Posts Tagged ‘travel’

We left Jasper in the morning and drove down the Icefields Parkway (only stopping at the Columbia Icefield to use the washroom) and arrived at Sunshine Village just outside of Banff. They had just opened for the summer the day before which is why we didn’t visit here when we were in the area earlier in the week. It’s a ski resort in the winter and a hiking area in the summer.

We took the gondola up the first part to Sunshine Village. Gondolas make me nervous and Chris thought it was hilarious. Not funny. πŸ™‚ When I saw the chairlift to get up the next part and saw that we had the option to hike up, we decided to hike. It was very scenic but uphill all the way so a bit strenuous.

We got a kick out of walking from Alberta to BC on the trail up there. πŸ™‚ It was pretty cold – near the freezing mark but so beautiful!


We ended up taking the chairlift down since we wanted to get down as quickly as possible LOL It was actually less scary than the gondola! The gondola ride was about 8 minutes so we took the time to eat a snack. A couple more minutes were added since it stopped for a bit (don’t look down, don’t look down) but things started moving again and we got down safely. πŸ™‚

We headed over to Canmore for lunch and mini beers at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. We ordered lunch with the mini beer seasonal sampler and enjoyed the lemon shandy so much that we bought some more from the retail store before heading to the Calgary airport to return the car and check into our hotel for our last night out west. πŸ™‚

Read Full Post »

It rained all day today so we didn’t venture out very far. We headed over to drive by Lake Edith and Lake Annette just outside of Jasper townsite and was glad we did – we saw more elk! πŸ™‚ We also drove by the Jasper Park Lodge to check it out.


We ended up doing some souvenir shopping in Jasper, strolled around town, picked up some more sticky cinnamon buns at the bakery and took it easy today.

Shortest blog post ever. πŸ™‚

Read Full Post »

We headed out to Maligne Canyon to beat the rain which was supposed to start mid-morning. We arrived at 7:30am, 2nd car in the parking lot.

Our plan was to hike to bridges 1 through 4, then drive to bridges 5 and 6 on the way back. We saw bridge 2, 3 and 4, then visited the first bridge last (which has the best views in my opinion and glad we saved it for last). It was really cool to see how the water eroded the rock/mountain to create the canyon.


On the way to the canyon we saw a couple of deer on the side of the road, just prancing along. πŸ™‚


On the road between the Canyon and Medecine Lake, we saw another black bear ambling along, cool as can be while a caravan of cars stopped on the opposite side of the road watching him go.


We stopped at the Medecine Lake lookout to read the history of the lake and got a surprise visit. Luckily Chris saw it and we got back in our car before he got close.

This is the lookout. Over the corner of the top right of the last sign, you can see what surprised us:


Zoomed in, he’s hidden by the tree in the centre of this pic:


He had the same stunned reaction upon seeing us as we did seeing him!


Onward! Our next stop was at Maligne Lake. The rain hadn’t started yet but it was overcast. We walked around the lakeshore, up to the chalet and took a short trail that led to the trailhead but after seeing all the bears, and having no bear spray, we decided not to risk it. Instead, we visited the waffle hut for a cappuccino and the best waffle I’ve ever had! It had cinnamon, whipped cream and blueberry compote. Delicious. On our way back to the car, we noticed that the tour buses had arrived and it started to rain.


We drove back to Jasper, skipped bridges 5 and 6 for the Canyon, stopped at the Bear Paw’s bakery for goodies then back to our cottage to relax and take a nap while it rained. It cleared up at dinner time so we took a stroll around the property to admire the lake, then hopped in the car and drove further down the road to Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Island which is reached by a footbridge. It’s a 20 minute walk around the island. They have a little wedding area if anyone wanted to book the island for an event – thought that was cute.


Read Full Post »

We left our cozy cabin in Lake Louise and headed north up the Icefields Parkway towards our next base – Jasper. We stopped at several places along the way; what could be done in 2-3 hours takes much longer just because of all the amazing sights you can stop at and explore.

