Day 11 - Calgary, Alberta
It is a blessing to adjust, pivot, and believe in serendipity, especially while traveling. Snafus are bound to happen - it goes with the territory (pun intended while in Canada), and it is all in the perspective of making the best of the situation. We are doing just that!
My friend, Michele Stanners, who we are staying with, made a beautiful breakfast this morning before Linda and I headed out for a full day of sightseeing in and around Calgary. She also shared her morning ritual of smudging, based on Indigenous teachings. Neither of us has done any smudging or has been to Canada in over 30 years, and we’ve never been to the Province of Alberta. When the “other” trip was canceled, it afforded us to stay an extra night and day here.
The serendipity lies in going to the Calgary Stampede — opening day tomorrow! We can’t wait. Michele has outfitted us with belts, hats, and jewelry to wear. I’m glad I brought a pair of jeans (so did Linda at my encouragement a few days ago when we had to “repack a bit”). Since I didn’t know we’d be going, I did not pack a pair of cowboy boots, but Yahoo, we have our hiking boots!
The first thing we explored was one of the most prominent attractions here in Calgary—the Heritage Park Village. It is set on 125 acres along the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir and pays homage to the homesteaders of yesteryear. It is a living history museum with people dressed in period costumes throughout the campus. It was a delightful place to spend a beautiful summer morning in Calgary. Linda and I especially liked the fiddlers we saw near the entrance playing away, which looked like a group of high school students. Music was in the air!
Since it is so easy to get around the city center, after our time at the Heritage site, we hopped back into the car and headed downtown to see what kind of “trouble” we could get into next. The area was heating up, and not only the temperature. Many workers were setting up the parade route, and the restaurants were hopping with many out-of-town guests for the Stampede.
The James Joyce Irish Pub was the final lunch destination we decided on after walking the entire Stephens Mall Way (no cars). The traditional fish n chips meal was delicious - plus two iced cold Harp beers (one each) to wash everything down was not too shabby. We sat outside on the lovely patio and people-watched while we ate.
The slew of cowboys who strutted by wore plaid shirts, cowboy hats, jeans, big belt buckles, and boots (a mini-parade if you will). We've heard that the Calgary Stampede is one of the largest annual rodeos, exhibitions, and festivals held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The extravaganza brings in 1,000,000 visitors, and bills itself as "The Greatest Show on Earth." We will check it out and I'll report back!
We rounded out our afternoon with Michele’s suggestions to walk through the Municipal Building, AKA, City Hall, and check out the gorgeous library. The library was phenomenal, not only with the thousands of books located on four dynamic floors but the alcoves, architecture, and the First Nation Wing were outstanding.
Dinner was at a cute little restaurant called, Anna's, near our hostess's home. Our waiter was a young guy from Poland named, Jerzy (Jerry in English). I detected his Polish accent from the moment he said, "Hello." He's lived in several countries (including the USA) before landing and settling in Calgary.
In the last 24 hours, I learned more about Canada and First Nations (thank you, Michele) than I learned in all my years of schooling. Once home, I decided that I am going to read several books on The Great White North.