A Goddess City – Athens

Greek salad, spanakopita, lamb, tzatziki, “my big fat greek wedding” movie, OPA!, Joey Fatone from Nsync? These are among the things that came to mind by association if someone were to ask me about Greece two years ago. Don’t be insulted if you are Greek. This is just what I am exposed to. I knew that Greece was old. I knew about Athens, and the Greek islands and how beautiful they were. I knew about the Greek government debt crisis and recent economic hard times. An overview only, just what I had picked up from social media articles.  I don’t have a Greek heritage, and so I only had a peak into some of the culture and Greek customs from friends or acquaintances living in Edmonton.

In high school Drama class they attempted to teach us about famous plays that are based on Greek mythology with names I could not understand or pronounce, and the themes of the plays were often tragedies. Twisted tragedies with heavy plot lines. Our professor Mr.Agrell-Smith was eccentric, with long white hair, and thick bushy eyebrows that curled up to his forhead. He was magnificent in his stage presence. He would bellow philosophical musings in the acoustic theatre to a classroom of hormone fueled students who I am sure were only there for the easy elective credit. It was entertaining, but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around Greek mythology then, and even to this day it puzzles me. Every new deity, and demagogue had a very specific backstory about how they came to be cursed, or killed and what powers they possessed and why. Now that I am older, I am definitely intrigued because I realize the power and intrigue of Greek mythology is that it paved the way for art for so many other places, especially western civilization, and so when I had 5 days to explore Athens there was no way in Hades hell I wasn’t going to pay attention.

Nearing Greece I peaked out the window and was half hoping these roads would look like and outline of the cartoon figure Hercules 

Greek people are so friendly and welcoming. I learned this right out the gate, literally right out the gate of my flight I met a pilot named Alex who was coming back home from a two week stint at his job flying for Saudi Airlines. He was a bit tipsy from his lounge whiskies, but he wasn’t my pilot so I didn’t care. He asked where I was coming from and I said Canada. He had fond memories of taking his commercial pilots training in Toronto. He suggested some key tourist attractions and mainstays of the city, but being from the South part of Athens he usually didn’t venture into those areas as much. I felt a renewed sense of wanderlust and encouragement at this friendly encounter. Athens in general is a “museum”. It houses artifacts, and tales from centuries ago. It’s impossible not be left in awe as you stagger your way down cobblestone streets through the old town Plaka and take in the view of the acropolis for the first time.


Acropolis view from below. Acropolis is a settlement on an elevated point in the city. There are several Acropolis in Athens but several ancient buildings remain on the Acropolis in Athens making it one of the biggest tourist attractions. 

I think the first time I had Greek food I was at a potluck and someone had brought home- made grilled meat on skewers with pita and a tangy savory yogurt dip and a big bowl of Greek salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, olive oil and feta covered in spices. So I knew from then on that Greek food was for me, but I was missing out on so much more of the cuisine and by virture; the shared culinary past of the Mediterranean and middle eastern countries. Many dishes that I had heard of and just knew as “Greek” I learned are found in other places, and it becomes hard to know where exactly it originated. For example you find Moussaka in Turkey as well. A Loukoumi is a Greek version of a Turkish delight. Tzatzki has variations in Serbia, Bulgaria, Iran, and Turkey to name a few. I am getting hungry. Best Greek restaurant in Edmonton? So far it has to be Koutouki. Tell me your favorite Edmonton Greek restaurant in the comments below.


Greek salad for days! With a big side of tzatziki.

Athens was named after the Goddess Athena. Legend has it that the Gods of Olympus wanted to name the beautiful land which was then called Cecrops, and Zeus decided that the two rivals (Posiedon and Athena) would both produce a gift to the city Cecrops, and the King of Cecrops, who was half-man half-serpent (stay with me) would decide what the best gift to the city was, and name the island after that god. So Poseidon struck his trident against a rock and produced a spring of water. Athena planted a seed and from it  grew a big olive tree, producing food, oil and firewood for the citiizens of the city. From that point on the city was named Athens after the Goddess, and buildings and structures honored their cities patron, including the most popular of them: the Parthenon.

How was Edmonton named? It is said that the land that is known as Edmonton has been inhabitated since 10,000 BC, not surprising since we have so many archeological finds here in Alberta. Edmonton is on treaty 6 territory and has been inhabitated for centuries by idigineous people but the first european settlement was 1795 when Fort Edmonton was founded, and it was named after a city in London where the Hudons Bay Company deputy governor was from.  It was no God gifting war for naming rights, but Fort Edmonton is rich with history and stories from the trading posts, and many many more from before that time.

You cant avoid walking down an alleyway in Athens, much to my mothers chagrin. Walking down the streets of Plaka I wandered down alleyways and followed narrow pathways that were empty but irresistable, with overhanging trees, and balconies with colorful pots, and the art expressed on the walls. Painted over by one artist to make way for another, or just respectfully adding to work. This is not just a tag crew. This crew is alive only by their work. They respect one another.  They make the streets a show.

