Sightseeing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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.

Bow Riversedge
Betsy was in good company 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.

Just a section of the urban sprawl – with no trees around these homes are exposed to the elements

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.

Calgary Train
Yes, another train ride!

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.

A dramatic representation of a girl’s head called Wonderland – right in front of the Bow building
Train Calgary
We noticed the city was very clean, even here at the light rail station

Stephen Avenue was declared a National Historic District by the Canadian Government.  It’s a major venue for boutique shopping, bars, pubs and restaurants.

Stephens Avenue, Calgary
Seen from a catwalk over the street, Stephen Avenue has been turned into a pedestrian mall
Gigantic 26-metre-tall “Trees” sculptures on Stephen Avenue
Calgary, Alberta
Reflections on buildings

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!

Prince's Island
Steve was thinking “Dawn of the Dead” when we came upon this scene
Black Squirrel
The black squirrel too was busy

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.

River Cafe
Fish and Game Board – Bison Pemmican, Wild Boar Prosciutto, House Cured Bushier Salumi, Juniper Smoked Lox, Smoked Salmon Rillete, Game Terrine and Canola Seed Crackers.  We need some wine over here!

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.

Peace Bridge, Calgary
Peace Bridge built without piers crosses the Bow River
Peace Bridge
Walking through Peace Bridge

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.

Calgary Tower
627′ free standing Calgary Tower
Calgary Tower
A view from the top
Calgary Tower
My tummy actually churned as I looked straight down at the street below!
Bow River
The Bow River, which we’d seen several times in the Rockies, winds through Calgary on its way to Hudson Bay

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…

The plunge
Steve thought the 810′ long water slide was one of the actual olympic flumes, but it was instead just this inflatable one.  Looks like he still had fun!

…while the other is content to pose in more stationary places:

Jamaican Bob Sled
This bobsled was used in the movie “Cool Runnings”, the story about two Jamaicans who made a debut in 1988

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.

Calgary, Alberta
Goodbye, Calgary, till next time!




  1. You did all of that in one day?? You certainly got a great “taste” of the city (including the yummy looking fish and game board). Thanks for taking us along on your whirlwind tour—it looks like a very cool city. Looking at you looking down through the glass floor of the Calgary Tower makes me anxious….

  2. What a beautiful city. But, there would be NO way I would have gone up that tower. Especially knowing it had a glass floor.
    I love the Trees sculptures. Thanks for the wonderful tour.

  3. We. too, enjoyed our time in Calgary. We agree that it is a beautiful city. So glad to see Steve had a great time trying to create a new Olympic event:) MonaLiza, you do have friends and family at every stop:) Your header is great! What a terrific city panorama!

  4. Wish our US Cities were that clean. The sculptures were quite interesting – the girl’s head, the tall trees and even the interesting peace bridge. Very modern looking. You guys were pretty game there with your lunch board. I think I would have been with Steve on his water ride but I’m not sure about that glass floor so high up. How incredible you are to know people everywhere you go.

  5. We were told the “tree” sculptures were to help deflect wind coming down the street. I think we need to have you be our tour guide in big cities.

  6. Although we didn’t have a lot of time in the city, we found Calgary to be very appealing. Our friends from Cochrane gave us the city tour.

  7. Rommel’s #400 brought me here… You have a great travel posts, beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing, Mona Lisa. 🙂

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