Bow Lake – Quick stop off the parkway


Peyto Lake and Bow Summit – short 10-15 minute walk to the main viewing platform from the parking lot but if you walk up the trail there’s an amazing vantage point that provides spectacular views of the valley and lake below. We were alone up there! and yes, the lake really is that color. Beautiful.


Mistaya Canyon – short 10-15 minute trek downhill to a small canyon. The trek back up was a bit tiring but well worth it.


N. Saskatchewan River at Howse Pass – picnic area off the parkway and one of the best surprises on the drive up. There are signs explaining how the pass and river were traveled back in the day and it’s a really beautiful view.Β  We stopped here for lunch and found a picnic table overlooking the river below.


Columbia Icefield / Athabasca Glacier – some might call this the main event along the parkway. It has all the bells and whistles including a restaurant, cafe, outdoor terrace, huge washrooms, a ticket booth for all kinds of tours, you name it. It also has an amazing view of the glacier and surrounding mountains. We grabbed a coffee and sat outside enjoying the view. If you zoom in and look at the bottom of the “toe” of the glacier, those little specks are people. This thing is big, folks.


Sunwapta Falls – short stop off the parkway to see the waterfalls


Quick pics of the nice view from the road – everywhere you look, it’s gorgeous.


The N. Saskatchewan River – quick stop off the parkway


Athabasca Falls – Lots to see here and lots of little areas to explore.


We saw our first black bear on the side of the road coming into Jasper and I was really excited. We stayed in the car but took some pics (I have a good zoom on my camera – we did NOT get that close):


We arrived in Jasper at around 3:30pm and did our groceries before heading to our cottage for the rest of our stay, at Patricia Lake Bungalows. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pics!Β  It was super cute, had everything we needed and was about a 5-6 minute drive from Jasper townsite along a winding road where we saw some elk on our first drive in.




Read Full Post »

Another early start today – we headed over to Yoho National Park and our first stop was at the Natural Bridge. What a pretty place! After so many years of the water of the Kicking Horse River eroding the rock, it formed a bridge. Gorgeous in the morning sun.


Our next stop was Emerald Lake – got there at 7:30am and only a few folks were in the lot. We were alone on the trail for the most part but started seeing others about midway through. Serenity personified. We started the Emerald Lake loop (trail around the lake) on the left/north side which is paved, then halfway through it becomes a dirt trail (slightly muddy when we went). The different types of flowers were really interesting and we got to see lots of birds.

We stopped at the cafe on the lake for a snack and coffee after the trail. There’s a lodge as well where you can stay. Amazingly quiet and peaceful.


Next we stopped at a couple of viewpoints to see the spiral tunnels (tunnels carved into the mountain for trains to pass through) and the spot where the Kicking Horse and Yoho Rivers converge. Impressive!

Our next stop was at Takakkaw Falls. The road to get there is very twisty with a fairly tight section but we managed it fine. The views were incredible. You can get very close to the falls, enough to feel the mist/spray. πŸ™‚ It’s a short walk from the parking lot and the views to and from the falls are very nice as well.


We returned to Lake Louise for lunch and ate at the old converted Train Station for bison burgers. The food was good and the ambiance of sitting in a train station turned restaurant was really cool. We even got to see a couple of freight trains pass by on the still-functional tracks outside!

Back to the cabin for a g;lass of wine and a nap, then off to dinner at the Juniper Bistro in Banff. It was sensational – we both had the wild boar loin with buttered fingerling potatoes with bourbon apple sauce, lemon and thyme charred broccolini, a BC Merlot and the black forest mousse cake with torched marshmallow, praline and berries for dessert. The whole meal was delicious and the view was fantastic. Highly recommended for a special dinner out.

Juniper bistro

Read Full Post »

We got an early start again today to beat the crowds to the parking lots at Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. Our cabin was on the same road as Lake Louise (and 4 mins away!) which came in handy.Β We got to Moraine at 6:30am and the lot was already half full.

We saw the lake from the shore and climbed the rockpile for amazing views. Turquoise blue like all the photos and postcards – it’s really that color! Just gorgeous. I still can’t believe my eyes have seen the gorgeous things we saw on this trip! From the water to the mountains to the trees…absolutely beautiful.