Another Goddess

It got me thinking what else can we experience of Greek history and culture (other than our high school drama class or classic history in University)? The Edmonton Hellenic society is a great starting point as it turns out until you can hop on a plane and get to Greece yourself. There is a listing of events on their facebook page that are open to the community members and the public including Greek traditional and modern entertainment, authentic dinners, galas, and language classes!

I find it works alot like when you buy a new car in a certain model. You start to notice things more when you have been exposed to it. You start seeing examples of it everywhere around you. I am paying attention now, and the next time Edmonton Fringe Festival comes around, best beleive I will be attending all the Greek plays!

Colorful streets make me happy. The cafe next to my air bnb in Athens.





Here in the Yeg Amazon

About 230 cities in North America are attempting to seduce economic powerhouse Amazon to choose their city as their second headquarters. Who wouldn’t want a giant like Amazon in their city? Creating over 50,000 jobs in 10-15 years. It’s competitive, and we know that it’s a long shot, because as anyone would ask: Why would a big company like Amazon with headquarters just a short 2 hour flight away set up shop in Edmonton, Alberta?

Funny I can remember when I was about 10 years old, the internet was becoming a household name, in reality it had been out since I was 5 years old, but it was only more accessible by the household “compact computer”  the device that brought us this new phenomenon, and that was mainstream in 1994-1996 when the price eventually became something a middle class family could afford, and programs like solitaire, word processing, and the oregon trail could blow our collective minds. They had these big clunky disc modems that sounded like fax machines, but could within a minute or so connect you to pages and pages of information. Anything you want just at your fingertips. It was absolutely mind blowing. Ideas and new business were generating faster than ever before, and the exponential growth of the internet exploded. Fast forward less than 8 years, and Amazon, Facebook, and Google were already setting the groundwork for running the largest technology companies in the world. The key to it all was scale.

It’s so easy to see the benefits to Edmonton. As someone who works in a space of early stage technology companies, and someone who lives in a city that hosts so many small to medium sized business (many with the capability to scale) I see Amazon as the catalyst for growing our region. Not just because of the jobs that can be provided by Amazon, but the inspiration and opportunity to learn their methods and grow new companies. Large companies can incubate ideas, they have the cash flow and the resources to bring even more technology and opportunities to life. Enter the opportunity for Amazon.

With Edmonton’s world class post secondary institutions boasting some of the best research students and programs in the world and a giant like Amazon to foster them, either to work at Amazon, or to start anew. We have the ingredients to build new scalable world class technologies. The missing link is the awareness early on in ideation that the impossible is actually possible, and with facilities and systems that Amazon can provide, those ideas can be brought to life and scaled beyond what we thought was possible. Hey, it’s been done before. Amazon literally took themselves from creating the “worlds largest book store” to the biggest online retail provider in the world. Edmonton is a city of risk takers, and doers. Ten years from now the face of technology and the internet will look different. Maybe we will have peaked in artificial intelligence and machine learning and things will come up that we have never even considered. What is the next big innovation? It’s right around the corner, and it’s going to happen when you foster those ideas. Edmonton is full of great ones.


5 days in Istanbul

What stories are lost in time? I think for every person out there, there are at least a hundred great stories to be told. What is culture but a cultivation of different ways that we were that have lead us to now? Great stories. Great battles, devastating losses, accomplishments, and the way we have come together as a society during those times to celebrate, to mourn; food, art, theatre, being at the top of the list.  

I arrived in Istanbul on a damp Monday in late September. The turbulent taxi ride to the hotel near the Bosphorus took me along side ancient city walls. The city walls of “Constantinople” from the 5th century protected the city from attacks. Those were times of siege coming from international waters.  If those walls could talk, what stories they would have about the Ottoman Empire reign that came at the end of the 13th century?

I had travelled 14 hours on a plane, and was tired, but excited with the new sights, sounds and smells. Things are just different. They’re faster, and that can seem scary to some people who aren’t used to stepping away from their comfort level. Istanbul; a city of 15 million people, isn’t waiting for me to pick up my pace. Coming from a capital city of 1 million people in Edmonton, this is a whole new world. It brought my favorite pastime (people watching) to a whole new level.

I had to go out to the boardwalk that evening and get down to the water I could see from my hotel. The Bosphorus is a straight of water connecting the Sea of Maramara with the Black Sea. It also acts as the continental border between Europe and Asia. I think all great cities have easy access to water. There is a lot of scientific study done around people and our fascination with water, or being drawn to bodies of water. I wont go into it all but basically being around water has psychological healing effects, and brings calmness and a sense of connectivity.  Maybe it’s the way we used to find water to hunt for fish and being near water meant being by supply, providing comfort and security, or maybe it’s watching for boats coming back into the harbor meant the return of family, or again supply of resources. Either way, water still remains a powerful comforting force for people. In the same way we boast our River Valley in Edmonton, and we head down there just to sit, and look at the water; at the core of it we just love being close to the elements.

