In an attempt to sideswipe the astronomical prices of Europe in early 2008, Adam and I headed to Western Canada — or as we like to call it, “America’s Hat” — for 8 days in late May.
In a conservative twist for us, we planned to go only to incremental parts of the country rather than try to tackle huge amounts of terrain in a short time. I thought it might be good to leave ourselves open to at least the concept of a nap.
We flew from sunny LA to a rainy, gray Calgary, Alberta via the always wonderful and drama-free Alaska Airlines. There we rented a car for the 2-hour northwest drive to our 3-night stay at the both cozy and sophisticated Post Hotel in Banff National Park’s Lake Louise.
We drove and tramped all over Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho parks, and almost made it to the icefields of Jasper. We gaped at Rockies thousands of feet high, ice blue and emerald lakes…and even a couple of bears.
We wandered through touristy Banff town and silently praised our decision not to stay there. Some places are worth a visit, but not a relationship.
We then returned through the grassy tundra and endless strip malls of Calgary for a romantic, all-Canadian dinner by the river that runs through the heart of town, and a night’s stay in an airport-adjacent hotel. Perhaps you’re familiar with Holiday Inn? It was like a dream…in concrete.
We then flew a little over an hour to Victoria, British Columbia. In to this charming (and crowded) British-themed seaport bright and early, we toured some of town’s best sights, including the incomparable Butchart Gardens and high tea at the elegant Empress Hotel.
It was only 20 minutes up a mountain to Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley for a blissful 4-night stay at The Aerie in Malahat. We indulged in Slow Food, hand-crafted wines, wild beaches, and tangled forests through unpaved back roads.
The air in Canada was cool and clean, the people exceptionally kind, and the scenery magnificent on a heart-stopping level. Just a few hours’ flight from our home, we had ourselves the trip of a lifetime.
Continued in Arriving in Banff National Park