A Travellerspoint blog

Calgary

August 23rd to September 5th

Calgary

Calgary

Ah, summer! The time of the year in Calgary when pancakes are acceptable for breakfast ten days in a row, denim is considered ‘work attire’ during the Calgary Stampede; and the word ‘festival’ shows up every weekend. Tassels, fringe, turquoise, and flashy western wear are not just welcomed during the stampede, they’re encouraged. Calgary loves its Stampede (or as the locals like to call it – the city’s favourite 10-day stint of debauchery), they even put together a Stampede Survival Guide. Here’s what we found out: 1. They have a parade of cowboys, cowgirls, floats, dancers, musician and horses; 2. The rodeo (where cowboys and cowgirls face off against some of the wildest animals in the west) costs between $40 - $293 entrance fee; 3. They have a sideshow (Midway Rides) which costs $1/ticket (usually 5 tickets per ride) or $54/day pass (not included with admission) and 4. They hold an evening show with chuck wagon races, dance, music, acrobatics and the grand fireworks finale for $56 - $132. P.S. Don’t forget to bring your MasterCard. Cha Ching!!! After the Stampede though, it is back to normal and the cowboy boots, cowboy hats and denim gets put back into storage. So it turns out that Calgary is not quite as ‘cowboy’ as I was expecting.

Calgary Downtown

Calgary Downtown



We didn’t get here for the Stampede but we did manage to check out the Devonian Gardens, a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the downtown core of Calgary. It is located on the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall and is completely enclosed with glass and covers 2.5 acres on the top floor of The Core Shopping Centre. We also checked out Stephen Avenue where historic sandstone buildings are set against a backdrop of steel and glass skyscrapers on Calgary’s busiest downtown pedestrian work. The avenue is the heart of Calgary’s arts culture and is lined with major shopping centres, not to mention an eclectic mix of boutiques and pubs/clubs/restaurants etc, and they are all within walking distance to where we were staying in the suburb of Inglewood which was named Best Canadian Neighbourhood in 2014.

Devonian Gardens

Devonian Gardens

From Inglewood there is a lovely, shaded walking path along the Bow River where you can go for a stroll, meet Canada geese on the path and, on weekends, watch folks floating down the river on all manner of water craft. Inglewood is a neighbourhood that centres on 9th Avenue SE (Calgary's original Main Street) to the east of the downtown. The community is blessed with over 200 pre-1914 buildings and is a fun, funky neighbourhood just South of the Bow River. It has an interesting mix of shops, restaurants and we even managed to find one of the four best Markets in the area. So on Friday afternoon, we jumped on the cruisers Michelle and James (our hosts) let us use and headed to the Crossroads Markets. The Crossroads Market is a historical building home to a year-round farmers market, antique market, international food fair and flea market. Very eclectic and the fresh produce was fantastic.

Bow River pathway

Bow River pathway

We arrived in Calgary during GlobalFest, which is a five-night international fireworks competition similar to the one we saw in Montreal. We opted out of this one and instead decided to spend our first Saturday in Calgary going to the Village Square Leisure Centre for Alyssa. The leisure centre features a safari-themed water park with a wave pool, slides and splash zone. After that we went for an hour stroll at Fish Creek Provincial Park. In a certain way this park is "in the middle of the city", but you think you are in the middle of a national park! Very nice area and great for a stroll. We even saw a deer walking around. It’s a lovely urban park with paved and rough paths and we enjoyed our leisurely walk along the dry parts of the creek bed.

Fish Creek open space

Fish Creek open space

On Saturday night we celebrated Michelle and James’ 6th wedding anniversary with them, with steaks the size of a small condo and a chocolate cake from Bite Groceteria and Café that Cash (their son) had picked out (lots and lots of chocolate). What’s an anniversary celebration without 3 bottles of wine and the install of a window at 9pm at night involving 2 Aussies and 2 crazy Canadians? In the cold light of day, it turned out the window was installed upside down – need I say more! …..What happens in Calgary, stays in Calgary!

