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Canada, Photography, Travel

The least fun I have ever had kayaking | Maligne Lake, Alberta

January 19, 2017

Kayaking at Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake boat house

Ok, so this was only the second time I had been kayaking. But, it was significantly less fun than the first time and unless I ever capsize, I think kayaking in heavy wind on Maligne Lake will always be my worst kayaking experience ever.

Before we went to Canada, Daz and I spent a lot of time researching and considering where we wanted to go kayaking in Canada. We settled upon Maligne Lake because it looked incredibly beautiful and we thought it wouldn’t be crowded, because it’s such a large lake.

Maligne Lake

Kayaking on Maligne Lake, Alberta

Granted, Maligne Lake and it’s surroundings are beautiful. It really is. It was the weather that was the problem.

Before we went out, the guy in kayak rentals warned us it might be a bit windy. We’d walked hiked a trail near the lake earlier on and it didn’t seem that bad at all, so like absolute morons we thought “eh, can’t be that bad” and happily got in our kayak.

Happy faces did not last that long. Well, not on my part anyway, as we rapidly discovered that yep, it was pretty windy indeed.

Kayaking on Maligne Lake

Maligne lake from a kayak

We were kayaking against the wind, so trying to go in a straight line was pretty hard and tiring. We would point the kayak in the direction we wanted to go and the wind and waves would just spin us around.

It turns out that I do not handle trying to kayak in a straight line in heavy wind very well and had a small freak out. I was convinced that we were going to capsize, drown and die. Though, I would argue that’s a reasonable fear to have given it was my second time kayaking and I’m not a great swimmer. And like a kid that’s more concerned about their bike when they fall off it, I didn’t want my cameras to get wet!

Maligne Lake in a kayak

Daz managed to calm me down and we did manage to explore a bit more of the lake, and saw other people in boats and kayaks struggling to end up where they wanted to go.  After about an hour of this, we were done for because the wind picked up even more when the lake widened so we couldn’t make any progress and it kept turning us back around. We decided to listen to the wind and headed back. 

Kayaking on Maligne Lake

Much to our annoyance, it took us 10 minutes to get back to the boat house in comparison to an hour it had taken us kayaking against the wind.

Bear at the side of the road in Jasper

A bear at the side of the road in Jasper

As if the universe knew it had some making up to do, we saw a little bear at the side of the road on our drive back to Jasper. There is a happy kayaking story from Canada though, which I will post about soon.

If you’re thinking about kayaking at Maligne Lake, I say go for it; unless it’s windy. If it’s windy, get back in your car and drive away before your brain tells you “it can’t be that bad,” and come back on a calmer day.

Have you ever been kayaking? (If you’re thinking about it, don’t do it in heavy wind.)

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Canada, Photography, Travel

I hiked up a mountain for a brownie | Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail

January 5, 2017

Lake Agnes

It has been said that I will do anything for tasty, sweet treats, including walking up a mountain for it; and that is exactly what happened when we hiked up to the Lake Agnes teahouse.

The teahouse was listed as one of the best things to do in Banff National Park in our Lonely Planet guidebook (I think it was around 3rd or 4th?), and as soon as I heard that there was cake waiting for me at the top of a mountain, I was up for it. The book made it sound pretty easy, but anything which involves uphill is never easy.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise from the Lake Agnes teahouse trail

The trail starts out next to Lake Louise, and climbs up through the forest, with switchbacks and the occasional sneaky peak through the trees down to Lake Louise.

Mirror Lake

After about 30 minutes of walking, you come to Mirror Lake; a nice, peaceful little lake, that you’re so thankful for seeing because it gives you a good excuse to stop and catch your breath.

Waterfall on the way to Lake Agnes

The trail continues for about another 15-20 minutes past Mirror Lake, but it’s hard work because the path turns quite rocky and you have to avoid horse poop. And then, when you think your legs are completely done for, you’re met by stairs. I’m fairly certain we dragged ourselves up those stairs on upper body strength (which I’m not exactly known for having), not leg strength.

But when you reach the top, you realise it was completely worth it.

