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Canada, Photography, Travel

7 days in Banff & Jasper, Alberta

April 25, 2017

7 days in Banff and Jasper, an intinerary
7 days is no where near enough time to discover all that Banff and Jasper have to offer but we found that we got a surprising amount done in a week.

When we arrived at Canadian border control, the chap behind the desk did seem a bit befuzzled about us visiting Canada for just seven days but hey, you do what you can with your holidays.

In reflection, the way we planned our time in Banff and Jasper could have been a little better as we spent a couple of nights in Canmore, before driving up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper for a few days and then coming back down to spend some time in Banff. I'm not suggesting this is the perfect itinerary but I think it gives you a good idea of what things to try and see on the same days.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Day one: Emerald Lake & Takakkaw Falls

Emerald Lake is about an hour and a half drive from Canmore (and a bit less if you're staying in Banff) and boy is it worth the drive. You will no doubt have seen photos like this (to the right) on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest because it is just so beautiful and shareworthy.

Take a couple of hours to stroll around the lake, gawking in absolutely awe of the crazy blue colour of the water which makes it look like photoshop in real life. You can also hire kayaks to go out on the lake as well; we didn't do this but it would certainly be worth it. The price for kayak hire is pretty much the same at all the lakes we went to. We didn't really consider it to be cheap but it is worth it for the memories and experience of getting to kayak on a lake that looks like someone dropped some huge blue bath bombs into.

Pick up a snack from the little hut next to Emerald Lake Lodge and then head down the road to visit Takkakkaw Falls. The road up to the falls is well paved but can be quite windy and tight at times but do not let that deter you because it is stunning. The falls are about a 10-15 minute walk from the car.

If you want to find out more about Emerald Lake, I did a whole blog post about it.

We stayed at: Windtower Lodge & Suites in Canmore

Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park

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The Icefields Parkway

Day two: explore the Icefields Parkway

We were camping for the rest of our trip so we picked up our camping equipment from Rent-a-Tent in Canmore. If you are thinking about camping go for it because these guys were amazing and we're hiring from them again this summer.

The Icefields Parkway is a 232 mile (144 km) road connecting Banff and Jasper that features in a lot of "best roads to drive" lists, and for good reasons too. The views from the road are absolutely stunning and there are no shortages of places to stop off; whether it's a lake that is just at the edge of the road or the start of a hiking trail.

We made a few stop offs on the way up, including Peyto Lake and the Athabasca Glacier. It is possible to drive the entire length of the Icefields Parkway but as we stopped off a few times it took us about six hours.

In the evening, take a stroll around Jasper and find somewhere to eat. We found that some of the restaurants stopped serving food about 20:00 - 20:30, I'm not sure if that's normal in Canada but do keep it in mind.

We stayed at: Wapiti Campground, a few minutes drive outside Jasper. You can find out more about it and reserve a pitch through Parks Canada.

Maligne Lake boat house and kayak rental

Medicine Lake, just outside Jasper

Day three: Medicine Lake & Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake can be very busy during the high season, so it's worth getting up early if you want to avoid the crowds. Also, if you get up early you are more likely to see wildlife; we saw a huge elk stood on the bank at the side of the road, looking out across his kingdom. We also saw a bear just outside Jasper early in the morning too.

On the way to Maligne Lake, it's worth stopping off at Medicine Lake and to see some of the eerie looking prescribed burn sites. Interestingly, Medicine Lake isn't really a lake and is actually a part of the Maligne River and it fills up to become a lake when the melt water can't drain away fast enough.

Once you're at Maligne Lake, there are a few trails you can follow, or you can take a boat tour around the lake, or go kayaking. We followed the shortest trail around the edge of the lake and into the forest before deciding to hire a kayak. Let me tell you that I do not recommend you do that if it's a windy day because it was pretty tough and was not entirely relaxing. You can read more about our windy kayaking experience on Maligne Lake here.

On the way back to Jasper, we stopped off at Maligne Canyon and had a walk around for about 45 minutes. Heights don't usually bother me, but looking down into the canyon was a little mind-bending.

We stayed at: Wapiti Campground again.

Athabasca Falls, just outside Jasper on the Icefields Parkway

A canyon at Athabasca Falls, Jasper

Day four: Around Jasper & Icefields Parkway

In the morning, we explored some of the stops on the Icefields Parkway closest to Jasper. The first one we went to was Athabasca Falls, which is about half an hour out of Jasper, as we decided we'd drive to the furthest point and then start coming back on ourselves. It was basically like a grander and fancier version of the canyon we visited the day before. It had longer trails, a roaring waterfall and the drops seemed even deeper.

