© 2011 jemma

Mighty Calgary!

After our Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper adventure, we returned once more to Vancouver to cool our heals and plan our next adventure.

We were headed to Calgary, en route to Edmonton. We had bought our Greyhound bus tickets, – 15 hr over night bus – booked a hostel and we were set. Luckily – because I wasn’t looking forward to the bus – Jon’s friend Tom, needed his old car to be driven to Calgary. We were going to Calgary. What a coincidence! So we took the car there for him. It was fate.

It snowed the whole way to Calgary from Kamloops. Jess certainly got his ‘driving in a snow storm badge’. Lucky we had already driven on this road with Chontelle in clear weather, so we weren’t missing the view, only fearing for our lives. That was until we were just outside Calgary, where it would have been nice to see the sights as we drove in – at least we were alive.

We drove through the city and snow to our hostel. It had looked ok from the pictures on the net. It had sounded alright from the reviews. It was however, not ok. It was dirty. The guy running it was a douche and so were it’s occupants. He also wanted us to sleep in a tack on room that boarded the kitchen and lounge. Ummmmmm no. So we left.

So after a 8 hour drive, it was 7pm at night, snowing and we were homeless. Thankfully there was a Starbucks nearby and we were able to investigate where we were going to stay. Half an hour later we were throwing our bags down in a down town hotel, with a kitchen and lounge. Thank you hotels.com.

So what did we get up to in Calgary? Well lots actually.

On our first day, we went to Fort Calgary. It was still snowing on this day, so it was a lovely walk through falling snow to reach the fort and interpretive centre. It was very different to Fort Langly that we had visited with Chontelle, as the fort wasn’t actually complete and their were no period actors – Jess was so sad. It is basically one of the old barrack buildings from when the Mounties were employed there. It is the birthplace of the RCMP. It was cool, and we even got to play pool on a historic pool table.

We also walked along the historic main street in Inglewood. This was our favourite place in Calgary, where the down town district is a bit drab. It is mixture between Oxford St and King st. There are lots of cool pubs and shops, with Jess’ favourite being a antique shop with very interesting things like military artefacts and an ancient working gum ball machine. As Jess said ‘it had some of the best shit I’ve ever seen’. My favourite though was the chocolate shop, where they made all their own chocolate on site. It said they had the best chocolate cupcakes, and they weren’t wrong. Their chocolate brownies weren’t bad either.

We didn’t just scoff our mouths. On another day, Jess and I walked more than 14km along the Bow river to Edworthy Park. It was a beautiful walk even where the path was blocked because they hadn’t ploughed the snow. We obviously ignored that warning and walked along in the snow, watching the Canada geese and icebergs floating down the river. It was also nice to get out of the city and see a bit of the country side. It’s also good when you walk along a beautiful river, even if it is sunny but only -3 deg.

We also went for a walk to Up town, along the main strip. This was more like Surry hills, a very alternative community with various unique shops and such. It was a nice stroll through the shops and the neighbourhood. Looking at different houses and people. It was very different from the Kensington district where we were the previous day. It had really nice shops and an excellent Candy (LOLLY!!!) shop, which you may be surprised that we didn’t buy anything in.

We also got very high in Calgary. We went up Calgary tower. Although it is not as high as Sydney Tower, it is still quite high for all those people – like me – who are afraid of heights. The first thing you see getting out of the elevator is the glass floor. It sticks out over 9th street and it is scary. Jess went out on it straight away, not worried about the glass breaking and him crashing down to his death. I was quite happy to stay on the carpeted floor. Jess however, was not content with me being happy where I was and insisted that I join him on the glass. I obliged and tip-toed out on the beam, where I was immediately called a baby and pulled onto the glass. It was scary. Jess is mean.

The views are really good though and you can see all the way to the snowy Rockies because Calgary is flat. Like flat flat. Hence the prairie dogs and such. It was great to see all around the city, to the mountains, the farms and the suburbs. It was like looking at your own personal dolls house. Except you couldn’t move anything around, which was a shame.

Our last stop in Calgary was Calgary Zoo. We had heard a lot about this zoo and Edmonton zoo because Bob Barker, the host of the price is right, is on a mission to have the elephants at the zoo moved to a warmer climate. Edmonton’s Mayor is not interested. So we were eager to check it out. I think however we have been very spoilt by Taronga Zoo and Dubbo Zoo.

It was a beautiful day, and lots of the animals were out for the first time this spring – it has been a long cold winter. In fact as I write this, it is still snowing there – and they were enjoying the sunshine. The tiger still had snow in his cage and was pacing a bit. It was making really weird growling noises too.

They have all sorts of different animals at the zoo, from the African section, the Canadian section, the Asian section and even an AUSTRALIAN section. Now, you may be asking how do these animals survive -40 deg temperatures in winter? Well they are inside. The zoo has spent a lot of money building indoor habitats for most of the animals. Some are better than others, and some animals even have an outdoor habitat as well. In the African section for example there is a forest and waterfall and pretend wardens house. It’s quite surreal to go into a building and be in completely different atmosphere and temperature.

The Australian section however is a bit old and not as nice as the others. The poor emu, wallaby and roos are behind glass in a room with painted murals on the walls. It was all a bit sad, especially because they had the tree kangaroos in there too and they aren’t even Australian. Maybe it was an Australasian exhibit? I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t like it, the poor emu made me sad.

The best part of the day I would say was the half chocolate, half vanilla soft serve cone I ate. It was delicious. Nah, I think it was the Canadian section. We got to see all the animals we have seen in the wild up close in the zoo. We even finally got to see a moose. Even if it was a lazy moose.

The day after the zoo, we caught the bus up to Edmonton, for the next part of our adventure in Canada – exploring the 2nd biggest mall in the world. Can’t wait!