After listening to endless hockey talks about Calgary being a small-market team, I had envisioned the town as a rural backwater. Instead, while driving into Calgary from Lethbridge, we were greeted by a modern metropolis complete with gleaming high-rises, sprawling strip malls and vicious traffic jams.
Maybe it’s just a Canadian thing, but the streets look just a little cleaner, and traffic a little less chaotic than those in a comparable American city.
Calgary looks like a laid-back, unassuming kind of place. For us, it’s also the gateway to Banff and the Canadian Rockies.
Temple of Heaven, or is it?
This is in fact the Chinese Cultural Center (surprisingly, there’s a sizeable Asian population in Calgary). It’s modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. At least the roof of it is. I read that workers and craftsmen were imported from China to put the ornate roof together. I didn’t, but to really appreciate the complexity of the roof, you’d need to go inside and view it from below.
Directions: Unique structure southeast of Eau Claire Market
When in doubt, head downtown
We were unsure where to begin, so we drove around till we decided to stop at a tourist information center at Eau Claire Market. We never did find it, but it turned out Eau Claire was not a bad place to start. It’s similar to an American mall, with typical shops, restaurants, food stalls, an IMAX theater, outdoor swimming pools, the usual assortment of characters. It’s a good place to relax and recharge the empty stomach that you endure on the long drive here, a problem compounded by the traffic snarls around downtown. It’s only a few blocks walk to downtown. Practically next door is the Chinese Cultural Center.
Don’t forget the ginger
We saw this Vietnamese Canadian restaurant, A Touch of Ginger, in the food court at Eau Claire Market. We didn’t expect to see one here, but there it is.
Last visit: 2002