Bosphorus bridge connecting Europe to Asia.

I walked around the Besitkas area. Besitkas means “Cradle stone” in Turkish and there are a few different stories about how the area came to be named, but all circle back to the stone taken from the stable or the crib in which Jesus was birthed. I love a good backstory, and there is not one place you can go in Istanbul where you don’t hear about the way it came to be. Legends, theories, and just straight facts, from times long past. It’s a writers paradise to think of all the people who came through this city, and the imagination can unfold a thousand tales.

I was in Turkey on business, but there is no way to avoid the areas of intrigue that call out to you when you visit a new place. The places you have heard about from travellers before you, or as an exotic destination in a movie set, is now right outside your window waiting for you to unravel more stories. I travelled to the Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia) which means “divine wisdom”  and felt the clock turn back in time. It’s the most beautiful dome showcasing both Christian and Muslim faith in one building. The building was destroyed three times over before from earthquakes, but the final building that stands now was constructed over 1400 years ago originally as a cathedral, and during the Ottoman empire was converted to a mosque. They removed or plastered over many of the Christian mosaics and paintings, and now, as a museum they are slowly being uncovered to tell the stories of that time as well. Pure amazement.

Fun fact: Edmonton was home to Canada’s first ever mosque. The Al-Rashid Mosque.

The Blue Mosque built in 1610 is an active mosque to this day, and I had to go because of all the pictures I had seen of the building. It is not blue on the outside, but the inside interior is covered with over 20,000 ceramic mosaic tiles that are blue and gold. I entered with the provided headscarf and dress that they gave me at the door. Shoes are removed before you enter, and all customs are respected. As they should be. This is a house to worship god, and I was inspired by the faith as I witnessed people on their knees giving time to worship their god. I watched a woman kneeling, eyes closed to the floor, her lips moving slightly but no sound coming out as she addressed the divine. Her expressions were so sincere and honest and hopeful, and even though I do not practice organized religion, or find myself belonging to a “group”, I felt so connected to this woman by watching her pray to her god.

Of course I feasted on the local cuisine during my stay. The vendors were selling corn on the cob roasted over an open flame in the street cart, or chestnuts taken with ease out of their spikey shell and roasted covered with spices. Locals carrying boxes of Simit, a circular bread covered in sesame seeds (looks like a cross between a sesame seed bagel and a pretzel) sold on every street corner and sometimes in the middle of the highway for a mere 1TL (maybe .35cents Canadian). That will fill you up until your next meal time.

Five days in Istanbul, and only a short time spent outdoors due to my daytime conference. I walked to Taksim square, had dinner on the Bosphorus on a boat and sailed past fortresses from centuries ago built by emporers and sultans. We were sailing toward the Black Sea as so many boats came in from. The Ottoman Empire rule not forgotten as the landmarks remain along the coastline and inland boasting a rich history. It makes me think of Edmonton and Canada for that matter and the rich history that we do have, but pick and choose to keep or ignore. It makes me ever more curious, and I feel that things are about to get all the more real as I dig for answers.


Writer struggle – Back at it again

As a person, and especially as a writer, I have been known to overthink things. Often that leads to me living too much in my own head and not growing any real momentum  because I struggle for perfection and focus. Well perfection is impossible and focus is only achieved with time and consistency. Chaos, or no chaos. I am on here to write about some great Edmonton stories to connect Edmonton to other countries around the world.

As I prepare to head out on another adventure in September (Greece and Turkey) I realized I never did report back on my last trip to the Dominican Republic. What struck me is that there are Edmonton stories of connection every where I go. Most of the time I find that there is a bit of other countries in Edmonton already. Dominican Republic has some of the best Cacao exports and some of Edmonton’s best chocolate (Jacek) comes from the cacao farms in Santa Domingo and Puerto Plata farms, but there are other stories waiting to be told. It’s not surprising. Edmonton is a city built from migrants of various backgrounds. It has made us a very diverse and open city. What creates the heart of Edmonton is the feeling of belonging in such a diverse city. It always comes down to the people. Business stories, stories of friendships and loves made, stories between people between Edmonton and other countries.

I want to create my own connection to other places, and I plan to leave a bit of myself everywhere I go, but I also want to dig these stories up from other people about YEG, my first true love.

I want to know what is your YEG connection? Do you have family here? Did you have a summer fling in YEG? Did you commit a crime in YEG? Maybe not advisable to write about it here.  There are probably stories of international intruigue just waiting to be told.

