Monday 21 July 2014

Oil buys amazing facilities in Calgary, CA

We spent a number of days in Calgary, Canada waiting on government bureaucracy.  Here's how we filled in the time.

Em took the kids to the Zoo (which was great apparently), and I hired a bike and went mountain biking at Calgary Olympic Park.  I had a great time riding the chairlift and barreling down the mountain for 4 hours.

Only one stack, a somewhat impressive over-the-handlebars job for which I mostly blame the reversed American bike brakes (right is rear).  The biggest hazard was coming around a corner and finding a whole lot of school camp kids parked on the trail, intimidated by the next section.  Runs are graded like ski runs, I rode a mix of green and blue.

I think the average age of this line was about 15, and they were all way better than me :(
Norco Truax, a really sweet ride
View from the top 
Olympic ski jump.  Locals tell me that Calgary would need a new ski jump if they want another Olympics because advances in ability and equipment mean it is now too long!  There's a zip line running from the top now :)
Olympic Luge and Bobsleigh track
We visited the Southland Leisure Center, which is an impressive sports complex (hockey rinks, gym etc.), but we came for the awesome indoor pool.  This is basically the only time I've taken the kids to the pool and had a great time myself.  We switched out kid minding duties and took full advantage of two big waterslides, a wave pool, and a swinging rope to jump off.  I wish we had a pool like this at home.

A+ would buy again
Starting to get jealous of Calgary's parks and facilities we visited the Telus Spark Science Center, which is one of the better science centers I've ever visited.  There was tons of stuff to occupy the 3yr old, including a great theatre demo about the science of sound featuring a Reubens' tube playing Gangnam Style.  And there was even little kid play area that kept the 1yr old occupied for over an hour.

Kid play area at Telus Spark Science Center
We tried to hire bikes to ride along Calgary's impressive (apparently the best in North America) bike path system, particularly along the river, but had to abort mostly due to a lack of places offering kid trailers for hire.  Instead we ended up checking out the University of Calgary sports facilities, including the Olympic speed skating track, and and amazing array of other sports facilities.

University of Calgary Olympic speed skating track
And faced with more time to kill we visited yet another jealousy-inducing indoor sports complex.  The population of Calgary is only ~1 million, but they have the best facilities I have seen anywhere.  My Canadian friends tell me Alberta is flush with oil money, so perhaps that's why there's flat screen TVs in the city hall carpark showing the traffic map.

Cardel Place swimming pool.  It's run by a not-for-profit.  The building also includes every other indoor sport facility you can imagine, and there is an attached public library.
We also tried to go to the Park on Prince's Island, but there was a folk festival in progress, for $70 a head.  Amazingly they escorted us into the playground in the middle of the festival for free :)  I guess that's the deal they struck with the city to take over a public space.

Pedestrian bridge to Prince's Island
Folk Festival plus playground
Not the worst place ever to be marooned for a few days.  I just wish we hadn't made our last hotel the airport hotel...Fine for one night, not so good for three.

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