Alberta: Calgary Stampede

THE TRIO of steer and two horses explode out of the box at a hard gallop, throwing dust as they chase across the dirt arena. In an instant, the first cowboy has lassoed the steer’s head, then keeps tension on the rope so it is presented in proper position for his partner to lasso the back legs. Continue reading “Alberta: Calgary Stampede”

Calgary: The Stampede

THE four teams of horses – four thoroughbreds in each team – charge past, the light wagons they are pulling wheel to wheel as they come around the final bend and gallop, nostrils foaming, for the finish line. The drivers lash the reins, straining every muscle to bring their passion to their teams. Behind, another 16 riders urge their horses in a pack towards the line, as 18,000 screaming spectators get caught up in the spectacle.

No, it’s not the chariot race from Ben Hur, but Chuck Wagon racing at Calgary Stampede – with a cool $1million dollars on offer to the winner. Continue reading “Calgary: The Stampede”

Canada: The Rockies theme

‘ALL A-B-O-A-R-D.’

Who of us has not wanted to climb aboard a big North American train as the guard calls out that iconic warning?

OK, there’s no tearful blonde waving on the platform, only the Rocky Mountaineer office staff lined up to send us off from Vancouver (a nice touch, though). But we’re going on a 500-mile journey into the heart of Canada and trips don’t get much bigger or more romantic than that. Continue reading “Canada: The Rockies theme”

Vancouver: Birthplace of Green

LIKE all of us, I’ve indulged in those ‘What’s your favourite city/holiday destination?’ conversations. I used to know the answers.

Now, having been to Vancouver, I’m less sure. Before I went, this Canadian West Coast city didn’t figure on my radar; having been there, it’s shot straight to the top of my favourite cities. So now I’m keeping my options open in case another city I’ve never thought of wins me over. Continue reading “Vancouver: Birthplace of Green”

Quebéc: Oasis of calm

THERE IS SUPPOSEDLY a café somewhere in Paris that offers a ten per cent discount to English tourists who don’t try to order in French.

If only the French had the charm of their Canadian cousins in Québec, who are delighted by any attempt to speak the language, and whose nasal North American twang removes any inhibitions about a poor accent.

Continue reading “Quebéc: Oasis of calm”