Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Housesitting in Edmonton (Throwback post)

Edmonton, Canada
Because of our hiccup with US immigration on our arrival, we flew from Chicago straight to Canada.  We had arranged a housesit in Edmonton, and arrived there with minimum fuss after a fantastically easy change at Toronto.  After some of our US airport experiences - Miami in particular - it was lovely to breeze through immigration and customs and not to have to leg it through the airport with our rucksacks to just about make the connection.

Despite being the sixth largest city in Canada, there isn't all that much to do in Edmonton, especially in April which was when we were there.  Most people that we spoke to were surprised to see visitors, and to be honest, it is not somewhere we would really recommend at this time.  We gather that there are festivals on during the summer months, but in April it is still in the second stage of winter.  It isn't freezing cold like the first part of their winter, but there was snow on the ground for the entire time we were there; we only actually saw the garden at all in the last week, when some of the snow finally melted away, revealing bare earth and barely alive shrubs.

Edmonton, Canada
We were there to house sit for a very nice couple while they were away in Amsterdam for five weeks.  They had a great house and a lovely, if a bit timid, cat, which we thoroughly enjoyed looking after, even if she did always try to wake us up ten minutes earlier than the alarm was set for.

Edmonton, Canada
There was a nasty surprise on our first supermarket shop though.  We were in a bit of a hurry just to pick up a few bits that we needed, and we thought we'd quickly grab a bottle of wine while we were at it.  We were somewhat disappointed to see such a tiny few shelves of beer and wine, and so hurriedly just took the one that said chardonnay.  When we drank it later, we thought it tasted like grape juice rather than wine, and looked at the bottle more carefully.  Sure enough, it was dealcoholised.  At which point we remembered that the supermarkets aren't allowed to sell alcohol in most of Canada, you have to go to the mainly government run liquor stores instead.  We didn't make that mistake again.

Edmonton, Canada
We managed to abandon the warmth and comfort of our temporary home and get out into Edmonton a few times.  We met up with some fellow couchsurfers one time and we went out with the people that we stayed with on our first night in town.  We found a lovely cupcake shop, Crave Cupcakes, and a good wine store.  We were most pleased to come across a great little cheese and wine place called Cavern that had only just opened, where I discovered a delicious nutty, caramelly Beemster XO Gouda; sadly not to be found in the UK as far as I can tell.

But in general there wasn't a lot in Edmonton at this time of the year.

A number of people have asked us why we would want to go to somewhere like that.  Well the answer is two fold.  The first reason is financial.  By doing this house sit we get five weeks of free accommodation in a great house that we only have to share with a cat. That saved money allows us a bit more to spend elsewhere, which is quite important when you are travelling in the more expensive places like North America.  After all, if someone said to you that you could work for a couple of months a year and travel the rest, wouldn't you say yes?  And this is hardly work - just simply looking after the house, shovelling a bit of snow and enjoying the company of a lovely cat.

Edmonton, Canada
The second reason is that we do want to get a feel for the countries we visit.  We don't regard what we are doing as being on holiday, so we don't have to be doing big ticket, touristy things all of the time.  And staying in somewhere like Edmonton out of season is a great insight into what it is to live in Canada, and how the country differs from the UK.  Edmonton is the 6th largest city in Canada with a population of around 1.16 million.  In the  best equivalent the  6th largest primary urban areas in the UK is Sheffield, which only has a population of 0.55 million, in a smaller area, but still has somewhat more to offer than Edmonton. Personally, when considering aspects like sights, attractions, culture, restaurants and entertainment, I would compare Edmonton more to somewhere like Wakefield, which incidentally is 46th on the UK list.

Still, we enjoyed our five weeks of relaxation and it did wonders for our budget.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We like to hear from you too, so please leave us a message here. We are also happy to answer any questions if we can help. Comments are moderated so will not appear straight away and there could be some delay in replying if we are travelling.