We contemplated the decision on whether to spend an extra day to explore Calgary or to head home immediately after spending 10 days in the national parks. In the end, we chose the earlier because it would be rather unlikely for us to come back here in the near future. Since the first day we arrived in Canada, we consistently began our days before 5 AM. In Calgary, we took things much slower by waking up at 7 AM and slowly made our way down to the main lobby for hot breakfast. Known as “The gateway to the Canadian Rockies”, Calgary is the 4th largest city in Canada, after Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. It is about 3 times the size of Twin Cities in Minnesota. During our one-day exploration here, we covered Canada Olympic Park, Heritage Park Historical Village and Chinatown.
A couple of observations…
- The Canadians are indeed one of the friendliest people we have ever met. It was very easy to strike up conversations with the locals, which allowed us to learn whole lot more about Canada. For example, we were told the Yukon residents can buy campground permits for just $50 per year that allow them to use any campsites in Yukon. Firewood is provided for free.
- The businesses in Canada have figured out how to handle credit card payments efficiently and safely. In the US, we typically pass a credit card to the server, the server vanishes with the credit card, the server comes back several minutes later with a bunch of paper receipts, we the “math-challenged” folks calculate the tips in our head, and finally, we write the incorrect amount of tips on the “top copy” of the receipts before scribbling our signature on it. In Canada, the server brings a portable credit card reader to us, the server vanishes, we insert a credit card to the reader, we select one of the predefined tip options on the reader, and finally, the reader prints a receipt for us. Mind blown.
- Most Canadian drivers are rather courteous and they do not generally hog the fast lanes. They use the fast lane solely to pass slower vehicles before merging back into the slower lanes. In the Land of the Free, the American drivers, especially in the Midwest area, think their “3 miles over the speed limit” give them all the rights to stay on the fast lanes until they reach their final destinations. That said, when the Canadian drivers try to pass you, they tend to follow very closely behind your vehicle as if they are sitting right at your back seats when you look at the rear mirror.