Saving the best for last, naturally! Taking you to my home town, Calgary in this last instalment of Judith & Charles city guides across Canada. It’s a very bitter sweet moment because I didn’t want this adventure to come to an end. We had so much fun exploring our favourite places and discovering new ones. It also has been an extreme honour to take you all on this amazing tour of what Canada has to offer. In fact, looking at it retrospectively I can say, with confidence, we live in an awesome country, in fact every single one of you reading this should be putting Canada on your list of places to visit or (if you already live here) explore in 2017! Every city has been so diverse and different from the last, each offering an incredible selection of cultural landmarks, places to eat, play and shop. Calgary’s contributions to Canada’s cultural framework doesn’t end on Stampede fame, in fact I won’t even talk about it here (other than telling you how obsessed with it I am, how fun it is and how everyone has to come to Calgary during the Stampede at least once… end rant). In recent years we have really seen a shift in the cities infrastructure, interest in the arts and it’s taste buds. If anything Calgary is foodie heaven. With new world class hotspots opening up on a weekly basis, restaurants like Teatro, Charcut, Pigeonhole & Model Milk really put Calgary on the map. With Alberta’s government incentives it has also become a top spot for film production (The Revenant anyone?… still haven’t seen it oops!). Calgary is also (wait for it!)… one of the warmest places in Canada! shocked? Don’t be! With the western winds coming over the mountains (called Chinooks) it can get up to +20 degrees in the middle of winter and while Toronto is buried under ice we get to work on our tans. This brings me to another amazing thing about Calgary, we get a staggering amount of sunny days per year, read: it’s sunny nearly all of the time! Calgary is an hour drive away from the Canadian Rockies and a 2.5 hour flight away from Los Angeles. It has one of my favourite skylines in the world (symmetry is everything) and the taxes are the lowest in all of Canada (5%), so if you are planning a shopping trip this is the place you want to be. I picked a few of my current Cow Town favorites to wet your appetite, you can follow me on instagram (@aniab) for more regular and up-to-date coverage.
WHAT TO DO: YYC CALGARY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, www.yyc.com
The newest, freshest and most anticipated addition to Calgary in recent years. The International airport terminal at YYC Calgary International Airport is NOW OPEN. It has been a LONG time coming and our #aniaattheairport hashtag will be happy to finally see some beautiful glass. Next time you travel to Calgary make sure you take a moment to take it all in. Automated self-bag drops and passport check at customs are only a few of the upgrades. Security lines now have increased efficiency, servicing 4 passengers per line at a time, meaning faster unloading and pick up of your belongings. YYC LINK is a new shuttle that will take you between terminals when you have a connecting flight. New curbside and customer care ambassadors are now positioned throughout the airport to answer any of your questions and the international departure gate area now has a newly implemented call-to-gate system letting you enjoy the amenities rather than waiting idly at your gate. With over 15 million passengers per year this is the perfect first impression for any international traveller in and out of Calgary and a welcome change for the cities residents. Additionally to focusing on customer experience YYC is committed to sustainability. The building design, managed airflow and geothermal radiant floor heating all help reduce it’s environmental footprint.
PEACE BRIDGE, www.calgary.ca
Art projects around the city often become the centre of controversy and Peace Bridge (aka. the Chinese finger trap) was no exception. When the project first became known to the public there was a mass backlash regarding everything from the design to its designer, its cost, and its location. I am pretty sure the public has gotten over the initial shock because there isn’t a day when I don’t see a photo of this Calgary landmark on social media, television or in print, accompanying any and every article about the city. In truth it adds a beautiful pop of color and is an excellent way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross over from the downtown core to Kensington, one of Calgary’s most photogenic neighbourhoods. The Peace Bridge is also located right next door to Prince’s Island Park where, in the summer time you’ll be able to catch many music festivals, Shakespeare in the Park and dine at one of Calgary’s favourite farm-to-table dining spots, River Cafe, which also happens to be open all year round.
