, but it was something she was eager to do. That got me thinking about how fortunate I really am. I have been all over the world, seen amazing things and had unbelievable experiences. One of those experiences was looking for a campsite in Europe with our trusty GPS Phoebe. This was one of those times where “Wild Goose Chase” would have been more productive than the tour she took the Muppets on.

We had left the Black Forest and planned to stay one more night in Germany exploring the area around the French Border. Phoebe, in her Infinite limited wisdom, led us to a campsite that had just closed for the season. Fair enough, we were travelling during “off-season” but this was the first time we had encountered a closed campsite. We punched in new coordinates and off we went again in search of a camp spot for the evening. She led us down a country road, that turned into a village, that turned into a town, that stopped in someones driveway. Clearly this was not a campsite. Okay Muppets, fear not! We shall just try again! Entered in new coordinates and off we went again! Around the corner, up the hill, past a sports field and into…a closed for the season campsite! Swell. Again, we repeated new coordinates, and we were off! This time we just kept driving until the road stopped. Just like Phoebe told us too. No road left, just a ferry. A Ferry?!?! Knowing if we crossed the river we would be out of Germany. We had no choice, the Muppets were getting hungry, it was getting late, we needed to find a place for the night. None of us were too keen on parking on the side of the road for the night, we were willing to do it if we had too but, out first choice was a camp spot. Onward we traveled. Drove onto the Ferry deck, stayed inside and across the river we sailed.

Before we knew it, we were in France. The architecture was still very similar to Germany, but now the signs were new. Being Canadian, we are exposed more frequently to French then German, not that our merry band of Muppets could understand it any better, it did look familiar. Phoebe seemed to know where she was taking us, so we let her lead. Up another road she took us. There it was. ANOTHER CLOSED CAMP SITE! That was the last straw. My mother, hopped out of the front seat, grabbed a PAPER map and started looking. Then she realized where she was.

A month earlier, the two Lead Muppets and Mrs. Statler had arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. They drove to Obernai France and camped for the night. Mom knew where she was and saved the day! She led us to the very same camp spot they stayed earlier in the trip. Best news of all, it was OPEN!

Dinner time! We had FINALLY eaten the last of the Schnitzel for lunch and decided we needed a change. Franks and beans it was. just so you know, my mother is one of the best cooks you would ever have the good fortune to meet. Franks and beans is NOT her usual fair, but it was dark, Muppets were hungry and we were thrilled it wasn’t Schnitzel. Over dinner the Lead Muppets shared stories of their last visit to Obernai, claiming the younger Muppets would love the charm just as much as the previous villages we had visited. We then discovered, the next day was market day in Obernai! We had yet to visit a market. Everyone settled down for sleep that night, tingling with anticipation of visiting the market. The Caravan was buzzing with excitement. Come to think of it, the excitement may have been due to the fact it was the last night in the Caravan for the Muppets. The following night would be spent in a hotel, in a bed that was the correct length for Honey and myself, AND there would be a shower in our room and not down the block to be shared with 100’s of fellow campers! Either was, we were excited about what the next day would bring. We were not disappointed!

We found parking and walked through yet more donkey cart sized streets. The vendors were just setting up for the day. We had expected a dozen or so stalls filled with farm grown food. That was indeed there. But there was everything you could possible imagine! Mushrooms to Mattresses, Vegetables to Violets, Brand name clothes to Beniets, anything you could think of, it was available! There wasn’t just one street filled with market stalls, there were several streets, people filled the square and lined the street looking at things to purchase. The Church bells sounded to signal the start of the market and people filled the streets.

Once again we had stumbled upon the most amazing adventure. Purely by accident. Thanks for not being so helpful Phoebe, and thanks for being in complete control mom!