A long weekend, that’s all the time I had to explore the city of Calgary (with a quick excursion to Banff National Park). It all started with a late arrival and crashing at the Marriott downtown. I absolutely loved the watercolored wallpaper. It makes me want to recreate it in a mural of my own.
The next morning, there was walking–lots of walking. When I visit a new city, I like to get a good view of the skyline. Seeing a place from that point of view feels like a handshake, so similar those first few moments when you meet someone new and make all of your snap judgements. Then I like to spend the rest of my time in that new spot, testing out my assumptions as I see what the city is like up close. (A great place to see the skyline in Calgary is the stairs.)
Walking along the Bow River, that cuts through the city, I came across The River Cafe. Now this place is picture perfect, perched so beautifully on the bank. If you ever find yourself there, order the duck pizza, ’cause yum. Also, don’t make a fool of yourself like I did ordering a Bloody Mary. In Canada, their version of my favorite brunch drink is the Caesar (that’s a little vodka, some hot sauce, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, all topped with Clamato over ice).
If you’re there, you can’t miss Stephen Avenue. Take a stroll along the tree-lined avenue of restaurants and shops. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try to find the walkways. If you know anything about this region, it’s that the winter is brutal. Calgary has around 10 miles of pedestrian walkways that hover above the streets, tucking in and out of one building to the next. You can get almost anywhere without stepping outside. It’s really quite remarkable.
When I visit a new city, I want a view from up above, just as much as I want to see the skyline. A great place for this is the Calgary Tower. You also have to make your way to see some art and try out at least one brewery. I’ll walk you through my steps and sights.
My fellow lady lovers, you’ve gotta see The Famous Five on Parliament Hill. This statue is a larger than life depiction of the women who went before the Canadian Supreme Court to ask if women were included in the definition of “persons” (as mentioned in the British North America Act). Believe it or not, the court said no. But don’t worry, that was overturned the following year. You go girls!
There is also the Wonderland Sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa in front of the Bow Building (which also happens to be a work of art). This gigantic head of a young girl is formed out of white wires. You can even walk inside of it and get a whole different perspective.
Don’t forget the beer! (Never forget the beer.) Last Best Brewing & Distilling is your spot. The food was tasty and the drinks, delicious. If you’re there, you MUST get the bison tartare. You really can’t go wrong with any of the brews. And if you’re in need a haircut, there’s an old-fashioned barber shop below.
In short, Calgary is a great place. I loved the feel. It reminded me a lot of Chicago. The folks are laid back and happy to see ya. I can’t wait or a return visit. Now stay tuned for a few Banff adventures.