Lake Agnes

The Lake Agnes teahouse

View to Lake Louise from Lake Agnes

View from Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes itself is beautiful, and it’s nice to perch yourself on one of the cool rocks, catch your breath, cool down, and take it all in. But don’t forget to turn around and look down through the trees, where you can see your starting point.

Following the calm of the lake, prepare for a bit of chaos in the teahouse. The problem is that there are too many visitors for the teahouse; there just simply isn’t enough room. It’s a case of jumping on the first table you see.

A snack is definitely needed before you head back down the trail, and the teahouse has a pretty good selection of cakes and other snacky things. Let me tell you that mountain brownies, cookies, and hot chocolate were exactly what our bodies needed. (Well, probably not. I’m sure a banana would have been healthier.) If you don’t fancy the business of the cafe, you can always take your own snack and flask and enjoy it by the side of the lake.

The prices were alright considering you’re on the side of a mountain and I imagine it’s a pain to get supplies up there. (Interesting fact; I asked the waitress how they got up there each day, and apparently they live up there all summer. Nice, huh?)

Don’t fill up on too much tea and coffee though because there aren’t any toilets, and the closest ones we found were right back at the bottom at Lake Louise.

When you come to head back down, you can either go back the way you came, or there’s another route which I highly recommend because you get this view.

This trail meets back up with the other trail at Mirror Lake, and it’s not any slower or faster, but that view.

If you fancy a bit more of an adventure, you can carry on to The Beehives. While we were driving to Lake Louise, we naively said”we could do the Beehives too if we feel up to it,” HA! Optimistic Daz and Rosie were very wrong; there was no way we were feeling up to it. That said, we have decided to somehow become marginally fitter and do the Beehives next summer if we can.

What lengths have you gone to for cake?

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Canada, Photography, Travel

Why you should visit Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

January 3, 2017

Why you should visit Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park was the first stop on our Canadian adventure and we were absolutely in awe of it. If you ever go to Alberta or British Columbia, Emerald Lake needs to be on your to visit list.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

You already want to
Photos of Emerald Lake must pop up on my Facebook feed at least once a week because friends have liked or tagged me in it when they’ve seen it on another page. I’m willing to bet that in the past few weeks, you’ve seen a photo of this lodge surrounded by snow, looking like a dreamy winter wonderland.

Reflections on Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

The reflections
On a still day, this beautiful lake reflects the surrounding trees and mountains like a teal-tinted mirror.

 

The trail around Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

The trail

A trail allows you to walk all the way around the lake, and it splits off to other trails if you fancy being more adventurous. The trail is pretty flat so it’s easy for all the family, and you definitely don’t need to be superfit. The only thing you might want to do is consider wearing wellies because the last part was fairly muddy; we wore walking boots and were fine, but if it’s rained heavily recently, wellies might be a safer bet just in case.

It probably took us about two hours to walk the trail, though I’m sure you could walk if faster, but I don’t think you’d want to rush this place.

 

Canoes on Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

You can canoe here

I’m convinced that there is no better way to explore a lake than by canoe; and luckily for you, there is canoe rental at the end of the lake. We didn’t actually canoe on Emerald Lake, but it’s on my list of things to do when we go back in the summer.

 

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

The water seems to change colour
Depending on where you’re stood, or the angle of the sun, the colour of the lake seems to change colour.

 

The mountains around Emerald Lake

Mountains around Emerald Lake

The mountains

When you think about Canada, one of the first things you might think about is the Rockies. Emerald Lake is the perfect place spend some time in awe of the mountains. That said, you honestly don’t have to look vaguely hard to find mountains when you visit this part of the world.

 

The forest trail at Emerald Lake

The forest
On one side of the lake, the trail through the edge of the forest.

 

Emerald Lake Lodge

You can stay here

If you want to stay surrounded by Emerald Lake, you can stay in Emerald Lake Lodge.

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Life, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

The stories behind my 2016 Instagram Top 9

December 29, 2016

Hallo from beautiful, snowy Reykjavik. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to even think about blogging, but that’s what happens in your third year at university! It’s ironic that I have to go on holiday to find time to blog. 

