Friday, August 18, 2006

M.o.M’s Tourist Guide to Edmonton, Part I

As Edmonton’s prosperity grows, so too does its reputation as THE tourist hotspot of central Alberta. Last year, Edmonton received nine tourists, this year it received thirteen, and that’s not even including the two involuntary tourists who were given free trips by Edmonton City Council as a cunning promotional ploy (see National Post, “Edmonton Having a Hard Time Giving Away Free Trips to City.”)

What exactly is it that draws tourists to our city? Is it the friendly inhabitants they are sure to meet, when of course they eventually find said inhabitants? Is it our charismatic mayor and his cherubic smile? Maybe they have heard how, unlike less civilized cities (we’re not going to mention your name, Calgary), Edmonton has smoke-free bars and restaurants. Mmmm! Fresh air! Or maybe the world has simply woken up to the fact that in the new global warming era and its associated tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and heat-waves, the best places to be are those places where nasty freakish weather doesn’t happen. And in an era of suicide bombers, disproportionate military responses, and terrorist attacks, the best places to be are those places where nasty violent things don’t happen. Industry experts say that the hot new trend in tourism is visiting places where almost nothing happens, ever.

With that in mind, M.o.M has a pitch for the city’s new slogan:

Edmonton: Probably Nothing Will Happen While You’re Here

Or how about, Edmonton: You’ll Get a Good Night’s Sleep!

Well, enough of the preamble. Let’s get down to sensible and practical advice that will help you get to Edmonton, stay in Edmonton, and experience Edmonton. We might even tell you how to leave Edmonton, but only if you’re good!

1. How to get there
…by air
The convenient thing about Edmonton for today’s modern traveller is that no matter where in the world you are, even Toronto (which is in Canada!), Edmonton is a long, long way away. This makes budgeting easy. How much will it cost you to get here? A lot! There, that’s your budgeting worries sorted then.

Another great aspect to Edmonton’s complete and utter isolation is that it makes a great hide-away for people seeking to hide away from things. For example, let’s say you happen to be dastardly bank-robber Billy Badass, on the run from Johnny Law. Which is more likely for the police to say:
a) “I bet Billy hightailed it to Reno!"
b) “I’ll wager Billy fled to the Canaries!"
c) “I’d put good money on Billy being in Cuba right now!”
d) “I got a hunch that Billy is in Argentina sipping tequila and doing the tango right now!”
e) “I feel it in my bones: Billy’s holed up in a bungalow just off Argyll and 99th in Edmonton, Alberta – don’t tell me I’m wrong!”

You will notice that when you arrive at Edmonton’s airport, you are still not in Edmonton! Hah! There’s that quintessentially Edmontonian sense of humour for you. You will instead find yourself in a place called Nisku. Do you have any money left over? We sure hope so! The cab to Edmonton going to cost you a small fortune, or your kidney, or maybe your sister, whichever is of greater value.

…by foot
Walking to Edmonton is not generally what comes to mind as a capital “f” FUN experience. But then, what generally comes to mind for people is, “I wonder if a dish draining tray will be less at Zellers or Wal-Mart.” Don’t be like the herd! And moreover, if Lewis and Clarke can wander around with a couple of horses, so can you, although you should tether the horses at the city limits.

If you’re going to walk to Edmonton, give yourself about a year to arrive. Once you find yourself at our city’s periphery, give yourself another week to get anywhere noteworthy, such as Whyte Avenue. Walk up the historical and scenic Gateway Boulevard. Nobody has ever done it before! Edmonton might erect a statue of you if you survive the journey. On your trip up the worldwide famous boulevard (see articles, “Edmonton’s Gateway Boulevard in Top Ten Ugliest Streets of North America”) you can enjoy five lanes of traffic, box stores, the direct light of the sun – blissfully unimpeded by nasty trees – and in many places, you will have the privilege of an unpaved walking surface, because city council has cunningly calculated that if you are walking in the middle of winter after a heavy snowfall, the lack of a sidewalk will mean you’ll get snow up to your knees! Where else are you going to have that kind of fun?

OK, have you made it to Edmonton yet? You have? Hoorah! You probably feel like going to sleep for a month! But don’t do that. Stay tuned, because in our next issue, the M.o.M. is going to tell you where to stay and what to do, so that your stay in Edmonton is absolutely unforgettable…