My first two months in Calgary are almost complete. These are just the first months of a whole year and of course that I already have some first impressions of Calgary and in the beginning you tend to compare everything with your home country/city in order to form an opinion about things. Everything is relative.
I decided then to write about my first impressions of Calgary giving you also the foundation of these perspectives, which is my home, Lisbon. Here are some basic topics I find interesting to compare. Let the best city win!
Food can be quite different, mainly in a cultural aspect. In Portugal food is a huge part of our culture, we have an enormous variety of dishes that change from region to region in Portugal. Portuguese will spend a lot of time at the table during meals with your family and friends, most of the social moments are actually having dinner or lunch. It is never only about the food but also about being with people (of course that food needs to be there and it needs to be good).
Calgary has more international cuisine restaurants, I can tell that since I’m in Calgary I’ve been to Indian, Japanese, Greek, Italian and Brazilian restaurants. The typical Canadian food I tried was poutine and Maple syrup in a Pub or those breakfast places, both good – not very healthy though.
2. City Buildings
The way both these cities feel like is absolutely different! Part of that feeling is because the buildings are completely different and they definitely shape the way a city looks like.
- Lets look at both cities’ downtown:
While Calgary’s downtown is full of huge new buildings and large streets, Lisbon’s downtown is the complete opposite: really old buildings and small streets. They are both amazing!
- Lets look at suburbs areas:
Here I also noticed huge differences! In Calgary you have neighborhoods with houses and lots of green spaces (and so much space in general!). In Lisbon you have, in most areas, apartments. It is rare to find houses within the city of Lisbon. Lisbon everyone is packed, in Calgary everything is spread out. The place I live in Calgary looks like a small village, very green (I can hear the birds in the morning), for example when I’m skyping friends and family and a car actually drives through my street everyone asks me: What’s that noise?! It’s actually so rare to listen to cars that they notice the couple of times that happen.
I’m not prepared to talk about this yet. Let’s just say average temperature in Lisbon in January (coldest month) is positive 11 C.
4. Nature and landscapes
In Calgary I have the amazing Rocky Mountains right there; In Lisbon I had both Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean right there. I had the amazing chance to visit Canmore and Banff (lake Moraine and lake Louise) and I was absolutely amazed, I wasn’t expecting it to be so pretty at all!
Ponte 25 de Abril, Lisbon
5. Customer Service and people
Calgary is definitely way ahead of Lisbon in this topic. Maybe it’s because of the tip system (which I still do not understand) in Canada, so people just have an extra motivation or maybe it’s because people in Canada are so nice – it is not a cliche. I’m actually getting used to it so every time someone it’s not nice I get completely shocked (for example in the train in the morning when it’s so packed people start becoming a bit impatient to get out. Looks like they are claustrophobic as soon as the train stops and they need to get off).
It’s not that in Lisbon you can’t find nice people; it’s just that Canada is definitely above average!
6. Night Life
When it comes to nightlife – Lisbon is the place! Or lets say it depends on what you’re looking for. Lisbon has more options, the weather is nicer, and people go out until very late (late like 6 am). Bairro Alto is definitely my favorite and the one of the most famous as well.
Calgary is calmer than Lisbon. You have pubs and bars and usually by 2 am pretty much everything is closed. Still you can have pleasant nights. Not a party hard city at all. I’ve been to a club here in Calgary – First thing a Portuguese would notice: they only have hip hop music. Second thing a Portuguese would notice: it closes at 2 am.
These are just some of the topics from all the ones I noticed once I got to Calgary. Calgary and Lisbon are two amazing cities that I’m glad to have the experience of living in. They are so different from each other but that’s actually what makes me enjoy and value each of them even more.
So in the end it’s not about what city it’s the best to live in but how they both are great!