Experiencing Calgary like the locals

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One of my favourite things about travelling is the feeling of familiarity you start to get after you’ve been in a foreign city for a few days.  Once the initial ice is broken and you have acquainted yourself with the logistical details, you’re free to roam as you please and to a small degree feel a little local.

After spending plenty of time exploring Alberta’s most famous sights, we chose to spend some time wandering the streets in Downtown Calgary and getting up to a tonne of fun. As I’m well and truly back in work mode and feeling quite organised with my to-do lists, here’s another one detailing how we explored Calgary from a local perspective.
  • We were lucky enough to stay with our family and made the most of it by taking quick walks around the neighbourhood whenever the weather permitted. We spotted impressive ice skaters on frozen rivers, imposing pieces of glaciers floating in the parts that have managed to still flow and trees heavily dusted with snow.
  • Unlike in Australia, tobogganing is not an activity you partake in on the rare winter holiday. Here locals make the most of the slopes available to hop straight onto a toboggan and so did we!
  • Coming from Australia, we are hardly anyone to judge other cultures on their weird food favourites (hello, vegemite?) but when I tried the much loved Canadian drink, Rootbeer, the only thing that came to mind was muscle rub. I love a bit of muscle rub to ease the occasional back ache but in my cup, hmm not so much.
  • If their cool beverages weren’t quite up to my tastes, the coffee more than made up for it. Delicious and ridiculously cheap by Aussie standards, I desperately missed Tim Horton’s coffee when we later landed in Hawaii and were faced with the disastrous American version of coffee (more on that later).
  • Once we were tired of the walking and chilled to the bone, we decided to take some time to warm ourselves and headed to the top of the Calgary Tower to get some panoramic views of the city. 
I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories and folklore. Throughout our trip we heard multiples anecdotes involving the Paskapoo Slopes reserve , including encounters with strange animals and tales of mysterious rundown cars. Intrigued by the promise of strange creatures and the ambiguous facts surrounding how the cars ended up in an extremely old, dense reserve, we set out exploring. Sadly, we didn’t find any creatures and although we did spot the car, there wasn’t anything sinister afoot. However, although we found no spooky surprises, we did find a spiritual one — a Buddhist stupa nestled at the end of the reserve.

Now for the second highlight. New Year’s Eve is without a doubt my favourite holiday of the year and one I’ve become accustomed to associating with home. Whether it’s my family or the aura of Sydney’s NYE celebrations, it’s impossible for me not to miss home as we transition from one year to another.

Our celebration in Calgary was a lot less grand but had a cute small-town feel to it that I have come to associate with this city. We went to the city centre (or Downtown as they call it) and the atmosphere was buzzing but also relaxed. There was music playing, disco lights, ice-skating, an encounter with potential muggers and one very adorable and huge dog involved. Although different, this was definitely a special New Year.

With this we come to the end of our Canadian travel diaries. Up next: Hawaii! 

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  1. Awesome photos! :)