Oh, Canada

Greetings from the International Hotel of Calgary, my final stop on a four-day run through the Great White North.

This week, I was reminded of a fact that we Americans for some reason suppress:  Canada’s kind of awesome.

The total number of people living in the entire country is smaller than the total number of California residents.  Maybe that’s why everyone here seems so polite:  No one’s getting in anyone’s way. 

My week started in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.  Generally speaking,the immediate area surrounding an international airport is never anything that can be described as “lovely.” Ottawa appears to be an exception.  As my hotel shuttle wound its way around the Ottawa River, I was really impressed by what I saw.  There were endless trees and flowers. Healthy-looking people jogged and/or walked dogs up and down uncluttered paths.  It all looked very…pure…to me. 

I stayed at the Sheraton downtown, just two blocks away from Parliament. Parliament rests in a distinctly European-looking campus of buildings. I thought they looked so cool that I had to capture them on film:


After walking around for a bit, I decided to have dinner at a faux British pub called the Cock and Lion, for no other reason than it makes me giggle. And yes, I know I’m too old to have the word “cock” inform my dinner choices.

Last night, I jumped on an Air Canada flight from Ottawa to Calgary, which is akin to flying from Vermont to Spokane.  It was a long flight, and I praised Tiny Baby Jesus the entire way for inventing the iPad.  I watched “Superbad” and played Scrabble during the trip, and was scarcely aware that I should have been much more claustrophobic and crabby.

I arrived in Calgary late and had dinner at a million o’clock in the morning.  Sleep is for the weak. I got very little of it.

Here’s my hotel from afar:

I had to walk over a river and up a hill to get to my meeting today, a picturesque trek that compelled me to take a few more digital snaps.They all failed to capture the fresh-air invigoration of the walk, but there’s one for good measure: 

After my day-long meeting, I was starving. At the recommendation of one of the people I met with, I took myself for dinner at a place called Joey Tomato’s.  The place was packed with businessmen when I walked in, which gave me pause: it had to be a tourists-only spot.  I was too hungry to drag myself around downtown in search of an alternative.  I went ahead and asked for a table for one.

As I looked around, I realized that the waitstaff was all-female.  Furthermore, they were all dressed like they walked out of a Robert Palmer video.

Apparently I’d walked into the Canadian version of Tavern at Phipps,a restaurant in Atlanta that I was taken to last year, where moderately-priced cuisine is served to visiting businessmen by modelish girls in tight business-slut apparel.  It’s essentially a Hooters for businessmen who can’t justify putting Hooters in their expense reports. 

I felt creepy at Joey Tomato’s, like, what the hell am I doing here, creepy, but I relaxed a bit once I noticed a gang of co-ed diners whooping it up.  Still, I didn’t feel like lingering too long at my table. I ate my salad and ravioli with a pleasureless, utilitarian,urgency and went back to the hotel.

And here I am, just a few blocks away from Calgary’s Chinatown. Just booked my shuttle to the Calgary airport.  Leave a light on, Chicago.

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