Retracing our route, we drove through Lake Louise, Banff National Park, and entered new territory in Canmore, where we discovered the Iron Goat Pub and Grill! It’s a restaurant of beautiful architecture and fine foods! We sat near the window and so could see the soaring Rockies while we munched our lunch. What did we have? A Taste of Canada – smoked salmon, goat cheese, duck confit, marinated mushrooms, and port wine jelly among other treats, served on a slate platter. For less than $22 C. we dined very well! Michael, the executive chef came over to say hello, and suggested we take some photos from the patio upstairs. We came away with some excellent pictures. By the way, the name comes from the goats that used to work in the mines before the railroad came. www.irongoat.ca A stop at the chocolatier across the way for two chocolate truffles gave us just the right amount of dessert. The ride to Strathmore from Revelstoke took about five hours, with a stop or two. Our home base here in Strathmore is the Best Western. We have a coffee maker, Wi-Fi, fridge, microwave, complimentary laundry, whirlpool and pool, and basic continental breakfast. The room has two queen beds. Our room rate is $102 C. before tax. www.bestwesternalberta.com/strathmore.
Other pluses include a small shopping plaza next door and restaurants within walking distance. One of those restaurants is the Strathmore Station, housed in the old railroad depot. It serves history along with first rate food. Railroad memorabilia decorate the dining room and hall. Solid mahogany tables and chairs are in the dining room. We ordered the Choo Choo Chicken, chicken stuffed with asparagus, shrimp and crab, and the 16 oz. rib eye steak. Both came with a huge baked potato and sautéed veggies, and a filling bowl of chunky clam chowder. Service was very good. Dinner was $52 C. www.strathmorestation.com It was so nice, in fact, that we returned on our day off for maple glazed salmon and prime rib, with salads rather than soup. Our total was $45 C. before tip. We recommend the Strathmore Station.
Hello, Calgary! This city claims to be the “heart of the new west.” We had a wonderful day here! First, Taste of Calgary at the Eau Claire Center. Many area restaurants, taverns, and distributors offer samples for a certain number of tickets. Tickets are $.75 each. Samples range from 2 tickets to 6 tickets. Most entrees were 5 tickets. We sampled both chicken and beef samosas from Africa; a Turkish donair; Cashew Chicken from Thailand; smoked brisket sandwich with pineapple mustard; and Leprechaun pie. We also tried some local beers and a maple whisky. Live entertainment continued the whole time we were there. Tickets are $15 for 20 tickets. The Eau Claire Center offers lots of shopping and eating opportunities, too. Time allotted depends on your interests, but allow at least an hour for the mall.
Second, a tour of Chinatown. We saw stores and restaurants featuring Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Indian, and Vietnamese wares. It was most interesting. A group was practicing a musical performance in front of the Senior Center. The Chinese Cultural Center was interesting. Classes are offered in such topics as Mandarin, Calligraphy, ping pong, Tai Chi, and badminton. Allow about an hour for Chinatown, and more if you plan on eating.
Third, a trip to the top of Calgary Tower. A ride on the elevator brought us above the city, with a panoramic view, and to a glass floor that showed the city beneath. It was amazing! The cost was $27 C. for both of us. The time allotted was about 30 min. http://www.calgarytower.com/
Fourth, a visit to the wonderful Glenbow Museum showed us the many faces of Asia, classical western Canadian paintings, a superb exhibit on Native Americans, and an exhibit titled ”Mavericks.” We enjoyed them all, and would advise allowing 3 hours to see it all. Admission fee is $12 per person. www.glenbow.org Fifth, a stroll around town brought us to the Unicorn, claiming to be the oldest pub in Calgary. Wine provided a nice respite in a cozy and old fashioned pub.
Finally, dinner at Sakana Grill, offering Japanese cuisine. Greg ordered his sushi assortment and MaryJo had the sukiyaki hot pot, providing a chance to cook her own meal. Sukiyaki is thin sliced beef, tofu, bok choy, baby corn and green onions cooked in a beef-soy sauce broth. The tab was $43 before tip. Shared sake added $11. Delicious meal!
