After an 8 hour plus flight, we finally touchdown in Calgary, Canada, disorientated to find that despite leaving London at 11am, it was still only 12pm in the afternoon on the same day.
Our first mission was to find our rental car which we will be using for our 1.5 week trip around the Calgary – Jasper National Park area of Canada. We were rather lucky that the car we were initially offered, a lime green Kia, was missing its spare tyre, which gave us the excuse we needed to get a change of vehicle. We ended up with a nice black Ford Escape, an upgrade in more than just the colour.
Leaving the airport, we made our way towards Downtown Calgary to find our hotel. My immediate observation was the supersizing of the highways, road vehicles and locals compared to Europe. I also found it weirdly disconcerting that the cars, trucks and buses have no number plates at the front of the vehicle…
After checking in and dropping our luggages off in the room, we headed out for a brief, late afternoon exploration of the Calgary city centre. It seemed to be a bit of a ghost town, with hardly anyone about, something we were not expecting at all. It turns out that our timing was off and we had landed on a public holiday in Canada, which explained the lack of people out and about!
As we didn’t have a lot of time to spare in Calgary, we made a beeline for the main thoroughfare, Stephen Avenue (which is actually a portion of Calgary’s 8th Avenue).
Besides the shops, malls, restaurants and ingenious +15 Skyway network, we passed by a number of interesting street art installations.
Walking through the carefully planned grid of streets and avenues, I am fleetingly taken back to my short time spent in New York, 2 years ago now. Downtown Calgary too has a LOT of high rise buildings, something which shouts out at me, coming from London.
Perhaps the most spectacular of them all is the Calgary Tower, said to house the world’s tallest 360 degree observation deck.
Feeling hungry and eager to eat something that hadn’t been prepared in a plane, we went in search of a decent steakhouse. What we found instead were some street stalls in the Olympic Plaza.
Unable to hold out any longer, we decided to share a portion of poutine, a dish that a Canadian traveller I had met in Laos had made me promise to try if ever I visited Canada. So Sylvain, this one’s for you!
We finished our quick snack just as heavy rain started to fall. Coming from Britain, we of course had our brollies to hand and calmly made our way back to Stephen Avenue to find a more hearty meal.
Stomachs full after an early dinner, we made our way back towards our hotel after the rain had stopped and the sun was out. The light reflecting off rain-washed Stephen Avenue gave it a lovely, clean and sparkly look.
I’ll admit that Calgary wasn’t amazing for me, but then I wasn’t expecting it to be. My main reason for coming to this part of Canada is, of course, to explore all of the wonderful nature that this region has to offer, so that’s really what I’m looking forward to over the next few days! 🙂