Canada 2015

So I’m back from my Canadian Adventure and over the jet lag (mostly!) it’s time for my big post-Holiday, image heavy round up!

Banff - Cascade Mountain

So, this is the view that greeted me when I arrived at my sister’s apartment in Banff, Alberta.  That’s Cascade Mountain… I think! Pretty snazzy, huh? The building in front in the High School.  That’s their ice hockey pitch out front.  Uh huh.  All the Canadian stereotypes? Probably true!  And they are SO POLITE!

Central Banff

This is going to get pretty long but this place is STUNNING!

My first venture out doors was to walk the dog, my was that nippy!  I was actually sort of lucky on my trip, they had a very unusual 2 week warm spell so after that first night it wasn’t ever actually painfully cold outside, which suited me down to the ground!  I don’t like the cold!  (Totally typing this in jolly old England wearing thermals, god I love my thermals!)

Millie!

Millie was an excellent canine companion for my trip, without taking her hiking around town I probably wouldn’t have got out and about half as much as I did!  This is the Bow River Trail.  We walked across that frozen river, good job we didn’t try it later on as by the time I left that river had thawed!

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

On my second day in Banff it snowed ALL day, it was amazing!  Millie and I went for a good long hike up past the Fairmont Springs Hotel to the golf course.  I’m sure it’s a lovely golf course but it was just a beautifully silent snowfield when I visited!

Snowy Banff Golf Course

The frozen Bow Falls looked amazing, I stood for ages just watching the water!

Bow River Falls, Banff

Then it was up to Sunshine Village to hit the slopes!  Although the first day was terrible with fresh powder up top but no visibility and sandy snow down where you could see! I spent the first day convinced I was going to ski off the edge of a mountain!

Skiing Selfie!

I’m just going to go ahead and get all of these skiing selfies out of the way, hey, it’s my blog!

Skiing Selfie!

It did brighten up a lot on the second and third days.  The fourth day I went up to the Lake Louise ski resort for a change of pace.  The snow was quite icy up there as its much lower altitude so they have to make more snow themselves but the runs were super long!  Always nice to get a good long ski in but my goodness were my quads killing me by the time I got to the bottom!  I liked the slower run through the trees there too.  I was a rather conservative skiier this holiday.  Didn’t do anything too challenging or scary (other than an inadvertent 2′ jump off a ski lift, but I stuck the landing, that’s the important part! Ski lifts were my nemesis the first three days!) I was just there to enjoy myself and have fun playing in the snow, no need to risk going home with anything broken!

Skiing Selfie!

Sunshine Village was better for the variety of shorter beginner runs. There are some nice longer options too so it’s good to be able to mix it up.  Also, skiing on the three mountains (Goat’s Eye, Lookout and Standish) meant that you had a lot of options when the weather wouldn’t cooperate.  If you couldn’t see at the top of Standish you could usually just look around and see that Goat’s Eye was clear. You definitely need low light goggles to ski here though!

Skiing Selfie!

I wish I had spent more time on Goat’s Eye because it was such a good long run!  For my very last run I skied down the whole mountain from the very top to the car park at the very bottom (another nice feature of Sunshine, it’s always nice to be able to end the day with a good Ski Out!) in one go, no stopping, no pausing, singing the Ski Sunday tune as I went… my sister was right, I swear that tune makes you a better skier!

Sunshine Village

The visibility on my last day left a lot to be desired…

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But for my very final skiing adventure I headed to Mt Norquay to do 2 very quick runs on their floodlit slopes right before returning my skis! So I managed all 3 resorts (technically!) and did night skiing for the first time too!

Night Skiing Selfie!

There’s so much more to do in Banff than just the skiing. It is simply a beautiful area!

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka was absolutely stunning!  We went up there at the end of one day and the light and the ice and just the whole atmosphere was breathtaking!

Lake MinnewankaIMG_9237

The ice was so thick and in these huge sheets.  Just mind boggling!

Lake Minnewanka

I got a whole thing about walking on Frozen water this trip!

Lake Minnewanka

Apparently, if you walk out further into the middle you can see frozen bubbles of methane that form in the ice.  I wasn’t quite brave enough for that though!