I think a way to unite people in different countries, especially in times like these where there seems to be so much divide, are stories that serve as a reminder of how we are all connected.

I am heading to Turkey first on September 25th, and in advance of my travels I spoke with one Turkish migrant who has been living in Edmonton for over 10 years, and travels frequently back to Turkey to visit family. His recommendations for me, and his story of how he came to Canada will be next on my list. Stay tuned…

Edmonton: a city of Caesar lovers

The Caesar, for those of you who don’t know, is a Canadian made cocktail based off the Bloody Mary but 1000% times better (according to your average Canadian).

Edmonton may not have created the Caesar, but it is a Provincial boast. In truth Canada’s love affair with this spin on the Bloody Mary cocktail started in Calgary, Edmonton’s southern neighbor. In 1969 a hotel bar manager named Walter Chell decided to create a signature drink for the new Italian restaurant opening up in the hotel. One of the signature dishes at the restaurant was a pasta dish with clams, and in a moment of inspiration and madness he muddled some clams to mix into the tomato juice, added some spices, vodka and BOOM, just like that, the Canadian Caesar was born. The consistency of mushed up clams (eww) did not withstand the times and Motts Clamato juice is used today. Actually, fun fact: Clamato was invented prior to the Caesar and quickly made a staple in many Canadian bars after that. The Caesar cocktail has evolved, and includes a lot of new inventive variations in flavors from horse radish to pickle juice, and over the top garnishes (the list goes on and on and can get outlandish see Buzzfeed’s article), this is known as Canadian peacocking. 😉

Here is a simple quick go-to recipe for folks at home or to take camping:

  • Ice
  • Mott’s Clamato
  • 1.5oz vodka
  • 3-4 dashes worchestershire
  • 2 dashes tobasco/hot pepper sauce
  • Lime/or lemon wedge
  • Salt rimmer (celery salt, but please include various other salts/steakspice/Cajun seasonings etc)
  • Garnish options: Celery stalk/pepperoni/peppercini/pickled bean/pickled egg/pickled anything/stuffed pepper/olive/bacon

Caesar on my balcony.
It is one of those drinks that you either love or don’t care for it, and there are seldom people that fall in between. Most Edmontonians love it, which would explain it being on every bar menu I have ever laid my eyes on in this City. May 18th is National Caesar day, and what better time to try out the many Caesars in Edmonton?

YegCaesars is a website/social media page devoted to scouring the town to find the best Caesars, and they try them all out for we the people of Edmonton, and take photos so we can be jealous and go try new caesars (seriously I want this job). Check out their places visited site (110 to date) and select a venue for your Caesar today.

If I am strapped for time, I often judge a restaurant/bar by the quality of their Caesar, and anytime I am in the states, and they hand me a bloody mary, even a free one… I just can’t.  Caesars are just one of those Canadian things that I got used to. A Canadian acquired taste maybe. One of my favorite places for one is the local pub Pint, because they do a mean Pickle Caesar, and Tavern on Whyte, because they give me a meal with my Caesar (Grilled Cheese sandwich, and many pickled garnishes). Today, take the time to try one out if you haven’t done so already, and share your pictures on social media #yegcaesar.

Happy Caesar Day everyone!

The Layover – Edmonton Edition

Recently, I have been binge watching the Netflix series called “The Layover” featuring my unnatural celebrity crush Anthony Bourdain. He may be 60 years old, but that man has refined confidence paired with bad boy swagger that no woman can resist, and he can cook.

If you haven’t seen the series it is all about the reality (for some) of having short layovers in some major urban cities, and a quick guide of what you can do in the city during that short amount of time (24-48 hours). Edmonton isn’t yet considered a “major urban city” but it has unique places and great people who make this city an exciting place to live and visit. Whether you are a business professional heading somewhere else in the world, or you are planning a trip somewhere else in Alberta (Banff, Lake Louise) with a stop over in Edmonton, there are some really good tips of places you wouldn’t want to miss out on if you have just 24-48 hours. Edmonton Layover edition…

First thing Bourdain would do on the series is tell you how to get into the City from the major airport. What most of the cities he visited had in common was excellent transportation systems. Keep in mind, most of his layovers were in Europe. They are years ahead of us with their transportation system planning, but we are steadily improving the gateways to our city. Edmonton has one major international airport (YEG international). Hence “YEGandBeyond” by the way.

Getting to town:

The most cost-effective method would be to take the city bus. There is an express bus running from the airport to the City of Edmonton South side transit lined called Route 747. The service runs every 30 minutes during peak hours, and the fare is $5.00. The ride takes about 25 minutes, and from there you can transfer onto the LRT transit line that can get you to the downtown core within 15 minutes, where many of the featured hotels and restaurants are located.

  • Total cost: $5
  • Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour (dependent on wait times)

If you want to save time you can hop in a taxi (yellow or co-op) which would cost you around $55 flat fee to downtown core, but get you there in 25 minutes.