Anywho, I’ve seen a lot of Instagram Top 9s floating about recently, and thought it would be fun to take a look back at what’s happened this year. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


1. Moraine Lake, Canada

Moraine Lake is mine and Daz’s “mind palace”. It’s one of the few places I’ve been that leaves you feeling a little breathless and in complete awe that you’re stood where you are and are seeing what you’re seeing. The colour of the lake is exactly as it is in this photo (Canada has little need for photoshop, by the way) and with the mountains towering over the lake, it’s just so perfect. If you’re ever in British Columbia or Alberta, do not miss Moraine Lake. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


2. Fantastic baths and where to find them 

This was taken really recently, when I broke up for Christmas. As well as a serious lack of blogging, there has been a severe lack of reading books that aren’t text books this year. There’s not much I can do about that, but relaxing in a bath, having a quick read is a nice way to unwind for a moment or two. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


3. Just some book porn

Fellow bookworms will appreciate the feeling of accomplishmen of rearranging a bookshelf. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


4. Autumn mornings

I remember this so clearly. I’d gotten up early to meet my project supervisor and I was in time, until a friend messaged and told me the meeting time had changed. Initially, I was annoyed at getting up an hour earlier than needs be, but then I realised it would give me chance to amble around the park and enjoy autumn. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


5. Why early mornings are worth it

It was our final morning in Canada, and Diaz got me up at 7am to show me how beautiful Two Jack Lake looked with the reflection of the mountains and the clear sky. I am so glad he was up early to see this because this is one of my favourite memories of that trip. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


6. Emerald Lake is better in person than on Facebook

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park is one of those places that frequently pops up on Facebook travel pages. Just before we went, my sister tagged me in one of those posts and I am so glad she did. We visited the lake on our first morning and it really set the tone of the trip for us. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


7. San Francisco sunsets

I took this photo the first night I stayed in San Francisco and I doubt that I’ve ever seen a sunset like it. The colours were so vivid and the way you can just about see the end of the Golden Gate Bridge in the back of the photo makes this one of my favourite photos. 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


8. Books and beans 

I’m not entirely sure why this photo is one of my top nine to be honest. It’s pretty simple; books and beans on toast. Maybe that’s it? Who doesn’t love sitting down and reading while very carefully eating as not to spill food on your books? 

 

A photo posted by Rosie (@rosie_baillie) on


9. The best way to spend an afternoon

I’m not sure if this was taken on a Sunday, but it looks a lot like the ‘perfect Sunday’ kind of activities. There’s a nice toasty drink, some good music, and a selection of books to keep you going until Sunday dinner. 

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Mwnt, Wales, Photography, UK

8 photos that will make you want to visit Mwnt, Wales

November 1, 2016

Mwnt beach

For me, Mwnt is the very definition of a ‘hidden gem’. Just a few miles up the coast from Cardigan, this secluded lil’ beach is the perfect place to relax and try to spot bottlenose dolphins and seals.

Mwnt will always hold a special place in my heart because my Nan used to take me, my sister, and cousin every summer when we were younger. The three of us would spend the whole week in the sea and loved it. On reflection, I’m not sure how my Nan kept herself occupied all day, because all we wanted to do was play in the sea.

In the summer, Daz and I spent a couple of days in Mwnt, St. Dogmael’s and Cardigan, and I was reminded all over again why this is one of my favourite parts of the world, and it was so much fun to show it to Daz.

The beach can be fairly busy in the height of summer, but in the week during the rest of the year it’s peaceful and you feel like you’ve got the whole coast to yourself.

I’ma let the photos do the rest of the talking and convince you that you need to visit Mwnt – because you really do.

Mwnt beach

Waves on Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

View from the top of Foel y Mwnt

View over Mwnt beach

Mwnt beach

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Canada, Photography, Travel

Moraine Lake is my mind palace

October 25, 2016

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Where do you wander off to in your head when you feel stressed? When everyone wants something from you? When you just need a minute? When you’re trying to bite your tongue? When you’re bored?

For me, that place is the shores of Moraine Lake. Sat on fallen over tree next to Daz, feeling the warmth of the sun ever so slightly. Sheer bliss.

