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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh, Canada! Calgary: don't look down! & THE best lunch at The Belvedere!

Back to our recent toad trip across the USA & Canada!
We drove down from British Columbia to  Calgary, and coming into the outskirts of the city we stopped to get gas, and had the Very nice surprise of a really good Vietnamese lunch of pho (Dan) and roast pork with vermicelli (me) when we filled up the tank on the outskirts of Calgary, at Treasures of Saigon, a small Vietnamese restaurant tucked away in a gas station strip mall! 

We stayed at the Econolodge Motel Village on the outskirts of Calgary, as it had an electric hook up for our freezer full of moose meat (THE priority on our road trip home), AND because we THOUGHT we were getting Choice Hotel promotion points. (We stayed at 6 Choice Hotels on the way home for that very reason- and put up with a lot of crud as they are Not the best hotel chain by any stretch- and came home to learn we had been screwed out of all the promotion points. We then wrote a letter to the Choice Hotel CEO, and got told to stuff it, so this will be The Last Time we stay at a Choice Hotel if we can help it). 
In the evening we drove into downtown Calgary, so Dan could see if he recognized anything since his last time here many decades ago (he did), drove back, and wound up at Tipperary's Pub for a pleasant dinner of a steak sandwich (Dan), a bison burger (me), which they made rare as I ordered it, and which was, thus, butter-tender, sweet potato fries, and Maple Beer- which was quite good- and I’m not much of a beer drinker!
In the morning we drove into downtown Calgary and first went to the top of the Calgary Tower, which now has an Extremely cool glass floor, so you can freak yourself out looking down on the streets of Calgary and take suitably silly photos: 

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We then strolled around downtown, took in a modern art exhibition at The Art Gallery of Calgary, window shopped, enjoyed the street art and the bicycle cops, and witnessed a march in support of abducted aboriginal (Indian) women...
Poutine- The Official Dish of Canada!
We didn't have any, so I guess we'll have to return! :-)

Dan with two Canadians...

Downtown Calgary

LOVE this!!!

March in support of abducted aboriginal (Indian) women

We topped it all with one of THE best lunches ever- a truly fine, gourmet, farm-to-table dining experience- at The BelvedereWe had Alberta beef tartare, Gaufrette potatoes in duck fat; seared Quebec foie gras with an ice wine gelee and pecan praline; Canadian Oysters w/raspberry & pepper mignonette sauce, Alberta pheasant confit, with green peppercorn jus and candied orange royal, and excellent Canadian wines... 
One last, fabulous gourmet Canadian meal...
Seriously- does it get better than this?! 
We walked into this elegant "power lunch" restaurant without reservations, basically because it looked nice, only minutes before they closed at 2p.m. We were charmingly seated and served immediately, and our server was a delight! He let us (and other guests) linger as long as we wanted so we could truly savor the delectable food and wine. We took our sweet time and enjoyed every, single bite, as we knew, sadly, that this was not only going to be our last meal in Canada, it would probably be our last fine meal for quite awhile...

The Belvedere, Calgary: one of THE Great, Good Meals...
We stopped at a pharmacy on our way out of town so I could get a bottle of those AbFab muscle relaxant-pain killers I'd grown to love on our hunt; I also got Dan a Canadian Indian arthritis remedy that seems to have some medical research to back it up, and some anti-aging creams I'd never heard of- maybe the Canadians have something that actually works to take the years off! :-) In the late afternoon we finally got on the road and made for the border. At the Coutts, Alberta Canadian Duty Free Store we bought 2 more bottles of BC wine, and bottles of Canadian Port, Maple Whisky, and Yukon Jack, & a Moose Crossing magnet- and somehow managed to jam them into the packed-like-a-drum truck! (My only shopping disappointment was that I never did get a wearable moose souvenir. I'd been looking for a unique moose shirt or sweater, or silver moose jewelry of some sort, but never found anything really special… I guess I'll have to peruse eBay!)  We got to the Coutts-Sweetgrass Border Crossing around 8p.m. and it was truly a breeze, which totally surprised me! With our freezer full of moose meat, our boxes of hunting gear, and all our paperwork, not to mention the "government shut down" issue, I was expecting to have to kill hours there getting the 3rd degree! But we were totally squared away, and were back on the road in no time! We drove into Shelby, Montana, and found, yes, masochists that we are, another Comfort Inn with an electric hook up...
Next: Montana & North Dakota!

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