The Art of Slow Travel in Calgary

Calgary

There are lots of different ways to travel and everyone has their own idea which is best for them. We’ve met so many people on our trip that are flying around from place to place at a hundred miles an hour with a ticklist of places to see and activities to do. That’s perfectly ok if it’s what they want to do but it’s not our way. We prefer Slow Travel.

What is slow travel

Maybe we’re a bit boring but we prefer to take our time and really experience what each place has to offer and we like to try and live like the locals as much as possible. That’s why we always attempt to stay at least a week everywhere and longer if possible. At the beginning of our trip we learnt that it’s impossible to see and do everything in every location so we decided that we would concentrate on living rather than being tourists. It works well for us and we really do feel as though we’ve experienced life in every place we’ve stayed.

Calgary: Biggest City in Alberta

When we planned the Canadian part of JWalking 2 we knew that we would need some downtime after the full-on adventure of the Canadian Rockies. We had over 3 weeks exploring one of the most amazing places on earth and loved every minute but scheduled in a couple of weeks afterwards where we could sit back, relax, and do quite a lot of not very much at all. That describes our current stay in Calgary perfectly.

Calgary is a great place, don’t get me wrong, but the 18 days we’ve booked to stay here is far too long to spend exploring and seeing the city. So a few days out interspersed with a lot of time talking about the future and being lazy. Why not?

Calgary

Cowtown or the Stampede City, that’s what the locals call it. It’s the 3rd or 4th biggest city in Canada depending on who you ask. Most famous for the Calgary Stampede that takes place in July every year and welcomes over 2 million visitors to town. The whole place seems to revolve around the Stampede even for the rest of the year. The city sits right on the edge of the Rockies to the West and the Prairies to the East and was bizarrely named after the village of Calgary on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Weird huh? And there are cowboy hats absolutely everywhere!

It’s a practical city with not a lot of pretty parks or arty buildings but that’s almost certainly because of the severe weather that it experiences all year round. Temperatures can drop to -30 in the winter and are often below zero between October and May with the lowest recorded being minus 45 degrees! It’s in an area called Hailstorm Alley too and thunderstorms spring up almost out of the blue. The weather is unbelievably changeable. We’ve left our lodge in bright sunshine only to be in the middle of torrential rain and thunder and lightning 15 minutes later. Great fun.

 

Fort Calgary and the Harley Diner

Fort Calgary

One of our days out was down to Fort Calgary on the Bow River just to the East of the city. This is where the city was born, it was actually an outpost of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1875 and the rest of the city grew from there. We love a bit of history so spent a great morning in the Fort finding out what this place was all about.

Of course Jo couldn’t resist setting me up to look ridiculous for a few ‘just put this on and see how it looks’ photos.

Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary

And one for the gentlemen …….

Fort Calgary

We look great don’t we? No? Please yourselves. All historied up we set off for the area of Inglewood and our favourite little diner, Kane’s. It’s the Harley Davidson themed American Diner that we went to previously. So cool with a real Wurlitzer Jukebox. We love it there. Might even go back one last time.

Comic-Book Guy

Just down the road is a classic North American comic shop complete with thousands of Marvel and DC original comics and action figures. We’re not comic-book experts so it didn’t mean that much but it was pretty interesting. Whilst wandering I heard a voice behind me ‘Ooohing’ and ‘Aaahing’ and turned to see a 20-something, large-headed, red-baseball-cap-wearing fella hopping from foot to foot as he skipped round the shop. Each new comic seemed to send him into raptures of delight and increased his excitement levels uncomfortably. He even approached the nervous looking girl at the counter asking for a job! Then it continued with ‘Do you like the Silver Surfer? I love him’, ‘Wow …… Captain America’, ‘NO WAY …… Batman and Superman’, and finally a scream of delight as he saw the Hulk! We left as he danced around other customers like a lunatic with more Ooohs and Aaahs.

Filipino Fest

Another little trip into the city saw us stumble on a major event. The incredibly named Filipino Fest took place in the Olympic Plaza and seemed to be a celebration of everything ………….. Filipino. They reckoned that there would be over 10,000 people attending that day and the food stalls and tents set up all around seemed ready for about 50! The weather was great and it was actually really good to see a few performances of traditional dancing and singing on stage. A great surprise as we’d only been heading down to the shopping district on 17th Avenue for some retail nonsense.

Calgary Filipino Fest

Calgary Filipino Fest

Calgary Filipino Fest

Calgary city is a bit weird as a lot of the streets are very plain and often seem a bit dead. It was only on our way back through that we discovered the city has a massive indoor walkway system called +15 which seems to link almost every building, shop, office, etc. Walkways extend over every street and through every block so that people can walk throughout the whole city without going outside (because of the weather of course). Bit strange but sensible I suppose.

Oh and on the way back through the Filipino Fest we stopped to watch a band play. One of the strangest experiences ever really as they didn’t speak English, played fairly loud rock, sang with heavily accented English lyrics, but thought they were Madness! So Filipino-Rock-Ska I suppose?

Planning for the Future

One of the serious reasons for our long stay here in Calgary is to try and plan the future and discuss and decide what’s next for us in the grand scheme of JWalking. We’re back in the UK in early December but after that have absolutely nothing planned at all. We would like to try housesitting and still want to travel. So lots and lots to talk about. A complete blank canvass almost makes it impossible though. So any ideas you may have would be most welcome. Places that we might like to visit or experiences that we might be interested in, within reason or houses that we might like to sit (know anyone?).

And we may be knocking on your door soon asking for a place to stay. So make sure you’re out!!!!

29.8 –  3.9.2016

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4 responses to “The Art of Slow Travel in Calgary

  1. You are so right about different styles of travel for different people. I have mostly done organised tours for a couple of reasons. I don’t think I would ever be brave enough to drive overseas (live in Outback Australia -not a lot of traffic here!) and as I only started travelling in my 50’s am keen to see as much as possible whilst I am physically and financially able to. Also my travelling companion has some mobility issues so not having to worry about cases etc suits us.
    That said there are so many places I’d love to go back to and spend more time as you are -seeing a place more fully and getting to know the local lifestyle.
    How exciting to have a blank canvas in front of you. Are you planning on house sitting mostly outside of the UK or are there parts of your home country you still have yet to say. Very much the case for me here in Australia. Hopefully can do that a bit later and maybe, must maybe, be able to convince hubby to travel with me then!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jo didn’t need the hats to make you look ridiculous Jon the beard is doing a more than reasonable job of doing it for her! What an odd place Calgary is. Perhaps it’s part of the reason that Canadians have a bit of a reputation for being a bit odd themselves. The walkways remind me a of Singapore where you can navigate around the city in air conditioned comfort rather than step outside. My suggestions would be Scandinavia and Japan although I don’t think I’d housesit in Japan!

    Liked by 1 person

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