Lake Moraine:


Our next stop was Lake Louise – there’s more parking available there and we got a spot in the lot. Lake Louise is a classic ice blue lake as well but I personally preferred Moraine more. We took a few photos, then located our goal for the day: The trailhead up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. It was a 3.8km hike uphill. All the way. Brutal. 1,300 ft elevation gain. We had to stop several times but once we got a good rhythm going, it became less painful LOL The trail was a set of switchbacks up the mountain to Mirror Lake, then 1km further to Lake Agnes and the famed Teahouse where you could enjoy a snack and hot beverage with amazing views to boot. There is no running water and the staff hikes up supplies every morning. Kudos – they must have quads of steel!

We stopped at Mirror Lake first, then at Lake Agnes and the views were spectacular. We had lunch at a picnic table but it got quite chilly. The hike down was FANTASTIC! Downhill, easy peasy. At the bottom, we rested on a bench facing Lake Louise and rested our legs. We drove to the Lake Louise village to pick up some goodies at Laggan’s Bakery then back to our cabin, all before 1pm!

Lake Louise:


Mirror Lake:


Views from the trail:


Lake Agnes and Teahouse:


Teahouse – we had lunch on the picnic table at the back, to the left of the teahouse midway down the ramp in the photo:


Back down again. Chris is sitting on the bench. I hobbled over to the lake for a pic. πŸ™‚


Took a shower, took a nap, played gin rummy, drank our ciders and relaxed for the rest of the day.


Read Full Post »

We were still on Eastern Time so we were up early, had breakfast then headed out to Johnston Canyon – we were the second car in the lot. πŸ™‚ What a gorgeous place. We hiked to the Lower Falls then to the Upper Falls. The waterfalls and canyon were really beautiful and I’m still trying to figure out how they built the catwalks / bridges along the canyon walls.


We finished in about 2 hours and had stopped for a snack at the Upper Falls. We drove back to Banff and parked, then explored the town and did some shopping. We found our ornament at the Xmas store. We stopped for a cafe mocha and ginger cookie at Evelyn’s and ate outside on a bench. I picked up a cozy fleece hoodie and some more dishtowels. We stopped in the cutest Hudson Bay store I’ve ever seen and Chris liked the caribou blankets and we saw that we could order them online so we’ll do that once we get back. I liked the canoe in the window but it wouldn’t fit in our suitcase. LOL


We drove back to our cabin, stopped at the Lake Louise grocery store (fruit) and liquor store (cider), then enjoyed wine on our deck and took a long nap (naps were to become the norm between our morning hikes / before dinner).

Read Full Post »

We have been wanting to visit the Rocky Mountains for a while and this year was the year! Instead of staying in regular hotels, we chose to book 4 nights in a cabin in Lake Louise, then 3 nights in a cottage in Jasper and used those two towns as our base for visiting so many amazing places. I’m still awestruck at the scenery, nature and wildlife we got to see.Β Here we go!

Our flight into Calgary was uneventful, we picked up our rental car at the airport and headed to Banff as a pit stop to pick up groceries before checking into our cabin in Lake Louise at Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. As we drove closer to Banff National Park, the views were increasingly amazing. The mountains, the waterfalls, the trees, just gorgeous.

We arrived at our cabin and we both got out of the car, breathed in and looked at each other with delight – OMG the smell of PINE!!! I wish I could have packed it in my suitcase to carry with me everywhere. I loved our cabin (#11, Cooper style Cabin) and you can see why:


We unpacked, settled in, made dinner, then went to bed, ready for our Rocky Mountain Adventure to begin!


Read Full Post »

After we got off the ship, we spent the day in Venice doing some shopping before heading to the airport to catch our flight to Athens where we spent the night then caught a hopped flight to Kalymnos, the island where my retired in-laws now live.Β After the cruise, it was nice to relax at a slower pace and enjoy the sun, sea and family.

