They say the province of Alberta is the heart of Western Canada. Bordered by the Canadian Rockies and the mid-country Prairies, Alberta boasts some of the world’s most famous of resorts in Banff and Jasper. Lake Louise will make you awestruck at its beauty and sheer tranquility. Should you travel south east, you’ll be met with a trip back in ancient times and learn about dinosaurs in the Alberta Badlands.
I had the recent pleasure of spending some quality time in Alberta for a business trip. Always a layover at the airport, and never before having the opportunity to enjoy the sights and meet some people, I decided to book an extra day, rent a car, and do some local area sight-seeing from Calgary.
I was first greeted with a smiling face, cowboy hat and cowboy boots at the airport, by a tall chap named “Henry”. “Welcome to Calgary!” He exclaimed with exuberance and pride. I was completely thrown off kilter. Coming from Toronto, I am so accustomed at being grimaced at and swooshed along like cattle in a stampeded from the tarmac to the baggage claim area, where you then proceed to wait countless minutes, sometimes even up to an hour or an hour and a half for your luggage at Pearson. Nope, not here….my luggage was timed to be out in 12 minutes according to the screen above the carousel. And exactly 12 minutes later, my purple suitcase came strolling up to me. What a pleasant experience upon arrival.
I put in a call to my proprietress, the lady by whom I was renting the condo from, Marjorie, and explained I had arrived and was just going to get my rental and head out. In Calgary, the vistas from tall buildings are immense and majestic. Having a condo rental in the city is a great experience that I will once again enjoy one day if I travel alone. Marjorie indicated when we last spoke on the phone that she has workmates that also rent out the weekend homes to travellers and families for vacation rentals. There soon becomes a vast shortage of places to stay during the Calgary Stampede. Just imagine a province and a city that has just shy of 4 million residents living and working in its province, and then it more than doubles for a week in July! The experience is positively global! All walks of life, all kinds of cultures and backgrounds populate the Western Nucleus for a week to watch some of the most exciting rodeo shows and daredevil antics that money can buy. And the vacancy rate plummets as the hotels, resorts, condos and vacation rentals are all used up in anticipation of this annual event. “Best book something bright and early,” says Marjorie, “you don’t want to be left out!” You should probably also anticipate paying more for everything under lease, from car rentals, hotels, condos, and cottage rentals, all go up in rates starting as soon as school lets out.
As I sit atop the Calgary tower and snap a few shots of the amazing sights that lie before me below, I am touched at the elderly couple, John and Eda that joined me on the elevator ride up. 30 years had passed since they last visited Calgary. Married now for more than 52 years, they watched the concrete majesty being built so many years ago when they lived in the core of Calgary centre. They hold hands and smile as they look down at the vistas below them, reminiscing about their dearly departed friend, and lead engineer in its construction of concrete.
Yup definitely coming back here one day soon with my family….what a great place to visit and enjoy a much needed vacation.
April 2, 2013