We are keen to see this new city, so we venture outside into downtown Calgary in search of breakfast. It’s now minus 1 deg C and there is a sprinkling of snow that soon turns to light sleet. And this is summer!

It’s mid-morning on a Saturday and we are in the commercial retail centre. But where is everyone? The streets are deserted and the few shops we can see appear to be shut. Even in the pedestrian mall there are very few people; a couple of other tourists looking bewildered like us and a few odd-looking souls wandering aimlessly. It’s slightly edgy.

At last we come upon the Good Earth Café on a corner of what you’d expect to be a busy junction. But the traffic is as scarce as people on this cold Saturday morning.

At least this place is warm inside, the coffee is good and the toasted piadinas are very welcome.

Now a bit warmer and more determined, we head back through the CBD, cutting through more or less diagonally. Ah hah! We find the legendary Hudson Bay Trading Company’s modern store and go inside.

There are not many people in here either. However, Ian is distracted by a Levi jeans sale on the first floor (or rather the second floor as they call it locally, the one above street level). It will turn out to be a lucky distraction. But for now, Ian buys himself a pair of new Levi’s that actually fit first try without having to alter anything.

Now we look for a way out and notice an opening over on one side. It is an enclosed pedestrian bridge over the street below. It leads to the next building. We go across.

Remember the old finger game with the rhyme, “There’s the church and there’s the steeple; Open the doors and there’s the people”?

That’s what it’s like as we go through into the next building. The whole retail part of town is inside out. The walkway leads into a shopping arcade, which leads into a food court which in turn is connected by enclosed walkways to other indoor arcades and malls.

Instead of facing onto the street, the shops are turned inward and shoppers stroll among them, protected from the cold weather outside. Suddenly it all makes sense. It is a maze of interconnected arcades and enclosed walkways between buildings. You can wander all round town and don’t have to go outside at all.

It’s a bit like being a mole.

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