I Heart My City: Iryna’s Calgary

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Though she was “born and raised in beautiful Ukraine,” Iryna is now happy to call Calgary her “second home.” After traveling through Europe, she decided to make Western Canada her permanent residence and hasn’t ever looked back. Here are some of her favorite things about Alberta’s “Cowboy City.”

Follow Iryna’s story on Instagram @Iraugryn.

Calgary is my city

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to Kensington Village where the shops are trendy and the food is flavorful. Afterward we head for Inglewood, Calgary’s oldest neighborhood to explore Fort Calgary, a birthplace of my city, and check out Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar, which is known for its strong coffee and live music performances.

Summer is the best time to visit Calgary because of food trucks driving around the city and serving absolutely delicious multicultural food, open patios along Stephen’s Avenue and 10 days of absolute madness at Stampede, the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.

You can see my city best from Calgary Tower. At least that’s what most city guides will tell you and, hands down, they’ve got a point. As for me, I’d rather enjoy a view from Crescent Heights Hill, a hill situated immediately north from downtown. Whenever I look out over the city center from there, I can feel Calgary’s energy and heartbeat.

Locals know to skip big box mall Chinook and check out shops on 17th Avenue and 4th Street instead.

Galleria Inglewood is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like astronaut Robert Thirsk, Everest summiter Laurie Skreslet, and historian George Stanley have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is Glenbow Museum because it’s a place where the past and the future of Western Canadian culture come alive together.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to rent a car if you want maximum flexibility (Calgary is a driving city). If you’re staying primarily in the downtown area, being carless shouldn’t be a problem. And did I mention the fare-free zone along 7th Avenue (C-Trains only)?


The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Prince’s Island Park.

My city really knows how to celebrate local artists via art galleries and special events. Market Collective is a great example of this.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they own a Flames jersey and cowboy boots.

For a fancy night out, I go see the Alberta Ballet then head to dinner at Teatro Restaurant.

Just outside my city, you can visit the much-loved Rocky Mountains. My appreciation for Alberta‘s natural beauty grows every year.

My city is known for being the oil and gas capital of Canada, but it’s really a very welcoming and charming urban landscape surrounded by beautiful prairies.

Oeb Breakfast, Co. is my favorite place to grab breakfast because of their Canadian-sourced lobster and shrimp scramble crêpes, and UNA Pizza + Wine is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Where.

My city’s biggest sports event is hockey (Go, Flames, go!). Watch it at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

To escape the crowds, I cycle or rollerblade in Fish Creek Provincial Park or enjoy the sunset in Glenmore Reservoir.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Paul Brandt because who else is more country–correction, chic country–than he is?

The dish that represents my city best is steak (Alberta beef is the tastiest in the world), and the Caesar cocktail, invented in Calgary in 1969, is my city’s signature drink.

Memorial Park Library is my favorite building in town because it’s a quiet island for book lovers in the heart of a buzzing downtown atmosphere.

The most random thing about my city is the fact that it is one of the few cities in the world that has Chinooks, warming winds that cause winter temperatures to go from -20° F (or lower) to as high as 15° in just few hours.

WINE-OHs (formerly Beat Niq) is the best place to see live music and enjoy a jazzy underground ambience, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Commonwealth.

In the spring you should attend the Lilac Festival.

In the summer you should go floating down the Bow River, taste ribs at the barbecue at the Bow Festival, and hunt for free pancake breakfasts during the city’s famous Calgary Stampede, held every year in July.

In the early fall you should check out Heritage Park.

In the winter you should zoom around on a bobsled at Canada Olympic Park.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Calaway Park, Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park.

The best book about my city is Historic Walks of Calgary by Harry M. Sanders.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “My Heart Has a History” by Paul Brandt.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Calgary tends to heart people back. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how welcoming and friendly the heart of Wild West is.

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