I took my first Canadian adventure outside of British Columbia around 3 weeks ago and visited a friend in Banff.
I flew into Calgary airport from Vancouver with good ole West Jet (this was the first time I had flown with them). The journey took around an hour and a half and it was great seeing the amazing views of the mountains from the air.
Arriving at Calgary Airport, the city looked much smaller and flatter then Vancouver but no where near as many residential high rises. My friend picked me up from the airport and we drove to Banff National Park. By this point it was very late in the evening so on arrival in Banff, it was time for bed.
The next day looked sunny and warm. My friend had to go to work but he left me the keys to the car so I could get out and about. I decided to check out Banff town in the morning.
I thought the town would be like Whistler and in some ways it was: touristy, surrounded by mountains etc but it appeared to be much bigger. After chowing down some breakfast, I got into the car and went over to Sulphur Mountain.
Sulphur Mountain is where the gondola is but I decided to hike up the mountain. After around 15 minutes I wanted to give up but after sticking on some tunes and having an occasional rest, I reached the top!!! Success!! (It took an hour and forty-five minutes). It was worth it as the views were amazing on the way up.
And some even better views at the top of the mountain.
At the top of Sulphur, there is an extra walk across some boardwalks but I decided it was too much – maybe next time.
After a quick drink and some photo opportunities, it was time to hike back down (which took an hour as it was easier) and check.out the Banff Hot Springs (right by Sulphur). The hot springs is an outdoor pool with thero water (around 38 degrees in temperature). My feet were pretty battered from the hike so it was nice to just soak them for a bit.
On return to Banff, I met up with my friend and we went out for some food and drinks for the evening, checking out a burger place and then an Irish pub.
The next day I headed to Lake Louise. The drive along the highway was amazing and it only took 45 minutes to get the lake. It was very busy and there were many people snapping photos. I got my pics and then took a walk around the lake. I spent quite a bit of time sitting by the edge just staring out as I was amazed by scenery. In winter, the lake freezes over and you can go skating on it – I will be heading back in the winter!
During the drive back, I spotted a bear in the woods. It was still quite far away but you can just about tell what it is.
On return, my friend and I went to a few local beauty spots including Lake Minnewanka (pronounced ‘wonker’ and not ‘wanker’ haha). This is a man made lake just outside of the town. As lovely as it was, it still did not compete with Lake Louise.
My last night in Banff meant it was takeaway and beer before leaving early the next day to catch a greyhound to Calgary. I said goodbye to my friend and told him he needed to visit Vancouver and the West Coast soon.
The Greyhound from Banff only took an hour and a half and arrived in at the terminal just outside the city centre. I took the public transit into the city where it is free transit for eight blocks.
I had a look at the Calgary Tower (didn’t go up it though as I had my luggage with me). I then headed to tourist information to get some maps and see what I wanted to see in my one day there. I decided to go and see the Devonian Gardens in the downtown mall – a botanical garden within a food court.
After this I travelled over to Stampede Park, where the city hosts the annual Calgary Stampede. This event happens in July and already there were workman getting ready for the event. I got to see the famous Saddledome.
Sadly it is doubtful I will be able to attend The Stampede this year but it is on my to do list – hopefully next year 🙂
By the late afternoon it was getting nearer to my flight back to Vancouver so I took the express bus to the airport.
I was sad to leave Banff and The Rockies but I will definately be heading back again. I would also love the chance to explore other areas of Calgary and attend The Stampede.
Ozzy also joined me on the trip so here are some pictures of him in Banff and Calgary 🙂