Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 18- $796.46 – Calgary Part Two

On my third and final day in Calgary, I awoke with a sense of purpose. I was almost through this trip, and I was making good time and staying within the budget (mostly…I did break down and get those really fancy cupcakes, but they were awesome, and I’d do it again.) I felt really good about the trip and I was determined to make the last day in Calgary count.

I should have stayed in bed.

Not that the day was terrible, just that it was too busy. I overbooked myself, I think, and I bounced around from one place to the next all day long. I did, however, get to see a lot of the city.

I had my first brush with Calgary transit when I tried to meet Pete for breakfast first thing in the morning. Calgary is a city of drivers, not of pedestrians. At first, I thought that was unfortunate. More people should take transit to cut down on traffic in a city so big. Then I found out that people drive so much because Calgary transit sucks incredibly hard.

I had to go about eight minutes away from Tami’s house to meet Pete for breakfast. In order to do this, I had to take two buses and wait 15 minutes for a transfer. I was given three different sets of directions from three different bus drivers, and when I got to my transfer point, I found out the bus I needed wasn’t running for another hour. I had to call Tami to come pick me up and drive me three blocks, because I didn’t know where I was.

When I finally met with Pete, he surprised me with a free pass to the Calgary Zoo he’d managed to scrounge up from somewhere. Normally, entrance is about $18, so that was quite a savings for me.

After breakfast, I managed to make my way back to the house in time to get picked up by my cousin Jared, who took me out on the town for the afternoon. First we went to get the best view of the city, which was beautiful. Then we drove around the long way to downtown, until we finally met up with his girlfriend, her sister, and their friend for lunch at Nellie’s, another Calgary institution. It was a little greasy, but I think that’s part of the charm.

We all walked around down 17th Ave for a little while until Jared had to go to work. The girls were happy to play tour guide, though. They took me to Eau Clair Market, through Chinatown, and eventually dropped me off at the zoo.

This is when I got my second brush with Calgary Transit. While I was walking around the zoo, feeling both awestruck and repulsed by seeing animals in cages so close up, Pete was trying to meet up with me. As his car had recently been written off, he had to take transit. And it took him approximately two hours to make it from his house to the zoo. So by the time he got there, I had walked around the entire park. Pete didn’t get to see the zoo at all, he just spent his entire afternoon going back and forth on the C-Train. Thrilling.

Eventually we both got home, I had dinner, and packed my things. As luck would have it (or it was at least lucky for Tami) Pete’s brother Marc was taking the same bus I was down to Vancouver, and his family offered to give me a ride to the bus station. It’s always nice to have someone you know on the ride, it makes it go a little faster.

But before I could leave Alberta for my last province, I got one last run-in with Transit. Both Marc and I were waiting in line at the Greyhound station to board our bus, and we were both delayed because of one surly security guard. I was told that I couldn’t go through security if Pete was on the same side of the rope as I was, and Marc had to make two trips to the back of the line because he needed to empty his water bottle. It was so infuriating, we both got on the bus a little pissed off.

Luckily, things turned around from there as Marc and I talked until 3am (not a wise choice when you have a TV interview the next day), sharing traveling stories and off-colour jokes involving the dismemberment of certain Greyhound associates.

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