"If you're somebody that gets a chance to go somewhere, then do your best to see it. That's the best way to have an interesting life."
- Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley speaks the truth. I truly believe that the best way to feel at home is broaden your horizons, expand your boundaries, open all the doors (and any other cliche sayings that pretty much mean the same thing.) We've done a fair bit of exploring in our new city, so we thought we'd take you all on a tour of our favourite Calgary areas, starting with Inglewood. We're always talking about Calgary and its small town vibe in a big city setting, but Inglewood is as small town as you can get.
Inglewood is the oldest neighbourhood in Calgary, and it shows. It's where Calgary was born, on Blackfoot land in the late nineteenth century. The lack of high rise buildings and apartment complexes is one of the things we love about this little town. The area centers around 9th Avenue SE, which houses an array of boutiques, artsy stores and independent cafes and bars, all of which we're keen to try.
We took a walk through Stampede Park and along the Elbow River until we reached Inglewood Bridge. As we crossed the train tracks into town, we had an excellent view of the city from afar on an absolutely beautiful day.
Our first stop of the day was Plant, the number one place in Calgary for all your indoor gardening needs. From terrarium materials, succulents and huge indoor plants, it's a beautiful little spot that also specializes in local and international crafts. It was so tempting to buy a whole array of succulents and plants, but with only four hands between us, we knew it would be a struggle to carry it all, but we had a great time window shopping.
After meeting up with our friend Coby, we ducked into a few other stores throughout the afternoon, including my new favourite, Purr. This stylish boutique has a range of styles, with a few home items thrown in for good measure. Maybe it's time for a another visit - less window shopping and more actual shopping......
*These images belong to the Instagram accounts of Purr and Silk Road Spice Merchant respectively
We paid a visit to the Silk Road Spice Merchant, a spice haven with all the flavours you could think of, available to buy in a variety of sizes. Despite the immense selection we still couldn't find what we were looking for (ground fenugreek show yourself!) but it was definitely an experience in itself. Clearly one of the most popular stores in Inglewood, the queue was insane, but I would definitely visit again to stock up on the slightly more obscure herbs and spices.
Inglewood is also home to Cody & Sioux, a western style clothing store which has been recommended to me by people at my workplace. I have to admit, we didn't get a chance to visit on our last trip to Inglewood (mostly because I couldn't figure out how to open the door and made a quick getaway out of embarassment) but judging by their website, it's worth a look. It's not cheap but the pieces look authentic without being over the top and I'm excited to have a browse and see what I can add to my working wardrobe for during Stampede time.
After walking the main stretch of 9 Ave SE, we made our way to Spolumbo's Fine Foods and Deli for lunch. Founded by three CFL loving Calgarians in the early nineties, Spolumbo's is famous throughout the city for its incredible deli sandwiches, as well as their homemade sausages that are sold across Western Canada. The eatery is decked out in football memorabilia from floor to ceiling and the perfect place to grab a bite to eat in the heart of the town.
In a sea of Canadian accents, it's very easy to hear any trace of a British one, and when we found out that our server was not only British, but from Staines of all places (Nikki's hometown) we were practically beside ourselves. And there's something to be said for the homely comfort of meeting another Brit, Nikki was thrilled to get an extra side of free pickles. The sandwiches in question were to die for, and Spolumbo's has firmly squeezed its way onto our list of must eat places in Calgary.
Calgary has a whole range of breweries to choose from for your afternoon refreshment, but we're big fans of Cold Garden Beverage Company on 11 Street SE. This lively microbrewery has put down roots in Inglewood, bringing a vibrant drinking atmosphere to what was once the brewing district of Calgary, along with a lineup of traditional and some more eccentric beers. Plus it's dog friendly, which makes for the best drinking environment in town.
After finishing off a couple of pints (and strong ones at that) we staggered - I mean walked - back through Inglewood towards home, with one more stop along the way. Fair's Fair is a quaint bookstore on the edge of town, reminiscent of Powell's in Portland, but on a much smaller scale. They have something for everyone, as they buy, sell and trade used books at a fair price. A long standing Inglewood establishment, their position on the edge of the Inglewood limits by no means affects their popularity and you're always sure to find a steady stream of book lovers wandering through the stacks. Or playing hide and seek like I did.
Other recommended places we have yet to try include :
Ol' Beautiful Brewing Company - Another brewery opposite Cold Garden. We walked through here looking for a table and it's gorgeous inside, we just have yet to try their beers!
The Blues Can - An understated blues bar with nightly live performances and home-style Southern cooking .
Gorilla Whale - They describe themselves as ' a loud, fun, rock ‘n roll-lovin’, ‘Japanese-ish’ restaurant and lounge ' which sounds right up our street.
We have so many more neighbourhoods to explore and share with you so stay tuned for the next post!