Valentine's Day marked one month since we left our homes, jobs and families in the UK and caught our flight to Canada.
If you've been reading along, you'll know all about our first week exploring our new home city as well as our hunt for the perfect apartment before our Pacific Northwest vacation. We're finally settled (or as settled as one can be with limited furniture) and trying to tackle the job hunt with a few excursions within Calgary to keep us from getting cabin fever.
We were able to pick up the keys to our new home on the same night we arrived back from Vancouver. We could have moved in immediately, but the distinct lack of furniture (more specifically a bed) meant we had to spend the first night in a hostel. We'd ordered some bits before we left for our trip, and so our mattress arrived early the next morning. Unfortunately, everything else we had ordered had been delayed due to some seriously bad weather on the East coast; with that in mind, we made our way down to Canadian Tire (a popular homeware store) to pick up the essentials, including the holy grail of electrical items......the kettle.
Sitting in our newly acquired camping chairs (which were to be our salvation for the next couple of weeks until our sofa arrived) we settled down with a much needed cup of tea before we unpacked our suitcases and ordered some celebratory takeout from The Big Cheese Poutinerie - typical Canadian fast food to start our new life on the right track.
Now that we had found an apartment, it was time to turn our attention to the biggest challenge of all - finding new jobs. We'd had a lot of expectations about how simple the job hunt would be (mostly based on Shiv) but after speaking to quite a few people on the same working holiday visa, we've heard a wide variety of different experiences from different industries across the city. We tried to stay optimistic, but upon finding out that Calgary was in the midst of a recession, it became a struggle to make any real headway with employment offers in the first couple of weeks. With a couple of interviews under each of our belts, things are now beginning to look hopeful, but that could be news for another post!That being said, we can't stay hermits forever, and so we've taken the time to try out a few restaurants and bars in the local area, some of which are sure to become trusted favourites. So many places have great happy hour deals, which is the perfect excuse to sit back, order a cocktail and enjoy the city life.
St James Corner - This Irish pub is just around the corner from our apartment, which we've been frequenting a fair amount. It's one of the only places we've come across that play British indie music, so it's easy to understand why we've been spending so much time there! With daily food and drink deals, it's a little taste of home on our doorstep.
Two Penny - We went to Two Penny for lunch on Valentine's Day to try out their $16 lunch bowls and it definitely did not disappoint. This modern twist on Chinese food is worth the trip, and they also have an after hours basement cocktail bar called Teahouse with weekly comedy nights and wings so spicy you have to sign a waiver form, which we have yet to visit.
Gringo Street - This little slice of Mexican heaven on 17th Avenue has one of the best happy hour menus we've seen so far. With tacos for $2 and half price cocktails until 7pm, I would recommend this time and time again. Plus the queso (with chorizo and hot cheetos) is to die for!
One Night Stan's - One Night Stan's is the kind of bar where you feel right at home the second you walk in. I'd liken it to a lot of London bars with its good music, cool decor and great location. This is the only place we've managed to find Guinness on happy hour, and you can't get much better than that.
El Furniture Warehouse - I know we've mentioned this place before, but we ended up back at El Furniture on Friday night, sinking something called a Pink Warehouse. This was basically a double pink lemonade with a bottle of Corona held upside down in the glass. It looks lethal but tastes surprisingly incredible. For only $12 you too can make questionable drink choices such as this one.
Besides the seemingly endless tour of happy hour bars across the city, we've also been enjoying a month long free trial of Class Pass, a fitness initiative that's taking over the world. Once you become a member, you get access to a number of gyms and fitness studios throughout Calgary, which offer exciting and challenging fitness classes in a variety of disciplines. So far we've tried a Crew Boot-Camp at Crew Club Athletics, a Spin class which closely resembled a sweaty rave at Stax Cycle Club and Reformer Pilates at Core 360. With one more class to go (cue Bollywood for Beginners) this is something I would recommend all newcomers to Calgary try out. I never thought I would enjoy an hour of rowing, and at first I thought a reformer was a medieval torture machine, but it's been an excellent way to stay fit for free throughout the terrible weather, as well as a good excuse to get out of the apartment! Once we get jobs we're definitely keen to keep this membership rolling.
Once the snow melts we hope to get back on track with our running. One particularly cold and snowy day we took a stroll down 4th street towards Lindsay Park to see if this could become one of our running haunts. The park was beautiful, if a little bit small, but it leads onto the Elbow River trail which could be a great riverside path to explore in the warmer months.
As we head into our second month of living in Calgary, all the little things that make up our lives are falling into place. We've met a few great people, tried our hand at some new exercise classes and watched more movies than we could count. We'll be back with another blog post once we've sampled a bit more of the city life, hopefully with new jobs to our names!