We were now in Banff, probably our favourite place last time and why we decided to come back and spend a few days here.
After a good sleep, we had to get up a bit earlier than normal as we’d booked an excursion to see some of the sights around Banff. Some we had done before, some not.
Annoyingly we were advised to get to the rear car park of a hotel for 8.15am but the coach was 30 mins late, so we could have done coffee somewhere first and been a lot warmer! We set off up and around Tunnel Mountain which is called, by native Americans, The Sleeping Buffalo because its profile looks like one asleep. First stop were the Hoodoo’s. A rock formation which I found a bit underwhelming given how good the view was beyond them
Next up we drove upto Lake Minnewanka via Two Jacks Lake, the latter we hadn’t seen before. Beautiful. Last time we took a cruise on Minnewanka. No time for that this time though sadly. Looked as good as ever though.
Back into Banff we went to the bottom of Bow Falls which we had walked to partially last time but not this far and then we finished in a beautiful garden at the end of the high street we had no idea was there.
Trip done, the pub beckoned so we found a rooftop bar but you could see the rain coming down the valley behind us. Eventually it caught us up and deluged the town hard for an hour and got rid of all the remaining smoke from the forest fires.
Day 3 in Banff and we finally got to see it at it’s crystal clear best after the rain so what best than to take another chair lift up a mountain. This time it was Mt Norquay which you can actually see from the high street.
To top of a great morning we got to see some wildlife too including a bear. Mountain Sheep were about as we climbed on the lift and a chipmunk made friends with us up top. Then just after we got off at the bottom I saw a bear ambling down the mountain but it was too far to take a pic. We spent the rest of the day chilling with a final walk across all the bridges around town and some people watching. We met a younger, British couple who had moved over four months earlier to a place called Airdrie, North Calgary and had never been to Canada before to check it out. Just packed up and came over blind. Mental. Turned out to be a good move for them though. We were sad to be leaving in the morning. We love it here 😦
The next morning we checked out, did the usual coffee run and then drove East towards Calgary but stopped off for lunch in Canmore where the skiing events were held for the 1988 Winter Olympics. A lot like Banff in some ways, but a bit lighter on tourists and a bit more spread out too. I did take some pics here but I lost them somehow. No idea why.
We also passed the Calgary ski jumping venue where Eddie the Eagle gained his fame. That’s actually on the outskirts of North-West Calgary itself. We’d left the mountains now and back in amongst the traffic circumnavigating Calgary with the city’s skyscrapers in the distance. It took a couple of hours to get to our friends in Okotoks late PM where Polly had a roast dinner ready for us. Nomalicious!
After a chilled evening, we awoke and Polly got us charged up for another day out with a breakfast fit for a champ then we drove West towards Kananaskis Country with a detour into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The weather was moody when we started then as we climbed, the clouds rolled in and heavy rain became sleet and snow as we topped the Highwood Pass but despite that we still got to see Mountain sheep, cows and a moose up close.
It was almost dark when we got back and wasn’t long before we were in bed. Our last night in Canada.
The next morning was bright sunshine. Our flight was in the afternoon so no rush. I popped into the local bike shop for a sniff and Sally and Polly popped to a coffee shop before I caught up with them. Ironically as I walked into the shop, an english guy met me and we had a good chat about the local cycling scene and the shop. Weirdly, he told me the cycling scene was really popular locally, yet I’d only seen a couple of cyclists ever. They had groups going out multiple days a week and the shop was busy with customers too. It didn’t add up but might be a symptom of the size of the country as he said customers drive in from quite a way out of town as they are their only bike shop. As with most things Canadian, the shop was BIG and stocked with North American brands like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale and Niner.
I joined Polly and Sally for a last coffee before we headed back and packed and left for the airport. It’s not a very big airport and the wait seemed to take ages but we got off on time. Onboard the captain said we’d land about 10 mins early but after we landed we were kept on the tarmac for ages because of plane leaving our gate late. Then there was a big queue at border control and then a long 15-20 min walk to baggage and more waiting there. Landing to exiting the airport took 2hrs FFS. Last thing we needed.
Jet lagged we were picked up and collected the car then drove home with a break for coffee on the way. Home, we tried to stay up as late as we could to get our body clocks back in sync but at 9pm we were both dead on our feet and went to bed. Holiday over.
I’ve had time to think about Canada since I got back now and I honestly love the place. If you’re an active person who loves the outdoors you will love Canada. Certainly this part of it. The country is massive though and I’d love to see more of the remote areas up North, perhaps by train but I’d always like to come back to Alberta. It’s a visual treat. Our friends are very lucky to live there.
Could I live there? Don’t know. I hear the Winter’s are harsh and long so whether I could adapt to that is an unknown for me but I’d like to try.
Canada is a bit expensive but getting there can be reasonably cheap compared to other long haul destinations. The only things I found cheaper than the UK were coffee and petrol lol. If you are interested in going, maybe I’ve wet your appetite? tap Sally up here via her website. She can put a package together to suit your budget because she’s an expert on Canada and this part now. Seen it and done it.
Hope you enjoyed the posts. Thanks for reading.