Yes, I'm back. Tired out of my mind... I mean... I bled through my nose 3 times in the past 24 hours! So I think my body is tryin' to tell me sumthin'. -.-; It feels kind of surreal to be back because it's almost as if I were there forever, yet time flew by so fast... does that even make sense?? Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I felt very at home there and grew some sort of an attachment to the location, so I was saddened by the fact that I had to take off so quickly... ^^

I must say that Calgary was a pretty nice town. The cowboy theme can come across as a bit overdone, but given that the stampede and the related tourism market is so huge that I really can't blame the town for milking they thang. ;) Oh, and a huge shout-out to the lovely ladies (and Rodney) of IASTED for the impromptu partying. If it weren't for you guys, my last night at Calgary would have been a total disaster! Poor Christina had to wake up at 7AM to help out with the conference... Christina, you should get some kind of a medal for the effort you put in! ;) Despite the fact that we went out on a Tuesday night we're proud to say that we partied as hard as we could! Meeting new people is always a wonderful thing, and if they happen to be as nice as these guys, then that's just F'in awesome, eh!? All the bitching and griping I had done about the conference became completely neutrualized thanks to their hospitality. ;)

Ok, so a little more about Calgary... I stayed at the Hyatt Regency which was on Centre street located at the heart of the downtown business district. It is quite bustling during business hours with street stores, outdoor restaurants and such, then it goes completely dead after business hours. The difference seemed extremely stark, but then again I guess that's pretty much like any other business district. The 17th ave shopping district, also known as the "Red Mile" was less than 10 minutes walk away, and they had some cool stuff. Most stuff that seemed cool were quite a bit on the pricey side, tho. Brand-name clothing articles are about 1.5 times as expensive as they are in the U.S, and there weren't that many cheap thrifty wacky funky shops as I would have hoped. I did go back on the last day to get myself a LuLuLemon zip-up hoodie because it came highly recommended. Nicole, you know you're gonna have to personally issue me a refund if I find any defects... -.-+ ( You're lucky that I like it very much so far =P )

Ooh, ooh! Another cool find was that the China town was much cleaner than practically all the other China towns I've been to. It seems to make China town more attractive as a hangout spot than the other China towns, where people usually go to get food and get the hell out. The city itself is very clean, so that theme seemed to work throughout all the locations. Very nice indeed. Along with the clean environment, the people were extra nice as well. At one point I was in the middle of the road just standing there wanting to see what they'd do and drivers would just stop and stand there waiting for me to move on. No honking, no cursing, just pure patience... That seemed kinda over-the-top, but hey... I think it beats New York City by a large margin. =P

The downtown area is very easy to get around, as well. Through the combination of walking and taking the C-train you can get to most locations with relative ease, but that's probably because I was a short-term tourist with limited destinations. ^^;

Ok, now... things I wish I had known before I got there... That there was a decent currency exchange place near the hotel, that the Sun doesn't fall until like 11PM which makes you think that you still have half a day left or something when you really should be thinking about heading back to the hotel... The elevator that takes people up to the top of the Calgary Tower stops running at 10:30PM, so I had to get up there at 10:30PM, wait for an hour before I could finally check out the night view. -.-; I must say that the view from the top of Mt. Washingtonis way nicer, tho. ;) Hmmm.... oh, yeah, that Okonomiyaki at Sushi Kawa is really meant for two people (especially if you add the mochi topping). I simply could not fish the damn thing... *PHEW* Oh, and I really wish I could have stayed for the stampede... I was trying my best not to take too much time off work, but now I'm kinda thinking that having a real break (as opposed to visiting my family) could have done me some real good... Especially since I was under so much stress right up to the conference... Oh, well... maybe next time.

Aaaaand, finally, some new terms I learned hangin' wit da locals. Apparently they believe beanies (you know those knitted caps that snowborders wear) is the wrong term to use and the correct term is tuque.. I actually don't wear a beanie when I snowboard, so I think I'm good. =P Restrooms are marked as " "washroom", though everybody understands what a rest room is. I guess people around here don't go there to rest? Weirdos... =P

As much as I liked the city, it is really the great people I've gotten to meet with that's going make me miss the city. I'm really gonna miss you guys! Come visit me in Pittsburgh!! Oh, and head over here for some snaps.

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I'm in Banff at an internet cafe called "Underground Internet Studio". I just came across it randomly as I was cruising through the streets of Banff. The bus to Calgary is due in about 40 minutes, so I'm killing time checking e-mail, etc... No, I could have survived without it, but I had some work-related stuff I needed to check up on. =P

Just about had it with the rockies... I can only take so much hiking/site seeing before I get bored out of my ass... The rockies are pretty impressive, and I do like the fact that it is refreshing to be out in the wild, but I think having gone to Jiu Zhai Gou back in Spring, I had maxed out my yearly limit on scenic tourism. Did take a shit load of pix and I even have a video camera with me, so this should be interesting. Probably gonna check out the Calgary tower tonight before hitting the bed. Alright, I'm outta here to catch my last bus!! Later!

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