Every day/night following my check in at Wicked in Calgary, I took note of how familiar faces I had met the day/night before would always be swapped with new ones. I never had the same dorm mate for more than two nights, and many of them were actually only there for the evening. Sometimes I’d feel the tiniest tinge of sadness to see people I connected with leave so soon. But I kept in mind that there would be a whole lot of other people who would probably be just as great down the road.
On my final evening at the hostel, I met Tom and George (two English guys traveling together), who checked into the same dorm I was staying in. Little did we know that all three of us were heading to Banff the following morning on the same bus service at the same time. Even more coincidentally, we were staying at the same hostel and on the same floor!
We departed the hostel separately the following day and I almost missed my bus because I ended up on the train going in the opposite direction. I asked a local if the incoming train was headed toward the direction I was going in, and she said yes. But several stops later I realized she was wrong, so I had to get off and board the train going the other way, which took extra time. Upon getting off, I had to catch a bus to get to the Greyhound station. It came a few minutes late and, in a slight state of panic, I almost made my way to hop on another train instead, which would have caused me to miss my Greyhound bus. Fortunately, it arrived right before I started walking away.
When I got to the station an issue came up with printing my ticket and by this time my mind was racing through how the rest of my day would go if I caught the next bus instead and how in the world I would find Tom and George. But it all worked out after some running back and forth between the ticket counter and the bus gate, and I managed to get to Banff as scheduled.
I met up with Tom and George once we all disembarked the bus, and we walked a half mile or so to the hostel, Samesun Banff. George had a huge backpacker backpack, and Tom had a roller bag like me, and it was nice to have a fellow traveler lugging something around, too 😛
I want to add before continuing, that before arriving in Calgary, my plan was originally to explore Edmonton for a few days. I even booked my flight to Winnipeg out of Edmonton. But upon seeing photographs of the Rockies, I immediately decided on Banff. I booked my stay at Samesun in just a few days before I got there (which fortunately wasn’t difficult because I was checking in on a weekday. Had it been a weekend, I expect availability would have been scarce). I would figure out how to get to Edmonton later on.
Similarly, my initial plan was to spend the afternoon walking around downtown Banff, but this was of course before I met these guys. After stashing our belongings in our rooms, we met up again to buy groceries at Safeway. We split the cost of chicken, rice, and curry sauce for dinner, and I joked about how English people seem to really enjoy curry (because at previous hostels, I noticed several English guys also making curry). George confirmed my joke had merit, and I laughed.
We all spent the afternoon/evening chatting over a few beers, and at one point, George said something that stuck with me throughout the rest of my time in Canada:
“We’re probably never gonna see each other again in our lives, so might as well make the most of it.”
It’s not that what he said was incredibly profound. Subconsciously, it’s likely that everyone understands all the connections they make during instances such as travel are fleeting. It was just refreshing to hear that concept verbalized.
Tom, George and I didn’t take any photos or exchange any contact info. All I’ve got is a mental image of them (they both had fascinating English accents; Tom wore black-framed glasses, had dark brown hair, a slight beard, and must have been about 5’9” or so; George was probably about 5’7” with blond hair and no beard; both of them had light eyes, although I can’t quite remember who had the blue eyes and who had the green eyes), and a vague memory of our conversations that evening.
As the sun sunk below the mountains, we were joined by Katie, the guys’ roommate. She’s a geotechnical engineer now living in Alberta and gets every other two weeks off of work. Since it turns out she was also English, our discussion for the next several hours revolved around English lingo. This was mainly because I heard Tom, while in Calgary, use an expression I’d never heard before: “What the piss? Did I drop a sock?” That made me laugh for a good while, and they all explained to me how anything could be an English expression, so long as it was in context. (And I’m not sure if this is true, but if three English people said so, there’s probably some truth to it, right?)
I wrapped up my first night in Banff playing bingo at the hostel bar, where we met Nat (from Melbourne, Australia), and Jenna (from Toronto, who offered to meet with me once I made my way there).