Blog #2 – Discover the Unexpected

How I got the spark back after ten years😊


We’ve all been there, or hope you have, and it’s not just me. Where did the spontaneity of the early days go that kept things alive and fresh? The humdrum, the oh too familiar, same times, same places, week after week.

Well, I found the secret; all you need to do is invite a friend or two for the ride.

No, not that kind of ride. I’m talking about getting reacquainted with your hood, habitat, cradle – whatever your chosen slang is for your hometown.

All of a sudden, this summer, we got the text,

“Are you guys around next weekend? We are thinking of making a trip to Alberta and wanted to come to visit you guys and hit up the mall with the kids.”

The mall? We finally have the most incredible summer weather, and you want to spend two days in North America’s largest entertainment and shopping Mecca? – my husband and I’s inside voices scream.

“Sure, we’re home, come stay. We’ve got plenty of room; we’ll join you at the mall. No, we’ve never actually taken the kids to Galaxyland, it will be fun. See you in a week”.

So, the plan was set. There was no getting away from it now. But despite all our miss giving, the three days we spent being tourists in our own town were fantastic. And it’s all thanks to the scarcely mentioned visitor economy generator known in the trade as VFR or Visiting Friends and Relatives.


Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the unexpected and instill some overdue mojo into showing off your stomping ground……


  1. Approach things from a different angle, drive the scenic route and give a little tour guide commentary as you go. You’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you know.
  2. That’s precisely what we did the night we took our friends to the Edmonton Fringe, North America’s large Fringe festival. Their kids from a mountain resort town in BC loved the energy and action along the Calgary trail and onto Whyte Ave. Park a little further away than usual and let your local tour continue on the walk.
  3. Slow your pace, look at things differently, and see what you discover. I have no idea how many different places there were to buy fried chicken on one stretch of road, but I’m tempted to go back now and try a few.
  4. Take pride in your diverse food scene and try a cultural dish you’ve never had before. I did this by selecting a delicious Ethiopian beef dish from Langano Skies food truck, accompanied by the creamiest mango milkshake of my life from Nectar Juice Bar.
  5. See things through the kid’s eyes. Jack turned to me as we wandered around the busy streets full of buskers in front of the beautiful Knox Church and commented, “that looks like the castle from my storybook.” Jack, we are fortunate to live in a city with amazing architecture. Thanks for the reminder.
  6. When you venture inside for a marathon Mall session, thank your lucky stars that West Edmonton Mall has free, convenient parking just outside its door as you roll out of the waterpark after your second consecutive 8-hour day of fun.
  7. Marvel at the retail therapy you have at your fingertips, all at only 5% GST; any visitor from BC will point it out if you don’t show gratitude.
  8. Catch yourself constantly talking up all the experiences, places, and parts of the city that you haven’t managed to sample this time round and start making your friends itinerary for their next visit. And if you ever happen to be lost for inspiration, I suggest signing up to become a YEG Expert with Explore Edmonton’s free training program.

The moral of the story is never let an unexpected visit from a friend or relative catch you off guard. Get your tourist hat on, enjoy what your neck of the woods offers from a different perspective and spend some money in your local economy; the benefits will pay you back in droves.