"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


Judging it too cold to climb, after our hearty breakfast we set off to visit Calgary. The drive took us out of the mountains and 100km or so east across the prairies. Our first stop was the Mountain Equipment Co-op. I was going to call it a climbing gear shop, but that's not right, it's huge, more of a gear supermarket. Heaven. I bought a new harness, a couple of T shirts and other stuff.

With over 1 million inhabitants Calgary is the 3rd largest city in Canada by population. In good part a product of oil money, it was also boosted by being host to the 1988 Winter Olympics.

The city centre is a mass of skyscrapers. These are joined up by a warren of indoor walkways, with glass bridges over the highways to interconnect them. There are shopping areas and food outlets within the warren, and even an indoor garden - though that was closed for refurbishment when we visited. This allows the office workers to live most of their day and travel long distances in their shirtsleeves without needing to brave the subzero temperatures outside.

We got lost straight away of course.

I'm sure it's unfair to make a judgement after such a short visit, but my impression of Calgary was of a lot of money but rather less character. We saw perhaps 3 buildings more than half a century old.

On the drive back we stopped at a restaurant/cafe run by Indians on the Chiniki Stoney Nation reservation. The service was chaotic but accompanied by smiles, and the food was real food and tasted good.

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