Things I’ve learnt thus far…

I’ve officially been in Calgary for a week now and since my arrival, I’ve had time to make a few key observations about the city and the people who call it home.

Observation #1: People are uber friendly.

Seriously. You can’t walk into a store or order a coffee without someone wanting to hear your life story. In particular, if you mention that you’ve just moved here, be prepared for rapid-fire questions of when, from where, why, where else you’ve lived, how old you are, what you think of it so far, and where you’re heading after you leave their shop.

Observation #2: There’s something slightly European going on…

For some reason- and I’ve yet to figure out what it is- nothing is open past 4 p.m. on weekends. You cannot get into a coffee shop downtown and the streets are literally abandoned until the dinner-hour. I’m not sure if people are taking a siesta or if there’s some secret local tradition going on that I’m not aware of, but it’s really peculiar. Also, Calgary is a little like Paris in that you can’t walk into or out of a shop without acknowledging the clerk/owner. It’s just not done and people get reeeeally titchy if you don’t immediately say hello or good-bye before leaving. So yeah, there’s that.

Observation #3: What the heck are these birds??

In Toronto we complain a lot about the pigeons, or sky-rats as I like to think of them. They’re scruffy and can’t seem to mind their own business, kind of like the weird relatives that nobody really likes but everyone just puts up with because they’re family. In Calgary, there are no pigeons. Not ONE. I’ve looked and looked and looked but instead, there are these weird things.

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You can’t really see them here because I’m slightly tech-challenged and haven’t figured out the zoom feature on my new phone. Here’s a shot I stole from Google Images:

Very odd. And they’re everywhere. Literally. You can’t walk ten feet without seeing one. Oh, and there’s also loads of these little guys.

Seriously adorable but really timid otherwise I would trap one and bring it home as a pet.

Observation #4: You can literally buy alcohol ANYWHERE.

And when I say anywhere, I mean anywhere. I walked into a cafe on my way to work and they were serving liquor. Not just beer. Liquor. At 8:00 a.m. You could just order a coffee and buy a shot of Bailey’s or whiskey to pop in. I think the barista at Higher Ground (below) thought I was nuts because I literally stared at the menu in shock and awe for about five minutes. Back home in Ontario, you can only buy liquor at the LCBO. There are a few wine stores and The Beer Store for less hard-core indulgences but there’s no way in hell any cafe would ever get licensed to serve booze. Even in Ottawa when we would hop across the border to buy alcohol in Hull- where the drinking age is 18, not 19, I don’t think you could get hard liquor at the depanneur, just lighter stuff. But Calgary’s a marvellous place. There are also privately-owned liquor stores and wine stores on every block and prices can be a bit cheaper than what they were back at the LCBO. I got a bottle of Jackson Triggs chardonnay my first night here that was $13 and I think it usually goes for about $17 at the LCBO.

higher ground

Observation #5: Chinooks are God’s gift to humanity.

On Thursday and Friday, it was about -15 with the wind chill. Not bad by any standard but still enough to make you long for summer. Today (Saturday), it’s 10 degrees ABOVE zero. Seriously, in the space of 24 hours, I went from wearing a parka and trudging carefully along frozen-solid ice on the sidewalks to prancing about in a light jacket (below), without need for a scarf, gloves or winter boots. I have no idea how they work exactly but when a chinook rolls in, the temperature goes way up super quickly in winter. They only last about a day or so but people on the streets were wearing either t-shirts and jeans or shorts and a chunky knit. A bit over-eager in my opinion but with not a single cloud in the sky, the sun felt SO good. Basically, chinooks are amazing.

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Well, that’s all for now but I’ll be posting more about my adventures and observations shortly. Stay tuned!

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