Grab a cuppa – or other beverage of choice – and get comfy. This entry is longer than most of the others because it was a BIG day, spent in the stunning Banff and surrounds. I would go back in a heartbeat. ❤️
2 October 2019
Hi Banff! I love you! 😍 Can I come back, pleeeeaaase?!
Banff, AB and surrounds
We started our day early – literally in the dark! – meeting at the bus for a drive up to the Banff Gondola! We were booked for brekky at the top of Sulphur Mountain… and it was perfectly timed so our gondola ride was during sunrise! 😍
The sky had hints of pink in spots – really beautiful – and the reflections off the surrounding mountains were just magic. 💗
Once we got to the top, Kerstin (a fellow tour member 👋) and I immediately headed upstairs and outside to check out that cracking view.
Holy. Crapola. This was a brand new level of cold I hadn’t experienced yet. 🥶 Even with multiple layers (seriously, a sleeveless tee, a long sleeved shirt, a flanno, beanie, scarf, fingerless gloves etc) AND a fleece-lined jacket with faux-fur lined hood (!) we had to go back inside after about five minutes. That wind factor made ALL the difference!
(Not that it was blowing a gale or anything, but it was blowing enough to be seriously icy on my face and my poor exposed fingers holding the camera! 😬)
Having said THAT, the views were absolutely magnificent… 360° of magnificent. It was so QUIET (wind notwithstanding) – that real absence of noise. And with only Kerstin and I upstairs at that point, you’d honestly think you were completely alone in the world. Incredibly peaceful and I’m dying to do it all again. 💙
Breakfast back inside was yummy (again with the a-ma-zing breakfast views!) but I demolished mine rather quickly so I could get outside and explore. (That’s a continuing theme through this trip!) There was a snow-covered mountainside with my name on it and who was I to refuse? 😁
1 October 2019
Being in the mountains is freezing – even when it’s not winter yet! – but oh man, did I fall in love with the Rockies. 😍 I would go back in a heartbeat if I could!
Revelstoke, BC to Banff, AB
I was sharing a room/suite with the awesome Maggie – a fellow Aussie, of course! 👋 – and we woke up to amazing views of sunrise hitting the mountaintops. 😍 What. A. View.
I didn’t want to miss the light so in only my PJs – not even any socks on my feet! – I grabbed the camera and traipsed out onto the balcony to take some photos. Of course, I only lasted a few minutes then I retreated back inside – I needed some feeling back in my toes. 😅 It was like 5°C outside or something!
Those beautiful views continued from the restaurant while we had breakfast! Seriously, Canada is THE place for breakfast and lunch views.
30 September 2019
My third full day in Canada started super early to meet the Discover Canada Tours group and tour bus at Canada Place. (Out of the 25+ people on the bus, over half a dozen were Australian. 😂) Our guides were Joe and Matt. The tour I chose was the 5 days Rockies Premium Tour and so glad I did. The tour hit all the major spots of the Canadian Rockies that I wanted to see/visit plus a few I wasn’t even aware of!
You’d never believe it but 12 hours on a bus? Actually a LOT more tiring than you’d think!
Vancouver, BC to Revelstoke, BC
I’m going to hit this with reasonably short and sharp bits because we did quite a few spots and saw a LOT heading up into the mountains. Plus the tour was (now) three months ago 😭 and my memory ain’t what it used to be! (Note to self: Please start writing place names down.)
Our first stop mid-morning-ish was Hope, BC which is famous for being a main shooting location for the original “Rambo”. Hope is also making a name for itself in wood carving, with an incredible amount of wood carvings/statues all over town! Something worth seeing – some of the craftsmanship is truly remarkable. Particularly as they do them with chainsaws, not a chisel and hammer or whatever! 😳
(Apologies for the blurriness in the wood carving photos – I was having trouble getting my camera to focus as the bus was going past)
We left Hope and hadn’t even hit the mountains when we had snow on the side of the road! Keeping in mind that this was the last day of September and technically still ‘summer driving’… 🤷♀️
My second full day in Canada I did a Landsea Tours day trip – the Peak & Canyon tour – to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain. I soon discovered that the difference in temperature between sea level and up a mountain can be significant! A beautiful but chilly day on the mountain. (‘Chilly’ may be underselling it – it was FREEZING! When those winds get up – brrrr!)
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Our first stop was Capilano Suspension Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. I can tell you with complete honesty that it felt like it too! Let’s just say that this stop is not for those with a fear of heights. Or swing bridges. With the amount of people on it, it had a tendency to feel like a bouncy castle masquerading as a bridge… 😅
Trip: 27 September – 13 October 2019
Where to even begin with my Canadian travels? I was there for 16 *insert appropriately glowing adjective here* days and it was absolutely not long enough. I fell in love with this amazing country. (Yeah, I’ve said that about all my overseas trips – not sure if I just love travel or if I’m THAT good at picking awesome countries to visit… 😜)
I left Brisbane on 27 September and, after a short layover in Auckland and a looong flight, arrived in Vancouver the same day. Timezones are CRAZY. It worked out to be about 22 hours travel, from the time I left Brisbane airport until the time I arrived in Vancouver. Thankfully, my jet lag was not as bad as expected, possibly because I could sleep comfortably on my AirNZ flight. Business class makes soooooo much difference! 🖤
Tip: If at all possible, try and keep your travel dates flexible. I lucked out big time and snagged business class fares ON SALE! The tickets were only a few hundred $$$ more than premium economy fares through other airlines. Um, no brainer! I know it’s not always possible to be flexible but if you can manage it, it can be worth it.
My trip consisted of:
- a few days in Vancouver to myself
- a 5-day tour with Discover Canada Tours (Vancouver to Rockies return, including Revelstoke, Banff + many other spots which made my photographer heart happy!)
- about a week back in Vancouver, post-tour
- two performances of the Rock the Rink tour, one in Abbotsford and one in Vancouver
- my first NHL game! (Vancouver Canucks vs LA Kings)
- day trips to Grouse Mountain, Victoria and Vancouver Island, and Whistler with Landsea Tours
- whale watching!
The trip was a LOT but so worth it. I don’t know when/if I’ll get back to Canada anytime soon so I was determined to try and do as much as I could in the time I was there (while keeping in mind that I was also solo travelling).