According to The Zoe Report, the number one thing you should know before going on a solo trip is It Will Change Your Life. I think this is exactly what I was expecting from my trip and…it really didn’t! I came away from it feeling a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself and loved Calgary and I definitely did not have any life altering epiphanies on this trip.
However, I think I know why. I played it very safe. From my choice of destination to my choice of activities. There was nothing challenging about this trip exactly because I chose a place where there wouldn’t be! I was telling people, I’m going to Canada because it’s safe and they speak my language. So what did I really expect! The hardest part of the trip was sitting alone at the bar at Native Tongues and not being able to take out my book because the space was so crowded so I sat and watched the bartenders. And yes, I did talk to strangers. I even tried to invite myself to dinner with a group of girls on a mystery girl’s trip (more on a mystery trip later) that I met on the amazing Albert Food Tours walking tour. .
The biggest thing I learned about myself is if I travel alone, I definitely need more to do than go out for drinks and meals. I don’t like spending my money that way in Denver and I don’t like it elsewhere either. My day at Banff National Park was torpedoed by heavy smoke from wildfires. If I had been able to spend a day doing that I wouldn’t have felt as bored.
That being said, I enjoyed Calgary and am really dying to get to Banff now so I see another trip in my future. Maybe I can take my rental car from Banff right on over to Vancouver. And, I know I have to plan a more challenging solo trip next time. You know, if I want my life changed and all.
Alt Hotel – East Village: This is such a cute hotel. It’s brand new so they didn’t have their restaurant open yet but right across the street is a tiny warehouse with a coffee shop, bakery, meaty restaurant (it’s called charbar and they also have delish pizza) and bar that served as hotel bar. The location of this hotel is great, easy walk-able access to a lot of good places (when the city isn’t covered in smoke). Their lobby has a lot of different common, social areas and a pool table. Looked like a fun hangout place, even though it was empty the whole time I was there.
Native Tongues: I got there for happy hour and the place was packed. It is so cute and another thing I realized about myself when I’m alone is I feel awkward taking photos of things I normally would have…like this restaurant and the food! Anyway, I had a house marg that was super tasty along with a couple of tacos. My favorite was the Esquites: corn, mayo, cheese, onion, cilantro and herb oil all served up in a little bowl. I don’t really love corn and I don’t like raw onions or cilantro (why did I even order this??) and yet this was soo delicious I’m going to try to make it at home.
Betty Lou’s Library Speakeasy: This place is serious about rules. They have them posted outside and they go over them before you enter. Despite the fact that there is not a single book in the place!…I really liked this weird, dark bar. Great cocktails and great jazz music.
Madison’s 1212: This restaurant made me have to choose between a poke bowl or weird, fancy nachos! Hardest decision ever. I went with the poke bowl. I was here for lunch and the server gave me a list of good cocktail and breakfast places. I liked going out to lunch alone better than dinner. Seemed like people had more time to talk at lunch. I recommend a poke bowl with a glass of the house sangria.
Book stuff: The Calgary Public Library is amazing…it’s new and the architecture is not to be missed. It’s so bright and airy. In the Inglewood neighborhood (walking distance from the Alt Hotel) I found two bookstores. The Next Page is an open room with books lining the walls and a few tables along the middle with features. They have a coffee bar as well. A few blocks away is Fair’s Fair Quality Books. This place is older and crammed to the tippy top with books. Neither had a new (to me) Alice in Wonderland so I left with one new book of poetry. While in Calgary I read Blue Sunflower Startle by Yasmin Ladha. I found it doing a Google search of “books that take place in Calgary”- very clever, eh? I’ve never read a book written in this style before. It seemed like poetry mixed with storytelling. I loved the way it was written.
The Glenbow Museum: I only made it to one museum and this is a good one to go see. They have four floors full of art as well as a floor dedicated to Calgary specific stuff. Hard to explain…gotta see it yourself! It is sort of like the art museum and natural history museum combined into one. The highlight was the Kent Monkman installation. I didn’t know he is Canadian.
Mystery trip: On the food tour, there was a group of six women from Northern Canada. They take a group trip every year and every year it is a mystery to four of them. They have a group bank account, put in a set amount of money and then two of them (this rotates) plan the trip and the others have no idea where they are going or what they are doing. The morning before the walking food tour, they had run a 5k! They get a list of things to pack but they didn’t even know what they were doing that evening. I love this idea and want to put together a group like this – Let me know if you are interested!