  • Total cost: $55
  • Time: 25 minutes

In Edmonton we have access to UBER and TAPCARR, not all provinces have allowed the use of this driving service because of regulations around vehicle for hire services, but we are all for it here. If you have a mobile phone you can get access to this more affordable option and you will save around 35-40% of your fare*, also 25 minutes or so depending on your hotel.

  • Total cost: $35.00 *
  • Time: 25 minutes

Places to stay in town:

IMG_1653Luxury: If you have the means and you’re looking for a luxurious stay, absolutely book a room in the classic Fairmont MacDonald Hotel. An Edmonton landmark constructed in 1911, rooms start at around $250/per night, but the views of the North Saskatchewan River and River Valley (the largest urban parkway in North america by the way, no biggie) are more than worth the price. I used to call it the Disney castle on the hill when I was younger. The ballroom brunch is amazing.

IMG_1644Mid-Range, comfort: The Westin is located right on 100 ave (Rice Howard Way). It’s close to what I would call the music & arts district of downtown. Westin provides comfort and style in their rooms, and it is a common stay for NHL hockeyplayers on their stopovers in Edmonton, so you never know who you will bump into.

Dont let casual exterior fool you, check out the website for pics of the modern boutique style rooms.

Budget: Crash Hotel: Located downtown in the ICE district . You are in the centre of the action right next to Rogers Place, and staying at a renovated landmark site in Edmonton, now a modern boutique hotel. Each room has a unique edgy theme, flexible stay options, and I would say that for most this is perfect landing pad for a quick stop over in Edmonton. You can get a room for $100 a night (sometimes less), and you are close to an amazing array of restaurants and bars.


What to Eat/Drink:


If you are in Edmonton briefly you will notice that there are an abundance of dining options, especially downtown. If I had to take any guest for a good meal on a stop over here Woodwork would be it.  Headed by an award-winning chef Lindsay Porter, the Woodwork menu is simple, with delicious mainstays cooked by wood fire and seasonal dishes that never disappoint. It’s a great opportunity to try the Alberta beef. The drinks are crafted beautifully from their award winning bartenders, and their drinks are the star as they are a repeat showcase as Edmonton best cocktail by local readers of Vue.

Street food

Edmonton is also known for two greasy, late night eats in particular. The Donair, and of a FAT FRANK hot dog. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life…but I will ask, if you don’t partake in at least one Donair in your life…are you really living? The donair “walk of shame” is a must on a late night walk back to the hotel. There are shops on every popular Edmonton late night street.

What to do: *Limited time (seasonal)

The best arts scene: It would be a shame to come to Edmonton for a layover and not experience some of the great arts scene this city has to offer. A hub for design and arts, Edmonton hosts artists, makers and performers for decades that have created series events.


  • Rapid Fire Theatre – Live improv. Improv battles amongst provincial teams. It’s comedy at its wittiest, and a proud part of the theatre community in Edmonton. IMG_1620
  • Edmonton Symphony Orchestra – If you are lucky to be in Edmonton on a ESO night, book it. You are in for a treat.
  • Alberta Art Gallery – Always something going on other than an exhibition

Going out

IMG_1637ICE district – Hockey/Concerts/Casinos/Bars & nightlife

If you are staying downtown there are many options for your night to get a bit crazy. Starting at Rice Howard Way at the Craft Beer Market and stretching on toward the Ice District the streets come alive at night time. Obviously we love our hockey but if you aren’t in town to catch an Oilers game…

Mercer Tavern, Chvrch of John & Denizen Hall are hot spots on a Saturday night.

Whyte Avenue – Another place to visit if you are here is just south of the river.  Whyte Avenue (82nd ave) in the evening gives you a variety of nightlife options from laid back pints at Black Dog, to underground dance halls and tequila bars at El Cortez. What’s your poison?

Parting Gifts

I hate getting caught up in a city and not knowing what souvenir to get that really speaks to the city I am in. Shot glasses, and key chains don’t really tend to remind you of an experience and seem more obligatory and last minute. Want a truly Edmonton souvenir? Why not get something that was made in Edmonton? What is most unique about Edmonton are the people. The makers, and the stories coming out of Edmonton are incredible. Check out Habitat Etc for some local made products, or Makers Keep boutique for more local fun finds that will remind you of Edmonton for years to come. Meet some people who will bring you back here.


Canada inspired Maple syrup dispenser at Habitat Etc
The Habitat Etc pop up shops are the best






Downtown YEG Dinner & Drinks


This is not a food blog.

Although this post is all about food…I just thought I would lead with that, because food is a major part of how communities come together, and with every new flavor and take on how food is prepared it adds another element of who we are as a city. Edmonton has a growing culinary reputation.