The next stop was just a few minutes up the road; Horseshoe Lake and it was a real hidden gem. To get to the other side of the lake you have to follow this trail, which feels quite overgrown in comparison to pretty much all the other trails we saw. It was the only time in Canada where I felt like I might get snook up on by bears. The water looked so inviting and I had to stop myself from jumping in.

After that, we headed back through Jasper and stopped off a Pyramid Lake. When you see Pyramid Mountain from Jasper and the sun hits it at the right angle, it seems to glow a little and reminded us of a dragon's egg, so we took to calling it Dragon Mountain.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Edith and Annette Lake. The two lakes are really close together and you can easily walk between the two in a couple of minutes. In between the lakes are loads of picnic areas and you can just imagine how packed it must be come a nice summer day.

 

Snow on the icefields parkway

Lake Minnewanka, Banff

Vermillion Lakes, Banff

Day five: around Banff

We left Jasper just before 11am and only stopped off a couple of times on the way back down the Icefields Parkway to make the most of our time in Banff. It took us about three hours to drive from Jasper to Banff and we headed straight to Two Jack Lakeside campsite to set up our tent.

After being in the car for so long we took a walk around Banff, explored Vermillion Lakes, and Lake Minnewanka. Vermillion Lakes is on the edge of Banff and is a nice little route that takes you past the lakes, that have a distinctive sulphur smell.

There is a loop road around Lake Minnewanka called Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, and there are a couple of trails which start off the loop as well.

Where we stayed: Two Jack Lakeside campsite. Again, this can be reserved through the Parks Canada website.

 

Kayaking on Lake Louise

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Day six: Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

Our sixth day was a seriously jam-packed one. We drove up to Lake Louise to see what all the hype was about; yes, it's very touristy but it is for a good reason because it is beautiful. We followed the Lake Agnes teahouse trail up the mountain to the teahouse, where we enjoyed a spot of well-deserved lunch. It probably took us about 40 - 50 minutes to reach the teahouse and it is possible to go onto do another tea house, called the Big Beehive, but we were not feeling fit enough at all.

When we returned to Lake Louise we decided to hire a kayak for an hour (read more about that here), which was more than enough time because it doesn't take that long to explore the lake.

Afterwards, we drove to Moraine Lake as we'd seen it on the cover of our Lonely Planet guidebook and wanted to see it for ourselves. It was early afternoon by the time we got there and there were buses, camper vans, and cars parked everywhere. Despite that, it wasn't that crowded and it certainly wasn't anywhere near as crowded as Lake Louise.

I think we both wished we had kayaked on Moraine Lake instead, hindsight is a wonderful thing. For both of us, Moraine Lake was an absolute highlight of the trip so if there is one thing I recommend you do, out of everything listed here or anything you see in guidebooks, it's Moraine Lake. Photos do not do it justice at all.

Kayaks at Moraine Lake, Alberta

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Morning reflection in Two Jack Lake

Day seven: Banff

If you are staying at Two Jack Lakeside, or even in the Banff area, I recommend getting up early and visiting Two Jack Lake as the sun rises. I am not a morning person at all but Daz managed to drag me out of the tent at 7am and I was rewarded with this stunning view. If you're hunting for all the red chairs, there are two on the banks of the lake.

After packing up our tent we went into Banff to get a couple of souvenirs, headed back to Canmore to return the camping equipment, and then went to the airport.

If your flight is later on in the day there are loads more things you could do around Banff, like visit the Cave & Basin museum, take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, visit Banff Hot Springs, go to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary on the way to the airport, and so much more.

Canada, Photography, Travel

Athabasca Glacier & climate change

March 21, 2017

The edge of the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park

Today I’m not just going to show you pretty pictures of the Athabasca Glacier and talk about how wonderful it is; I need to get something off my chest and have a little rant about climate change.

About two-thirds of the way up the Icefields Parkway, you reach the Athabasca Glacier. Neither of us had seen a glacier before (apart from on TV) so this was one of our “must see” stops on the road.

Before we went we were kind of confused about access to the glacier. Everything we read made it sound like you had to pay for a trip out onto the glacier on some kind of evil looking off-roading vehicle, but you can actually walk almost up to the edge of it for absolutely nothing.

