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Sitting right in the centre of Alberta, Edmonton is the second biggest city and the capital of the province. It has about 750,000 inhabitants living in the city itself, 875,000 in the urban area and over 1 million in the total metropolitan area. Founded on the banks of the North Saskatchewan river by the Hudson's Bay Company in the days of the exploration of the Canadian West, Edmonton has grown into an important political, educational and cultural centre of western Canada.
Downtown Edmonton is bounded by 97 street on the east, 109 street on the west, and between 97 and 104 ave.
The cultural centre of downtown is Churchill square, at 102 Avenue and 100 Street. The Square underwent major transformation in 2004 and is now designed to cater to the many festivals it hosts each year such as the Edmonton International Street Performer's Festival and Taste of Edmonton. During the summer, Churchill Square is full nearly every weekend for one of the many summer festivals. The Square contains many pieces of public art as well as areas for lounging, performing, eating, shopping, and people watching.
Just off of Churchill square to the east is the world-class performance hall Francis Winspear Centre for Music, and the Citadel theatre. The Winspear is home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Davis Symphony Organ. This organ is world renown with many of the world's top organists coming just to play it. The Citadel is one of the largest theatre spaces in Canada and also houses an atrium with tropical plants. Just north of Churchill Square is Edmonton city hall, and a wading pool, popular on hot summer days, which doubles as a skating rink in the winter. At City Hall is a restaurant called Kids in the Hall Bistro. It is a place where troubled teens are given a job and are taught basic work and life skills.
Much of the downtown is connected through underground pedways which culminate at City Centre Mall. With over 170 shops and services, this mall becomes packed at lunch time.
The west end of downtown, is the Warehouse District was previously used almost exclusively as warehouse space. In recent years, however, the warehouse district has seen a rebirth as many old warehouses have been renovated for residential or commercial uses. The main street of the warehouse district is the 104 street promenade, where high rises tower above popular restaurants and stores. 104 street is also the setting of the City Market where residents can by fresh produce and crafts every Saturday from mid May until October. There are also a few amazing restaurants such as the Blue Plate Diner and Tzin that offer unique meals with fresh ingredients.
Just west of downtown is Oliver. Oliver is one of Edmonton's old neighborhoods, however throughout the years it has undergone a lot of development. Although there are only few buildings that demonstrate the history of this neighborhood, it is a dynamic neighborhood anchored by a large number of residential high rises overlooking the river valley, with some popular restaurants and bars.
Originally a separate city located from across the river from Edmonton, Strathcona was incorporated into the city of Edmonton in 1912. The neighborhood of Old Strathcona centres along trendy Whyte Avenue (82nd avenue) and extends from between about 99th street on the east to about 109st on the West where it meets Garneau. Probably one of the most alternative areas of the city, Whyte Avenue attracts all sorts of people, and is popular for its clothing stores, bars, clubs, shops, and restaurants. Old Strathcona is also home to a vibrant art scene , just off whyte ave is the Old Strathcona Theatre District which is home to popular locations such as the Varscona Theatre and the Transalta arts barns. Old Strathcona is also home of Edmonton International Fringe Festival.
Located just between Old Strathcona and the University of Alberta, Garneau is one of Edmonton's oldest neighborhoods. Made up of high rise apartment buildings, walk-ups and some restaurants, Garneau is a popular location for a large amount of the University of Alberta's student population.
Edmonton is known as Canada's Festival city. During the summer the city hosts a number of world class festivals. Some of the highlights are:
Edmonton's climate is one of extremes, with hot summers and very cold winters. The warmest months are July and August, where the average daily high averages around 22 °C to 23 °C with the temperature sometimes reaching well over 30 °C. December and January are the coldest months, where the average high is between -8 °C and -5 °C, but temperatures can plummit below -40 °C on some winter nights.
Most visitors to the city try to come in the summer and avoid the bitter Canadian winter. It is important to remember that in Edmonton, except for on exceptionally hot and humid days, the temperature does drop significantly at night. A day that is scorching the afternoon will likely require at least a light sweater in the late evening.
