Continued from last post…
Thursday, August 29. Banff.
6:45am MT: Our last breakfast, which is very much like the Last Supper, only with French toast. I haven’t said much about the food on this trip, which has been delicious, if salmon-heavy. And such portions! Barb and I will have to fast for about a week when we get home.
At the breakfast buffet, there is a heaping pot of baked beans. “In which horrible world are baked beans eaten for breakfast?” I wonder aloud. A gentleman from Dallas reminds me that it’s an English thing. It could be the reason for the downfall of the British Empire.
9:05am MT: As we wait to board the bus, one of the people on the tour announces that he has taken over 1,700 photos. For his sake, I’m really hoping he has a digital camera. Otherwise, the film developing cost may be more than he spent on the tour. Barbara, who seemed to be snapping pictures continuously, took just 500, so I can only imagine this guy never took his finger off the button. He probably has shots of the backs of the bus seats.
10:10am MT: We arrive at the airport in Calgary. On the bus here, Greg gave a multiple choice test on the information he has imparted throughout the trip. Barb and I did not score in the top percentile. A man called out that it was a lot of data, and it would take a few weeks to digest all the information. I added that it might also take a few weeks to digest all the food.
We say goodbye to everyone, get off the bus, and find our luggage, which has already been sorted and put on carts. We get on the check-in line, which is longer than usual, because the kiosks aren’t working.
Our two checked bags are 44 and 46 pounds respectively, which means our luggage has lost weight on the trip. We’re pretty sure we won’t be able to say the same about its owners.
WARNING TO ANYONE FLYING TO THE U.S. OUT OF CALGARY: From the time you get on the check-in line, to going through U.S. customs, to going through security, there are no bathrooms. This, I feel, is crucial information that every international traveler should have. There should be big signs in the terminal telling you this, especially if you are also going to have signs all over the place talking about restrictions on liquids.
11:30am MT: When we get to the corridor with our gate, there are not many shops, but there are two Starbucks, and I get coffee for Barb and me, tipping lavishly to get rid of the rest of my Canadian coins because I don’t want to get home with my pockets full of toonies and loonies. The baristas in Canada’s airports must make more in tips than in any other Starbucks.
While waiting for our flights, we see some other folks from our tour, all of which we had become friendly with. One of them has a clear plastic bag full of U.S. currency. Another has a clear plastic bag full of Canadian coins. Is it to keep the currencies separate? To keep the money sterile? Maybe it’s to pass through security in clear plastic since it’s liquid cash. I don’t know, but it makes me think we did something wrong. And also that the woman with the bag o’ coins hadn’t been to Starbucks yet.
We search for something we can buy to eat on the plane, and come across an airport-sized Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is a chain in Canada, and we have been told many times that it is roughly their equivalent to Dunkin’ Donuts. With that in mind, we decline to purchase the pre-wrapped sushi.
12:55pm MT: The plane departs on time.
6:55pm ET: We land at Newark. We are back in real time. Although the temperature is similar to what it was through most of our trip, the air is much heavier, which may have something to do with actually being near the ground, as opposed to 7,000 feet in the air.
It may also have something to do with being in Newark.
Final Note: Although I’ve written mostly about the odd stuff in an effort to be humorous, this was a great trip. If you ever want to take a tour like this, in Canada or anywhere else, Tauck is highly recommended (we’ve used them in Italy, too). They really do take care of everything, the accommodations are as good as they can get, the food is as good as it can be, and, evidently, they see to it that you get the best possible weather…better than you imagined it could be, and definitely better than you packed for.
We had a great time.
With my next post, I will return to my usual ranting about annoyances and stupidity in the world.
See you soon.
P.S. Two days later: We go out to eat and the waiter tells us the specials, which include salmon. We pass.