Moraine Lake

It’s strange how you can find somewhere that feels so peaceful in quite a touristy place.

About a month before we went to Canada, I ordered the Lonely Planet guide to Banff and Jasper (well worth it, by the way) and we both desperately wanted to know what lake was on the cover, and we eventually found out that it was Moraine Lake. Because we both love a good kip, and it was very cloudy while we were there, we didn’t have chance to see a sunrise or a sunset over Moraine Lake, but I’m not entirely sure we could have handled it given how stunning it was in the middle of the afternoon.

Moraine Lake is on our list of places we’re going to go back to when we revisit next summer, so hopefully you’ll get to read a blog post about how we lost our shit watching the sun set over Moraine Lake.

Where is your mind palace?

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake canoe rental

 

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America, Photography, San Francisco, Travel

A day trip to Yosemite from San Francisco

October 18, 2016

A day trip from San Francisco to Yosemite with Extranomical Tours

There was no way I was going to visit California without stepping foot inside Yosemite National Park. I knew that a day trip from San Francisco would be a long day, but would be more than worth it to get to look up and see El Capitan and Half Dome with my own eyes. 

After hours of searching, I settled on a day trip with Extranomical Tours because they seemed to offer the most time in the park.

I was picked up from outside the Hilton Hotel in the middle of San Francisco at about 06:00. If you’re staying in the city centre, Extranomical offer pickup from hotels and the BART runs early in the morning so getting there shouldn’t be a problem, unless it’s a holiday. (Of course I chose to go on a holiday, so, shout out to my buddy Cat for getting up way to early and driving me.)

On our drive out to Yosemite, and our first comfort stop, our tour guide, Vlad, told us about San Francisco, what it’s like to live there (super expensive!) and in the surrounding areas. Vlad was a great tour guide and I didn’t envy him having to drive and talk to us for 15 hours (I’m sure that’s not even legal in the UK), but he was so passionate and into what he was doing even at the end of the day, when the rest of us were dosing off.

The drive into Yosemite is pretty beautiful, especially as you ascend up switchbacks and look down into the valleys.

Giant sequoias

Our first stop off was to see the giant sequoias in Tuolumne Grove, which involves a 20-minute walk down hill until you set your eyes on one of the giant beasts. Unfortunately we only had an hour here, which means you pretty much just about have time to walk down and see one tree, and walk the very steep trek back up to the bus. The forest area itself is pretty beautiful, especially when the mid-morning light sneaks through the trees, bathing the place in this magical glow.

On the way into Yosemite, Vlad told us about where the name for Yosemite National Park came from, and it fascinated me. In the 19th century gold rush, people from all over the world descended upon Yosemite to try and find gold. 

In their desperation, they formed a battalion and kidnapped the leader of a the Ahwahneechee tribe and gave him an ultimatum; either you let us come onto your land and look for gold, or we kill you. The tribe leader, sensing he couldn’t win either way, told them to kill him and his land was invaded. Understandably, the tribes people were pretty pissed and kept saying “yos.s.e’meti” to the gold rushers, which translates to “those who kill”. So, Yosemite actually means the valley of the killers.

There you go, I’ve taught you something interesting today.

That said, I researched the history of the name behind Yosemite and there are a couple of different stories. I quite like this one though.

Yosemite, Inspiration Point

Our first stop off in the park was the aptly named Inspiration Point, which provided stunning views of El Capitan, Half Dome, and the valley.

Don’t be fooled by how peaceful and quiet that photo looks, because directly behind where I stood to take this photo is a car park rammed with coaches, cars and fellow visitors. It is kinda inspiring, but I feel like I would be a lot more inspiring if you didn’t have to listen to people beeping their horns and revving engines. Such is the problem with places this beautiful I guess; you’re kinda in the wilderness, but completely not in another sense.

Yosemite National Park

baby deer in Yosemite National park

Baby deer in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite

After avoiding being run over, the bus took us down into the valley to stop off for lunch, where I had a couple of hours to see Yosemite waterfall, and dip my toes in the river while taking in my surroundings.

