Disclosure: This post is sponsored by RBC. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own.
Despite all the beautiful blooms and the arrival of warm weather that come with spring, it is summer that remains my favourite season. Sunshine, stampede and general feeling of an endless summer no matter where you are is what does it for me. Summer is so beautiful in Canada and it almost feels wasteful to spend it anywhere else (let’s leave escapism for the months when we’re buried under snow). Patio season is in full swing and with new, exciting shops opening at every corner, I thought I would give you a little look at what’s new and what we’re loving in Calgary right now. It’s been a while since I did a city guide in my own backyard and since new places keep popping up we shall keep you in the know. Seeing as we are now biking everywhere (no moment in the sun shall go wasted) it’s also fitting that we partner with RBC to help us on our journey. Instead of packing a basket full of wallets and cards we can travel light and keep everything at the palm of our hands, and on our phones.
If you are familiar with mobile pay, tapping your phone to pay for coffee or groceries isn’t a new concept. If it is, welcome to 2018! RBC introduced a new and unique service called Payback with Points at Point of Sale that enables you to redeem your RBC Rewards points anywhere you can make a payment using tap. It’s the first bank in Canada to offer this service and for RBC Rewards credit card holders like us this is major. ‘Till now we only used our points when we travelled and always ended up with straggling points at the end of every trip. Those points can’t really be used for big purchases, so to be able to pay for smaller things, anywhere mobile tap is accepted is a convenient and easy way of using up those points that might go unused otherwise. A recent consumer report showed that Canadians have nearly $16 BILLION in unredeemed loyalty points with their banks! Instead of waiting to spend more money, to accumulate more points we can now have the freedom and choice to buy the things we want day to day. This creates a totally new relationship with our RBC Rewards points and helps us look at them as a way to aid in everyday purchases rather than being something we use once or twice a year.
Payback with Points at Point of Sale is integrated into Samsung Pay for a completely seamless payment experience. All you have to do is select how many points you would like to redeem, tap and you are on your way! Payback with Points at Point of Sale is also available in the RBC Wallet on all other Android and iOS devices.
So… let’s go shopping!
PLANT (1327 9 Ave SE)
Even though Plant is not new it remains one of Calgary’s go-to staples. A plant shop like nothing else in the city, with a rich selection of succulents, cacti and tropical plants you won’t be able to find anywhere else. The majority of our plants all come from here. The staff is very knowledgeable and readily provide help and advice on any questions you may have. Kyle, the owner, has pets and so is very in tune with which plants can be around smaller household animals and which you should probably stay away from. This is a big one for me as I always end up googling plant names and their level of toxicity before I bring anything new into the house. Sometimes, when you don’t know the plant very well you can make assumptions or guesses that may cost you, or your pet. Better safe than sorry! On this trip, we also discovered their awesome selection of herbs, among which we found CATNIP! For cat owners out there you know how hard that is to get at regular garden centres. We bought four (two for Charlie and two for Maui), picked up a new cactus (when in Rome) and a new Chinese Money Plant, which is new for me (pet friendly no less). We left everything at the store to pick up with our car later that day and we were on our way…
RECESS (1323 9 Ave SE)
From the good people of Plant, a full paper and stationary store is finally open on 9th Ave. Just a couple doors down from Plant, it makes for a really fun shopping day in Inglewood. This was my opportunity to grab all the necessary writing tools I need to master my new calligraphy hobby. Recess has a selection of the best Japanese and European paper and pen products that will satisfy all your creative needs. If you are ever in the mood for a little pick me up, this is a place where you can revisit your love of beautiful, tangible desk accessories and letter writing. Bringing the art of cursive back into an otherwise very digital world in style and with incredible aesthetic. Recess is definitely a must visit this summer. They also offer in-house workshops on calligraphy, letterpress, handwriting, typewriting and watercolor.
GRINGO ST. (524 17 Ave SW unit 101)
One of the things Calgary has been missing all this time is a fun Mexican spot. Up till now there hasn’t been a selection that really fully satisfied me. Gringo Street brings the atmosphere of street food and the fun of color and variety into Calgary’s otherwise boring Mexican food scene. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more hype around this place because it really does have a LOT to offer. Their menu is extensive beyond a really great variety of tacos, it’s photogenic (very important) and the prices very affordable. We were surprised that when the bill showed up it wasn’t more, and we ordered a LOT of food (drinks included). Biking all day in 27 degree heat surely works up an appetite. The exterior is made to look like a shipping container and the outdoor seating, despite being tight, works really well and is actually really fun, which isn’t something you’d normally even think of of a patio. I am happy to say we found a new hangout spot, you will find us here all summer long! Perfect for lunch or early dinner.
EAST VILLAGE JUNCTION (439 8 Ave SE)
With our studio located just down the street from EV Junction we have come to know it quite well. It’s a pop up space for local artisans, services and city planners to get together and create the perfect experience that is a mix of outdoor eating, shopping and education for all Calgarians alike. East Village is on the rise as Calgary’s best new neighbourhood, thanks to the CMLC it is now the most modern and urban place to live and spend time. With anchors like the Simmons building and the soon to be open City Market, smaller businesses are readily opening their doors with excitement of making Calgary the hottest city in Canada. This year there are a few new things to see at the Junction, including plans for continuing the neighbourhood development along with another exciting neighbourhood project, Vtctoria Park, Rath Bicycle has a bike rental and shop set up in one of the containers and a variety of foods are always on offer courtesy of YYC Food Trucks. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or weekend and treat yourself to some well deserved R&R. On Fridays enjoy the all day tea garden by Two Penny (below) and Sugar Water Bar and at noon join in for some outdoor yoga!
TWO PENNY (1213 1 St SW)
Two Penny has been open for a few months and it deserves a proper shout out because the food here is AMAZING! This is saying a lot seeing as I always look at decor first and Two Penny is also an incredibly beautiful space. But guys, the food is insane! It’s traditional Chinese food with a modern twist: special fried rice with bone marrow and egg, crispy mushroom dumplings and crispy skin pork belly that will get your taste buds going. Most of the time we’ve eaten here it has been take out, so we haven’t had a chance to photograph the space. We took the time to sit down and change that today and of course ordered all of our favourites. This is Chinese food like you’ve never had before, the only thing missing is proper Chinese takeout boxes, but that’s just the OCD talking! Perfect for a weekday brunch, dinner or some delicious dim sum.
Visit www.rbcrewards.com to learn more about this unique new offering from RBC.