A farewell to the good life: Part 2

Now I'd only have to tell a fuckwit, that the NFL conference championships were on the Sunday that I was on the bus to Calgary. And missing part of the first game was a sacrifice I was regretably, willing to make. The Steelers - Ravens was the game that I really wanted to see, so to miss part of the Cards - Eagles... I could just about make peace with that. Needless to say though, once the bus got in, I wasn't going to be hanging around. I needed to get checked into the hostel, and get to a bar.

So the bus gets in. I don't need to collect my bag obviously. And I go up to information to find the best way into town. "What's the best way to get to downtown?" I ask the woman behind the desk. "No," she replies. You know right there it's going to be one of those days. What she meant to say, was that there was no shuttles or anything going to downtown from here, and I was going to have to walk.

This was a bit frustrating seeing as the football was playing out as we spoke, but if nothing else, walking into Calgary centre from the outside, it was quite a good view of the skyline. Had I not been preoccupied with getting to the hostel asap, so I could get to a bar, I might have stopped for a photo. Calgary gave a good first impression though. Very modern in its architecture. All I can say, is thank fuck 'Rough Guides' have a map of Calgary in their guide to Canada. I would have been lost without that. As it was, I knew there was a free "C-train" that ran through downtown. And that went only a couple of blocks from the hostel, so all I really needed to do was locate that, and I was golden.

Now a C-train, is some weird fucking method of transport. I remember the Rough Guide describing it, as I read about Calgary on the bus here, as a half train, half bus. So I was thinking tram, then. But it's not. It really is a half train, half bus. It's weird. It runs on rails. But it runs on rails on the road, where people are driving as well. And it still has to obey other traffic laws, such as traffic lights. But it stops at platforms, and has carriages like a train. But then once it's outside of the downtown area, it becomes a train. It's hard to explain. But anyway, I jumped onto one of these, and went to the end of the free-fare zone, which happened to be the stop nearest to the hostel.

One problem with being in a city, with a large backpack, is that you stick out like a sore thumb that you're a tourist. And tourist's are targets. People see you as vulnerable because you're out of your element, so try and take advantage of you. My backpack made me like honey to a bee to all the bums of Calgary as I was going through downtown. Now don't get me wrong, I normally get along fine in poor areas. But when you're an obvious tourist, you're a target. So I needed to get to the hostel and get rid of my backpack asap.

Now I'll be honest right here; I much prefer being in poor areas than I do rich places. Rich people are always smiling, and happy, and they're ignorant, retarded, fuckers. And happy people annoy the fuck out of me. I like being in areas where I know people are worse off than I am. It makes me feel at ease. When you go through a business district, I just want to punch all those dickheads in the face. As strange as it sounds, I just feel more at home in the darker areas. And it's not like I don't fit in. Back in uni, some people used to call me 'hobo', on account that I could never be fucking bothered to shave. So it's not like I can't blend in. Just need to lose the damn backpack so I can blend in a bit more.

Once I'm off the C-train, the hostel is pretty easy to find. A huge HI logo is on a sign on the side of the building, so you can pretty much see it as you get off the train. I didn't have a reservation or anything. Afterall, I wasn't actually sure that I'd be able to get to Calgary today on account of how sketchy the plan with the buses was, so I was assuming that no one would want to go to Calgary in January. Why would they?

And I was right. Checked in no problem. I met one guy in my dorm, who looked no different from any of the people on the street who'd asked me for money. So thank fuck I remembered to pack a padlock this morning. Because I definitely wouldn't feel safe leaving a laptop unattended in this place. And I'll tell you now, that this place didn't get much better over the 3 nights I was here. In terms of facilities, this place had everything you would expect from a hostel. And quite a lot more. Arcade machines, pool tables... But you can have all the facilities in the world. The only real difference between a good hostel and a shit hostel, is the people that are staying there. My favourite hostel I've stayed in, was in Victoria in 2005. It was a dump in terms of appearance, and lacked facilities. But everyone there from the staff to the guests, were so sociable, and so fun to be around. It was more fun to be at the hostel than be out seeing the city. Plus the air-conditioning in my room was broken, so the chics in my dorm slept pretty much naked. Though we'll keep that story for another time. It was similar when I stayed in Ottawa as well. Also in 2005. The people in that place, both staff and guests, were just so much fun that you just wanted to be there. It's what makes a hostel. Calgary on the other hand... this place was shit. I don't think I've ever stayed in a place where the guests are all so miserable. Nor have I ever spent one night in a hostel, let alone 3, without being on first-name terms with someone. So I wasn't impressed with this place. It kind of stunk of a place feeling the recession. Everyone seemed very shady. Out for themself. What's better to have? A friend or his laptop? That kind of place. So it wasn't the best place to stay. But I really wasn't here to make friends, I'll be honest. Maybe it was even better this way. Doing what I want, when I want, without a regard for anyone else. That's the way I like it. After dark, Calgary as a whole had the same kind of feeling. In the daytime, it was a wealthy business district. As soon as the sun went down though, the workers all left to go back to their suburban detached house, with the 2.4 children and the surgically enhance wife, and the bums all came out to play. And all of a sudden, after dark, Calgary became this gritty, dirty, bum town. Almost like zombies coming out at night, they'd just appear. This is exactly what I wanted from these 4 days. If I was in some happy business area, I'd start killing people. Being in the dirty, run-down, bum town, was exactly what I wanted. Get in touch with my darker side. Release some demons.

