Still Day 1 Tuesday (25th December 2012)
We shuffled around Calgary airport, enjoyed some photo ops with dinosaurs, dropped a few dollars at the coffee shop, indulged in some homemade vacuum packed pemmican and waited patiently at carousel number three, hoping for our luggage to arrive. And so it was, our bags were the first ones out. Happy with the outcome we continued to Avis rent a “Cool Ride”.
Watch out for liars!
After extensive comparisons online, Avis turned out to be the most economical car rental choice with unlimited mileage. $260 dollars a week sounded pretty good to us.
Unfortunately the Avis representative in Calgary turned out to be a liar and almost spoiled the experience. He told us that due to shortage of economy cars we would have to take a Fiat 500, a very small car that may not fit our luggage.
He therefore strongly advised us to upgrade to a larger vehicle, unfortunately however he would not be able to honor the rental pricing as pre-booked over two months ago or the complimentary discount coupon that gave us the favorable rate.
Mysterious appearance of a Kia
Andi and I looked at each other in an agreement and despite the man’s disbelief we insisted to take this tiny not-able-to-haul-our-luggage Fiat 500. Without further discussion he finished the rental agreement as pre-booked and handed us the keys to a Kia four door hatchback that mysteriously became available.
Going to claim our car in the parking lot, we didn’t even see a single Fiat available for rental. Andi was actually looking forward to driving this nostalgic re-invention of European car history. Too bad, the Fiat story turned only to be a sales tactic aimed to extract more dollars out of our pockets.
Some people have a gift for lying, and won’t even remotely feel at odds with themselves. That truly is shameful. Greed is pathetic. It diminishes humanity and causes antagonism among people. Great customer service, Avis!
The salesman was bad, but the car wasn’t
The rental car was modern. Satellite radio, steering wheel controls for almost everything, voice commands, USB plug-ins, and heat your tush seating were new to us. Our 10-year old Subaru Forrester and a base model Hyundai Accent have not much besides great road trip memories.
We packed the bags in the trunk and Andi mounted the Drift HD action camera to the front windshield. The Drift was a last minute $259 decision just before the trip. Was it worth it? We were about to find out.
Do you want the pill?
Our hotel was in Canmore, about 120km west of Calgary. We sat in the rental Kia ready of our journey and Andi asked: “Do you want the pill (Andi’s nickname for our Android “tablet’)?”. “No” I replied while looking at him as if this question was completely inappropriate. After all who cares about checking e-mails when we are about to drive into the unknown.
I pulled out a crumpled map from my carry-on, trying to orientate myself. Providing driving directions was my responsibility and I took it seriously. “Give me a second”, I said frustrated with my papers. “I need to find where we are”, Andi looked at me perplexed. “Don’t you want to use the GPS?” he prompted.
I looked up. Didn’t I feel foolish now? Of course! Paper maps are sooooo yesterday. Our Android tablet or “Pill” has a most excellent GPS navigation built in.
Sometimes useless things are revolutionary milestones
We drove off onto a highway. It was still daylight. There weren’t too many clouds in the sky. It was one of those cold and crisp winter days. We impatiently pressed the “on” button on the Drift. The light turned red, apparently recording our first driving flat highway movie. It was a useless clip, but never the less important for us as it marked our entry into a high tech travel revolution.
It would be another hour and something before reaching the Ramada Inn in Canmore. The ride wasn’t bad. The G3 service worked very well on our tablet. No signal disruption and we arrived at the hotel safely without getting lost and still enjoying daylight.
It’s Christmas day, remember?
We dumped our bags in a cozy third floor room numbered 386 and tucked in the west wing of the hotel. The plan was to enjoy dinner and a warming drink at the “Drake Pub”. We decided to walk as it was only one and half km and also proved the perfect opportunity to try out our snowmobile suits. Dry fit under garments in long sleeve merino wool blend, and a fleece jacket underneath should be enough for -30C at night. So we went.
Knock, knock… oops! We quickly realized not a single restaurant was opened for business on Christmas Day. Shoot! That’s what you get when you buy seriously discounted flight tickets on-line. They were discounted because nobody wanted to starve upon arrival. We quickly learned that there is something for something. Making a loop back to the hotel the only two welcoming restaurants were Thai and Korean cuisine. However we are not into rice or noodles and we went back to the hotel, somewhat disappointed, yet optimistic as we were fully prepared.
So here is our Christmas dinner
Andi whipped out our portable stoves, pots and utensils. The bathroom was not ideal, but suitable for emergency cooking. All we needed was an electrical outlet and a water source. The rest we had. That night we had to settle for a simple meal as grocery stores were closed as well. Vacuum packed bacon and organic eggs that made the plane ride with us seemed more like military rations but would have to do as our Christmas dinner that night. The gingerbread leftovers tasted unusually delicious that evening.
… to be continued
Click here to start reading from the beginning (Part 1)
Click here to continue to Part 6