Last week, Wil and I took our kids on a family vacation to Lake Louise, which is north of Calgary in Alberta. Wil had been there a couple of times as a teenager, but this would be the first time for the rest of us. I have traveled quite a bit, several times out of the country. But I learned a few things while being a visitor in Canada that I am STILL laughing at, because laughing at myself long after an event has happened is my secret power. Think of this as unsolicited travel tips so that one day when you visit this place, you can avoid these horrors.
When arriving in Canada and going through customs, it’s important to speak clearly to the customs agent about how you plan to get from the Calgary airport up to Lake Louise. When I said “rental car,” the agent got wide-eyed and practically yelled “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” so I repeated myself by saying “rental car” again because apparently I mumbled the first time and the agent, as well as my entire family, thought I said “rectal cock.”
Canadians speak French and English. Highway signs will post in both languages, but other places show only an English version or only a French version. Learn how to pronounce these French words, even if you don’t speak French. Calling the hotel to make dining reservations will be a lot less awkward when you know how to pronounce “Brasserie,” which is a French restaurant, instead of saying ‘Brassiere” which is an undergarment for women.
It’s great that you’re prepared and have actually brought Canadian money with you. For the most part, it’s called “dollars” just like in America. So when the bellman brings your bags to your room, there’s no need to announce “I have Canadollars!” before tipping him. Also, when you grab a snack and a cocktail in the restaurant lounge later that day and the waitress asks if you’d like to charge the bill to your room, you don’t need to respond with “I brought Canadough, so I’ll pay with that.” It’s just dollars.
When deciding to go skiing with the family at the nearby ski resort, it’s best to remember before getting on the chairlift that you haven’t gone skiing in 8 years, and may need a refresher on a run that isn’t very steep. That way, you don’t go up to the top of the mountain with your children to a run that feels WAY out of your comfort zone, and then spend the next 45 minutes going down the hill in an awkward, squatting snowplow hunched over stance of total embarrassment in an attempt to make it to the bottom alive and with all of your limbs intact. And when that ski instructor bringing a group of 6 down the hill stops and looks at you oddly, don’t smile and wave as you continue to “ski.” You’re only making it worse. (Fortunately, I only did one run like that, and it all came back to me. The rest of the day, and the other two days of skiing were much smoother than that first run.)
So now that I’ve given you some travel tips, I highly recommend a visit to Lake Louise. It’s an incredibly beautiful place in winter, and from pictures I saw in the hotel, it’s a different kind of beautiful in summer. The lake is frozen solid in winter, so we went ice skating on it, and walked out and stood in the center of it. The view from our hotel room never got old, and I miss it already.