Anyway, I leave the hostel after not very long, and head back into the centre of town. But as I'm getting towards the bars, you know what I realise I've forgotten? What should you never forget? That's right, I'd forotten my fucking toothbrush. I was so close to the bars. This was a Sunday night though. And one of the retarded things about Canada, is there's still a high percentage of mental Christians here. So on Sunday's, a lot of places are closed. And those that are open, close early. So I wasn't going to be able to find any stores open after the football to buy a toothbrush and tooth paste. I was just going to say fuck it, and live without clean teeth for a few hours. But then my hyegenic side got the better of me, so I decided to try and find a drug store. How hard can it be right? I'm in the centre of a "big" city afterall. Well it turns out, very hard. The further from the bars I got, the more time I'd spent looking for a place. And the more time I'd spent looking for a place, the more determined I was to find somewhere. And I even got to the point of thinking that I'd be able to cover more ground on the C-train than walking. So I jumped on one of these. And eventually I found this little Asian shop. It cost me over $10 for fucks sake. Now at least I could get back to a damn bar.

As I was looking for this elusive drug store, one pub had even been playing commentary out onto the street, of the football. It was so hard for me to walk past there. But now I was heading back to another place that I'd seen. It had the football on a big screen. But as I'm walking down 8th Ave., I see 4 guys in Eagles shirts coming out of the Flames Centre, or whatever it was called. It looked like a movie theatre, but the Calgary Flames are Calgary's NHL team. So I guess maybe it shows sport. I don't know. But the fact I saw these guys leaving, pretty much said to me that the game was over. And the fact that one of them was removing his Eagles jersey as he left, told me that the Cards won. But I continued onto this bar in the hope that the game was still going on. And sure enough... it was over.

Original Joe's This place I was in was called Original Joe's (I took the picture the next day). And the guys sitting at the bar in there, insisted on telling me what a great game I'd just missed. "Thanks guys. Really want to fucking know that." So I was a little pissed about that. But at least I was here for the start of the Ravens - Steelers. Original Joe's had it's own brand, Original Joe's lager. So I was drinking this piss all night, watching the football, chatting to the people at the bar, chatting to the bar staff. It was actually a pretty good night. Though why don't people understand that you only talk in the ad breaks? You don't talk when they football's on. How stupid are these people?

One very useful thing that I did get from the barmaid, was I asked her if there would be anywhere in Calgary playing the Merseyside derby in the morning. And she very kindly, not only suggested a place, but also called them for me, to check that they were playing the game. So I was set for that game tomorrow. A pretty good night all in all. I spent a bit more than I'd planned on. I think my cheque came to close to $40. But what can you do eh? Football is an expensive sport to follow.

Just to give you an insight into how fun the hostel is: As I get back, I go into my dorm, and guess what? Some fucker has only gone and stolen the blanket from my bed. There was only 2 people currently asleep in the room. And having had a few beers, this pissed me the fuck off. Being under the influence somewhat, I was kind of looking for a reaction from somebody when I made no attempt whatsoever to be considerate about the amount of noise I was making. Because I was pissed off someone could be so petty as to steal a blanket from my bed, rather that go to reception to get one. We were even the closest dorm to reception. It was 10 yards from the door. But no one rose to the occasion. And it actually ended up better for me. Where as before I had some itchy prison blanket, I think the guy on the desk could see I wasn't really in the mood for games, and was pretty ready to snap, that he came back with a proper duvet. Classy. That just gives you an idea of the people in this hostel though. It was shit.

Next day, derby day obviously for any fuckwits out there, first things first. There are no McDonald's in Invermere. So a McDonald's breakfast tasted sooo fucking good. It's not normal to go the amount of time I've been without a sausage and egg Mcmuffin. That was a damn good way to start the day. After which, I went off looking for this pub that I'd heard about in Joe's last night. The Ship and Anchor.