Pool near the Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Glacier Jasper National Park

It was quite warm by the time we parked up near the glacier, and it’s kind of weird seeing a huge chunk of ice when it feels so warm. It’s a novelty I didn’t quite get used to while we were in Canada.

What hit me hard was little markers on the path up to the glacier, which showed how far the glacier had retreated in recent years. What you noticed quite quickly was how the speed it had retreated at changed. At the first few markers, the glacier didn’t seem to have been retreating that fast, but then you really noticed how much things had stepped up when you crept towards the present day. In 2014, a conservation manager for Jasper’s National Park said the glacier was retreating five metres per year

The path up to the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park

I’m currently taking the University of Alberta’s online Mountains 101 course (highly recommend it by the way), and one of the topics covered is glaciers. It’s astonishing how fast they’re retreating, and some icefields are already considered to be beyond saving. It really saddens me to hear things like that; that we’ve done so much damage to our environment that things are beyond help. Another added “bonus” of human pollution is that as glaciers and icefields begin to melt, they are re-releasing harmful chemicals into the environment that we used historically and were then trapped in the ice, as well as contributing to global warming.

All of this leads me to right now. Right now one of, if not the, most powerful country in the world has a president who doesn’t believe in climate change and doesn’t give a rats ass about protecting it. Just five days into 2017, London had already broken it’s annual air pollution target for the year. The most recent UK budget didn’t even mention climate change. In general, it feels like protecting the environment isn’t being taken seriously in a lot of countries.

Things like that make me angry, but also inspire me. Things might be about to get a lil’ cheesy now, but we can force change. We can make changes in our own lives, we can put pressure on our favourite companies who are still using packaging which is not recyclable (Quorn, I’m looking at you; make your nugget packaging recyclable!), we can annoy our MPs by writing to them, and websites like 36 Degrees and Change have shown that we can force change by bombarding the people who can actually make decisions with our views. And on a more personal note, it’s this that makes me want to go into environmental research; I want to play my part in protecting our home and every thing that lives on it.

Feel free to chip in and ramble.

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Canada, Photography, Travel

Mount Rundle, Two Jack Lake | The best 7am wakeup call ever

February 28, 2017

The reflection of Mount Rundle in Two Jack Lake, Banff

To say I am not a morning person is a severe understatement, so I was a little grumpy when Daz dragged me from our warm tent at 7am. He was right though; the view was worth it.

“You need to come and see this,” Daz said to me, trying to coax me out of the tent.

We spend the last couple of nights in Banff camping at Two Jack Lakeside Camground, which I definitely recommend because it’s a beautiful little spot that is just a short drive from Banff.

It was cloudy most of the time while we were in Canada and I was a little annoyed at not having seen a good sunrise or sunset, but this view of Mount Rundle’s perfect early morning reflection in Two Jack Lake more than made up for it.

Mount Rundle from Two Jack Lake

I’m so glad Daz was up early to spot this because it was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I feel like I say that on every post about Canada, but seeing this on our last morning and visiting Moraine Lake were the two high-highlights for me.

Two red chairs at Two Jack Lake, by Mount Rundle, Banff

Red chairs, two jack lake

These are my camping “pyjamas”.

Atop a little hill overlooking Two Jack Lake is two of Canada’s famous red chairs, so if you’re on a mission to sit in all the red chairs, you cannot miss this. Parks Canada has a full list of the red chair locations here.

If you’re stopping in, or visiting Banff, it’s worth visiting Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. There’s a scenic loop road called “Lake Minnewanka Scene Drive”  just off Highway 1, which is probably a good 15 – 20 minute drive through some stunning scenery. Take note that part of the loop is closed between November – April for conservation reasons; but you’re sure to enjoy the part of the road you can get on.

We loved camping at Two Jack Lake so much that we’re spending a few more nights here while we explore Banff and Canmore some more this summer. Hopefully it will be less cloudy and we’ll be able to see a beautiful pink-orange sunrise or sunset at this spot as well.

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Mount Rundle, Two Jack Lakeside, Banff

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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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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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Canada, Life, Photography, Travel

14 Reasons why Canada is making me wish my life away

September 23, 2016

Vermillion Lakes

My longing to go to Canada began with my 10 year old self’s obsession with Avril Lavigne (you all had an Avril phase, shut up) and finally, after 15 years, I made it to Canada. The only problem is, it’s making me wish my life away in a way my Nan would tell me off for.

