Calgary. An unexpected stopover. Hadn’t noticed in my itinerary that I’d be stopping overnight in Calgary on the way to San Francisco. Didn’t realise til the Air Canada desk at Heathrow spelt it out for me. Heathrow was a nightmare. I followed the signs for ‘Flight Connections’, after disembarking from my comfy BMI flight down from Manchester, only to find, when I finally asked someone where I was, that ‘they should have taken those signs down’, and that I was now a long way from where I ought to be, and landside. The woman at the Air Canada desk was very understanding and helpful. I went through security again, and sat at the gate tapping away at my iPhone, found a gay B&B in Calgary, and booked a room, before boarding my transatlantic flight. (Well I wasn’t going to stay in some faceless Holiday Inn, after all!) We landed 20mins early, but the luggage took 90mins to get to the conveyor belt, so it was 9pm before I was being shown my very comfy room in the very welcoming and friendly Westways B&B. A very retro, 1910 building with everything Victorian they could lay their hands on, Westways was old (in Canadian terms) and lovely. The sky-scrapers of central Calgary rose around it, overshadowing it, in quite an eerie way. Canada’s 3rd city is split into four districts with a grid of streets and avenues, and has a No. 216, 25th Avenue, in the NW, the NE, the SE, and – where Westways is – the SW. Probably the most interesting thing about Calgary, that I could gleen, in my very brief, unexpected stopover. Montreal was SO much more interesting! I hear tell that Vancouver is too. I should visit.
Why the critique? Well, I suppose when it boils down to it, as an Englishman, I am so in love with the rich and ancient human history that piles up layer after layer in the landscape of the British Isles, that the great expanses of North America, where the remnants of human history are sparse and hard to find (save for the recent thin crust of 20th century habitation) lack much appeal for me – on that score, at least. The natural history, on the other hand – the main focus of my holiday, once the work is done – is breathtaking, and I eagerly await it!