Now when I was in Joe's, they'd apparently said on the phone that the football started at midday. I was so confused with time zones etc, that I wasn't going to dispute this. It wasn't even close to 11:00 yet. But at the same time, I wasn't too sure how far the pub actaully was. I knew it was way out of the downtown zone though. On 17th Ave., compared to 7th for the free C-train. So I headed up there anyway. Apparently this place had a reputation for showing the "soccer", so everyone in Calgary who wanted to see a game, went there. I wanted a decent seat, so I had no qualms about arriving early. It apparently even has it's own soccer-line. A phone-line dedicated just to the soccer games they're showing here. That's the number that the girl in Joe's called for me the night before. So to be on the safe-side, I didn't want to be arriving bang on 12:00. Even so, I was able to locate this place before 11:00, so I figure I may as well have a walk around to see some more of Calgary. Surely better to see some stuff than be sat in a pub waiting for kick-off. Bronc Twister Well this took me past a casino, with 24 hour poker tables which tempted me for a lot of the trip, and to the place where the Calgary Stampede is held. Probably the only thing that Calgary is famous for. Plus the '88 Winter olympics. But people only know about that because of Cool Runnings. This is a photo of a statue of some famous horse or something. I took a picture of the plaque explaining it's significance, but I cannot be fucked to read it. I'll put all these photos into a photo album when I have a chance, so if you really want to know about this horse, it'll be in there. I just thought it was a nice picture. After-which, I headed back to the pub.

I expected something of a soccer pub... but this really was a soccer pub. Scarves from dozens of English teams decorated the bar. I really didn't expect to be able to walk into a pub in Calgary, and see an Everton scarf hung in full view above the bar. Everton scarf Yet here it was. And I'll tell you now, it wasn't the only Everton scarf I found on display in Calgary. Fancy that eh. Look at the picture really closely, and you can even see a replay of the Eagles - Cards game. What a pub eh! I got into this place at about 11:20. And one thing I hadn't realised until I'd sat down and got a drink, was that at midday, the game wasn't kicking off. That was the start of the pre-game show. The hour long, pre-game show. So here I was, sat in this pub drinking coke, for 100 minutes before the game even kicked off. I had a lunch as well. But I was wondering why, after nearly 4 hours, the waitress was being a little slow in serving me. I was drinking; getting through plenty of coke. Did she not want a tip or something? It wasn't until I got the cheque, after nearly 4 hours of sitting there, that I realised: It was free refils on Coke. I'd been sat there nearly 4 hours, drinking Coke by the pint. And it was free refils. After nearly 4 hours, including a lunch, my total bill came to $10.90. Oops. There own stupid fault for giving away free Coke eh.

Ship and Anchor It was an awesome place to watch the game though. It really was Calgary's soccer pub. The atmosphere was no different from watching the derby game in Hull back home. There were plenty of people here watching the game on the big screen. More Kopites than Evertonians, but I think you expect that most places. I wasn't alone though. There was even a couple of people in replica jerseys hanging about the pub. Pretty good atmosphere. Especially when Tim Cahill got the 87th minute equaliser. It's a great feeling to be in the minority when you score. You just know that your cheering is making so many other people miserable, that you just do it even louder. It was awesome.

Now Calgary, you expect to be cold, right? Middle of January in Calgary. It should be blizzards, -40°C, high winds. That's what I think of when I think Calgary in the Winter. So why the fuck is it so warm, in the middle of January, that people were sitting out on the patio of this pub, eating lunch wearing t-shirts? I hate to keep on banging on about it, but global warming is coming. This weather isn't normal. But what are we going to do about it? We'll talk about it some more. We can fix it 10 years from now.

Husky Oil Calgary Being sat in the pub nearly 4 hours by now, half the day had gone by the final whistle. Having had such a long time to myself before the game however, with the aid of the Rough Guide, I'd written out a few things that I wanted to do whilst I was in Calgary. Today on my list, I had the Devonian Gardens, the Eau Claire Market, and possibly, if I had time, Princes Island. I was thinking maybe 3 hours to get to, and see, the Eau Claire Market, and then as long as I needed at the Devonian Gardens. They closed at 9. Well it turns out the Eau Claire Market, really isn't as good as the Rough Guide likes to make out. It's just a shopping centre. And not even a very good one. And Prince's Island, right by there, is also pretty shit. It was all covered in snow. So it really didn't take long until I was done with the Eau Claire Market. So straight onto the Devonian gardens.