Whether you are a foodie or not you could appreciate all of the new flavors & establishment’s that have made their way into the Edmonton food scene. Especially with the addition of Rogers Place arena downtown, many new restaurants have popped up to meet the growing demand. There is something for every taste.

Next time you want to head out for a date in Edmonton, or just want to try some place new that Edmontonians are talking about before the hockey game, or concert downtown, here is my list of buzz worthy additions to the YEG downtown core. Most of these will require some planning ahead on your part. Don’t be disappointed; make a reservation.

Drinks & Snacks

  1. Otto – Tucked away in the community of Norwood (95st and 114st). This once somewhat desolate neighborhood is getting a revamp by way of fun eating establishments like Otto. The dutch inspired restaurant has a variety of craft beers or great coffee if that is more your speed. Also Otto features a selection of local made sausages from FUGE.
  2. Alta & Alder Room – Dark, intimate settings. Alta is now open. Alder room is the sister restaurant awaiting it’s opening soon. Much anticipated from the chef of North53. Regionally inspired vegetable dishes. Crafted cocktails, small plates. Good for a date, or an after work debrief.
  3. Crash Lobby Bar – Edmonton’s newly opened CRASH hotel has a happening lobby bar with some great food at that. A few hearty dishes like the Alberta short ribs, or their signature Crash Burger. Have some drinks and head over to Denizen Hall (pub/dance/arcade) it’s conveniently located next door.
  4. Cavern – Wine & cheese. Small downstairs establishment off 104street serves a huge selection of artisanal cheese for enjoying in-house or have them wrap up your selections to go.

Dinner & Drinks

  1. Uccelino  – Corso32 owner has opened up his trifecta of restaurants with this modern casual (but oh so fine) take on Italian dining. Uccelino is a must try on Jasper Avenue right next to his others awesome restaurants (Bar Bricco, Corso32). Simple Italian food, made with the very best ingredients and care.
  2. Atlas Steak & Fish – Perfect for date night. Steak dinner, and the bright lights of the casino or  take in a show at Rogers place. Great wine selection as well.
  3. Baijiu – Located in the historical Mercer building, right across from Rogers Place Baijiu offers Asian inspired plates, perfect for sharing family style. Grab some friends and check it out.
  4. XO Bistro & Bar – An upscale Vietnamese restaurant in Edmonton’s ICE district. Asian inspired cocktails, and traditional & tasty Vietnamese dishes.

The diversity in cultural dining experiences is something that has always been embraced in Edmonton, and the opportunity for more of that is inevitable as the ICE district develops downtown. What are your favorite new spots, or hidden gems in downtown Edmonton?

Shopping Local on Boxing Day


In Canada the day after Christmas is a federal statutory holiday called Boxing Day. Offices, banks and postoffices are closed, and if the day happens to land on a Saturday or Sunday a person will receive a day off from work the following week “in-lieu” which means instead of or in place of.

Boxing Day is typically viewed as the shopping day of the year in Canada. Although offices are closed major shopping centres and many small local businesses stay open to entice customers to their stores with the sales, and often bring in high revenues due to the volume experienced on this day. The shopping experience can be a hectic one on this day, and navigating your way around for sales is not for the faint of heart especially at the major malls in our city. The parking lots are packed, the ques are long and the anxiety is at an all time high. The holiday can be viewed by some as being consumer overload, after all Christmas time is the highest consumer debt month of the year, however, if you are already looking to spend money and spend your Christmas gift cards you might as well do it in a way that saves you money.

Unless you are in the market for some electronics and applicances, and don’t mind standing in line for hours I would recommend avoiding the malls and shopping centre outlets. There are other places in Edmonton to go shopping where you can avoid the insane parking lots and big box stores who have sales frequently throughout the year. Now is the perfect opportunity to sample some great local products offered at the local shops, and score a bargain or two while doing it.

Whyte avenue or Old Strathcona (82avenue) from 99th street all the way to 111th street there are an array of different kinds of shops to take in. Not only is the public transit right along whyte ave handy to avoid the traffic, but there is also a few parking lots just off whyte to park your car, or residential spaces and street parking (which is free on stat holidays). Because of the stat holiday a lot of small street shops decide to stay closed, which is fair choice for them and their staff, but it’s really too bad to stay closed on the busiest shopping day of the year.


Here is a list of shops on Whyte that WILL be open on Boxing Day. Most of which are offering sales (most sales promos are not posted until the day before or day of).

Clothing & Accessories:

Dress Code recently opened on Whyte avenue offering some of the latest fashion from Korea and Tawain. Great sales on Boxing Day. Check them out.

The Bamboo Stockroom is the addition to Bamboo Ballroom on Whyte ave that has some great local products and unique fashions, they also carry OLE brand Alberta and YEG hoodies which I love and “Still in Edmonton” hoodies.

