We are home again. It felt like a very quick trip, though we had two and a half very full days of shopping and walking and browsing. We left the city Monday at about 9:30am and got to our hotel in Edmonton around 3:30pm. I had made reservations for us months ago at the Wingate Inn and we were quite impressed with it. It was good for accessibility for Jason and a pretty nice hotel to boot. We both found the bed incredibly comfortable and slept very well (which is unusual for us in a hotel), I appreciated the free breakfast buffet, and was glad the bed wasn't too high for Jason to get into. My only complaints about the room would be a big gross looking stain on the carpet in the middle of the room (looked like someone dropped food or something) and the walls seemed awfully thin. We could really hear our neighbour's TV and could hear people running upstairs. I would probably stay there again if we went to Edmonton.
Once we dropped off our stuff we headed over to the West Edmonton Mall (only 10 blocks or so from our hotel). We browsed around for a while then decided to check out the Old Spaghetti Factory for supper. It was quite busy, but we only had to wait about 20 minutes for table. I was concerned that it wouldn't be accessible because there were a LOT of stairs in that restaurant. I think I counted at least 6 different levels where a person could sit. All either up or down stairs. Also it was about 8 or 10 stairs to go down to the bathroom. But they had a back entrance and we got a table. I thought the food was really good and the prices were good, but the air conditioning vent up on the HIGH ceiling was blowing right at us the whole time and I was absolutely frozen by the end of the meal. I would eat there again, but hopefully find somewhere less cool to sit. Maybe go to a different location too. It was quite loud in the mall. We continued browsing the mall and by about 8:30pm figured it was time to go back to our hotel.
Tuesday morning we decided to check out the Muttart Conservatory. It is located close to downtown Edmonton and using mom and dad's GPS gave us quite the scenic drive along the river and down some very steep winding tree filled hills. The conservatory was nice, but unless you have a strong wife or a power wheelchair I would not consider going there if you are a wheelchair user. I found myself slipping on the smooth tile floors in my sandals while trying to push Jason up the very steep ramps. We were able to enjoy the conservatory, and Jay took a lot of lovely pictures (which I am sure he'll post some once he gets them touched up), and Angie got her exercise. After the conservatory we swung over to the Massage Therapy Supply Outlet store. I have never been, and it was THE place to get your massage supplies until we got our own store in Saskatoon a couple of years ago. I checked it out quickly and bought a couple of little things. After that we headed back to West Ed Mall and spent the rest of the afternoon there. We watched the sea lion show, which was fun, and walked and walked and walked. We didn't buy a whole lot there. Jay found some shorts, I got some hand soap from Bath and Body Works, and we bought a bottle of sand.
There was a kiosk set up there that we checked out the first day we were there. It was bottles with coloured sand in side in various patterns to look like landscapes and pictures and other things. I didn't look that closely at them, and I think I just assumed they were somehow fairly mass produced. The second day we stopped by again because we thought they were neat and thought about buying one. This time the artist who makes them was there and he showed us how he makes each one by hand. Free hand, with a little funnel, and a couple of other little tools. If he messes up he has to dump the whole thing out and start over again. When he is done filling whatever he is filling (glass bottles, jars, wine glasses, fish bowls, etc.) he packs them down and puts some glue at the top to hold it in. And it is sealed forever. It is really cool so we did decide to support him and bought a bottle of sand. It wasn't cheap, but a lot of work goes into those things, and I think it's very cool looking.
That night we had supper at Red Robin restaurant. I have seen the ads on American TV stations and thought it looked good. It was a very tasty burger, but quite salty. I think I would go back there again, given the chance. At that point we were pretty tired from walking around (and driving in Edmonton was somewhat of a chore being that there was SO much construction going on) that after supper we retired to our hotel room and watched Apollo 13 on TV before going to sleep.
Wednesday we had planned to go to South Edmonton Common to Ikea and to just scout out the rest of the box mall down there for a good portion of the day. We made it to Ikea in time to have the $1 breakfast! I still can't believe that they give you hash browns, scrambled eggs and two sausages for $1!! It was quite a filling breakfast and gave us the strength we needed to browse around Ikea. We bought quite a bit, but the main things we got there were picture frames. We got one HUGE picture frame that we are hoping to hang above our stairs somehow. After Ikea we checked out a few of the other interesting stores. I tried on some clothes, but didn't find any super deals. Most stores have sales on at this time of year, so I didn't think the 'outlet' stores had such great deals. I think by that point my energy level was starting to dip. I was however, happy to find the bathing suit bottoms that were sold out in Saskatoon at La Vie en Rose at South Edmonton Common (after looking in the three La Vie en Rose locations in West Ed Mall with no luck)!
When we finished up at South Edmonton Common we thought we might go to a Chinese food restaurant that we had found in the phone book that advertised that it had no MSG. It was a little out of way but we figured, we are on holidays, why not?! It took us an hour to get there from South Edmonton Common. And when we got there, we realized that it wasn't actually a restaurant they just do takeout or delivery. We sighed and decided probably by the time we got back to our hotel room the food would be luke warm at best, so we opted to head back to West Ed Mall to try out one of their other restaurants. We had gotten a few recommendations from friends for places to try and one was Mr. Mike's restaurant. We decided to give it a go (I should probably mention it took close to another hour to get from the Chinese 'restaurant' back to West Ed Mall and to sit down to eat. So close to two hours after we left South Edmonton Common we were sitting down at Mr. Mike's. We weren't too cranky though, because we definitely weren't on a tight schedule at all. The meal was good! I had steak with peppercorn sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, caesar salad and it came with two onion rings. It was a very tasty steak (and not too expensive)! After that we headed back to our hotel for an evening of relaxing.
This morning we got up, enjoyed the free breakfast buffet again then headed home. The drive was quite uneventful, and it feels good to get home. A couple of observations about our trip to Edmonton. This was Jay's first time in Edmonton, and my third time (I was there once when I was about 10 or 12, and again when I was 19 I went to YC). What I had heard about Edmonton is how easy it is to get around in. Or more specifically how much easier it is to get around in than Calgary. We did not find this to be the case at all. Taking into consideration all the construction, that majorly slowed us down, I still feel that it took a fair bit longer to get from point A to point B than it feels like it does in Calgary. I think that Calgary has a better network of freeways. Or maybe we just didn't see enough of Edmonton to make that judgment. I enjoyed the West Edmonton Mall more than I thought I might. I think once I got my hands on a map and got a basic baring on where we were in the mall I didn't mind being there. I am not sure I found it to be much more expensive than any other average malls. I think because most of the stores are chain stores, so even the ones we have in Saskatoon have the same sales on that were on in West Ed Mall. One final note. Jay and I were pretty excited to check out TnT Asian Market when we found out they have one in West Ed Mall. We always get a kick out of some of the unique things we have seen in our tiny little Asian markets in Saskatoon. Were we ever wrong. The 'meats' they had available and the live seafood (the smell) was quite repulsive. I posted a picture of me with a pig snout on Facebook. I think my facial expression says it all in that picture!
All in all it was a good trip, but it always feels so good to get home!