My first time in Calgary was no more than a lunch and gas stop on the way to Banff.  I was a teenager then – travelling along with my brother, Larry, and our parents.  My memories were of the spectacular glacier-clad mountains that lay beyond this city.  The only thing that stuck with me was that Calgary was famous for its rodeo.  That was a few decades ago.

Last year, and again last week, I’ve had the chance to return to this grown up city.  Modernization has swept any hint of this former cowboy town under the rug.  Glass and steel buildings climb the horizon, while cranes, perched at their foundations, assemble the next pieces of the skyline puzzle.  A modern rail system, restaurants, shopping, galleries and parks fill the street level spaces with ample opportunities to fill the days for tourists and locals, alike.  The Bow River is the barrier that keeps downtown on its leash. Green spaces abundant with walking and biking trails are the standard along the Bow.  A jealous fisherman friend of mine tells me these are world class waters.  I’m guessing that’s upstream a short ways.

I didn’t bring (nor do I own) a rod and reel, but I can’t leave home without my camera.  Here is a sampling of what I’ve come across on my downtown Calgary walks.

Panoramas are always fun to shoot, and Calgary has some great settings for those:

Olympic Plaza has several features, including plaques to commemorate past Canadian Olympic athletes.  There is a large, shallow water feature in the plaza.  Calling it a pool would suggest one could swim in it, but on my particular visit, there was a group of young adults engaged in a game of volleyball-without-a-net-using-a-soccer-ball.  Nobody was keeping score, and I think the point was just to cool off on a warm summer day.  If they added a few more color circles, it would be a great place for a game of Twister.  Hmmm, left leg blue – that’s as far as we go.  At the other end of the plaza, statues of the Famous Five appear to take on a conversation.  The Famous Five fought for women’s rights in Canada nearly a century ago.

Across the street from Olympic Plaza is the Calgary Municipal Building, which sits next to the old City Hall.  Here, they have a vibrant tower structure which serves as a monument to the city’s policemen and firefighters.  Statues are present here as well.  I’m not sure of the significance of the lion, but it makes for an impressive entrance point to the building.

The Calgary Tower, and The Bow (Calgary’s newest and tallest building) are hard to miss on the horizon.  Both are quite photogenic from many angles.  At the base of The Bow is my favorite of Calgary’s street sculptures.  It’s a steel rod form of a human head which one can enter.  Thoughts of the movie Being John Malkovich come into play on this one.

Some smaller buildings photographed quite nicely, my favorite being the one of the reflection.

Then of course, there’s the Bow River and a dose of nature.  Some people find the geese a nuisance because they do what wild creatures do… and poop.  The river and the geese were there first, get used to them.

No trip of mine would be complete without airplane shots.  On the inbound flight I was getting great shots all the way there, but I will just show the last one, the Canadian Rockies.  The return last year started as though it was going to be a washout.  A thunderstorm hit the airport right as we backed out of the gate.  This kept the runway taxi lengthy, and the longer we waited, I could see that the storm was clearing out.  I have a feeling I was the only person on that plane hoping we would taxi a little longer.  I’ve never seen a rainbow full circle from the air before.  If our flight had taken off the other direction, we may have seen it full circle.  I still wasn’t disappointed.