Canadian Rockies: Taking Off

Okay, prep time is finally over and we’re off on our Canadian Rockies adventure. Normally I’d be traveling alone if I were on assignment, but in this case I happily have my wife and granddaughter accompanying me so that I can write some travel articles from a family and, specifically, an intergenerational perspective.

I love travel, but I hate traveling. Travel has become such a hassle in the past decade. As if the airlines weren’t bad enough on their own, the security hassles alternate between ridiculous and absurd. Drag suitcases down the stairs, into the car, out of the car, onto the shuttle bus, off the shuttle bus, onto the ticket counter scale. Now, wait 30 minutes in line, take off the shoes and belt, empty pockets, take out laptop, shuffle through security.

“Hey, that’s a lot of camera equipment you have,” the TSA agent asks, suspiciously  (what, they’ve never seen cameras and lenses before?). Open the bag, remove the cameras and lenses, disassemble, show them to the officer, repack them, re-dress and you’re on your way. Have a pleasant flight!

For those of you who haven’t yet sampled Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport’s international terminal, well, consider keeping it that way. It’s tiny and the amenities, if that’s what they call them, are sparse. We arrived at 7:45 A.M. for a 9:30 flight. There are 3 commercial properties in the entire terminal: a duty-free shop that mainly peddles alcohol, a Hudson News magazine stand and Formaggio, essentially a bar with some tables. Fortunately, the bar also sells microwave egg and cheese sandwiches, choice of bagel, English muffin or croissant and your salt loading for the day.

Actually, the flight itself was pleasant. Air Canada has its act together and runs smoothly out of BWI. Its flight attendants are actually attendant. All in all, a very pleasant flight. I travel to Canada a lot and I always find friendlier skies over Canada.

BWI to Toronto, then on to Vancouver. I love Vancouver. Great city, great sites, terrific parks and ethnic restaurants up the wazoo, befitting the international city it is. I love seeing the Pacific and mountains in the same view. We stayed at the Sheraton Wall Centre, a perfect downtown location.

We ate dinner at Azia, a slightly upscale Asian restaurant jut off the corner of Burrard and Smithe. Open just four years. Great menu. High energy, accommodating wait staff. We started with 3 rejuvenating pots of green tea , followed by an appetizer of dim sum shrimp with spicy sauce. That was followed by two dishes that the three of us shared; General Tsao’s Shrimp and Seafood Curry Hot Pot. The shrimp was perfectly fried, crisp with a sauce that had just enough bite to let you know you had tasted something special. The hit pot had shrimp, scallops, green beans, and eggplant, all swimming in a curry sauce to die for. On the side we added coconut rice, steamed and wrapped in a banana leaf. Azia is now a new Vancouver favorite. The total tab was $51.00.

It’s an early night tonight. Tomorrow we get up early to be at the Rocky Mountaineer train by 7:00 A.M. for our trip to Jasper and Banff. Stay tuned!

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