Alberta – Canada – Why you MUST Go!
Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise.
Being someone who has forever been in love with traveling, I couldn’t wait to kick-off my highly-anticipated trip to Lake Louise and Banff in Alberta, Canada. The place which the great Robin Williams once famously described as “the nicest country in the world”. After all, it had been on my must-visit list for years and the thought of spending a whole week there was both delightful and unshakeable.
After waiting for what seemed like ages, the day I was to begin my journey finally arrived. I boarded the airplane, settled into my seat and promised myself to make the most of the next few days – and boy, did I keep that promise! With years of anticipation at play, my expectations from Canada were understandably quite high. But if there’s one thing that I learned over the course of the next few days, it is that Canada doesn’t disappoint.
While the whole trip was one big unforgettable event of my life, there are some stories that deserve to be told, some experiences that I’ve been meaning to share with you since I returned.
Day 1: Calgary
It was a beautiful afternoon at the Calgary Airport when our plane landed. Sunny and windy in equal measures, the day was perfect for me to begin my Canadian holiday. Much like most of my escapades, I was travelling solo and made friends with fellow tourists and natives as I went. The tourists were then taken straight to the magnificent Lake Louise Hotel where I spent the rest of my day wandering, admiring the spectacular view from my room and making plans for the next day. Having been through a long day flying above various oceans and reaching Canada, I had an early dinner and hit the sack around 9:00 PM.
Day 2: Lake Louise
When I woke up in the morning, there were none but two things on my mind: 1) The horseback ride scheduled at 9:00 AM and 2) Where can I find the most delicious Canadian breakfast?
Finished what was the most glorious breakfast of my life – eggs, seasoned potato wedges, sausages, buttered pancakes and black coffee – I took a cab to the place where the horseback ride was supposed to start. The start-up point wasn’t too far from the hotel and it took us no more than 10 minutes to reach there.
The horseback ride was an experience like no other. And the horse that was to carry me on this adventure was called Wilbur, the brown-haired stallion. For the next three hours, as Wilbur and the other horses walked steadily in the tranquil lap of nature, I couldn’t help but marvel at the striking beauty of the rivers, the valleys and the wonderful alpine pastures surrounding us. On my way back to the hotel, I just sat in silence, certain that the last few hours will be forever etched in my memory.
The rest of my day was spent swimming, sketching and interacting with other guests at the hotel. Since we had to check-out of the hotel in the morning, I packed my stuff shortly after dawn. My stay at the majestic Lake Louise had come nearly to an end.
Day 3: Lake Louise – Golden – Banff
Started my day as usual, with a warm shower and a delightful breakfast. My ride for the next 10 hours was waiting for me in front of the hotel at 9:00 AM. Immediately after I checked out, we were on our way to Golden, a beautiful town surrounded by three different mountain ranges.
Upon my arrival, I was given the keys to a four-wheeler ATV and a helmet so that I could check out the town and the rocky areas surrounding it. The next two hours were probably the most fun I had on the whole trip! While exploring the rocky terrains alongside the sublime Columbia river, I came across two young boys who happened to be fishing. Within ten minutes, these bright kids not only taught me how to cast a fishing rod, but also four different ways to bait a fishing hook with an earthworm! Haha!
Took a quick shower and an even quicker lunch, me and my ride were back on the road again. The destination was Banff, a resort town in Alberta. Fueled with excitement and surrounded by awe-inspiring magnificence of nature, I would go on to spend a surreal day at Banff. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.
More of Alberta
When I last shared my experiences from my visit to Canada with you all, I was on my way to Banff, a serene resort town located less than a hundred kilometers from Golden. I spent the two-hour journey reading about Banff and witnessing the marvelous scenery spread far and wide. The last three days had been no short of magical and I was eagerly looking forward to the remainder of my holiday.
It was almost dark when I checked into the hotel. But even at that hour, the view from my room window was quite impressive. Besides, I was liking the quiet and the cold winds were lovely. So, I decided to spend the evening in the balcony, sipping on a glass of scotch and thinking about the experiences the next day was going to bring.