Lake Minnewanka

I took a 2 day break in the middle of my skiing to do other things.  We went hiking up Johnston Canyon, which was suitably impressive!

Johnston Canyon

It starts off relatively easy but as you climb it gets steeper and slippier so you definitely need your ice grips for this hike!

Johnston Canyon

The upper falls are amazing and we got to watch these nutters ice climbing when we finally made it!

Johnston Canyon

The lower falls are accessed through this little tunnel in the rock and then you’re greeted by this roaring plunge pool!

Banff Upper Hot Springs

After all of that hiking we needed the soothing waters of the Banff Upper Hot Springs.  Kinda grubby facilities if I’m honest but the water was so lovely! Just brilliant to sit in the pool with the open sky above you and a view of the mountains as the sun set!

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The next day I went snow shoeing!

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This trip was with Discover Banff Adventures and the lovely Anick was our guide.

Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon is in British Columbia and to get there I got to tick something off my bucket list I didn’t even know was on it: I crossed the continental divide! Not much to look at but this is the point at which the water on one side goes into the Atlantic and the water on the other side goes into the Pacific.  I thought this was really cool but I’m a big geek! The forest looks kinda naked because it all burnt down about 10 years ago.  That seems to happen a lot in Canada!

Marble Canyon

It looks so innocent, just a nice gentle valley… then you get to the edge! I did not look down that much as I’m terrible with heights!

Marble Canyon

It’s amazing what a bit of water and a lot of time can do, right?

Marble Canyon

We also got to drink Hot Chocolate and eat Maple Taffy prepared in the snow!

Marble Canyon

Snow shoeing was so much fun though, I’m so glad I did it!  The snow was really deep if you went off the trails, I totally fell over and got stuck and basically had to swim my way out!

Tunnel Mountain

For my final day my sister took me to hike Tunnel Mountain.  I can now say that I have hiked an actual mountian! (It’s not too tall from the base up but in altitude it counts!)

Tunnel Mountain

It was a beautiful day and the views were amazing!

Tunnel Mountain

That’s me at the peak of a mountain! Yay!

Tunnel Mountain

And on the way back down we came across an elk!

Tunnel Mountain

Yup, really, that’s an elk! We got much closer to it before we spotted it and back tracked… which is when I then stopped to take selfies! We had the dog with us and they are much more prone to charge downhill (coz it’s easier) so we didn’t want to chance it.

Tunnel Mountain

So, let’s talk about the food!

Poutine

Poutine was on the top of my list of foods to try.  It’s chips, cheese and gravy.  What’s not to love about that?

Beaver Tails

Beavertails were next, again, fried dough with all kinds of amazing sticky substances on top… YUM! (I am still sad that I did not have time to work my way through the whole list of toppings while I was there but these guys pack a lot of sugar, you’ve gotta pace yourself!)

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On the mountains the food was very American! (My previosu ski trips have been in Italy where the food was all very Italian, go figure!) Philly Cheesesteak was my favourite!

Pancakes at Touloulous

A little gem on Banffs food scene is Touloulou’s.  A Louisiana style restaurant.  Because of course!

Breakfast at Touloulou's!

Brunch was a thing that happened!

Beer tasting!

I also took some time to delve into the local brewing scene.  I loved these beer tasting trays, which allowed me to try all kinds of different beers and see what I liked.  I’ve never been able to just play about with beer before.  These were 3 hits and 3 misses! I don’t like stout! I tried the local cocktail of choice, the Ceasar… Canadians are so weird! It’s kinda like a Bloody Mary but with Clam broth or something in it… I was not a fan!

Tim Hortons!

And literally my final foodie venture while in Canada, Tim Hortons! A national institution, I recommend the Canadian Maple donuts because why wouldn’t you???

And so that’s it!  My lovely little trip to Canada!  I can’t say I would ever have taken the opportunity to visit if it hadn’t been for my sister living there and I think I would have missed out.  It was an amazing trip with some great skiing and some absolutely staggeringly beautiful scenery.  I can see why my sister doesn’t really want to come home!

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