Following our wonderful journey on the Rocky Mountaineer and a few days in Banff, a bus took us back to Calgary Airport where we had left our car when we flew to Vancouver. We hastened back to Cochrane, where Betsy was patiently waiting at Bow Rivers Edge Campground.
Our first glimpse of Calgary was the rows and rows of homes built on the hillsides. As the corporate home of Canada’s oil and gas industry, the urban sprawl here has grown despite problems in the oil market. Although Calgary covers roughly the same land area as New York City, it has only about 10% of the population.
We took an excursion into the heart of Calgary on a cool and cloudy day. With parking and traffic being such a hassle in the downtown area, we opted to use the city’s light rail transit (CTrain) and let our legs take us the rest of the way.
First we had a bank convert some of our U.S. dollars to Canadian, at a rate of $1 to $1.28CAD. While doing so, Steve engaged the teller into a conversation about what to do and where to eat in the city. The lady was very helpful, like most of the locals we’d met so far. Keeping her advice in mind, we began to meander around the city and made several discoveries.
Stephen Avenue was declared a National Historic District by the Canadian Government. It’s a major venue for boutique shopping, bars, pubs and restaurants.
The city’s largest inner-city park is Prince’s Island Park. It’s an island with a number of pleasant trails for walking and relaxing. This is where Steve and I saw something weird. Stopping to observe the scenery, it was eerie to see about 30 people standing totally still in one area, staring down at their phones. Obviously, Pokémon is all the rage up here!
The bank teller also suggested we stop by River Cafe in the park to taste their offerings. We tried their Fish and Game Board appetizer, which was a bit gamey but quite yummy.
With contented tummies we continued to walk around the island and crossed a red tubular pedestrian bridge that connects the southern Bow River pathway to Downtown Calgary.
Have you seen a 30-seat bicycle before? These riders are committed to supporting heart disease and stroke research, and they were a lot livelier than the ones we saw on that other corner!
The Calgary Tower may not be quite as impressive as the CN Tower in Toronto, but it still commands a great view of the city and surrounding area. Had it been a clearer day we could have seen the Rockies to the west.
If I know there’s a friend or relative living in an area we’re visiting, I always drag Steve with me to meet them. While here, Hardy and Cheng welcomed us into their home. Hardy was only 12 years old when I lived in his house as a boarder on an island in the Philippines.
Ramon Vamenta, a distant relative of mine, caught up with me through Facebook. We met up for dinner with him and his wife Lisa. It was a pleasure to see them again. Steve is amazed that I have friends and relatives even this far north!
Calgary was placed on the map when they successfully hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988. The venue has been transformed into a high-performance athletic training facility and family fun park.
Although there are no athletes in this family, one of us is always up for a bit of fun…
…while the other is content to pose in more stationary places:
We could have spent much more time hanging out in Calgary, we found the city to be beautiful and clean. The locals were friendly and the drivers very courteous. Being the gateway to Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is even more appealing as a must-see city north of the border.
Next up: Visiting friends in Edmonton