We landed in Calgary around midnight, and despite feeling groggy on the plane, as soon as we touched down I gained a second wind (which was most definitely fuelled by excitement and happiness). Knowing that one of my oldest friends was waiting for me in the arrivals lounge strongly influenced this state of euphoria that I was feeling, but I know it also had to do with the fact that months of trip planning had finally reached its apex.
We were staying with Ana and her husband, Damir, during the Calgary portion of our trip. Their apartment has a view of the Calgary skyline that is both beautiful to fall asleep to and inspiring to see first thing in the morning.
Ana and I have a habit of staying up all until dawn the first night that I’m usually in town, but this time around we acted like *cough* mature adults *cough* and had ourselves in bed within a few hours of getting in. As it was past midnight, however, it was technically Gary’s birthday. So, I broke out the cupcakes I baked and packed for him in my suitcase (yes, I’m *that* girl), and we sang a round of “Happy Birthday” before settling down to sleep.
Having only a few key things that we wanted to do while we were in Calgary, we didn’t plan much of an itinerary for the first half of our trip. This was different for me as I’m used to cramming in as much as possible, but it was a nice, relaxing, change of pace.
Our plans for day one were simple: I was going to make breakfast for Ana and Gary (Damir had to go to work, so he missed out on the cinnamon bread French toast), we were then going to visit with Gary’s cousin for lunch, and that night we were going to see the Dropkick Murphys play at the University of Calgary.
All in all, the day went perfectly. Breakfast was a hit, Gary’s cousin brought her adorable, little son to lunch (who kept us entertained the entire time), and with some free time to spare before the concert, I got to play tour guide to Gary as I showed him around the Kensington area of Calgary (the only area I’m sort of familiar with, to be honest). I even got to treat him to a few birthday pints of Guinness at my favourite bar in town, the Kensington Pub.
The concert was amazing! It was my first time seeing the Dropkicks, but I am a huge fan of Celtic punk so it was right up my alley. Those boys definitely know how to have a good time, and even ended the show by bringing up a shit ton of fans on stage.
Gary and I had both nearly lost our voices by the end of the night, so if that’s not a sign of a good show, I don’t know what is.
We only had two things on the agenda for day two: a tour of the Big Rock Brewery and a night out on the town to help celebrate the birthday of one of Ana’s friends. I was looking forward to the brewery tour as I was able to finagle some time out of Ana and Damir’s busy schedules to get them to come out with us. It was also an opportunity to see the brewery process behind one of my favourite beer companies. The tour was so awesome that it deserves its own blog post, so keep an eye out for an extended version of our experiences at Big Rock!
After the brewery we stopped for lunch (we had to offset the beer tastings from the brewery with some food), and I was able to capture this lovely bonding moment between my two lovelies. They’re probably going to laugh at me for sharing it, but frankly, I don’t care.
Full of food and even MORE beer, we waddled our way home to Ana’s to relax and slowly get ready for our night out (anyone who knows us will vouch for me when I say that Ana and I, when combined, take forever to get ready for something).
The plan for the night was to visit our friend at her apartment for a sort of “warm-up” for our going out, then imbibing in some bevies at Calgary’s Craft Beer Market. I honestly couldn’t tell you how long we were all at her apartment, because we were all having a great time. I was also finally reunited with Ana’s little sister, Milena (who I’ve known since she was like six years old, so really, she’s my little sister too), her lovely boyfriend, Matteo, and a new transplant to Calgary from our hometown of Scarborough (and Milena’s best friend), Shagee.
We did eventually make it to Craft, though we weren’t there for a very long time (it was very late by this point). It was my second time there but my first time seeing it at night, and let me tell you, the place does a 180 for its nighttime crowd! Craft is known for having Canada’s largest selection of draft beer, with 120 beers on tap. I was able to taste a few during my first visit as we were there for a sit-down meal. This time around however, we were there to party. And party we did. If you’re ever in Calgary, you really need to visit this place. Get a flight of beer and see for yourself!
You know that point in the night you may experience when you become so exhausted that you just need to go to bed like, RIGHT NOW? Well, after two nights of staying up past 3am, this feeling hit me towards the end of our Craft visit. I’m surprised I didn’t ask for a piggyback home. Despite being absolutely knackered, I have to say that this night was one of the best nights I’ve had in a while, simply because I was surrounded by so many of my favourite people.
I borrowed this photo from Milena, but her caption to it was “This is what being happy looks like.” I couldn’t agree more.
Our third and final day in Calgary was supposed have us go for a drive to the Alberta Badlands. I’ve never been so I was looking forward to visiting a landscape that was described to me as looking like The Land Before Time, However, in all our back and forth planning, I could not tell you how neither Ana nor I took into consideration the fact that we were going out the night before. Driving to the Badlands is a full day event; we woke up around 10am and stayed in our pajamas until 3 or 4pm. There was no going out that Sunday.
It became a day dedicated to sloth, glutton, and the most laughs I’ve had in recent memory. We ordered pizza, had football on the TV all day (Ana’s reaction “Why is there football on my television?!”), had group cuddles on the couch, played with Ana’s Chihuahua (a diva named Stella), took naps – basically did absolutely nothing productive and LOVED it. It was glorious.
Sloth and glutton can only last so long, however, and eventually you have to actually dress yourself.
Sometime in the afternoon Damir suggested we go to the gun range. Neither Gary nor I had ever shot a gun before, so he piqued our interest with this suggestion. I’m also a wee bit competitive when it comes to things that involve having to aim at a target (basketball, Skee-Ball, darts), so I wanted to see if I was a better shot than Gary (and I was! Huzzah!). However, I was scared shitless the entire time – I was literally shaking as if I had drank too much caffeine – but it was fun and something new.
This is the year for me to push myself to do new things, so I’m happy I had the chance to experience this. Gary and Damir both also shot a Desert Eagle (which in basic terms is a big, powerful, scary-sounding gun – you don’t mess around with this firearm). I’m pretty sure I jumped at least a foot off the ground every time it went off.
By the time we got back to Ana’s we were joined by Milena and Shagee, which prompted us to cuddle on the couch some more (while we enjoyed some delicious ice cream that we picked up from a local shop).
We ended up having a quiet night in with some Thai food and comedy on the TV. The next day would see Gary and I taking off to Banff National Park, with an early car rental pick-up at the airport. After a long day of not doing much, I found myself falling asleep around 10pm. I didn’t want to go to bed because that would mean our time with Ana and Damir was at its end, but all in all I think that lazy Sunday was a great way to end our time in Cowtown – good food, amazing friends, and tons of snuggles.