How can you come to Calgary and not see a rodeo? So we decided to go to the Okotoks Pro Rodeo on Sunday. Okotoks is a small town situated on the Sheep River, approximately 18 km south of Calgary in the foothills of Alberta. The Okotoks Pro Rodeo (OPR) is held annually and in 2015 they celebrated their 24th year. The OPR brings the same competition, skill and excitement as a regular rodeo except it is held on an ice-skating rink inside a recreation centre on the outskirts of Okotoks. They hold nine events (Bareback, Barrel Racing, Bull Riding, Tie Down Roping, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping and of course the crowd favourites: the Wild Pony Race and Mutton Bustin’.

Okotoks Rodeo

Okotoks Rodeo


Okotoks Rodeo 2

Okotoks Rodeo 2

What do you get when you combine three young cowboys and one wild pony? A fan favourite. The entertaining wild pony race sees a team of kids between the ages of 8-12 try to tame a pony long enough for one of them to jump aboard. And the pony almost always wins. More often than not you see one or two kids holding on to a rope as the pony drags them through the dirt. And this usually goes on for quite a while.

Okotoks Rodeo 3

Okotoks Rodeo 3



Then there is the Mutton Bustin'. This event offers kids aged between 5 and 8 a chance to begin their own rip-roaring rodeo careers. Helmeted cowpokes have an opportunity to ride a ‘wooley bulley’ inside the rodeo arena. Here's how it works: With a sheep readied in the ‘chute’, a child is set on its back - arms wrapped tightly around the neck. When the chute gate opens out comes the sheep and rider. The small cowboy/cowgirl will hold on and ride the sheep for as long as they can! A little girl (she looked like she was 3) won the day when she managed to hang on across the arena and fall off after about 8 seconds. What fun!

Okotoks Rodeo 4

Okotoks Rodeo 4

Back to school on Monday, but on our afternoons we made sure we squeezed in as much of Calgary as we could.

On Monday we went to St. Patricks Island with Alyssa and Cash on the cruisers where we chilled and watched them play in the playground before they rolled down ‘the rise’, a reclaimed hill that is utilized for performances, movie nights and tobogganing in winter. There is also a fire pit on top! S’mores anyone?

On Tuesday we went to the Esker Gallery and saw some interesting art in an architecturally gorgeous space with views of the city from huge floor to ceiling windows. A wonderful space to see local artists display their works for six months at a time or simply just to sit by the windows and spy on the world outside. After that Alyssa and Nick were taken for a wild ride by James and Cash in a buggy pulled by Hunter their dog. Then we managed to squeeze in dinner with David and Hattie (friends of Richard and Dianne who we travelled with in Boston and Quebec City).

Check out James and Hunter, aka the Urban Musher in action below:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Calgary/ID/2433050406/

On Wednesday Alyssa stayed with Michelle to play with Cash and baby daughter Scout so Nick and I took the short walk to see Fort Calgary. In this museum the visitor will find information about the life of old Calgarians from more than 100 years ago. A great glimpse into the past and it gives a good insight into both the history of Calgary and the Mounties. On the way home, Nick and I took the opportunity (sans Minor) to go to the Hose and Hound for a beer. It is the neighborhood pub inside a historic fire station. We capped off a great day with some S’mores in the backyard with James, Michelle and the kids.

Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary


Cash loves S'Mores

Cash loves S'Mores

Friday was a leisurely walk along the Bow to the Peace Bridge. Built in 2012, the bridge accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists and connects Downtown Calgary with the Northern community of Sunnyside and is used by over 6,000 people each day.

Peace bridge

Peace bridge

Even though Nick had 3 visits to a local Dentist to get a replacement Crown, we had such a relaxing time in Calgary topped off by making some great friends in Michelle, James, Cash and Scout.

Posted by V3USA 15:48

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