I made my way to the train station to go to work. It wasn’t crowded nor was it a long ride either. A different city, a different perspective. Finally, I made it to Calgary to meet my clients for an implementation project.
Calgary wasn’t anything I’ve ever imagined. At first I thought it was a just a small town but I was pleasantly surprised to see a bustling downtown core.
The first thing I explored in Calgary after my first day at work was the grocery store.
Contrary to what most people think, the price of commodities is reasonable in Calgary. It’s about the same compared to any business district in any part of the world. Calgary has a cost of living index of 69.19. Compared to Singapore, prices are relatively the same for commodities that I’d buy often even in the Philippines. The best part for me is that there is a variety of healthy food options such as vegetables and fruits which I absolutely took advantage of.
Being a Filipino citizen comes with a variety of perks. There’s always that warm welcome from “kababayans” abroad. I am lucky in that sense that wherever I go, I feel at home and at peace. There’s always people who makes you feel at home even if you’re far away from home.
Working and living in the business district is not so different compared to the big cities in the world. You’ll see the nicely designed cafeterias, the usual Starbucks and Tim Hortons, the hip cafes and the tall skyscrapers. Two of the best things I like in Calgary is the open parks where one can sit down and have a picnic at midday and the tall glass windows so you can enjoy the sun more. I can imagine how it makes people feel better especially during the winter season.
I went around town on my first weekend. I took pictures of scenes in East Village, Glenbow Museum and the Latin American festival at Olympic park. I learned that every weekend during summer, different ethnic groups celebrate and have their own festival. It was a treat being one with the crowd. The weather was perfect, I was in Calgary at the right time of the year.
Hearing from colleagues, Calgary’s weather is not forgiving most of the year. They only have two months of summer. To protect people from the cold, they built +15. Plus 15 or +15 skyway network, is one of the world’s most extensive pedestrian skywalk systems, with a total length of 18 kilometres and 62 bridges. I really like the initiative, the 15 means 15 feet off the ground. The initiative was designed by Harold Hanen who worked for the Calgary Planning Development from 1966 to 1969. It later on expanded to connect more buildings in the core of downtown.
When my husband arrived on my third week, I really wanted to try out Char grill which is not far from the hotel I’m staying. It’s one of the most talked-about places in Downtown. It’s the perfect place to invite friends and hang out. The place is most of the time full on a Friday, it’s recommended to book in advance. Despite knowing that Calgary’s meat are really good, we had seafood that night since we weren’t that hungry.
The river walk is also one of the most amazing features of Downtown Calgary. If you live close, you can definitely enjoy the whole stretch of outdoor space to enjoy the river and the surroundings. It was nice to see people out enjoying the sun, eating lunch, dipping their feet into the water, biking or reading a book. In the afternoons, you can see inflated boats and people paddling as they cruise through the river.
On one of our weekends, we made our way to River Cafe to have brunch in Prince’s Island. We had delicious tapas to start with followed by our main dish. I had Eggs Benedict while my husband had Rainbow trout which was highly recommended by the wait staff.
Living in downtown is convenient, one can easily walk around or take the trains in the free zone area. There’s also day passes which one can use for trains and the bus to move around the city. Calgary has an honor system, they don’t have turnstiles for you to get in and out of trains, but they do have police doing random checks for train passes.
Seeing movies was also a breeze, they have automated machines in case you want to watch a movie on a whim. The movie houses though are a bit old compared to other cities I’ve been to, but that just adds to the charm of the city. Despite the old cinemas the weekly selections is far better than Manila.
Wondering where most of the Calgarians are, we head to the Night Market in Inglewood, and there they were. We queued at one of the food trucks, got some food, beer and watched a few performances. It was the hottest day in Calgary that day, a burning 37 degrees that night. We decided to retire and walked our way home through the river walk. It was a relaxing way to end the day.
Overall, I find Calgary as one of my top most livable cities. This is only my impressions of Calgary living in the Downtown area. My impression would be different if I lived in the suburbs or on a different side of town. Aside from the nearness of everything else, it’s just about an hour and a half away from Banff, which I’ll discuss on my next blog.