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Food and lodging in Canada - Banff, Alberta

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My big expedition to Georgia is only a few weeks away, but I was craving a mountain adventure last month and hopped on a plane back to Montana, then onward via car to Alberta, Canada. This is one of the most beautiful places I've seen in all my travels, and the majority of my time was spent in Banff National Park. In this region, you are surrounded by majestic landscapes, pristine turquoise waters and cool forest breezes. I'll write about the natural landscapes in a separate post, but today I want to speak about portion sizes in Canadian restaurants and lodging in Banff.

America is known as the land of gluttony on many levels, and this includes our food. Yes, our portions are huge but I think in Banff they were even larger! I could not believe it actually, the huge piles of food thrown on plates at all restaurants. I traveled with my young cousin who is a hockey player and consumes excessive calories at each setting. Here is his breakfast one morning - something known as "cowboy grits." Grits are a type of crushed cornmeal, not sure if they are popular in Russia, but I do not like the texture or taste. This breakfast costs around 9 Canadian dollars.

1. French toast covered in raspberry syrup and topped with whipped cream. Such sweet delicacies are common in the USA also, as people often put all types of fruit jams on top of pancakes or various types of toast. Btw, a skinny, 20 year old girl consumed this entire plate.

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2. Lunch for me - sweet pulled pork quesadilla with some type of Cajun coleslaw. This is shredded cabbage, often mixed with carrots and some type of dressing or mayo. In this case, it was very spicy and I don't like mayo at all, so I didn't eat it. Sour cream on the side, we eat this with almost all Mexican food and this cuisine is popular in both the USA and Canada. This dish cost 12 Canadian dollars.

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3.  Here is a Canadian national treasure - something called "poutine." It's fries covered in a thick brown gravy and cheese curds. I cannot eat this mess, but my cousin who formerly lived in Canada constantly craves this dish. You can find it in almost all restaurants in Banff, even McDonalds. :)

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4. At the hotel restaurant, they bring you complimentary bread and yogurt for breakfast. Very nice touch, and similar to American restaurants which frequently provide free bread, pretzels or chips before the meal. I have not noticed anything free in Russian restaurants, but I can't say I've eaten at a lot of them, and especially not upscale eateries.

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5. If you plan on visiting Banff or Alberta during the summer season, it is necessary to book hotels or lodging in advance. We didn't know our exact route or dates of arrival, and there were almost no choices left near the park when we arrived. So, we stayed in a very expensive and fancy lodge called "Moose Hotel and Suites" - the price was around 380 Canadian dollars/per night, but it was really luxurious and cozy. :) Each room had a balcony, plus a separate living area, with fireplace and couch. Room service delivered tasty tiramisu each evening, delightful surprise.

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6. As an American, I'm used to very large hotel rooms, with big, comfy beds. I remember when I first started traveling in Europe, I was shocked at the tiny beds, and could hardly imagine how some grown men fit on them. The same in most hotels I've stayed at in Russia - totally uncomfortable beds, with cramped living quarters in the hotel room. Canada - the style of rooms is similar to the U.S., and overall I noticed almost no difference between Canadian and American cultures. I'm not speaking about government, healthcare, etc. - but the way people interact in society, and service levels. In Canada, very open and friendly people and excellent service. Btw, in both America and Canada, there are so many pillows on a bed meant for one or two people! Why? :))

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7. My companion in the room! :)) Very strange decorations in my view, and a bit discomforting to look over in the middle of the night and have the shadow of this huge beast hanging over me.

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8. The Moose Hotel and Suites is located in downtown Banff, right in the heart of everything. It opened this year, and is one of the newer lodging choices. Everything is pristine, very organized and workers are friendly, efficient and go out of their way to help guests. In this area, you will meet almost no Canadians working in restaurants, hotels or at tourist sites. Almost all of the workers are Australians, living in Canada and working through some type of exchange/work visa program offered by the Canadian government. There is something unusual about this place. In the middle of the hotel sits a little cottage. This is a historical designation, which can't be destroyed under Canadian law, thus the builders were required to lift it out during construction of the hotel and return it back to its position at the end of construction. So, there it sits - right in the middle of everything.

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9. Overall, Canada is superb. I've only visited the Yukon Territory and Alberta, but impressions are so high and positive that it is necessary to return. Banff National Park is well-maintained and, just like the Americans, Canadians value and treasure their national parks, making them accessible, keeping them clean and honoring them as a pride of the nation - and also a huge money maker through tourism. I'll tell you more about these glorious mountains and the park in a separate post.

