Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd
Off to Canada!
Julie and I had been attempting to make a plan to visit Canada for what seemed like the past few years. We previously had reserved hotel rooms in Vancouver a couple winters back, but ended up cancelling that trip in favor of a California road trip. After reading a post by one of my favorite travel bloggers about visiting Alberta, we were convinced it was time to put our daydreams into action and plan our next trip. Planned earlier this spring, our journey would take us to two of the big national parks in Alberta, Banff and Jasper, as we immersed ourselves in the Canadian Rockies. Giant mountains, blue lakes, endless scenery, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our summer vacation, and off to Canada we went.
A False Start
After a late arrival into Calgary on Saturday night, we ate a quick breakfast, grabbed our rental car from the airport, and hit the road. Before making our way into Calgary, we made a quick stop to load up on supplies at the Real Canadian Superstore. We assumed the store would be similar to Walmart here in the states in that it would offer low prices and everything you needed under one roof. In a way, I suppose we were right, it definitely seemed like Canada’s answer to Walmart, but we ended up having a crummy experience from the start. We couldn’t figure out how to unlock a cart to load up our groceries in. Numerous locals noticed our struggles, but didn’t offer any help, as they grabbed their carts and walked away. Once we had completed our shopping and made our way to the register to checkout, I noticed that there were signs saying “No Visa”, which is our primary method of payment. I halted Julie and asked the cashier who confirmed the sign even going so far as to say that they did not accept “American credit cards”. Baffled by this, I went to speak to a teller at the in-store bank, who proceeded to tell me that “no, they don’t accept American credit cards here and you will have a problem finding retailers who do, throughout Canada”. Completely taken aback by this, we put our items back and headed to the nearby Safeway to see if this was true. We shopped at Safeway with no problems, and proceeded to buy everything without issue using our credit cards for the remainder of the trip. Suffice to say it was a bizarre start to our trip, but fortunately just a one-off.
An Afternoon in Calgary
Despite the bumpy start to our day, we made it into Calgary by the early afternoon and had a chance to wander the city a bit. With no set agenda in mind, we found parking at the Calgary Arts Development building and set out to explore the downtown area. We made our way up Stephen Avenue, a popular pedestrian street where you can find countless different restaurants and bars choices.
From there, we walked over to Eau Claire Park, taking in the sights and river views.
All the walking worked up quite an appetite, so we headed back to Stephen Avenue and had a late lunch at Milestones. Tip: Grab a seat outside on the patio for some great people watching on the busy street.
Following lunch, we made our way back to the car and jumped on the Trans Canada Highway to our hotel in Kananaskis. While we had originally hoped to stay in Banff, we ended up booking three nights in a hotel about an hour south. Many of the hotels we researched were sold out or very expensive when we checked for available options in Banff. Next time, we’ll definitely make a point to book earlier!