Calgary and Banff


Calgary's Bow River and downtown at dusk

The first thing you think about when visiting Calgary - coming from Europe - is: where is everybody? Answer: in the 'burbs or in their cars.

The city is essentially the complete opposite of Amsterdam - spacious, car-filled, and with an empty downtown after 5pm. Living there, you get used to it of course and can enjoy the space immensely, with larger fields and playgrounds, more privacy in your own home (I could look out my old Amsterdam window anytime and see 3-5 people in their respective apartments; they, presumably, could also see me).

No longer living in Calgary, however, makes it a somewhat surreal experience when returning for a visit. There are literally streets and streets where you won't see a pedestrian or a bike.

The coziness and density of Amsterdam has an insulating effect, or a claustrophobic one, depending on your perspective. Calgary - isolating or freeing. It's a matter of taste.

Short on time (and photos - sorry) to visit Calgary's downtown, I did what every tourist does and made sure I headed to Banff, an hour's plus drive from the city. Here you'll see many people - make that tourists - strolling the streets and shops in the midst of some awesome mountains, before sitting down to an overpriced but tasty hamburger and then heading outside the town itself to the serene surrounding areas like Lake Minnewanka, pictured below.