Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Travel to the rail head and exploring Calgary

Trip Report:  20070803

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The Trip

We spent a goodly portion of the day getting to Calgary. To meet our objectives of getting there at a reasonable time, we were forced to leave at an unreasonable time. The flight left at 0615 from San Diego, but given current airline travel logistics, that means that we were up and motivating at 0300. And these days, all plane flights are created equal -- they are a hassle.

Generic travel issues notwithstanding, the trip went off without a hitch. The plan was to fly to Calgary and then spend a day exploring the city. The following morning, we were to board the "Rocky Mountaineer" passenger train for the 2 day trip over the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver, British Columbia. We arrived in Calgary in mid-afternoon, so we had time to explore the city at our leisure. We used what time was left to explore the downtown area close to our hotel.

The photos below are what we saw.

We got the "deluxe" package offered with the Rocky Mountaineer train, so we had a room at the Fairmont Palliser right in downtown Calgary. The hotel was right in the center of goings-on and in close proximity to plenty of sights.

I got this shot of the Calgary Tower right across the street from the Fairmont. In fact, it is visible in the lower right of the photo. This tower is big and has a restaurant on the top. The following day, we would attempt to visit and eat in the restaurant.

Calgary is an interesting mix of old and new. The old building in the foreground is the Grain Exchange -- the name is hidden in the harsh shadows of the eve under the roof. In the background, are many large, modern skyscrapers.

We passed this interesting fellow outside a bar close to the hotel. There were boots hanging from the rafters in the bar.

The center of the action was Stephen Avenue in downtown. They converted it to a pedestrian mall.

Stephen had wide sidewalks and tons of sidewalk cafes. We selected one and ate on the street and the food was great.

One interesting side note is that the sidewalk has been converted into an ad hoc art gallery with all manner of interesting sculptures. Here is a statue of a man, of sorts.

This statue is entitled, appropriately enough, "Holy Cow".

A view looking west shows the contrast between the old buildings and the modern sky scrapers. The mall was not heavily traveled, but this was a Friday, a work day for most normal folks. I am many things, but normal is not one of them.

Many of the buildings had dates, this was one of the older ones, though not the oldest. See later in this slide show. These buildings had great hand hewn sandstone blocks on their facades.

There were lots of cows on Stephen Avenue, this is "Cowabunga".

The title is below the statue. These were udderly entertaining.

A deviation from the cow theme, this one blew me away. It is constructed of old farm implements and parts of tractors.

A close up of the head. Very creative and very cool.

Toward the western end of the mall were these nice, modern steel sculptures.

Speaking of old, note the date of incorporation on this marquee - May 1670, the creation date of the Hudson's Bay Trading Company. Today, they run a string of high-end department stores in Canada.

"Bovine Skyline". Something a little different, I would say.

A close up of the steel sculptures at the end of the street. These were flanked by big, modern high-rise buildings.

Maybe the real name of the city is "Cowgary" not Calgary.

The "cafe culture" was starting to get into full swing as the work day came to a close and folks left for the weekend.

Calgary, like Minneapolis, has a network of walkways interconnecting buildings to allow pedestrians to commute on foot during times of bad weather (which I am guessing is most of the winter).

Another example of fine late 1800's architecture. This bank was still active as opposed to many of the structures on Stephen that have been converted into bars and restaurants.

We ended our day back at the Fairmont and then went to dinner at Calgary's Four Star restaurant "La Chaumiere". The food there was excellent as was the service. We closed the place down and left just as a bank of thunderstorms were rolling across the city. Tomorrow, we would do a walkabout and check out the riverfront park on the Bow River which runs through downtown Calgary.

Next Day's Adventure

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