Our last day here in Calgary, and western Canada, sadly! Today we want to do as much as we can!
First, a wonderful Irish breakfast at the James Joyce Pub. MaryJo chomped the fried egg, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with waffles fries, while Greg gobbled his egg, cheese, and veggie wrap. We both had coffee. Scrumptious fare! www.jamesjoycepub.com
Next on the agenda was a visit to the Calgary Stampede Grounds! We wandered around the rodeo area, the Saddleback Arena, and the tents, imagining the colors, excitement, and sounds of the Stampede. We want to try to see it next summer! Although the sign advertised $12 parking, we were not charged to look around. www.calgarystampede.com
Our next stop over was Olympic Park! That was exciting, too! Remembering the 1988 Winter Olympics while we gazed at the ski jumps, bobsled and luge track, ice arena, and other structures was great fun! We would like to ride the bobsled track on our next visit. There are many family activities to do here – biking, zip lining, ropes courses, and mini golf. In the winter, skiing and other winter sports are available, of course. How exciting to be on the same course as medal winners! A Visitor Center is where the various activities can be booked or equipment rented. A Hall of Fame features Canadian Olympians. It’s a fantastic place to spend an afternoon or morning, and we were free to roam – no admission.
A Firefighters Museum caught our interest. On display were such items as helmets, badges, photographs from the early 1900s, and fireman toys. In the garage were fire trucks ranging from the late 1890s through the 1950s. We were especially charmed by the horse drawn hose from the 1890s! One of the trucks broke with tradition by being a very dark red, almost black. Currently under restoration, the museum had no admission fees. www.firefightersmuseum.org
We stopped for lunch at The Blind Beggar, mostly because there weren’t many non chain restaurants in the area. We like to try local, one of a kind places when we can. It was a good choice. The burgers were only $8.95 C.; huge as well as tasty!
On the way back into Calgary, we toured the Memorial Rock Garden. The garden is a beautiful area, and peaceful in spite of its near proximity to the road. There are many varieties of flowers and trees, and the scent of the petunias was lovely. There is no admission. Adjacent to the garden is Ripley Park, with a huge wading pool. It was a warm day, and dozens of kids were frolicking in the water.
On to Ft. Calgary! A reproduced façade of the original fort was interesting. The Mounties began as the North West Mounted Police. This was a result of American traders moving into Canada and setting up spheres of influence. Inside, the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was detailed, along with Calgary life in the late 1800s until the mid-1900s. RCMP offices from different eras were represented. Life in Calgary with the advent of cars, radios, and movie theaters was shown. Most days, a veteran Mountie is there to answer questions. Allow about 2 hrs. www.fortcalgary.com A search in town for the Devonian Gardens proved fruitless. They are closed for renovations. They were indoor gardens with a great variety of plants.
At the parkade, there is an exhibit of art cows. Titled Udderly Art, Cowabunga, and other amusing names, it was delightful.
Finally, it was time for dinner. We ate at Trib, a steakhouse. We were seated in the basement, next to the extensive wine cellar. A fireplace was at one end. The kitchen and chef were visible from our table. We shared a huge portion of bison porterhouse, with a vegetable medley that included finger potatoes, green beans kale, sauerkraut, carrots, and spaghetti squash. It was succulent! A take away portion gave us a snack later. Our server carved at the table and arranged the veggies as we watched. A meal as wonderful as this deserved a bottle of Chardonnay. A cup of flavorful espresso ended the meal. Our total bill before tip was $159 C. This is a high end meal, and a memorable end to our trip to western Canada! http://www.tribsteakhouse.ca/ We hope to return! There is so much more to see and experience, off the trails!
The Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
***Our rate of exchange is based on our time here, August 2009. It’s 7% less at this time.
***Our meal prices are representative of the menu.