Edmonton is the most northern major city in North America. The high latitude means very long summer days, where the daylight lasts about 17 hours. In the the early summer, it is often not completely dark until after 11:00pm.
|Avg Max||-8 °C||-4.7 °C||1 °C||10.7 °C||17.4 °C||20.5 °C||22.2 °C||21.7 °C||16.9 °C||10.9 °C||-0.4 °C||-5.9 °C|
|Avg Min||-19.1 °C||-16.3 °C||-9.9 °C||-2.2 °C||3.4 °C||7.7 °C||9.5 °C||8.3 °C||3.3 °C||-2.4 °C||-11 °C||-16.7 °C|
|Rainfall||22.7 mm||13 mm||16 mm||26.3 mm||49.9 mm||87.4 mm||95.2 mm||70.3 mm||47.1 mm||19.8 mm||17.7 mm||17.3 mm|
Most flights in and out of Edmonton fly out of the Edmonton International Airport (YEG). The airport is actually located near the city of Leduc, about 35 kilometres south of Edmonton downtown. There are shuttle buses and taxis available into the city.
The airport has domestic flights to most locations in Canada, as well as many major American hubs. Some direct flights are also available to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. The airport is growing quickly with new direct flights to various locations being added frequently.
The are two main highways with access to Edmonton. Highway 2, or the Queen Elizabeth 2 highway (locally known as QE2) connects Edmonton to Red Deer, Calgary and southern Alberta. Highway 16, or the yellowhead highway is part of the Trans-Canada highway system. To the east the yellowhead highway continues into Saskatchewan and connects to central and eastern Canada. To the west the yellowhead leads to the Canadian Rockies and Jasper.
Driving around Edmonton is pretty easy for a city of its size. The city is laid out in a grid pattern, with numbered streets running north/south and numbered avenues running east/west. The traffic is not usually too bad for a city of its size. If you are coming to Edmonton in the winter and are not used to winter driving be aware that the roads will likely be slippery and be sure to drive cautiously.
Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:
Edmonton has a well established public transportation system. Most attractions are on main bus routes, which are usually pretty reliable. The LRT, or light rail transit system only services the north-east side of the city, through downtown and to the University Campus, however is currently being expanded and plans are being made to extend it to all parts of the city.
As per the Canadian culinary tradition, there is not much to be said for "Canadian" food in Edmonton. However, many restaurants provide delicious food from all over the world, and unique twists on traditional western dishes.
|Chateau Motel||1414 Calgary Trail S.W.||Hotel||-|
|Days Inn Downtown Edmonton||10041-106th street||HOTEL||87|
|Derrick Motel||3925 Gateway Boulevard||Hotel||-|
|Econolodge Inn & Suites||4009 Gateway Blvd.||Hotel||-|
|GO Backpackers Hostel||10209-100th Avenue||Hostel||-|
|HI-Edmonton||10647-81 Avenue Alberta||Hostel||79|
|GO Backpackers Hostel||10526 Jasper Avenue||HOSTEL||-|
Internet usage is wide-spread in Canada. Wi-fi is available in many locations in larger cities, sometimes free and sometimes at a cost. You will find Wi-Fi in coffee stores, some restaurants and also hotels and motels more and more offer this service for free, but with a code usually. Internet cafes are common along major streets, and and in larger cities, charge between $3 and $4 for an hour, usually in 20-minute increments.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to Canada is: 1. To make an international call from Canada, the code is: 011. Emergency services can be reached by dialling 911. This number will give you free access to Police, Fire and Ambulance services and can be used from landlines, phone booths and cell phones.
The populous areas of Canada along the border with the USA have excellent cellular and wired telecommunications, meaning that travellers are never fair from an international phone call home, a WIFI connection or an internet cafe. Depending on the mobile phone provider, coverage could be either CDMA and GSM coverage. Travellers wishing to purchase SIM cards for GSM phones should look for Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility, which all offer nationwide availability.
Postal service is provided by Canada Post, a crown corporation owned by the government but run as an independent business. Most post offices keep hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm though in bigger places longer hourse might be available.
To format the envelope of a letter sent within Canada, put the destination address on the centre of its envelope, with a stamp, postal indicia, meter label, or frank mark on the top-right corner of the envelope to acknowledge payment of postage. A return address, although it is not required, can be put on the top-left corner of the envelope in smaller type than the destination address.
The lettermail service allows the mailing of a letter. The basic rate is currently set at $0.63 for one standard letter (30 grams or less). The rates for lettermail are based or weight and size and determine whether the article falls into the aforementioned standard format, or in the oversize one. The rate is the same for a postcard. Mail sent internationally is known as letterpost. It can only contain paper documents. The rate for a standard letter is of $1.10 if sent to the United States, and $1.85 if sent to any other destination. Oversize or overweight letters may be charged a higher fee. Larger parcels can be shipped via Canada post both domestically and internationally, the rate is dependent on the weight and destination. 
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