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Tuesday 23 July 2013

Welcome to Calgary

Greetings from Canada!

We're currently in Calgary on a visa renewal trip/holiday. Today we carried out the visa renewal part of our trip at the US consulate, and now we're onto the holiday part while we wait for our passports to be returned with their shiny new visas. Hooray for holidays!

We arrived in Calgary on Sunday. As we'd been up since 3am in preparation for our horribly early flight we decided that a fairly low key day was in order. After checking into our hotel in Downtown Calgary we headed to the banks of the Bow River for a walk. We crossed over the Peace Bridge (a modern, photo worthy pedestrian bridge), grabbed a bite to eat in the nearby area of Kensington then made our way back along the river and to our hotel. On our way back we spotted a few squirrels. Unlike the squirrels that we get back home in Berkeley, these Canadian squirrels were black.

Lola and Ava with the Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

A reminder that Canada is part of the Commonwealth! 

Black squirrel

Back at the hotel the girls and I headed down to the swimming pool that they'd spotted from our balcony. We splashed around for an hour or so and before we knew it it was time for dinner. Being a Sunday evening there didn't appear to be much open, however after a short stroll we found ourselves in Stephen Avenue Walk, a pedestrian friendly mall with quite a few dining choices - and some amazing architecture and sculptures. After a great meal at a pub we headed back to our hotel with full bellies and two sleeping children.

"Trees" sculptures in Stephen Avenue Walk

This morning was spent dealing with our visa renewal at the US consulate. We were finished just before noon so we had the whole afternoon to play tourist. Hanging around in a (very warm and stuffy) consulate office for two hours with no toys, iPhone games or snacks isn't much fun for young kids, so as a reward for their patience and (mostly) good behaviour we let the girls choose where we'd go for lunch. I knew straight away that they were going to go for the golden arches that we'd seen on our walk to the consulate. Sure enough I was right. Two happy meals later we had two very happy little girls - and one plastic McDonalds bib to keep Lola's clothes clean!
Say cheese... burger

After lunch we decided to have a bit more of a look around the Downtown area. I knew from my research online while preparing for our trip that Calgary has some amazing street art dotted around Downtown and I was keen to check some of it out. In particular I was eager to visit the sculpture "Wonderland", a giant walk through head. The girls were very intrigued by the idea of a giant head and were keen to check it out. They were not disappointed when we found it and had fun running backwards and forwards through the doorways. I was quite surprised that they didn't even once attempt to climb on this mesh like sculpture!


Inside the head

Looking out

Much clearer from the side

Front on

The building that "Wonderland" sits in front of

On our walk to "Wonderland" we came across a few other sculptures that piqued our interest as well.

Lola does business with a few fat business men

Ok, so it's not a sculpture but these manhole covers are pretty artistic

Big scrap metal horse

Scrap metal horse

You may notice that the last photo features a tall, round topped tower. Well, that would be Calgary Tower; our next stop. The views from the top of Calgary Tower are pretty spectacular, but the best part is the glass floor area. I had no problems walking out onto the glass floor to look down at the street below however the girls were a little hesitant. Lola got over her fear fairly quickly however Ava did not and stuck to walking on the metal supports only.

Heading towards Calgary Tower 

A few cuddly friends in the lobby of Calgary Tower 

Sitting on air

Views from the top

Views from the top

Views from the top

That's a long drop

Views from the top

Laying on the glass

This ones for my Mum and her fear of heights! 

I love how Ava's laying across the glass with her hands and feet firmly on the metal! 

The girls and I

Ava wanted to join us but couldn't quite bring herself to do it

Back at the bottom

Our next stop was one that we had not planned to visit but ended up being one of the most amazing indoor areas I've ever seen. A shop assistant suggested that we visit Devonian Gardens in the Core Shopping Centre. I wasn't sure what to expect so I was amazed when we stepped out of an elevator and into a lush tropical paradise housed under a glass roof. The gardens take up a large portion of the top floor of the shopping centre and are filled with tropical plants, palm trees, koi ponds, water features, a playground and lots of tables and chairs. Kim and I found ourselves a table and sat down with coffees while the girls checked out the fish in a pond, played "music" on a grand piano and walked around the meandering pathways. Later on we headed to the playground area where the girls had a great time climbing, sliding, spinning and jumping on the play equipment.

Ava strolls through Devonian Gardens

Don't touch the fish

Beautiful gardens

So much green

I love the living wall garden

Meanwhile in the playground...

Best indoor playground

Rope climb

Ava climbs the rock climbing wall

Little climbers

Spin Lola, spin

So much fun

Walking back to our hotel for dinner we came across yet more amazing sculptures; the galloping horses of "Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do". These are definitely my favourites so far. These amazing metal horses are made up of smaller images (roosters, people, cats, birds...) and "run" through a sea of green grasses. Set against a background of glittering glass buildings they really are amazing.

Can you spot the roosters?

Hooray for horsies!


Horses for Ava's new polar bear Mountie friend?

Galloping horses

Galloping horses

Galloping horses

The girls did a little galloping of their own and ran around the park. Well, they did need to burn off all that McDonalds energy, right? There was loads of jumping and splashing in puddles involved too.

Running with the horses

Big jumps

Run, run, run...

Ava walks along a fountain

We've had a nice time in Calgary. It's a great little city and reminds us quite a bit of our home town of Adelaide in South Australia - albeit a much more prosperous version thanks to all the oil money in the area!

Tomorrow we're off to the Canadian Badlands and the town of Drumheller to meet some dinosaurs. That's right, dinosaurs! Stay tuned for more...


  1. Looks amazing...what a beautiful city and so much great street sculpture. Have a wonderful trip. xxKT

    1. We really enjoyed Calgary. It's such a pretty city and I really like all of the sculptures and architecture.
      Having a great trip so far :)


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