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Calgary and Banff

September 26, 2016

During my blogging break, I thought a lot about why I wanted to write, and what I wanted to write about. I thought about how much I love looking back over my travels, my days and my life over the years. I thought about how friends ask for tips and advice on where to eat and what to do in various places across the world, and I can send them to my blog. I thought about how much I rely on blogs and vlogs for my travel research, trusting their recommendations. I look back on my own blog for the same advice. So really, I want to keep writing in this place. I want to find the time (seriously, broken record…) to keep sharing things, because I really do love it, and I hope you do too.

So – here it is, my first ‘proper’ blog in a while, and it documents our trip across Canada and the US, which we did in the first two weeks of September. We flew into Calgary, and essentially drove to Vancouver over a few days, stopping off at Banff, Golden, Kamloops and a couple of other places along the way. From Vancouver we got the bus to Seattle, and from Seattle we got the bus to Portland, then flew to LAX and then home. It was actually pretty tiring (I know, first world problems, right?) but it was an amazing trip. We originally planned this holiday around spending a few days in Vancouver as two of my best friends moved out there in April, and I’ve missed them terribly. The rest of the trip kind of fell into place.

We spent our time in a combination of Air BnB’s, hotels and motels, and at our friend’s flat. It’s the first trip we’ve really used Air BnB (aside from a week spent in Greece a few years ago, which was amazing, but organised through a friend’s account). This time it was a bit hit and miss – Calgary was incredible, Seattle was a bit gross, with an incredibly loud fridge.

Canada is a beautiful country. Breathtakingly beautiful, it makes you stop and take 100 photos of the same place, from various different angles. It leaves you silent and overwhelmed and excited all at the same time.

Calgary was our first stop, where we spent essentially a day-and-a-bit before driving to Banff. To be honest, we didn’t find much to do in Calgary – there was the Tower, the head sculpture, some amazing tacos, plenty of iced Sangria tea and iced vanilla lattes, some poutine, lots of walking and a few episodes of Stranger Things to make the most of our incredible condo.

Floor to ceiling windows, the best bedding upon a truly comfortable bed, the most stunning kitchen, beautiful bathroom, walk-in wardrobe (like Carrie’s in SATC!!) and Netflix. There was a supermarket around the corner that sold these vegan waffles that you toss in the toaster for a couple of minutes to heat through, which made for the perfect breakfast.

The view from our window. As stunning as the mountains were, there’s something beautiful about city lights. Maybe it’s just me.

The Wonderland Sculpture was really nice, I love interactive art that’s so accessible in a city.

It had to be done! Poutine. The weirdest food. Trout got the traditional option, whereas I got a nachos bowl which came with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños (I won!), as well as gravy and Daiya. If you’ve not had it, poutine is chips, gravy and cheese, and one of the things Canada is known for. Bonkers. We went to The Big Cheese Poutinerie.

Even though Canada is the home of Daiya, it was much harder to find than in the US. Thankfully we found a pizza place that did it, and their pizzas were pretty good – Famaso.

Amazing ice-cream in that amazing bed. The other good thing about Air BnB is that you’ve got a freezer, and you don’t have to eat the entire tub in one evening. Even though I pretty much did.

After a day or so in Calgary we left to drive to Banff. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

These photos are a combination of Lake Minnewanka, Johnson Canyon, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. They’re not edited, the view really is that breathtaking. The water, the snow, the mountains. Wow.

When we got to Kamloops it was late Sunday afternoon, and everything seemed to be closed as it was a day of holy rest. I did a quick search and found an ice hockey game that started an hour later, just round the corner. I was so happy to be seeing a game while we were in Canada! It was basically a non-league pre-season friendly, and it was mostly the players’ families there – but it was so much fun!

A sport that needs a ‘naughty’ box for players who have been too naughty. Referees who allow fights. This sport is bonkers. I love it!

So that was our time in Calgary, Banff and Kamloops. I’ve put together a separate blog post for the rest of our trip; Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, including the Kettle Valley Trail, which was incredible, and probably my favourite part of the trip. Have you done a similar road trip? Anything we should have done?

Sidenote – I’ve never really had jet lag before but oh my gosh, I had it so bad coming home this time! We flew budget (like, super budget) and I think the combination of an uncomfortable flight and getting two hours sleep on the way back, left me a confused mess. We’re talking 2am wake up calls and lying there for three hours willing myself to go back to sleep. It was really strange – I can sleep for England (last week I slept for 11 hours, for no reason at all), and I can usually sleep anywhere, at any time. Not this time.

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