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I know I have some readers living in Canada, and perhaps a lot of you have visited the country. Did you notice significant differences between Canadian and American cultures? For me, they seemed totally the same for the most part. All photos from this journey were taken on the iPhone. Sorry, I was too lazy to drag the big camera around my neck when hiking and wandering in the mountains by foot.

Other posts from Canada

Glimpse into the Yukon Territory
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Comments

( 72 comments — Leave a comment )
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saccovanzetti
Sep. 20th, 2016 02:48 pm (UTC)
путин looks good, картошка с подливкой, very russian.
why is pork called sweet?
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 02:51 pm (UTC)
I don't like french fries. I prefer potatoes baked, mashed or fried in a pan with onions. :) The shredded pork is sweet because it is mixed with a barbecue sauce and caramelized onions. It was very, very tasty!
(no subject) - saccovanzetti - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - saccovanzetti - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ria9 - Sep. 21st, 2016 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 21st, 2016 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
pin_gwin
Sep. 20th, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC)
Canada is my next possible destination... We have exhausted USA, I am not interested in anything here any more. Or , may be it will be Europe.
Among these multiple pillows some should be firmer, some softer. Some may be used to put under your butt on good occasion.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
But these pillows were all the same, thus I can't understand the logic of having six or eight of them on a bed for two people. Apparently many people like to sleep with multiple pillows under their head, butt, knees...we are spoiled with all this comfort and convenience. :) I am bored with Europe, unless it is Eastern Europe. There are still some treasures there left to explore...:) After Georgia, I want to go to one of the "stan" countries. Btw, many things in Canada are expensive. :(( This prohibits exploration options for me, esp. as a solo traveler. If I find a companion, it is more doable because we can split costs.

Edited at 2016-09-20 03:08 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - saccovanzetti - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Sep. 20th, 2016 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
moebiuscat
Sep. 20th, 2016 03:14 pm (UTC)
Being a Canadian of Russian/Israeli origin I can say that main thing that differentiates Canadians from Americans is being proud of NOT being Americans. Most of everything else is the same. Let me say to Russian readers that Canadians don't think this in any kind of negative way: they like Americans and don't think bad about them, but they are proud of being different, although they are not really all that much different at all. A bit quieter and more introvert maybe, thinking Americans are a tad too loud and hectic...
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 03:15 pm (UTC)
:))) I think in French speaking regions of Canada, there may be more cultural differences but not here in Alberta.
(no subject) - moebiuscat - Sep. 20th, 2016 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ambival - Sep. 26th, 2016 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
juan_gandhi
Sep. 20th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC)
We got an impression that Banff is a pretty expensive place, even around this time.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC)
Accommodations are expensive, but food is reasonably priced. You can stay farther away in Canmore and save a little bit of money, but it was not worth it for us because we were only there a few days. We wanted to be very close to the park, in the center of the action in the town so as to not waste time driving back and forth each day. It is a really beautiful area. I want to return in winter, when it will be really, really cold and snowy. :)
(no subject) - margot_yyc - Sep. 20th, 2016 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 21st, 2016 12:03 am (UTC) - Expand
sckeleron
Sep. 20th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
Actually we do have some free сухарики in cafes and restaurants when they serve beer. These are usually fried salty bread pieces which you could eat as chips.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
I remember something like this at a bar we went to in Peter. However, I could not stay in this environment long because the room was completely filled with cigarette smoke, which irritates my eyes and contact lenses. :( I think since then there have been new laws enacted to make most restaurants smoke free, but I could be wrong.
(no subject) - sckeleron - Sep. 20th, 2016 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
mb_b
Sep. 20th, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
I think the Georgian (and Moldovian) version of grits is called mamalyga... but I may be wrong.