Bamboo Ballroom, Noul (loft 82), Original apparel, Jaisel (Men’s Fashion)

Workhall, Gravity pope, Mars & Venus, Plush, Marlowe Boutique, Roots, Foosh, Glam Slam, Avenue Clothing Co, Rowena

Soaps/Bath product: Wild Prairie Soap, Lush, Chapters

Music: BlackByrd Myoozik

Home Decor, Books, Art and Collectibles: When Pigs Fly (maybe), Wish List Gifts,

Whyte Knight as I discovered is a store above Mars & Venus on Whyte ave and has a massive amount of collectibles and vintage products still new in the original packaging! They will have a few mark down items, but it is a great opportunity for some nostalgia.

Take a break: Tea/Coffee (products & services) – The recently renovated Block 1912 will be open for your sweet tooth needs and coffee break during your shopping trip.

When you need a break from the shops or when you are done for the day take a break at Hudson’s on Whyte for 50% off all drinks on the menu. Malt & Mortar will also be open to take a load off after your busy day of shopping.


More shops around town: Still in the mood for more local shopping? The Makers Keep 121street across from the Brewery District (Open 12pm-4pm) has a collection of local made products from accessories, clothing to art and home décor.

Red Ribbon on 124th street has great local products/designers (if you cant make it there, try the online sales).

Most shops on 104th street are closed.

Have a great time shopping for the New Year. Looking forward to 2017!



The Long and Short of it

Contrary to what you may see and feel around you, we do get four seasons in Edmonton. Some of them are shorter lived than others. Edmontontians know the reality of long winters all too well. We get a harsh dry winter in the prairies that usually lasts about 6 months between late October to late April. Even when it seems that the worst of the cold is over, and we get few weeks of twenty degree sunshine, we could end up with a freak April/May snowfall and freezing temperatures the next week. This shouldn’t surprise us Edmontonians, it’s been happening  long since I can remember, but every year as the snow melts and we get that April snowfall, or May snowfall, we share in the incredulous banter about the weather in the parking lots of workplaces Edmonton wide. “Can you believe this??” a co-worker will bark, as he wipes the wet snow from his windshield in April.

There is a positive effect to the harsh temperamental weather; it makes us better neighbors to each other in an otherwise very spread out vast city. It helps us look out for one another when we all have the same hardship in common. We have learned to embrace the cold in ways that make us warm. Here is the breakdown for the newbies to Edmonton or Canada, and for the locals here are some truths you can testify to about our love/hate relationship with winter.

I am going to feel old saying this, but when I was growing up I remember it was most often -25 to -35 celcius in the winter time. I couldn’t leave the house without my coverall snowsuit, two pairs of socks, and long johns (long underwear or tights). We layered our touques on some days, but it never stopped us from getting outside to enjoy the snow. After all we didnt have tablets or cellphones to play with. We found the beauty in it. The snow is majestic. Building snow forts, throwing snowballs, getting your tongues stuck to cold metal fences or jacket zippers was a form of entertainment back then. Same goes for other fun activities that brought our family together like watching the lights display in Candy Cane lane, Legislature Grounds, or going skating on the lake at Hawrelak Park. Going snow shoeing around the Muttart Conservatory and making maple syrup taffy on the snow never gets old. I remember peeling off my snowsuit at the front door when I got home and the little clumps of snow would be hanging on for dear life to the fur lining of my boots, and my legs would tingle as they thawed out in the warmth of my house, my nose running all over the place…but I had a smile on my face as my Mom would hand me a big cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. That’s winter to me, and many of my early fond memories were made in the cold.

The weather has not been as harsh in the past 15 years as it was, and there are even more activities happening outdoors in Winter for the City that are fun for all ages, and they bring us together in ways that build bonds, and create memories. So many Edmontontians share in these winter memories that the city has become known as a world “winter city” we have adopted slogans like “Wearewinter”. There is no shortage of things to do for fun, and to stay active in the Winter, if you want suggestions just head to Explore Edmonton website.

So look out for one another, drive safe on those roads, and make some memories this Winter. Post your favorite YEG winter activity in the comments.



Preparing for take off

Have you experienced the excitement and wonder that travelling to a new country gives you?
They say that going on a trip is one of the few things you can buy that actually makes you richer, and I totally agree. Experiences make you richer, and whenever possible you need to treat yourself to the riches of new experience by planning a trip somewhere completely foreign to you. I started travelling in my early twenties. Something about boarding a plane and knowing that for the next 2-3 weeks  (or longer if you are able to) you will not be at home base, you are outside of your comfort zone…it’s scary and exhilarating at the same time.


In a month’s time I will be heading to the Netherlands and then Spain. Not only am I heading to Spain for the first time but I am getting to experience it with a friend who is travelling to a different continent for the first time.

