Calgary: town of sculptures

Sunday: the last day of our holiday. It feels like I’ve been away for ever but it’s only been two weeks. Love it when holidays don’t fly by. We took our time getting up this morning, had a leisurely breakfast, then checked out of the hotel. I was determined to at least see some part of downtown Calgary, even if Glen wasn’t all that keen.

On the recommendation of a friend in Australia, I set course for downtown and parked near Prince’s Island. We walked over the little bridge into this bit of urban parkland, walked around, saw some sculptures, then headed back into downtown and up to the cultural centre. The signposted maps around the city are great. They’re easy to read and point out highlights of Cow Town.

Being Sunday morning, the place was practically deserted. Very few cars on the road and there were next to no people around. A little eerie at times, kind of like Perth city after 6pm. The cultural centre is along Stephens Avenue, and features a number of sculptures and old buildings with beautiful carvings (that have all been turned into restaurants or shops).

There’s a big sculpture about the Famous Five, a group of five Albertan women who fought for the right for women to hold public office (all highly accomplished women in their own right, they took the Canadian government to court to determine that women were “persons” in the eyes of the law, and therefore able to hold office. All this in 1929). The sculpture shows all five women as if they were in the house of one of them, having tea and planning to fight for women’s rights.

Further down the street is the municipal building/town hall, which has horse sculptures out the front. We then went back the way we’d come but down another street, taking in some other very large and impressive sculptures, including the Family of Man and Wonderland. You’d never think they’d find a home in Calgary.

We stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, called Dragon Chinese, and had yum cha. It was more like eating regular sized Chinese food. We ordered way too much and the serves were a bit excessive for just two of us. I made the waitress laugh by asking for po lei tea (instead of jasmine) and then when we asked for kai lan, the majordomo came over and asked why we asked for those two items (with those names).

Glen explained he was born in Hong Kong and said no, he didn’t speak the language. Later we heard her talking in Cantonese to the other staff about “kai lan” and laughing. Glen went a bit red.

We ate as much as we can but couldn’t finish everything. We couldn’t even take it away as we were on our way to the airport.

We walked through a bit more of downtown, found another awesome sculpture (the nautilus in the photo), then jumped in the car, drove to the airport and checked in a couple of hours early. There’s more to see in Calgary (like the zoo or the fort) but we’d had our fill.

So that’s really the end of a great couple of weeks away from Toronto. I can’t believe how much I’ve seen over that time and the variability in the landscapes has been a real highlight. I’d take the cross-country train again, for sure. Would probably visit Whistler again and Banff and Lake Louise. Maybe a bit of northern Alberta. Still so much to see.

However, our next trip is to Montreal (in two weeks) for a couple of days while Glen goes to a conference, and two weeks after that we’re off to the Galapagos. I’m just the teensiest bit excited for that.

When we get back to Toronto, it’s back to “normality”, with the added annoyance of having to find a new place to live. We were told a couple of days ago that our landlord is selling her place so we need to find somewhere by 8 June. We’re hoping we can find another place in the same building as that will make moving furniture easier and we’re pretty happy with where we are (plus Pete & Royden and Bec & Alastair live there).

Boarding soon so I’ll sign off and see you back in Toronto.

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