Our first autumn (or Fall, as we've become accustomed to saying over the last year) has been a whirlwind to say the least. The crazy summer of Stampede and visitors has ended, but that doesn't mean to say we've slowed down.
Feeling Proud at Calgary Pride
We said goodbye to summer with a bang, as we celebrated our first Calgary Pride. We had visitors staying with us for the week which made for a lot of laughs and a lot of beers, and we wouldn't have had it any other way. We started the weekend with a drag brunch at Brewsters, featuring the wonderful Anne Xiety and many mimosas, and kept drinking into the evening for Nikki's birthday celebrations.
Calgary Pride kicked off with a parade through the city which definitely surpassed expectations. We were under the impression that Calgary was going to be a tiny parade with a couple of floats but it was enough of a party to get the atmosphere going on a foggy Canadian morning. We followed the end of the parade to Prince's Island Park, where the main festival was taking place, and settled ourselves at the Palm Bay area where we watched a range of musicians, drag queens and burlesque performers. Cue many drinks later, and we found ourselves bopping along to tunes in the park having the time of our lives. After a quick outfit change (and an obscene amount of Popeye's chicken for dinner) we finished off the Pride festivities with drinks at National. Suffice to say we were exhausted for weeks, but it was the perfect send off for Charlie and Emmet who flew back to London the next day, and marked the end of our summer of visitors.
Snowfall in September
Summer weather stretched out into the first two weeks of September this year, but less than a week after we were sipping cocktails on a bar patio..........the snow arrived. In the space of one night, southern Alberta was covered in a thick blanket of white and the temperature had dropped dramatically. Instead of staying in and enjoying a cosy day on the sofa, we braved the cold and drove up to Canmore with some friends for a hike.
Although we've done the walk up to Grassi Lakes more times than we could count, we'd never seen it like this. The trees were just beginning to turn before the snow hit, and so every few metres there was a bright splash of yellow in the midst of the green and white, which was spectacular to see. We barely saw another soul on the walk up, which just added to the calm and peaceful atmosphere, but the lakes at the top, as usual, were busy with visitors. We finished off the day with lunch in Banff and a spot of shopping. Perfect Saturday? Check.
When we moved to Calgary we put together a list of bars and restaurants in the city that we wanted to try. We've tried our best to visit all of them, but the longer we're here, the more we keep finding ourselves adding to the end of the list! We finally went for dinner at Foreign Concept, which had been on Nikki's list of places to try since January. The food was incredible and made better by the exquisite decor - everything was Asian fusion and everything was perfect. The Soy Garlic Caramel Brussels Sprouts changed my life - I've been telling everyone I hate them practically since birth - and the Galbi Beef Short Rib was another winner. It's definitely more of a special occasion dinner choice, but somewhere I know we'd go back to in a heartbeat.
Trollz and Grizzles
A week later we were back in the mountains to explore somewhere new. Shiv suggested walking up to Troll Falls in Kananaskis Country, and being the exploring types, we quickly said yes.
We were the only ones on the trail that day except for a couple leaving as we arrived (probably because it was bloody freezing) and the peacefulness of our surroundings was exactly what we needed on that Saturday morning. We came across a grazing mule deer in a field, our first brush with wildlife that day, and the whole morning had an air of magic about it. Troll Falls itself is a great little trail, with a small waterfall at the end, in the thick of the forest. We took some time acting like trolls for photos (not much of a challenge) and made our way back to the car before taking a scenic drive down to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
The Peter Lougheed Visitor Centre has become a staple for us every time we drive through Kananaskis. The building has a large deck around the back which looks out onto a long meadow splitting the forest. Although the meadow immediately under the deck is fenced off from wildlife, it's not uncommon to see animals wandering through the meadow on any given day, according to the staff and rangers who man the centre. It was here that we saw three grizzly bears digging for roots, which absolutely made our day, month and even year! Although we could just about see them with our naked eye, there are sets of binoculars dotted around the viewing space, which allowed for amazing viewing, and Nikki was even savvy enough to get a photo through the lens, just so we could prove our bear spotting prowess to everyone. I mean, did you even go to Canada if you didn't see a bear and take a photo?!
Thanksgiving but not Thanksgiving
After a few uneventful days in the work, sleep, eat routine, it was time for us to pack our bags and head home for the Thanksgiving weekend, to finally see our family and friends after ten long months. We'd planned this trip home months prior, not expecting to have much in the way of Thanksgiving plans, as it's not a holiday celebrated in the UK.
Although Nikki had gone home for a short period in June to help her mum move house, this was the first time we could both spend quality time with everyone we loved. As well as some much needed shopping time, cinema trips and decent cups of tea, we also had two big family occasions over the weekend, including the 80th birthday of Nikki's nan. We spent a night out in Kingston with friends to sink some G&T's and catch up and enjoy a sorely missed Eden Kebab on the way home - we like to think we have our priorities in order. The weekend was over way too soon and before we knew it, it was back to the daily grind in Calgary.
Go Flames Go!
We took a day off work upon our return to recuperate from the jet lag, which took much longer than we had anticipated. We'd booked tickets to attend a hockey game when we got back, which turned out to be such a great time. We've been supporting the Calgary Flames ever since we moved here (new-hometown pride and all that) but despite watching a disappointing game during the playoffs earlier in the year in a parking lot, this would be our first real foray into the world of hockey. I donned my Flames cap and got ready to support my new team no matter what, and we only went and won! It was a great atmosphere for our first game, and unfortunately not something we've had the pleasure to witness live since, but we've got our fingers crossed for the rest of the season.
Banff Mountain Book & Film Festival
You may know this already, but me and Nikki have been attending the Banff Mountain Book & Film Festival for a number of years. Back in the UK we would attend the World Tour showings, and we even attended the kick off event in Calgary the same week that we moved here. This time around we were going for the main event and we were going to see some of the best outdoor films of the year, in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Having downloaded the festival program and devoured it a week beforehand (rightly so) I already knew which films were lined up for that day, and I was excited to watch Home, the feature length film of Sarah Outen's 'London2London' trip around the world. I remembered seeing news coverage of her incredible feat in 2015, but this film was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. We finished the morning session of films and grabbed a bite to eat in the Maclab Bistro, which gave us stunning views of the surrounding mountains through the floor to ceiling windows. We knew we'd be going to see more films at the Calgary World Tour showing in January, and so we took our time wandering around the beautiful grounds of the Banff Centre, and taking in a couple of photography seminars in the afternoon. We left the festival feeling inspired and pretty damn blessed to live in such an incredible part of the world.
Fast forward a week or so and we're getting ready for birthday celebrations (mine!) and Christmas in Canada, which is sure to come with plenty of new adventures, that we can't wait to share with you......although knowing us you'll be waiting for months. Typical!