West Edmonton Mall

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 23, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So I arrived in the mall as an early morning show at the sea lions exhibit was just starting up. I also got to drive around a remote control ship in the pirate exhibit. I turned out to be pretty good at the controls. After my stop at the pirate area I decided to tour the mall and look at the unique and wacky stores. Inspired by Beth I also decided to talk with the people who worked there and get their story. I went to Mall administration and signed in as a media person. Then I walked back to the hostel, with several wrong turns from wrong directions from strangers. It took me three hours to get back and my feet are sore and I am exhausted so I will update more on today's events tomorrow morning. I still haven't gone up to the room I am going to be sharing with several men. So I am going to go now and I will expand my blogs when I have some energy.

After waking up the next day
So here are some of the mall stories. I went to the mall because it was raining outside and it sometimes changed to snow. Simply put it was a crappy day. So after spending some time in the hostel getting a sense for what I had gotten myself into I ventured out into the city. Now I didn't have high hopes for Edmonton having visited it when I was 12 with my parents. All I remember is being really upset that this mall I had heard so much about from my friends was smaller than imagined and not really that fantastic. I also remember seeing a lot of cement compared to Calgary which had mountains surrounding it. Now walking out onto Whyte Ave I didn't get the same feeling about Edmonton. It was nicer, it was cleaner and it was soaked with I'm in touch with nature vibe. The hostel where I am staying is near everything. I took the bus to the mall because of the weather and because I had lost a bit of my travel luster. I was so exhausted I fell asleep in the bus several times. After breakfast though, which I wrote about above I had regained my enthusiasm for exploring. I decided to do what Beth did wherever we went. Even if there wasn't an obvious tourist attraction, she went out and found it. Aussie in Saskatoon, who was a homeless aboriginal, was not a tourist attraction but he taught us about Saskatoon. The way they look at things there, the things they hold up as important. So I was determined to get the feel of the West Edmonton Mall not from the obvious sights but from the people who worked there and the odd stores that the former biggest mall in the world had to tell. Just out of the breakfast place I was reminded of how early I had arrived at the mall as the zamboni was still cleaning the ice at the ice palace and stores were just waking up. There was hardly anyone there which was nice because it let me take photos without worrying about people's reaction. This earlier period was when I took in the sea lion show which was being shown to a class of kindergarten children who loved to see the large sea lion fly through the air and then splash them with water. I watched it from the bridge that went over the artificial mini lake where the pirate ship sat. After the show I went and played with the remote controlled ships. I wasn't bad. I got the ship in its dock twice for only a $1 dollar spent. I found a store that sold only fishing gear. It was called the Fishin Hole. The girl who worked there was working there because her step father owned the store. She let me in on the best fishing spots in Edmonton. She told me the mall was falling apart and no one her age ( about 19 years old) shopped there anymore. I don't think I totally agree with her but the mall seems to have also felt the recession as there were several spaces for rent throughout the retail giant. Then I went to find my brother a birthday present. I went and spoke to Teri. Around my age Teri was more enthusiastic about Edmonton then the girl at the Fishing Hole. She recommended the High Valley Park, the High End Bridge, and another park that slips my mind now. My list of places to see was growing. Then I visited the McBain Camera foto shop. I needed to get a new lense cap which I had lost in Saskatoon. I got it and had a great conversation with Nicole. I checked the list with her and she agreed with Teri. Also only 19, she said she felt getting to work at the West Edmonton Mall was an honour because it was a great place to work and shop. She was working at McBain's because she is going to NAIT, a photography college in the fall. She even let me charge my camera battery at the store while I walked around the mall. Next I decided to see more of the mall. But quickly I found myself at media relations for the mall. A guy a little younger than myself had me sign a whole bunch of release forms to get a media pass. His name was Adam and he was really interested in what I was doing. He was also very interested in what I didn't do like take photos of store fronts, inside stores and generally I was not be a reporter in the mall. They gave me a big neon green pass and a whole package. I had one more encounter with an interesting person before lunch. I found a Quebecois working at the Coast Mountain Living. It was an outdoors shop which sold tents and sleeping bags. She had come to Alberta after a boy but was returning to Montreal at the end of the summer. She has found Western Canadian culture to be too different to the point that most Albertans couldn't even say her name. Named Marie Claude she had to be called MC. We talked a lot in French and then we said our goodbyes. Then I went to have lunch that was going to turn out to be the best lunch I have had on my trip so far. I went to a little place called Valentino's Pizza. Originally choosing it because it was the healthiest option I went in and ordered a Caesar salad and a mediterranean pasta which was amazing. The Caesar salad was fresh and the dressing had no fats or anything extra. It was just like home. The pasta though was amazing. A sweet taste with goat cheese and several fresh vegetables along with some chicken and beef pieces. It was one of the best meals I have had in the last two months. Unfortunately it was $25 dollars after taxes. That plus breakfast for $11.01 brought me over my $20 dollar budget for food a day. Plus the $58 dollars for the two nights at the hostel. Lastly I visited a crazy music store which doubled as a music school. There were people tuning instruments throughout the store and I found out the store was one of the largest music schools in Western Canada with over a thousand students. I left the mall, thankful it had stopped raining/snowing and I went to the Inn across the street. There I got a map of the city and decided to walk back to my hostel. I didn't know where it was, all I knew was it was near Whyte Ave near the University of Alberta. It took me three hours to get back to Whyte Ave and another hour and a half to figure out where the hostel was off of Whyte Ave. I trudged into my hostel, feet wet, pain stricken and my body exhausted. I got to see the Legislative Building from afar I will visit it tomorrow. I was confronted by more Tamils. I got to see the Government House of Alberta that ironically had a Korean temple in front of it but the Royal Alberta Museum which was attached to it was not open when I got there at 6 pm. I will also visit there tomorrow. My favorite part of the walk home though was the high level bridge. It is an old tin bridge that stretches over the forest that cuts straight through Edmonton. There I could see all that Edmonton had to offer which included quite a bit of greenery. I will have to check that out tomorrow as well. But that was the end of my first day. I will update you to what I did today tomorrow morning. Sorry about being so slow with my blogs, I am quite busy at the hostel.
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