Day 4: More of Banff
Yes I vividly remember the moment when I got out of my bed in the morning and threw back the curtains. Just as I looked outside, my breath escaped me. The gusts of cold winds touched my face as I stood there, gaping at the spectacular sight before me. I had read about the beauty of this town, even saw some pictures, but to see it while I was physically there was, well, something else.
We were informed that a bus will be waiting for us outside the hotel at 7:30 AM. For breakfast, I kept it light – a buttered toast and a cup of coffee. The bus drove us for three hours via the Icefields Parkway, the most scenic mountain roadway I have seen, in person or otherwise. The lakes and the waterfalls (Oh! The waterfalls) were too picturesque to be missed.
And then we arrived at the Columbia Icefields Discovery Center at 11:00 AM, only to take the Ice Explorer Ride to our second stop of the day – the imposing Athabasca Glacier which was covered in snow for as far as I could see. Next was the Glacier Skywalk over the magnificent Sunwapta Valley followed by a trip to the Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake and Bow Lake.
Once back at the hotel in Banff, I was excited about spending another solitary evening in the balcony. I retreated back to my room and slept till dinner-time.
Day 5: Banff – Canmore
Shortly after breakfast, I hired a rental bike to explore Banff Avenue, the place where this small town comes to life! Its two-sided street with colorful buildings on both sides and surrounding mountains are a treat to the eye. I decided to spend my morning there and came back to the hotel before lunch-time.
Checked out of the hotel at 2:30 PM and boarded my pre-booked taxi to Via Ferrata. I had heard some great things about the assisted mountain-climbing there and couldn’t wait give it a go. Once there, I was made to wear a harness to keep me connected to the rock at all times. For the next two and a half hours, I was led by a highly experienced guide through rocky cliffs above Mt. Norquay. The exercise also included climbing ladders and crossing suspension bridges amidst the grandeur of the mountains around us. The climbing experience was unreal and I wished I could do it again, but my next destination was waiting for me.
And I slept like a baby on my way to Canmore, a beautiful town cozily nestled under the shadows of rocky mountains and my host for the night.
Day 6: Canmore
I woke up fully aware that my Canadian holiday had almost reached its conclusion and that I had to make the most of my last day in the country. So, I started with a colossal breakfast which comprised of eggs, toast, chicken sausages, baked beans and a black coffee. Oh, and a doughnut too!
At 9:00 PM, I took a cab to the point where the Three Sisters Peaks Helicopter Tour was to start. You heard that right – a freaking helicopter tour to take me past the Three Sisters Peaks! The 12 minutes I was on the helicopter were easily the most heart-thumping time of my life. We flew through the stunning Spray Valley, surrounded by the stupendous Goat Range. Canada had truly saved the best for the last! On our way back, we could see a gorgeous river, which I later got to know was the famous Bow River.
Exploring the Canmore Caves
My next adventure was to explore the underground in a dream-like cave on the Grotto Mountain. Before we followed our guide into the cave, all the visitors were given a cave suit and a helmet with a light on top of it. As we made our way through the large chambers, we could see mineral formations and animal bones in abundance. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more hypnotic than this, we came across a pool of crystal clear water! The expedition, which went on for almost 5 hours, was one of the most heartfelt experiences of my life.
Later I returned to the hotel at 6:30 PM but wandered the surroundings and interacted with other tourists for another couple of hours before going back to my room. I wasn’t kidding when I vowed to make the most of this day.
Day 7: Calgary
It was an afternoon much like the one I landed in Canada six days ago. But as I boarded my flight, I took a deep breath so as to keep this amazing country with me for as long as I could. I had waited years for this week to come and now that it had passed, I couldn’t help but feel bittersweet about my departure. One might think that now that I have been to Canada, I’ll strike it off my must-visit list. But the truth is that you, dear Canada, will always be on my list. Thank you for the greatest week of my life!
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