When I heard that the 2016 International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics championships were being held in Edmonton, Alberta, my reaction was Edmonton? Really? But that’s the great thing about playing with an LGBT water polo team like the Toronto Triggerfish. We travel the world, from Hawaii to Sweden, and occasionally there’s a dark-horse destination. In 2014 it was the Gay Games in Cleveland. I had low expectations and wound up loving it. Could Edmonton be my Canadian Cleveland? I embark on a cross-Alberta road trip to find out.
It begins in the cowboy city of Calgary. I pick up my rental car and meet with Kristyn Snell of Tourism Calgary at the Hotel Arts, a downtown boutique hotel that has playful accents like a black-pig side table in the foyer and a beautiful courtyard pool. “On weekends they have a DJ. It has a bit of a South Beach feel,” Snell says.
The hotel prepares us a picnic lunch, which we place in the wooden box affixed to the back of a hotel bike, and we ride onto one of the city’s newest bike lanes. “Two years ago the city began a multi-million dollar project to add more cycling paths,” she explains.