So I take it you didn't travel on Icefields Parkway? I've been to the area once before, but if I had to do it again I'd probably stick to the provincial parks of BC. National parks are always overcrowded and outrageously expensive.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 04:47 pm (UTC)
I did not know they eat grits in Georgia. :) I didn't make it to the Icefields Parkway. We were only in Banff for 2 days and spent most of the time in the national park and surrounding areas. In British Columbia, I've only visited Victoria. Charming place!
wwweekend
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, good to know! We will go to Banff for sure some time in future. It looks like we will need to order just one portion for the whole family :))
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC)
It's a wonderful destination for a family! Many fun things to do there, in winter or summer. :)
mybathroom
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC)
It's good that I'm not hungry ))
Five pillows!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, enough pillows for a whole family in one bed! :) Bon appetit!
theodorexxx
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
Almost all of the workers are Australians, living in Canada and working through some type of exchange/work visa program offered by the Canadian government.
oh my gosh those people traveled across the globe to work there

I remember when I first started traveling in Europe, I was shocked at the tiny beds, and could hardly imagine how some grown men fit on them.
Now imagine how a grown man and a grown woman fit on that beds. It's not a surprise birth rate in Europe is getting lower and lower .
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
Where have you been? :) I have not heard from you in a while. Sure, why wouldn't they travel there to work? It's a beautiful place, filled with friendly people, tons of things to do....and the tipping system is the same in Canada, so the servers in restaurants can earn a decent living due to high tourist traffic and crowds.
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Sep. 20th, 2016 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 20th, 2016 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Sep. 20th, 2016 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 20th, 2016 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Sep. 20th, 2016 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 20th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - margot_yyc - Sep. 20th, 2016 11:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 21st, 2016 12:02 am (UTC) - Expand
bopobyc
Sep. 20th, 2016 06:13 pm (UTC)
That free toast and yogurt look like complete breakfast to me.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 07:39 pm (UTC)
It is not enough, at least not for any of the seven people I was traveling with. The yogurt is in a small shot glass, about two bites per glass. :) This was for five people. The main meal for breakfast was eggs, bacon ad toast.

Edited at 2016-09-20 07:39 pm (UTC)
elena_88888
Sep. 20th, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC)
Just in the beginning of reading I wanted to ask "Hey, where are these beautiful landscapes?" But then I read the next sentence ;))
And as for moose in the room: is it painted or is it a kind of figurine? Then it can be used as a hanger for a robe in night :)

And as for pillows: some people like to sleep almost sitting (especially it is recommended for those who has an inclination to high blood pressure) or like in a nest, with pillows around
peacetraveler22
Sep. 20th, 2016 07:41 pm (UTC)
Moose - he was a piece of wooden artwork affixed to the wall, not a painting. Sort of three dimensional, which made it even more strange. :))
livejournal
Sep. 21st, 2016 12:15 am (UTC)
Food and lodging in Canada - Banff, Alberta
User margot_yyc referenced to your post from Food and lodging in Canada - Banff, Alberta saying: [...] Originally posted by at Food and lodging in Canada - Banff, Alberta [...]
sasha_severny
Sep. 21st, 2016 02:46 am (UTC)
"Did you notice significant differences between Canadian and American cultures"

Canadians eat more vegetables and somewhat skinnier than Americans. Not much, though. Definitely they have some cultural differences. The Queen, for a example and the British influence, not mentioning francophones. However, Canadians are the same Yankees as everywhere. Banff is a lovely place. Have you been to Fairmont Banff Springs Resort? There's also Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise not far from Banff. Pretty wild, I would say.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 21st, 2016 12:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, we went inside the Fairmont Banff Springs Resort and looked around the hotel. They have some really amazing artwork there, but I can't imagine the paying the price to stay there. Saw the the one at Lake Louise also, but didn't go inside. Banff is definitely one of the nicest places I've seen, but it's a shame the downtown areas is now overrun with so many tourists shops. I think it has lost a bit of its authenticity as popularity grew....
(no subject) - sasha_severny - Sep. 21st, 2016 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
maadmike
Sep. 25th, 2016 02:12 am (UTC)
Everything just wonderful, the views are biting with its beauty, I want to have some dream which could match yours to dream it.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 26th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
Canada - from a tourist standpoint, it is very much like the USA. Absolutely excellent infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, roads for tourists, friendly locals. Recommend a visit there. :)
(no subject) - maadmike - Sep. 26th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
baron2012
Sep. 25th, 2016 10:50 am (UTC)
I have some friends from Canada and I think that canadians are much closer to europeans then american people. As we europeans they know a lot about world history,politics,literature. Their cousine also differs, it is more helthy.

Americans are more simple, i think even very simple people with very restricted knowlege about other places different from the state where the live.

But american women are more attractive, maybe because more of them have irish rootes. I think irish women are the most attractive.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 26th, 2016 02:44 pm (UTC)
I see no differences between Canadian and American cuisine. You can eat healthy, or shitty, in either country. The choice is yours. :)
(no subject) - baron2012 - Sep. 26th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
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