El Capitan

Yosemite National Park

As we left the lodges, our driver pulled over and we got out to play spot the climbers on El Capitan. Apparently the record for climbing up there, with NO ROPES?!, is just over two hours. How? That must take some serious skill, fitness, and balls to do that because it looked huge from where I was standing, let alone climbing up it.

Bear with the open mouth in Yosemite

Bear with the open mouth in Yosemite

Bear with the open mouth in Yosemite National Park

We made one more stop inside the park to see “the bear with the open mouth”, so let’s see if you can spot it.

Old tribes named it “the bear with the open mouth” because it kinda looks like a bear lying down with it’s mouth open. This spot was probably the most peaceful place we went to all day because there was only our coach there and it felt so calm and serene.

The water was like a mirror and I could have stayed there for hours taking it all in.

Sunset over San Francisco from Treasure Island

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge

Since it was the end of Labour Day weekend, our trip back into San Francisco took a little longer than expected, but Vlad provided us with the perfect end to the day but taking us to Treasure Island, where we could see the lights of the city twinkling against the sky.

It was such a long and busy day, but boy was it worth it to see Yosemite. It’s one of those places I’ve wanted to see for years, and my plan is to go back at some point and spend a few days in the park; hopefully at a slightly quieter time of year, if such thing exists in Yosemite.

If you do want to take a trip to Yosemite from San Francisco, I can’t recommend Extranomical Tours enough. But do bear in mind that it is a long day and it does feel kind of rushed, and you will see people complaining in reviews about that, but what do you expect? It is rushed and it’s not about chilling, wander about at your own pace day. Yosemite is a three hour drive from San Francisco, so that takes out six hours of your day before you’ve even started. If you want to explore the park at your own pace, a day trip isn’t for you and you’re probably better off staying in the park for a couple of days.

Have you ever been to Yosemite?

One day in Yosemite

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America, Photography, San Francisco, Travel

San Francisco Sunsets & Sea Lions

September 27, 2016

Sunset over Pier 39, San Francisco

When I was little, my Nan and I always used to read a book about how the beautiful colours in the sky at sunrise and sunset are created by dragons, and this vibrant San Francisco sunset took me right back to that book. (If anyone knows what this book is called, please tell me because I can’t remember!)

There are specifically two things I love about sunsets:

  1. The sky looks like it’s on fire, and that’s cool.
  2. Everywhere somehow seems quieter.

Even on a busy pier, full of tourists watching sea lions bark at each other, the world still seems a little quieter and I love that. I love that people come together and stare in awe at something that happens every night, but they perhaps don’t usually have the opportunity to actually watch it and take it in.

Sleepy sea lions at Pier 39

We went down to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions on my first night and it was wonderful watching them loll about, bathed in a pink glow. But it was even better going back during daylight, when some of them were looking slightly active and were winding each other up.

Sea lions sleeping at Pier 39

And I do mean some of them, because most of them were horizontal having a group kip and were very annoyed when a playful young sea lion was trying to get some of the older, lazier beasts to have a little play.

Sea lions at Pier 39

Sea lions at Pier 39

Like this guy here; he was not happy about a mischievous sea lion who kept popping up and poking him, as if saying “come and play with meeee.”

Sea lions playing at Pier 39

Sea lions playing at Pier 39

Sea lions swimming at Pier 39

There were a few plaques up around Pier 39 explaining that the sea lions first made Pier 39 their home in 1989, and that, astonishingly, the all-time record for number of sea lions at the pier was 1,701 in November 2009. I can’t even imagine how noisy that must have been. It’s not really that big an area either, so I don’t even know where they all had a snooze.

I could have sat and watched these guys for hours. Of course I’ve seen sea lions before in zoos but it was great to be able to see them in their natural habitat, which seems weird to say when you consider that it’s in a city.

If you ever go to San Francisco, I definitely recommend a trip out to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions for a while. It can get pretty busy around there (because who doesn’t watch to watch sea lions push each other off pontoons?) but it’s worth the crowds. If you’re not headed to SF any time soon, you’re in luck because Pier 39 does have a sealion cam, so you can watch them play from the comfort of your pajamas on the sofa….or at work if your job is soul destroying.

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