I AM CALGARY’s Summer of 2019: a million memories, 18,000km, 30 Days, 11 Modes of Transport, 9 Beds, 5 Countries
You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “Have passport, will travel”? That could never have been a more tangible reality to me than when I became a Canadian Citizen in December 2018, receiving my new passport shortly after. The world of international travel suddenly opened before us since I was now able to travel to a plethora of countries without the need to apply for costly visitors visas.
With WestJet’s recent acquisition of several shiny new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, spiriting passengers directly between Calgary to a selection of worldwide destinations, Christa and I decided to capitalize on their summer flight offerings. Our destination criteria was easy: choose a location where I would be required to use my new passport. The further we could get on a single leg departing from Calgary, the better. It was a bit of a no-brainer. Watch out Europe, here comes Calgary!!
Christa and I love to travel. We’re perhaps not the perfect candidates for The Amazing Race, but we do travel very well together. We have loads of fun with heaps of laughter amidst oodles of spontaneity. We recognize one another’s strengths. We don’t over-plan. Or, at least I try not to over-plan (I’ve been known to make space for planned spontaneity!). Christa, on the other hand, is happy to go with the flow.
One personal travel proviso – and significant challenge – for our European summer holiday was that we were going to aim to carry hand luggage only. You have no idea what a stretch this would be for us. This travelling duo never travel light. For Christa and I, a weekend road trip away from home often looks more like a one-way migration. If we have the space, we fill it in anticipation of any and every eventuality. So, four weeks on the hoof carrying only carry-on luggage was no small feat. We may share more about how we packed and overcame this hurdle in a later blog.
Our initial plan was to travel for two weeks. We would fly to London and explore England while visiting – and indulging in the generosity and hospitality of – family and friends. As we umm-ed and ah-ed through our itinerary planning, two weeks evolved into four, and England expanded to include Guernsey, France and Germany. Thanks to Christa’s extended school summer holidays and my flexible unemployed status we were able to maximize our holiday time abroad without too much on-cost. Needless to say, we leveraged the hospitable generosity of more family and friends while also relying on their knowledge to introduce us to their favourite local hangouts. It felt like a win-win all-round.
With the stage set, I invite you to join Christa and I in my upcoming blogs as I revisit our vacation highlights and challenges. I hope to introduce you to some destinations that you should seriously consider renewing your passport, packing your travel bags and exploring for yourself. I’ll help you discover how and why, in 30 days, we
- covered more than 18,000km;
- walked ~500km;
- drove ~1,700km
- touched on five countries;
- slept in nine different beds;
- utilized 11 modes of transport;
- took too many selfies;
- discovered some great and unique countryside accommodation;
- were awed by umpteen breathtaking views and attractions;
- and ate new foods we loved … or sometimes didn’t.
I’ll share many of our innumerable picturesque – and sometimes silly or incriminating – photos, funny signs, quirky quotes, useful Apps, wise websites, unique tours and cool deals.
You’ll be able to click on links of me roping Christa (or vice versa) into some of our first-ever one-minute spontaneous and unedited vlogs together on our YouTube channel.
You’ll want to find out what we learnt – sometimes the hard way – about:
- alternative entertainment at Ascot Racecourse;
- what the Queen might get up to when she’s in residence at Windsor Castle;
- our favourite “Lord of the Rings” Church, weekly market and wide open spaces in the Cotswolds;
- what we discovered that Bath (England) and Florence (Italy) have in common;
- crashing cows in Devon (no, that’s not the name of a band! Well, not yet, anyway!);
- our quaint accommodations in Cornwall and why we don’t have cream tea in Calgary;
- whether the leaning monoliths of Stonehenge should form the foundations of a new apartment building;
- what Canada has to do with a most-rousing, foot-tapping Westend show in London;
- what we did behind the gates of #10 Downing Street;
- what’s there not to love about Guernsey, with video evidence of why a moving book-based movie using the same name may not have been filmed there after all;
- why I learnt that driving a green Jaguar in Saint Malo sends the wrong message;
- what a guided tour at le Mont Saint Michel taught us about quicksand not killing you but local rising tidewaters will;
- why using a toilet in a French high-speed train en route to Paris moving at 300km/h is different to using one on a plane at 850km/h;
- why having a waterproof bag in Basel is a great idea when viewing the Rhine River from our perspective;
- how the therapeutic thermal baths of Badenweiler stung me;
- where to eat the best Black Forest cake in Germany’s Black Forest;
- how Christa and I managed to kiss one another in public while she was in Germany and I was in Switzerland;
- why buying an expensive padlock in Paris, attaching it to a bridge and throwing the keys in the Seine could be a crime;
- why the many cathedrals, abbeys and churches that we ventured into left us in awe at times and uneasy at others;
- why the friendliness of the French took us off guard;
- why family and friends abroad make life so much richer;
- and why marriage can be the best institution ever!
Where relevant, I’ll relate our experiences to everyday life back in Calgary.
Let me know in the comments section below if there’s anything else you might want to know about our trip or “like” (♡) this article if you want to read more content like this!