Last Fall, my brother,Philip, graduated from the University of Minnesota with his Doctorate in Political Science, which took him & my sister-in-law, Melanie, to the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. So, before he moves back to the States this year, I figured I should go and visit him in our neighboring Country up North.
Thursday, April 20th, 2017
I arrived in Calgary around 9pm Mountain Standard Time and was pretty hungry. Passing through Customs was easy and I arrive before Philip was at the airport. He drove me through a little bit of downtown Calgary, before we settled on going to Peter's Drive-In for a burger and poutine. We took our food back to the house and indulged in some cheesy, gravy covered french fried goodness before getting settled and going to sleep.
Friday, April 21st, 2017
Mel had to work, so Philip & I went downtown to get brunch at OEB (Over Easy Breakfast), one of Calgary's must-eats for breakfast & brunch. There were SO many good things to choose from, but in my over-eating nature, I had to get something savory & something sweet, so I opted for a meal that gave me eggs, ham, a slice of French Toast and a side of their fried potatoes. Philip opted for one of the "Box'd" dishes, which arrived in a Chinese takeout container. I also appreciated the architecture and design of the restaurant as there were two gazebos inside: one shaped like an egg and one shaped like a waffle.
After brunch, we went to the neighborhood of Kensington. I was on the hunt for used CD stores, ones that might have Broadway Cast albums that I don't already own, but at the same time we wandered through some other shops, browsing through clothes and books. I found a few Haruki Murakami books for $6 US, but was torn on buying some clothes at a local shop; since I hate trying things on.
After killing time around Kensington, we opted to go to Cross Iron Mills, a sort of outlet shopping center with a giant Bass Pro Shops store attached to it. Browsing through all the fishing gear with my brother really reminded me of our childhood; as he used to make his own fishing flies (and still does), participated in casting competitions and shopped through the local tackle & bait shop. Having never been in a Bass Pro Shops before, I was amused at the signage stating to "check all firearms & bows at customer service" before entering the store. The rest of the mall had some great shops and I picked up a few treats, including some maple flavored cookies and chocolates to bring back to work with me.
After our shopping excursion, we went back home to rest and so Philip could take their dog, Hazel, out on a walk. Once Mel was off work, we decided to try our luck at Hayden Block for some delicious BBQ. The wait was just under an hour, so we walked around Kensington again and got a pre-dinner, dessert. By the time we finally got our table we were pretty hangry and might have ordered a bit too much food, but it was all delicious. The highlight for me was the hush puppies with peppers inside and the creamy side of corn. Post-dinner, it was definitely time for a food-nap/bed.
Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
Saturday morning, Mel had tryouts for the local women's frisbee team, so Philip & I went to the Calgary Farmer's Market and the Glenbow Art Museum. The farmer's market was impressive and housed year-round in a large warehouse-like building. There were lots of local merchants, but I was mostly interested in the food, per usual. While my brother browsed for produce for their next week's meals, I wandered through the food stalls. Eventually, I landed on some potato & cheddar pierogis with potato latkes and a small chicken pot pie.
We then ventured down to the Glenbow Art Museum. There was a very large exhibit featuring the "Mavericks" of Calgary and Alberta, which was pretty fascinating. However, my favorite part of any museum is the Contemporary and Modern Art exhibits. A definite highlight was the Wayne Gretzky piece by Andy Warhol and a giant acrylic installation, which Philip thought was really weird.
After Mel's frisbee tryout, we all went back downtown to get xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at one of their favorite spots in Chinatown, Great Taste. Post-dinner, Mel helped me on my quest to find some great bubble tea and we walked down the street to a little spot that had TONS of bubble tea options. I opted for a Jasmine tea with soy milk and boba, which made up for the disappointing bubble tea I had at the mall earlier.
Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
For my last day in Calgary, we drove just over an hour outside of Calgary to walk around Banff National Park. But like any good Canadian, we stopped at Tim Horton's on the way out for breakfast. Admittedly, I haven't been to many Tim Horton's in NYC, so it felt right to go in Calgary. I had to try their pretzel bagel with sausage & egg; which was chewy and savory. I tried to read a bit in the car on the way up, but was unsuccessful; so I spent a lot of the time looking at the scenery, wildlife and taking a brief nap.
We arrived in Banff, which was a very beautiful resort town and walked around the restaurants and shops until it was time to drive up to the Banff Gondola, so we could ascend to the top of one of the mountains for great views. The weather was beautiful, in the lower 40's, so it was chilly, but not freezing - even with all the snow around us. The ride in the gondola took just under 10 minutes and took us almost 8,000 feet up into the Rockies. We then climbed up more to visit the Cosmic Ray Station on Sulfur Mountain and to see where the satellite that once captured cosmic rays was stationed.
After our gondola ride and hike, we'd worked up an appetite and went back into town to find lunch. Philip chose something that was basically another name for a Philly cheese steak and I got a burger, to satisfy a long-lasting craving. Mel & I topped off the meal with a "Beavertail" - fried whole wheat dough topped with a variety of items. As you can see, we chose the Nutella and banana one.
Before heading back home, we drove to Johnston Canyon to walk along some cliffs (not the easiest in Converse high tops) and view a spectacular, albeit kinda frozen waterfall. The detour was worth it, since the slippery conditions made the trails a bit less crowded and we were actually able to get a clear view of the waterfall.
Then came the ride back, where Mel & I couldn't resist taking a nap. Once home, I started to gather all my things for my super late flight back home and Philip made us all dinner. Overall, it was a wonderful way to get out of the city and another excuse to travel somewhere "International" and to use my passport. Perhaps my next adventure with my brother will be in Wisconsin, since he'll be teaching there in the Fall.