Our second AirBnB misstep happened in Calgary. We arrived in the afternoon hours and we were pretty beat – Dana more than me, since he is the designated driver and drove over 350 miles that day. We arrived at the address given to us by the lady who managed multiple properties in Calgary. The neighborhood looked shady. As Han Solo would say, we had a bad feeling about this, but we went in anyways.
The two rooms were dingy, one had a large bed, and one had bunk beds and not much else. The kitchen was tiny with no windows. There was no wi-fi connection, and our phones had barely one bar. The whole apartment gave out a gloomy, uninviting vibe. All in all, we knew we wouldn’t stay here even for a night. We contacted the lady who managed this place and thankfully she couldn’t have been more helpful. We got our refund, minus all the AirBnB fees and charged us for one night of stay, which was, frankly, fine with us.
It was four days before the Calgary Stampede and our options were pretty limited at this point.
For the night, we checked into the Westin in the center of town. Thankfully we are Gold members of Starwood and Marriott properties, and we were able to use our saved up points. We walked around downtown and dined at a lively Irish pub (James Joyce Irish Pub) with delicious food and a funny wait staff.
Things were looking up!
Back in our hotel room, we jumped on the internet, and our frantic search for a place we could call a home for a month began. As I mentioned, it was four days until the Calgary Stampede, a huge rodeo and outdoor event, which attracts over one million visitors every year. The odds were not in our favor.
We searched and searched and then we went to sleep, exhausted and frustrated.
Morning arrived and after the delicious breakfast provided by our hotel, we went back to our room to search some more. At this point it was almost time to check out, so we extended our stay for one more night, our long-term housing situation looking more dire by the minute.
And then a miracle happened.
A house in the beautiful suburbs of Calgary popped up suddenly on my screen, as if specifically send just to us. I contacted the owner and just like that, we had a home.
And what a home it was. We were definitely lucky to call that place home for a month. The couple that lives there rented us their whole house for the month and we treated it as our own.
Sweeping tall ceilings in the living room provided plenty of light, even on cloudy days. The open style kitchen with pantry and a dining table made it a joy to cook in . The house had a separate office for Dana to work out of, uninterrupted. The house came with a covered garage that saved our car from two large hailstorms that passed through Calgary that month. In short, the house was a Godsend.
The Calgary Stampede and Rodeo is, to me at least, an over-rated, and over-hyped city fair. The food and drinks are over-priced, but still quite delicious after walking around for hours. The place is crowded to the brim, and everyone is trying to sell you their up-charged trinkets and clothes. We don’t do rides (short of being in an amusement park like Disneyland) and here at the Stampede the rides took up a big chunk of the fair.
There is also a large tent for the big name performers, for which you can purchase tickets ahead of time or on the day of.
The rodeo was a total letdown for Dana. This was my first rodeo (haha, but really) – outside experiencing rodeo in Hawaii, which is a chapter all on its own and doesn’t really count. We paid over $300 for our two tickets for “good seats” only to find out that the rodeo grounds were much smaller than a regular rodeo stadium and we could have just purchased “standing room only” tickets for about $10 each on the day when we visited the fair.
The one thing I really enjoyed about Calgary Stampede is their opening day tradition of ‘free pancake breakfast’. Many restaurants do free or inexpensive pancake breakfast on opening day of the Stampede. Many local churches also run free pancake breakfast and we went to the local LDS (Mormon) church in our neighborhood, since we are members.
We got a plate with pancakes, bacon or sausage and a biscuit. We washed it all down with lemonade that was also provided. The people serving us were incredibly hospitable and friendly and happy to see us. You don’t have to be part of the church to come and enjoy good food and good company.
Attractions and places worth visiting around Calgary
For my comprehensive Calgary guide, what is worth your time and money, click here.