Calgary – Our final few weeks

Fall has arrived in the Rocky Mountains

After 4 months in our home town, the final few weeks in Calgary have been overly social seeing friends and family as much as possible before our departure.  We celebrated our birthdays with parties and family dinners, reminiscing about last years celebrations in Scotland.  How nice it was this time to be surrounded by family and friends!  These past months here have been wonderful but we are both restless and the itch to travel became stronger as the weeks went by.  We have not stayed in one place this long since we began our home free lifestyle and it has us feeling somewhat unsettled.  My thoughts range from “it would be nice to have a home surrounded by family and friends” to “I’m bored and need to get out and see the world” to “winter is coming, it’s time to head south”.  The feeling of boredom is surely caused by lack of involvement in clubs or activities, which a person would do when living here full time.  Once we get moving and settle back into the routine of full time travel we will no doubt feel more engaged in our lifestyle once again.

One of Blair’s Birthday celebrations

We made another trip back to our friends home in Canmore over the September long weekend.  The weather was slightly better than our first visit and this time we got out for a mountain bike ride.  Thanks to Tom for taking us on an easy single track loop from the house 🙂  I also joined my friend Loraine at a Yin Yoga class, a first for me and soooo relaxing, a good offset to the thrill of a mountain bike ride.  Canmore is a wonderfully vibrant town with an active outdoor lifestyle and breathtaking scenery, it would be an easy place to live, if only winter was not so long and cold!!

The Bow River running through Canmore

The remainder of September was busy with a 75th birthday party, a retirement party, a family reunion, an 80th birthday party and celebrating our wedding anniversary.  Enjoyable times with family and friends who we will miss very much as we embark on the next leg of our nomadic journey.

Late September heralded the arrival of fall colors in an explosion of red, yellow and gold.  This warranted a day trip to Kananaskis Country park region, just under an hour’s drive West of Calgary.  This area holds many fond memories of arduous mountain bike rides, golfing, snow skiing and hiking.   It is also the area where the alpine skiing events were held during the 1988 Winter Olympics at Nakiska.

Beautiful Kananaskis Country

Late September also saw an early visit by old man winter, what a change from the week before.  Beginning September 28 Calgary was subjected to an intense winter storm lasting 3 days, with heavy snowfall warnings for the city and surrounding region.  By the time it was over a record setting snowfall for September of 24.6 cm fell in one day with much more than that accumulating over the duration of the storm.  Fall seemed to last no more than a couple of weeks before the temperatures dipped below freezing 🙁  In an instant our bike riding and tennis playing days were finished for the year!

Winter has arrived in Calgary

Travel SIM cards have been a real challenge to sort out for the next leg of our journey.  While in Europe we were able to get a SIM card with Vodafone, using my cousin’s UK credit card.  This carried us through our 12 month Europe and Middle East travels, but cost us 20 pounds per month whether we used it or not.  As we head to the Southern hemisphere we were looking for a SIM card that we could keep for the long term.  We recently gave up our Cayman phone numbers because their coverage is limited to about 7 countries 🙁   We belong to a few Facebook groups related to nomadic travel and a post caught my eye about a pay as you go world wide SIM.  After further research it appeared that TravelSim was the answer for us.  They don’t charge a monthly fee, we only pay for our usage, they advertise that it works in over 170 countries worldwide and it can be used for WhatsApp (most virtual numbers cannot be used for WhatsApp).  The only interesting twist is that the phone number is from Tallin, Estonia.  We decided to give this a try in an attempt to have one continuous phone number for the websites that require a telephone contact.  We will also purchase a SIM card in each country we travel to, thereby having a local number and a data package.  TravelSim does offer data packages in many countries so we will compare their fees to the cost of buying a local SIM.  Finding a worldwide SIM has been more complicated and time consuming than I had imagined, much of this because the plethora of options out there are mainly available to USA residents with a USA credit card.  Many folks recommended Google Fi but as of right now this service is not available to non USA residents…perhaps in the future!  So for now you can call us in Estonia, well our phone anyway 🙂

Not only was Calgary a good place to sort out our SIM card options but also a convenient time to refresh our wardrobe, get new walking/running shoes, replace a cell phone and one of our laptops.  We find it easier to buy things in a familiar place where we feel confident in the selection available, quality of the product and prices.  It’s also a good time to get medical and dental checkups done and with a clean bill of health we are good to continue our worldwide travels!

Any spare time we had this last month was spent researching and finalizing visa’s,  flights and apartments for the upcoming few months.  New Zealand introduced a new visa requirement, the NZeTA, which came into effect on October 1, 2019 requiring visitors and transit passengers to purchase an electronic visa.  The online visa is valid for 2 years from the date of approval allowing multiple entries into New Zealand and must be purchased prior to arrival.  Here is a link to the government website where you can apply for the visa, and find the rules regarding eligibility and who is required to obtain this visa.  Our visa’s were processed within an hour costing only NZD $12 but added to that is a NZD $35 Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.  Upon arrival in New Zealand we will have to show our departure tickets proving we will be leaving within the 90 day limit per visit.  Our flights are booked leaving New Zealand on January 6, 2020 🙂

When booking the flight from Calgary to Auckland on Air New Zealand I noticed an option to book a skycouch…..what is this you ask?  The skycouch is available in the outer set of seats, in the forward section of the economy cabin.  By paying an extra fee for the 3rd seat in our row, we have the ability to bring the leg rests up creating a fully flat couch.  Add to that a sleeping pad, blanket and pillows turning this into an excellent option for a 14 hour flight!!  Pretty sure we can get a few hours sleep during the long journey to the other side of the world.  See you next summer Calgary friends and family!  New Zealand here we come…..

 

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