Travelling abroad can cause some understandable anxiety. That’s no reason not to travel. Not when there is a whole world out there to discover. Travelling can help you find out a lot about yourself. I’m not a travel guru but I am a fan of lists. So I have created some easy go-to steps for easing my travel anxiety that might help you when preparing for travel:

  1. Learn the basics of the native language – Most places you go in Europe will have people that speak English, but it is usually not their first language, and there are a lot of small towns or older generations that may not understand your English. It’s nice and a lot of fun to learn the basics of their national first language both as a means to get around easier, and to be polite in your attempt to communicate as a guest in their country. It can ease the anxiety knowing some basics. You don’t have to take a language course, but a travel pocket book, or use the mobile application “Duolingo” a month or two before you go can help you get a feel for it, and make you more comfortable asking for help from locals. Disculpeme Donde esta el bano? duolingo-image1
  2. Protect your documents – Plan to keep your most important documents (Passport, other identification) in the safest spot you can while you are travelling and keep digital copies as well in your email or a safe online application. If you lose your phone you can access the copies in your email from a computer. If you are to lose important travel documents you will need to contact your countries Embassy in the Country you are visiting and they can help you. Having your health insurance information/travel insurance information accessible digitally is a good idea in case of an emergency where you don’t have your wallet. You should be able to access all of your travel tickets online.

    Don’t keep your passport on the outside pockets of your travel bags. Ever.
  3. Map out the area – When you arrive to a new country it can be a bit overwhelming when you land and think of getting around in a new city you have never seen before. It is one of the exciting things for me, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Once you know what neighborhood your accommodations are it is a good idea to either take a walk around the area and get a good feel for it, and or you can use MAPS.ME  free application to download maps in advance of the whole city, and then access them offline. These maps point you in the direction of any transit, sights, accommodations, pharmacies, or food places. You can find your way anywhere at any time without an internet connection!
  4. Pack light – Think of your most-likely activities for your trip, and make a list of clothes you want to pack for your trip accordingly. Did you forget to pack something? Barring your passport, and access to your money, you can buy everything else from shops. You don’t need as much as you think you do. Unless it’s vital to getting you where you need to go, or needed for health reasons (pack your medications) and you have zero money to spend, then its not a big deal if you forgot to pack a bathing suit, or a hair brush.
    Pack light carry on. Carriers have size/weight restrictions for your carry on items. So check with the carrier.

    I would eliminate packing soap, shampoos, conditioners all together because not only can you buy it there (or its provided at accommodations), but then you don’t need to worry about them exploding on your other belongings in transit, which is something that has happened to me more than once. It’s easier and cheaper to pack light and buy something you forgot than to overpack and have to ditch items at security, or have unnecessary items in your luggage weighing you down. I promise this will save you a lot of headaches during your travel transit time. Try and remember your phone and charger though…which brings me to the next step.

  5. Communication plan – Now that most places in the world has access to Wi-Fi there is no need for expensive long distance phone plans, especially with mobile technology applications like Skype, and WhatsApp that have made long distance texting and calling free to access. Most popular cafes especially McDonalds, Starbucks will have access to free wi-fi. Download WhatsApp for texting family back home or update your Facebook status so everyone knows your safe and sound. You can also talk face to face on Skype, or iPhone users can facetime for free on Wi-Fi as well. You can also turn on location services on your phone settings and “Nearby friends” on Facebook so you family can see where you are at even if you are not online at the time. If you are travelling with friends, agree to a meeting spot (back at accommodations) should you get separated without speaking about it first, and are not able to communicate by technology means.
  6. Give yourself time before flights –  I am a punctual person, but add in some time change jet lag and things can get pretty screwy in realizing the time. Missing a flight is never fun. Missing a connection in a foreign country is even worse, and leads to a lot of unwanted expenses (not to mention butterfly effect losses). Set an alarm clock, set another alarm clock, and leave with enough time to get to the airport 1-2 hours in advance of your international/domestic flights. You can check the status of your flight the day of on Flightstats. You can double check with your airport carrier also to see if there are any delays. Unexpected things happen that can delay flights (additional plane maintenance required, weather, other airport traffic, etc),  and if it is a significant time delay go to the airline carrier desk and ask nicely if they would comp you some vouchers for having to wait around. Remember the carriers are not legally obligated to comp you anything extra, it’s all written there when you buy your ticket, but the carriers are trying to get you on the next possible flight that is safe, so being a jerk to them because you are inconvenienced is rude and likely wont result in any benefit for you. Being nice might make your wait more comfortable. IMG_6175.JPG

Those steps alone will probably help in your preparation for an amazing whirlwind trip, and your anxiety can start to turn into excitement about all of the cool things you are about to see.

I can’t wait for my trip to Spain, and I will be sure to write about all of the great things I have learned, and come back with a fresh perspective for Edmonton.

Ready for my next adventure!