April 12th, 2004

pale

God keep our land glorious and free, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

For the first time ever I had gone beyond Lethbridge as we finally headed for Calgary for the weekend. Completely forgot about Easter, but I wasn't sure if Canada was similar to the US with keeping shops and bars open all weekend. Our mission for this weekend was to have as much fun as possible for it was six months prior we were on our ship giving our lives to each other. It was just a nice time to get away, just the two of us without the dogs and to a place close enough to go away for a weekend, a decent enough sized city without having to jump on a plane. Something about leaving the country makes it kinda neat.

So, what's to be said about Calgary...well let's see. Somewhere between 900,000 and a million people live there. Many people from different backgrounds seem to live there. We stayed at the Hyatt there and it seemed as though we were staying in India given the amount of Indians who were also staying there. Maybe there was some convention on...I wouldn't know, but it was a little odd.

We got to Calgary at about 4:30pm Friday after leaving Montana at about 1pm, checked into our hotel and then decided to head out. The first and main destination for the night was The Flying Emu, mostly because they had Coopers there! That is one of the very few beers Patrick will drink. So, this Aussie pub had a decent range of Aussie beers and it was interesting to see people coming and going tasting random beers like you would wines, comparing one to the other. It was odd hearing people say they liked VB better than Toohey's Dry, mostly because VB is Australia's Bud in that it is the standard crap cheap beer in Australia. Explaining to them that no one drinks Fosters in Australia and that I had never heard of King Lager meant that those two beers were disqualified from being Australian (especially since the Fosters isn't made in Australia anyway). I did my fair share of advertising my obvious choice of coopers Sparkling as being the best beer they had at this place.

We ate some Aussie food. It was nice to have some of these tastes back again. It isn't just the food types which are different, but they're cooked differently than things are cooked here, so it was refreshing. The place was filled with Australian's, Canadian's and British people mostly. We played pool after dinner and watched with everyone else Calgary Flames beat Vancouver in Vancouver. We were going to go the Sunday night playoff in Calgary, but the tickets were all sold out and since the Flames lost the game I guess I am happy in hindsight we didn't get tickets since we wouldn't have gotten back home until maybe 3am, which would have been bad for Patrick since he started work at 8am this morning.

We walked back to the hotel and ate more there later in the night before crashing out.

Saturday we walked all over the city during the day and night. We went up the tower to get an overall view of the city and surrounding suburbs. It's really not a big city at all. Afterwards we had a quick bite to eat before getting haircuts. Afterwards we headed for 17th Avenue where it seems the whole city was hanging out at. This is where a lot of the clubs and pubs are as well as some shopping and restaurants. People were flooded into the beer gardens, applauding women as they walked past, it was amusing to see, while the acoustic guitars are played by bands inside. About 4 we made a move back to the hotel, moved our dinner reservation forward from 8 to 6 because we were both hungry, got ready and headed back out.

Dinner was at Ceasers, which was dimly lit, with a bunch of waiters running around filling glasses, taking orders, and producing food. They cook the food in public view and then serve it on the plates right in front of you. Constantly they run around topping up glasses and adding sauces and cheese to things eaten. It was enjoyable and a nice change from what we have around home with the lack of restaurant selection. The setting was nice with a very roman feel to everything, from the artwork through to the pillars all throughout the place.

We returned to the hotel to get changed for a night out on the town, headed for a brief stint at the pool and sauna and then off to Bottlescrew Bills, where I picked up a passport. Basically you have a year to drink 80 beers from all around the world. The worst part is that they provide the list, so it will undoubtedly include beers that taste foul. So, you get a passport to write about each beer drank in completion and the waiter signs at the end of the night to confirm which beers were actually drunk before taking the passport back until you next return. It just seemed like something different to do. I'm guessing that at a casual drinking rate I can get the passport completed within 4 or 5 trips to Calgary, since they would all be weekend stays. Once we had enough of inhaling the smoke there we headed back out to 17th and hung out there for a hour or so before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday we checked out of the hotel and headed to where they had the 1988 Winter Olympics. Most of it was shutdown since it was Easter Sunday, but it was enough to get an idea of the place. Apparently you can go for rides on the Bobsled, which I think the Jamaican's made famous, for a fee. That sounds like a lot of fun. We might go back to do that when the snow season is back (it ended March 28th, so we just missed out). We headed home shortly after since almost everything was closed.

At this stage Miami still wins in cities outside of Australia. Calgary does now come in second place, slipping Minnesota to third.

On an interesting note, we're discussing plans on returning to Australia around October for a couple of weeks. We got some good (read good as fanbloodytastic) prices departing from Calgary, which gets both of us there and back for cheaper than one of our tickets we got last July. We may decide to skip Australia for Orlando, but there are so many things to consider before a decision is made.
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