A four-day stay in Calgary

Calgary is flat. And because of that, I was slightly shocked when I looked out of the airplane window to see terrain so void of mountains. The view prompted me to think of the prairies.

It was strange not to have a view of any mountains as I did in BC.

I had four days in the city, and for two of them I volunteered for festivals: Expo Latino and GlobalFest. I thought it would be a cool experience to participate in Canadian festivals, but in the end it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. I worked the info desk at Expo Latino, and kept watch at an entrance for GlobalFest. I completed two shifts for both but didn’t stay for much longer past my shifts, as I grew tired from being there all day.

1 - expolatino
That’s where I sat during my eight-hour shift at the Expo Latino festival in Calgary. I cut up tape to hold up the sign hanging on top of the tent and helped arrange the table.
2 - expolatino
Also sold some CDs from various Latino artists for $20 each. We sold more than 25 CDs that day.
3 - expolatino
Expo Latino festival attendees gathered around the main stage.
Princes Island Park, Calgary, AB, Canada
Took this photo on my way out of the Expo Latino festival, which was held at Prince Island’s Park.

On the plus side, I did get to see Eliston Park in the morning before people begun arriving for GlobalFest. I always appreciate scenery like this:

Elliston Park, AB, Canada
Elliston Park, AB, Canada

1 - traintoglobal
Here’s the train I caught to get from the hostel to GlobalFest. The sun was barely rising at the time I walked from Wicked to the station.
1 - globalfest
I sat under that tent with two other volunteers (one college student and one high school student) for eight hours. It was ridiculously chilly in the morning, and warmed up in the afternoon. We didn’t have much to do until the first vehicle came by at 10:44 a.m. So for almost three hours, we just read our books and fiddled with our touch screen devices. The volunteer position was as boring as this photo is.
2 - globalfest
Tried to make things interesting by exploring beyond the gates of our volunteer post, but this was pretty much all that was out there. Flat land. Not to say I didn’t appreciate it – I did, especially because it’s something different. I don’t get to see flat land every day. But there wasn’t much exciting going on at the time.
3 - globalfest
Along with the two other volunteers, we guarded the fireworks entrance gate. This is where workers were preparing the fireworks for show at night.
4 - globalfest
On the plus side, I did learn that Elliston Park was formerly a landfill. (It opened up in 1994.) So it was pretty neat to step foot on a park that’s got decomposing waste beneath it.

Despite the fact that half of my stay in Calgary was a bit on the boring side, I had a pleasant and vivid hostel experience.

There are only two hostels in Calgary, and when I went, the only one open was Wicked Hostels. The other one (HI-Hostel) was closed due to a huge flood that affected its wiring, according to one of the guys at the Wicked Hostels front desk.

I was immediately a fan of Wicked because a ton of good vibes emanated from there. It was basically a house with several bedrooms, a common area (like a living room), a kitchen, dining table, and spacious bathrooms. Being there felt similar to a communal living situation in college.

1 - wicked
Blurry photo of the common area.
2 - wicked
A kitchen counter at Wicked Hostels.
3 - wicked
Some of the kitchen.
4 - wicked
Cubbies for hostelers. These were all full during my stay, and were typically filled with food items.

Within minutes of checking into the hostel I met Danni, a brunette Australian 20-something-year-old who has been away from home for 2 1/2 years. She majored in chemistry and decided to explore the world for a bit before going back home. At the time (I say this because I’m not sure if she’s still there), she worked at Wicked to receive discounted/free accommodations while she worked random part time jobs, like handing out Nestea samples. Surprisingly, her jobs paid quite decently (a little more than $15/hour).

Danni and I walked about 40 minutes roundtrip to Safeway where we bought groceries to sustain us for the next couple of days. I got ingredients for quinoa salad and some chicken, while she got ingredients for chili.

On my first night at Wicked, I met the first and only American traveler I met while hostelling in Canada. Derek, from Boston, had come from a few-day stay in Banff. He was checking out the following morning, though. I met so many Europeans on this trip, and I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t meet any more Americans.

Anyway, that evening a big group of Wicked hostellers walked to a karaoke bar and had some good fun singing along to songs and talking amongst each other. Two German girls from the hostel got up on stage to sing “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears, which I thought was one of the best performances that evening. It was an amusing song choice and it got the crowd singing.

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