While we were sat in the airport we began planning our return. There are other places on our travel list but I don’t even want to entertain the idea of visiting another country until I have returned to Canada.

Our plan is to visit next Summer and it cannot come soon enough. My Nan would go batty if she heard the amount of times I’ve said “I can’t wait to go back,” in the past two weeks.

 

Bear at the side of the road in Jasper National Park

You can see bears and giant, antlered beasts at the side of the road

In England, the thing you’re most likely to see at the side of the road is litter and a dead squirrel. In Banff and Jasper, at least, you can see bears and huge elk.

We tried not to get our hopes up about seeing a bear but we both really wanted to see one. The Canadian roadside gods must have heard our silent pleas to them because we ended up seeing two bears.

I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous it seemed to see a bear at the side of the road, having a munch on some berries. WHAT?! WHAT?! I want to live in a country where that is normal. I also need to live in a country where it’s normal to see a huge elk standing on top of a bank at the side of a road, looking out on his land.

 

Night sky, Lake Minnewanka

I didn’t see the milky way

While the Canadian roadside gods were very kind, the Canadian weather gods were not so nice.

It was unseasonably cold for the start of September and pretty cloudy most nights. I’m yet to see the milky way with my own eyes and since Jasper is a dark sky preserve I thought I would come home having seen the milky way. Due to the cloud, there was no chance of seeing it, so I’ve got unfinished business with the Canadian sky.

 

Reflection of the Rockies in Two Jack Lake

I’m convinced some of the scenary was CGI

While we were driving down the Icefields Parkway, we literally could barely believe our eyes. The Rockies didn’t even look real to us. We kept saying it looked like someone had just stuck them in, because the snow capped mountains looked so perfect and so clear.

Lake Louise and Chateau Fairmont

And the lakes? Don’t even get me started on the lakes. The lakes are so teal and blue that they look like a painting you could smudge if you tried to touch them. One of my favourite memories of Canada is when we hiked up to the Lake Agnes teahouse.

Glimpse of Lake Louise from the Lake Agnes teahouse trail

At a couple of points during the trail, there’s a gap in the trees and you can look down and see a glimpse of Lake Louise which looks the most ridiculously shade of blue you could imagine. I am 99% sure it was cake icing, like some kind of showstopper challenge from the Great British Bake Off, or something BECAUSE LAKES AREN’T THAT BLUE, SURELY?

So, I need to go back to make sure the mountains and lakes are definitely not CGI, or cake icing.

 

Canmore, Alberta

It felt like home and I need to find a way to get the Canadians to accept me as one of their own

I now know exactly how my Mum feels about Ireland; Canada just felt like home. It felt like I was supposed to be there and once I’ve finished my masters, the Canadians can look out because I’m determined to move there. (Parks Canada, if for some reason you’re reading this, I would honestly love to work for you guys testing water, looking at pollution…please?)

 

I need more poutine

Of course I could make poutine myself, but I feel like poutine is like Guinness in Ireland and is much better in it’s home country.

 

Medicine Lake, Jasper AB

The guy on boarder control that annoyed me

Look, I know that boarder control are supposed to be hard faced and a little snarky because they don’t want people sneaking in and staying forever. This is a snippet of the conversation I had with a guy at boarder control:

Boarder control: Why are you visiting for seven days?

Me: Because I’ve just been to San Francisco, and this is all my holiday used up.

Boarder control: Why Canada?

Me: Because it’s beautiful.

Boarder control: At this time of year?

Me: Yes.

Ok, sir, if you think Canada isn’t beautiful in September;

  • You are a little bit nuts or sarcastic (I respect either.)
  • I need to see what it’s like in the summer to find out if it is more beautiful, or if you’re being sarcastic.

Plus, I hope I get you next time and I can tell you I’m coming back for two weeks because you were suspicious about a seven day visit. Maybe not, that kinda comment sounds like something that would stop me entering the country – a little bit like when UK border force told my Dad to stop making daft comments or she’d be looking at his sun tan from the inside, BURN!

 

Best pizza, at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company

The best pizza in the world

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will remember that two years ago I declared a little pub in Germany as having made the best pizza in the world. I have eaten a lot of pizza since then in my quest to find a better pizza, and the Canadians rose to the challenge.

