Rafting the Grand Canyon is a chance you do not pass up. A private trip that took 18 years of waiting was finally coming to fruition and he got invited to be one of the guides. “He” is my dear boyfriend whom I will henceforth refer to as A. He’s been guiding some Philippine rivers for the pass 10 years and this was a chance of a lifetime. 17 days of rafting, hiking and camping… an adventure in the truest sense of the word.
Rafting the Colorado River (courtesy of A)
Adventure beckons once more and so this trip was born. The Rockies was on our agenda since last year being wildlife enthusiasts that we are. I was to hook up with him after his stint at the Colorado River.
And here our adventure begins…
First off was Calgary, our gateway to the majestic Canadian Rockies. This was perfect as an intro to a whole month of wildlife galore, spectacular views and the cold. The day we arrived. It hailed. In June. Nice welcome.
We stayed with a friend and our wonderful host and his family joined us on our road trip that took us all the way to Vancouver. But not without exploring some of the streets, sights and neighboring towns of Calgary. A great weekend of sightseeing, catching up and just plain relaxing with good friends. A perfect start to any trip.
Calgary is an attractive and dynamic city situated on the banks of Bow and Elbow Rivers. The Calgary Stampede is undoubtedly Calgary’s best-known visitor attraction, which we unfortunately missed. It is in July that the city hosts one of Canada’s greatest parties – a 10-day all out celebration of all things western.
Not to fret as there is always a next time. Other attraction that made it to our weekend agenda and my A-list:
Stephen Avenue Mall
Officially declared a Canadian Historic Site in 2002. It’s actually a pedestrian street between the hours of 6am to 6pm that is located amidst downtown. The street represents a time when Calgary just begun hence the declaration. Restored historic buildings live the street. There is not much here that you wouldn’t find in other cities. Shopping is still quite expensive in this part of the world. There are however a lot of wild, wild west stores for those cowboy enthusiasts (which includes my A). The walk is named after Lord George Mount Stephen, who was the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was a pleasant walk with lots of eye candy, a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
A sculpture on Stephen Ave.
Canada Olympic Park
Is that the Philippine flag? Yes it is!!
The host city of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games takes pride in its sporting legacy. Canada Olympic Park is a multi-purpose athletic facility designed for skiing, snowboarding, bobsleighing (among others) during the winter and mountain biking during the summer. Lack of time prevented us from exploring the entire facility. So we stuck to the museum.
A mock-up of the Jamaican bobsled (of the film Cool Runnings)
The city’s most famous attraction must be the tower. Once the tallest building in Calgary skyline, this 190-meter structure does offer some fantastic views. In 2005, the thrill factor was increased by the addition of the glass floor and allowing visitors, which includes me (the ultimate acrophobia) to stand 160 meters above the street.
Chicken on the Way
Must be Calgary’s best-fried chicken ever. Serving Calgary since 1958 in a hole in a wall, which up to this day only has one branch. I left my cam that day but even without photos, the chicken is worth the mention. Fried to perfection, crispy skin that peels right off the tender juice, tasty meat. KFC move over!!!
Being in Calgary is like having a vacation resort right at your doorstep. It just takes a little over an hour to drive to the Rocky Mountain resorts of Banff. The Canadian Rockies combines the cowboy culture of the wild west and until recently, the big bucks of the oil industry which turned Calgary into a contemporary prairie city with a rapid growing population of young professionals attracted by the vibrant economic environment.
You can see the Rockies on a clear day
One may feel that Calgary is east to ignore and is literally overshadowed by the attractions of the Rocky Mountains but it’s a city worth spending a couple of days before heading west.
Note: This may not have happened last weekend but it was a weekend to remember.