Disabled urinal In fact, you know the best thing I found about the Eau Clair market? So good in fact that I had to take a picture of it, at great risk to myself. This urinal! Why exactly, would you have a disabled person urinal? A bar behind the urinal so people in a wheel-chair can use it. Does that not seem illogical to anyone else? First off, would you really want to hold onto a bar positionsed that procariously next to a urinal. Including splash, especially drunk, that's not an especially big bowl to aim for. And secondly, why would someone who spends their whole life sat in a wheel-chair, all of a sudden want to stand up, just to piss. It just doesn't make sense. Disabled toilets; fine. I like them. They have more space in than regular cubicals. But disabled urinals? It's political correctness gone mad!

Man... so the Devonian Gardens. A botanical gardens apparently. Which doesn't sound too impressive. Until you find out it's on the 4th floor of a shopping centre. Full-size trees and everything. If the Rough Guide is to be believed, this is quite a feat. That is a big if mind. I was quite excited to see this.

It was way back in the Toronto Dominion Square, or something like that. That's on 8th Ave. I'd just walked from the pub on 17th, to the Eau Claire on about 1st, so 17 blocks, then right back to 8th again. Working off that McDonald's breakfast. And I head into this shopping centre. Up the escalators, all excited to see this indoor botanical garden. Up to the third floor, turning onto the escalator to the 4th.

"We're sorry. The Devonian Gardens are closed for refurbishment."
You're fucking kidding me. How the fuck do you refurbish a garden for fucks sake? You just put water on it. It's all you have to do. What the fuck do they mean that it's closed for refurbishment? When I was in the pub, I'd been thinking that these 2 things could take me up to, maybe, 9pm. I'd walked more than 20 blocks just to get to these 2 "sights", and you know what the time was? 4 O'clock. 4 O'fucking clock. Man those were 2 disappointing sights. Having done my itinerary for the day by now, I headed back to the hostel.

Cow bench I'd passed a couple of movie theatres on my travels throuhout the day. And I didn't really want to spend the time or money to sit in a bar all night again, so I decided that for a change, I'd go and see a film. If my memory serves me right, for the first time since being in Acapulco in Mexico, back in late June. And that was maybe the first time since being in Halifax. I only seem to do it when I'm travelling. With all this time now, I had a look online to see times and reviews. And what I eventually decided on, was Gran Torino. Where? Back at the fucking Eau Claire Market. So off I went, back there... again.

I won't go onto write some fucking boring movie review here. Who gives a fuck about that crap? I will say it was a pretty awesome film though. Very funny in a racist kind of way. Worth seeing if you have the time. What I found fascinating about it though, is I almost felt it was a look into my future.

Walt (Clint Eastwood), plays this moody old mental guy. And although we have somewhat different beliefs, the attitude and the way he was... Man if I'm unlucky enough to live for another 50 years, that's exactly how I picture myself being. No time for anyone. Always pissed off because everyone else is retarded. If you ever see that film, that is exactly how I see myself being 50 years from now. It was awesome!

Calgary downtown That was my first full day in Calgary. It was really awesome. But even if it hadn't been, it was a day out of the chlostrophobic microcosm of Invermere, and that's a good day regardless. I went back to the hostel after the film, and watched a bit of TV there, not talking to anyone. Nice, sociable hostel. What I will say, is thank fuck I packed ear plugs. The guy in the bottom bunk that I was on: Fuck he could snore!

I'm done writing for tonight. I'll try and finish Calgary next time I write, which may be tomorrow, because for what was only 4 days away, it's kind of dragging on a bit. I'm almost back to the style of writing I said I was going to get away from in the blog 'Time for a change', written back on Dec 12th. I said then I was going to get away from just writing what it is I'm doing everyday. Because who the fuck cares about that right? Everyone does something everyday, so why would anyone want to read about what someone else is doing? I'm not going to forget I went to Calgary anytime soon. Does it really matter to me if I went to the movies on the Monday or the Tuesday? No. It's irrelevant. What I want to try and capture here, is the person I was when I was doing it. My beliefs. My ideologies. That's the stuff I'm interested in reading back on one day. 10 years from now I want to be able to look back at these blogs, and know the person I was, back when I was in Calgary. And how my beliefs have changed. How my ideologies have changed. And I just haven't been writing that here. So I'll try and get Calgary finished the next time that I write, so I can get back to writing what I actually want to be writing about. Not just "Oh, I did this. Then I did this. Then I saw that." Who the fuck cares about that shit. I know I won't want to read it back later.

Ah well. Can't be perfect all the time. I'm out for tonight.

Home Back to travel blog Back to top Print this blog