While we were staying in Canmore, we went to the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, where they have a huge pizza oven in the corner of the restaurant and oh my goodness. The pizza it creates is one of the best things to ever touch my taste buds. It is, easily, the best pizza in the world and if you think I’m only eating that pizza once, you are delusional.

 

We didn’t get to go to Lake O’Hara

Nestled in Yoho National Park, Lake O’Hara is an exclusive lake. The area is so special that it’s essentially ticketed. There are three ways to get in:

  1. You can buy a highly sought after bus ticket and camping pass, which sell out faster than tickets to see Beyonce.
  2. You can walk in
  3. You can cycle in

You cannot drive in, and the road from the car park is about 11km long. I’m hoping that we will be able to get a bus pass and squeeze in a visit, because it looks absolutely stunning.

 

Moraine Lake

There are lens flares on my photos of Moraine Lake

Horrendous, I know; it was too sunny and I need to go back and take some more photos.

It seemed like every lake we visited (apart from Maligne Lake, which tried to kill us and end our bright canoeing careers far too early) was more beautiful than the last, so it makes sense that the last lake we visited was the most beautiful.

The water was a stunning colour, it was actually sunny, and so peaceful; apart from the Instahooligans who were straying off the path, hanging hammocks, and climbing over rocks to get the most Instagram-worthy photo.

Instahooligans, by the way, is the name I’m giving to idiots who don’t care for protecting the beautiful places they’re in and wander off the paths, trampling foliage, to get the “best photos”, despite the signs asking people to stay on the path to allow plant regrowth….See, Parks Canada, I am already incredibly passionate about protecting Canada. In fact, I might just have created my own job; Instahooligan repeller. I will hide behind rocks and in bushes with a large water gun and soak any idiot who strays off the path because they want a “better photo”. Don’t worry, I’ll provide my own cape.

 

Canoeing on Lake Louise

I know I can be better at canoeing

Maligne Lake was not kind to us with the wind, waves, and tour boats and made it pretty hard for us to actually get anywhere because we could not canoe against the wind and waves. We had a much better and significantly less stressful canoeing adventure at Lake Louise, but I am determined to visit Maligne Lake on a calmer day and show it who’s boss.

 

Pancakes at Melissa's Missteak, Banff

I need more huge pancakes

Honestly, I think one of the best dates you can ever go on is a breakfast date. We went out to Melissa’s Missteak in Banff one morning and I ate the biggest, and most delicious pancakes ever.

In the UK, when you go out and order pancakes, they are tiny little things, but not in Banff. In Banff, you get delicious, thick, fluffy pancakes that are bigger than your head.

 

Lake Agnes, early morning

I’m unfit

Since most of the places we wanted to visit were right at the edge of the Icefields Parkway, or had carparks next to them, we didn’t do that much hiking. So when we did hike, we discovered how unfit we actually are.

The Lake Agnes teahouse hike was an eye opener and we kinda tentatively thought about doing the Plain of the Six Glaciers, but hadn’t got it in us. There were a couple of other hikes we wanted to do but just didn’t have time to fit it in.

We’re determined to return to Canada fitter, and do a bit more hiking.

 

It’s seriously chill

I don’t know if this is a cultural thing or not, but it seems like in England when people go on holiday we like to ask people if they saw “any trouble”, or litter. I really don’t know why.

We actually tried to play spot the Police Officer but it was so hard. We saw one Police Officer during our entire trip, and she was eating breakfast with a friend, either having finished a shift or about to start.

Everywhere we went seemed so relaxed, the people were friendly and polite, there was no hassle, or litter. <– Pretty much everything a Brit wants when they go on holiday.

 

I want to get back on that Pokemon gym in Calgary Airport, and find that Taurus in Canmore

I’m not the biggest Pokenerd I know (believe me, I know a lot, including my boyfriend) but I did just about manage to get a spot on a gym in Calgary Airport. It’s only the second gym I’ve ever got on (the first one is at my work, which of course all the staff love) and I feel it is my duty to improve and take the gym next time, even if it’s just for 10 seconds.

On the last morning we stayed in Canmore, my boyfriend spotted a Taurus and we didn’t quite manage to find it. We were hoping to return home with some new, exotic Pokemon but the Taurus eluded is – not next time, Taurus, not next time.

 

Why Canada is making me wish my life away and why you should go

Have you ever been anywhere that’s felt like home and you’ve longed to go back to?

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