EAST VILLAGE, www.evexperience.com
The newest Calgary neighborhood and fast becoming the place to be. In the heart of it all you will find the Simmons building, home to Charbar, influenced by Argentinian cuisine and run by Calgary’s best chef trio (the same people who brought us Charcut). Under the same roof you can find Phil & Sebastian, a coffee shop started right here in Calgary and now one of the most popular roasters in North America, and Sidewalk Citizen, a bakery and a stop for all your grab-and-go needs. Next door you will find new shops popping up every day, among them, one of our new favorites, Liz and Lottie, specializing in gifts and home decor. A walk across the bridge will bring you to Saint Patrick’s Island, home of the Calgary Zoo and a perfect place for a summer picnic, catching an outdoor movie screening or enjoying an evening stroll. One of the biggest undertakings in Calgary’s recent history is the National Music Centre (aka. Studio Bell), previously known as the Cantos Music Foundation housing Canada’s music history. Even the piano on which Elton John composed Tiny Dancer calls the NMC home! The architecture of the building is something you haven’t seen before and a sight in its’ own right. Preserved in its’ original place is also the King Edward Hotel, which used to be the site of the famous House of Blues, now planned to be a seven days/week live music venue. During this year’s Juno Awards this was THE hottest place to visit. Coming up in East Village will also be the new Calgary Public Library, another outstanding architectural project worth keeping in mind for your next visit.
WHERE TO EAT: ROYALE BRASSERIE, royaleyyc.ca
The newest member of the Teatro group, Royale is a French Brasserie already at the top of my Calgary restaurant list. Their beef tartare is to die for, I even had my very first taste escargot here (initial impressions: it was creamy and buttery, and I’m hooked). The interior sealed the deal, the perfect French getaway within city limits. You are transported straight to Paris, except you can actually eat well (yes, I went there!). Make sure to try their charcuterie, it is made fresh in-house… and ask for extra bread!
RICARDO’S HIDEAWAY, www.ricardoshideaway.ca
If there is a theme to my new favourite hotspots it has to be getaways, at Ricardo’s you will be travelling to the Caribbean. With Reggae blasting on the bar speakers and flaming tiki bomb’s coming your way you might as well be steps away from the ocean. Up till recently Calgary didn’t have a huge selection of cocktail bars, but like everything else, that is quickly changing. You can come enjoy a quick a drink but I promise you, you will stay for the tasty menu. Tuna Ceviche and Cheese Empanadas are a must, but if you are feeling extra adventurous their crab legs are delicious, though messy to crack. Those looking for an awesome selfie, both bathrooms have some wicked wallpapers, though don’t tell them I said that, I heard it’s been an ongoing struggle to keep girls from using it as a personal studio (#worthit).
TUBBY DOG, tubbydog.com
I will go ahead and put in writing what I have been telling people for years now: Tubby Dog has THE BEST TACOS ANYWHERE, EVER and I don’t care who knows it. You must try their tostadas and guac but remember they are only served on Tuesday evenings so you will have plenty of time to work up your appetite. Tubby Dog is actually most known for their overly indulgent and highly customizable hot dogs. Like, you will need to get a fork to eat that thing, they are so massive. You can also play some vintage arcade games while you’re here. It’s generally a very casual, chill spot. Formal attire is highly optional.
WHERE TO SHOP: SANCTUARY LOFT, www.sanctuaryloft.com
The one thing that Calgary needs more of is furniture stores… for real though. It’s no Vancouver I tell you. When Sanctuary Loft opened their showroom (in the street level Guardian Tower Lofts) I was the first one there. Reminiscent of the Apartment by the Line, everything in the space is for sale. Endless source of inspiration, a great place to photograph and amazing curated selection of furniture and accessories make this one of my new favorites.
find Judith & Charles online at judithandcharles.com & shop their Calgary locations at THE CORE CENTRE (751 3rd Street SW) & CHINOOK CENTRE (6455 Macleod Trail SW). Follow #JudithandCharlesCITY on Instagram and Twitter as we make our way across Canada!