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Calgary is a city in Canada that is known especially as a winter sports destination. In 1988, the city organised the Winter Olympics, where many records were broken in the Olympic Oval skating ring.
It is an expansive city. Only the (commercial) centre is built fairly densely with skyscrapers. Around the centre, the city's suburbs are very spacious. Calgary is a typical 'car city', and to get from one area to another a car is needed. The city's environment also invites exploration by car. On one side there are the Rocky Mountains, on the other the Canadian prairie.
It is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. In 1971, Calgary had 400,000 inhabitants, now that number has risen to over a million. This has to do above all with the oil industry, which has grown enormously since the 1960's. Growth still continues.
Calgary is located in the west of Canada, on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres. The city is situated in the south of the province of Alberta, and is crossed by two rivers. In the summer, the river Bow is a popular fishing location. Near the city centre, the smaller Elbow River flows into the Bow.
Due to the city's fast expansion, the south-western suburbs now border on the Indian reservation of the Sarcee tribe.
The discovery of oil and gas in Alberta has stimulated the growth of Calgary. There was also a downside, because when oil prices fell steeply in the 1980's, the local economy suffered. The city council realised that the city had become too dependent on the oil industry, and since that time has invested heavily in other sectors. High-tech and tourism are important spearheads. The winter sports towns in the Rocky Mountains (Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore) attract visitors, but also the many festivals and other events the city organises every year.
Because the city is located on the Trans Canada Highway, it is also an important transport hub.
Calgary International Airport is located to the north-east of the city. There are connections to various cities in Canada, the VS and Central-America, and there are also direct flights to European cities like London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. There is no public transport to the airport, but there is a hotel shuttle bus.
Public transport in Calgary consists of 160 bus lines and an efficient lightrail system. For visitors to the city, the lightrail trains are the most important. This so-called C-Train has three lines that converge at 7th Avenue in downtown Calgary. Along that street you can also use the C-Train for free. If your destination is further afield, you have to pay.
For regional destinations there are buses operated by Red Arrow (bus stations on 9th Avenue) and Greyhound (bus station 1 kilometre to the west of downtown).
Although Calgary is situated on the Canadian Pacific Railway, that railway is no longer used to transport passengers.
The roads in Calgary have an addition that indicates the kind of road involved. To start with, every 'Avenue runs from east to west and every 'Street' from north to south. These roads are usually one-way only. 'Boulevard' or 'Drive' imply larger through roads, and 'Trail' indicates highways. For instance, the Deerfoot Trail (or Highway number 2) to Edmonton, the capital of the province of Alberta to the north of Calgary (about a three hours' drive). Banff, the winter sports centre, is located at an hour's drive to the west of Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway.
Finding a parking place in Calgary is not hard. There are many places where you can park, although you have to pay. Be aware, however, a red parking meter indicates that the maximum parking time is 15 minutes. In some roads, parking is not allowed after 3.30 pm, to enhance the traffic flow. If you violate that rule, your car will be towed. To avoid problems, it is best to park your car in one of the city's many car parks.
Traffic polices enforces the speed limit intensively, both with fixed and mobile speed cameras.
In the city itself there are few separate cycle paths, but for example along the river Bow there is a beautiful cycling route.
Calgary has an enormous supply of hotels. Most hotels are located downtown. Hotels, motels and bed &breakfast accommodations are located all over the city. Because Calgary is such an expanded city, we recommend choosing a hotel that is located not too far from the activity you have in mind. For the Stampede Festival, your best bet is a hotel downtown, but if you are passing through on your way to, for instance, Vancouver, an accommodation near the Trans Canada Highway (16th Avenue inside the city) is better. We recommend booking your hotel room in advance, especially during the winter and at festivals and events.
For more information about Calgary, we recommend Google, and the following sources: