A review of my time in Canada
This coming Friday I leave Canada after almost 2 years working in Calgary at the [Institute for Space Imagining Science], University of Calgary. Apart from missing t’other one and family I’ve had a pretty good time here in [Alberta]. Canada is an interesting place, full of lots of different things todo. Not sure I could do it permanently though, there is just something missing. It could be described as culture or history but I don’t think that’s it. There is culture and though I don’t really fit into the culture of Calgary (oil/cowboy town) its really grown on me. I do like lots about the place and the people. Heck, its not many places were cars stop for you when you are 20 metres from the road. I just can’t quite place what makes me feel odd here at times, there is something but I don’t know what. At times I feel that this is simply missing my family (and that has been very very hard throughout this) but I don’t think its just this. Maybe its that feeling of missing home. Though I don’t think it can just be that. Then again though I moved out of home when I was 18 for University I never did leave Birmingham. Could I just be missing Birmingham? That’s definitely true, but I think something I got over after about 6 months. I’ve never gotten over missing my family but I think that’s expected. I talk to t’other one everyday and my folks every Saturday and Sunday. This has made life bearable, because without Skype I’d have probably never come nevermind lasted this long. Anyway, I really just can’t place what it is about Calgary that just doesn’t feel right. I think I’d probably have the same feeling in any North American city though, the roads are just to darn big. Having 3 lanes going one way outside of my place just says that. Well there is a bit of a rant. Its not a rant I had planned though. I was just going to write about my time here in Calgary and some of the more fun things I’ve done, I don’t want to bore you with the sad times and the anguish of missing people. So then… onto the highlights! These really don’t fully span the fun I’ve had here… but a taste – my blog over the last couple of years is testimate to my time in Calgary. Oh I’m not even including the epic trip back at Christmas to the UK that went via Paris and I got back home from Canada on a boat.. or my time in Puerto Rico.
I’ve actually put together [50 highlights of Canada in a flickr album]… for the purpose of this post I’m just gonna cover 10 topics – and I think what I’ll write about will embrace quite a few of the pics. These aren’t in any particular order…
1. Snow and using it for fun.
Calgary is definitely an excellent place to live if you enjoy outdoor winter sports. It has its own ski hill within the city and is not far from tons of what I’m told are excellent ski hills. There is the problem, I can’t ski at all. But when in Rome…
.. yep that’s me get ready to try to snowboard. When my mate Christian decided he wanted to learn to snowboard and well I went along for the ride. For me it wasn’t much of a ride and more simply FAIL. Yes I fell over, yes I couldn’t get up on the board – apart from once when I feel down straight on me face. [I actually wrote a blog post about this]. I even gave ski’s a go… and well that was more FAIL. Yes I completely wiped out getting on and off the ski lift – and when I got back down to the bottom and I fell off the magic carpet (a flat escalator to help newbies) I decided it was time to go for a beer. Oh a couple of months later a my mate Steve came over to visit me from England [we saw how its properly done]…
Calgary is wonderfully placed right next to the rocky mountains. Of course in the winter this helps the previous fun… but in the summer it means lovely hiking. I wouldn’t say I took that too seriously, I’ve been for a couple of fun day hikes and been on a bunch of tours with [Brewsters] and saw/did some cool things. Including bears:
partially frozen lakes:
[Places with funny names] (yes this is called lake Minnewanka – pronounce it like a Brit and you will chuckle):
oh lots of mountains..
walking on a glacier:
oh and more snow / [freezing my face off on top of a mountain at -20C or something like that]:
During my time in Calgary I’ve become a fan of Ice Hockey (aka Hockey in Canada). Its a great game, full of excitement. Much better than playing Brett Hull hockey which absorbed a large portion of my time playing SNES. Of course the Canadians are as passionate about hockey as we are football. I think my interest really peaked when I was watching the Olympic coverage and Canada got to the final. Great afternoon watching it in Melrose on 17th Ave. Since then I’ve been to a bunch of [WHL and NHL games]. All I will say is GO FLAMES GO!
4. The Calgary Tower.
[I’ve been up the Calgary Tower on 3 occasions], I think spanning most of the day. Its always been fun, bit pricey but worth doing. The Calgary tower, though not the largest building, really dominates the downtown skyline. You can basically use it to find your way home too. I think it looks pretty nice at night and phenomenal when the giant flame is on.
5. A city full of nature.
Calgary might be ranked as one of the world’s top eco cities but I don’t think people give it the credit it deserves. I mean everyone laughed about that title and well given the size of the roads/cars its quite funny. Then you think about the fact that there is one giant provincial park inside the city and many lovely nature sites.. I’ve seen quite a bit of wildlife in the city.. include [deer] and [coyotes down at Fish Creek]..
6. The Cold
I’ve never been so cold in my life. I’m not quite sure how cold it has gotten to during my time here but I’m sure there was one day when it hit -40C. Now that’s cold. I remember the first winter and every day blasted my new record for the coldest temperature I’d ever experienced. The second winter it was… “oh it’s only -20C”. I still thinks its odd thinking -6C is a nice warm day and having the urge to wear shorts. The cold weather does give some cool sites though.. and weird sensations when your nose freezes and your trousers (pants in Canada) go stiff within a minute of walking. Watching the [Simple Plan gig for the Olympics] outside was probably the coldest I’d ever bin. This was almost matched by the [outdoor Heritage hockey game at McMahon Stadium].
I don’t think I really could have a discussion of my time living in Calgary and not mention the world famous [Calgary Stampede could I]? One giant rodeo with people partying for a week.. not a bad thing really. Still I was bemused by most of the activities that took place but I feel that I might have experienced something culturally significant.
8. Beer and Bars.
Who serves a pint like this?
Is what I thought the first time I had it. But yes having an orange in my beer has grown on me. I’ll miss some of the excellent beers of Wild Rose and Big Rock. I’ve had some epic nights drinking their products.. so a big thank you to them! Oh and a big thank you to all the bars I’ve been to… special mentions probably have to go to the epic Blink Monk on 12th Ave (right by were I live) for the many many fun nights, Melrose (on 17th Ave) for the hockey nights, Kilkenny (up at Brentwood) for its epic happy hours and to the Yardhouse (on 17th Ave) for its epic veggie burgers and friendly staff.
9. Tim Hortons.
I didn’t think I would be saying this… but Timmy’s I’ll miss you! Not many places were you can get an excellent donut and a coffee for around $2. I’ve spent many hours waiting in line-up for you. I hate to think how many hours are lost over the whole country waiting for Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons… open a few in England – I’ll come!
10. Simply Calgary.
As I said before times have been hard in Calgary but I think I’ll miss it. I’ll miss my friends and I’ll miss the city.. there is something about this place that has made a place in my heart. [Go Stamps], [Go Flames], [Go Hitmen], [Go Roughknecks], [Go Vipers]! There might not be much todo for tourists but if you ever go to Western Canada don’t miss out on Calgary as you will be missing something.. I’m not quite sure what but you’ll be missing something. Something tells me this city really hasn’t blossomed yet – I can see myself coming back in 20 years and it being very different and well I can see this place being fantastic.
Oh and to all my friends here… thanks for making my time in Calgary the dogs bollocks. You lot rock!
Thank you Calgary.
oh and …. hello Cambridge…..