Thursday, May 23, 2013

Destination Bow Tower, Urban Rice, Peace Bridge, and Cool Calgary Architecture Part 1

I was down in Calgary for the May long weekend and enjoyed an afternoon strolling around the city's down town area.  My final destination was The Bow, a recently completed skyscraper, that is a beautiful building.  We started in the trendy district of Kensington which is full of coffee shops, fashion stores, and all kinds of eclectic businesses.  There, we had morning dim sum at the Urban Rice restaurant that is obviously a hit with the Chinese locals as it was packed for breakfast on the Saturday.  They moved to this Kensington location from their Chinatown location where they have been for a few years.
Dim Sum!
My quick review of the Urban Rice would be that the service was good, and it was a good small to medium sized Chinese restaurant.  For dim sum we ordered off cards (kind of like what you do at some sushi bars) and had a pretty good feast of everything from sui mai (pork dumplings), shrimp dumplings, rice crepes, steamed BBQ pork buns, sticky rice (or lo mai gai) wrapped in lotus leaves, and many more.  We were full when we left for the rest of our walk around town.  All of the food was pretty tasty and I'd rate it a 3.5 or a 4 out of 5.  The Urban Rice is located at: #314D, 10 Street NW Calgary (403)283-8608.  It is right next to the Roasterie where you can get a great coffee.
The old Lido Cafe and it's classic sign.
Kensington Shops
Walking down to the Bow River we wanted to cross over the snazzy new pedestrian bridge that was also opened in 2012.  The Peace Bridge is beautifully illuminated at night and looks very modern and high tech.  From the side, it does look like a Chinese finger puzzle, but walking through it is a very pleasant experience as it is so pretty.  With a beautiful red coloured steel frame, this tubular looking bridge with its diamond shaped windows is a must see on any walk along the Bow River or visit to Princes Island Park.
Light Rail Transit (LRT) Bridge with Transit Train
Peace Bridge over the Bow River
Peace Bridge and Canterra Tower
Way too cool tubular bridge.

Shot down the centre of the bridge.

Neat bridge.

Gorgeous river views.

Another of Calgary's wonders.  A very nice river promenade down by Princes Island Park.  The bicycle path system here along their river systems is awesome - world class - I loved it when I lived here.  Ride for 50 km or more easy without cars.

After visiting the Eau Claire Market, we had a look through it and while it isn't anything like it was at its height of popularity, it was good to see that many of the old shops were still in business.  It was still a fairly busy place.  Outside here, the Joey Tomatoes and the Barley Mill Pub are excellent places to grab a beer and a meal.  When I lived here, after work, there would be many a beer consumed over at the Barley Mill.

Eau Claire Market eare

Beautiful Spring day with blossoms everywhere.

I love this cow bench! Needs a new paint job now, but it is a classic.

I always thought this tower looked like the Nakatomi Building from Die Hard.
Walking south down 3rd Street you pass by other old favourite restaurants like the Spaghetti Factory for dinner or lunch on the way to Stephen Avenue Mall.  One of the coolest things about Calgary is the +15 walkway system.  You will notice that Calgary is unusual for have a very densely packed core of office towers.  Well, the city took advantage of that fact and connect most of the towers together at the 2nd floor level via a network of pedestrian overpasses that are enclosed.
+15 Walkway
Another +15 Walkway.  You can see The Bow tower peaking out at the end.
You can go 10 city blocks indoors via the  +15 system and you can double that distance by going in a complete loop of the downtown.  Not many cities can brag about this, but it is amazingly handy in the harsh winter months as you don't need a parka to get around.  Street level of downtown, except along 8th Avenue isn't usually much to write about, but the 2nd level on a lot of buildings is where the action is at from food courts to shops.  Lots of office workers do a lunchtime walkabout on the walkways to stretch their legs.

Continued in Part 2 with The Bow tower coverage... 

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