We went to the beach, relaxed on the patio, had fun with the cats in the area that my in-laws take care of, explored the main town Pothia, visited a beach and restaurant in Palionisos and generally ate, napped and chatted with the fam. As a bonus, we got to stay in one of the newly renovated apartments that my in-laws started renting out this summer – it was amazing!

Then came Zorbas.

Let’s not travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season anymore, we said.

What could possibly happen in the Mediterranean, we said.

Well, little did we know that cyclones can happen, on rare occasions, and some even head straight for where you are! Apparently with climate change, these will happen more and more so we’ll likely avoid the warm/tropical band around the earth between August and December from now on. Lesson learned.

Late Tuesday (or was it Wednesday…) we started hearing news reports about the possibility of a cyclone – or medicane (hurricane in the Med) – forming in the Ionian sea so we kept an eye on the weather reports to see if it would line up with our travel plans later that week. Otherwise it was business as usual.

We ended up leaving a day early just in case our plane was grounded due to winds (common when flying from Kalymnos to Athens) and because there are only flights 3 days a week, we feared getting delayed several days and missing our original flight home. We took the ferry to Kos instead on Friday, then flew to Athens and spent an extra day there prior to catching our flight to Toronto on Sunday. Everything went well but it was rainy on those two days. We relaxed, ate and slept some more, pampered ourselves at the Sofitel on our last day, rain shower, room service and all. Not a bad way to recharge before coming home. πŸ™‚


Fraternizing with the local wildlife πŸ™‚


My turn


This was our patio on the last day hehehe We made lots of friends.



Dessert at the hotel on our last day – how cute is this?


Palionisos Beach



Harbour in Pothia – that’s my yacht out front πŸ˜‰

Read Full Post »

Day 8: The highlight of this stop was the Game of Thrones tour. We’re big fans of the books and the show and to see some of the locations where some scenes were filmed was pretty awesome. πŸ™‚ For those of you who don’t know, the old town of Dubrovnik was the setting for King’s Landing as well as Qarth. Scenes filmed there include the scenes in Blackwater Bay, Cersei’s Walk of Shame and the steps of the Sept of Baelor, the House of the Undying, many market scenes in Kings’s Landing as well as various other scenes (Myrcella departing for Dorne, Cersei and the return of her daughter (who she doesn’t know was dead at the time).

But before we got off the cruise ship, the fun started in the theater on-board where the passengers gathered to be called for the tours. As the Game of Thrones folks exited the theater, we were greeted by cruise ship staff ringing a bell over our heads as we headed to Deck 4 crying out “Shame!” Super fun. πŸ™‚

We met our guide and she led us to what is known as the “Red Keep”. The fortress itself is a nice building, but seeing the spots where King Joffrey spoke and the views familiar from the show made it even more memorable.

After exploring the Keep, we headed into the Old Town which turned out to be a very cool walled medieval town. We made several stops in the town, our guide showing photos of the scenes in the show so we can see what was original and what was CGI. It was really interesting. She added in some history of the town including the recent war they endured and that the town still shows marks of. We got to see the staircase where Cersei did her walk of shame – which, it turns out, was filmed in 3 separate areas of the town!

When we climbed the city walls, we saw amazing views of the town plus the House of the Undying where Daenerys was looking for her dragons. Super cool.

We climbed the city walls (a lot of stairs both up and down) and got to see amazing views of the town. It’s very beautiful.

We swung by the GOT store and picked up a couple of t-shirts (I’m not a Princess, I’m a Khaleesi :)) and had a photo op on the Iron Throne. (See below). We strolled around the town a bit more, then returned to our meeting point.

I would return to see some more of the town. Lots to see here.


The Red Keep


Sansa and Little Finger spoke here


Cersei waited for the return of her daughter here



Joffrey spoke from up there



Entering the old town


Passing through Pile Gate



Walk of Shame staircase – part 1


Chris, not looking the least bit ashamed



Inside here is the staircase where Daenerys meets the Spice King



Walk of shame – Part 2


Walk of shame – Part 3



Protest speech filmed here



Walking along the city walls



Red Keep from afar



Where Daenerys looked for her dragons in the House of the Undying


My rightful place πŸ™‚ Inform the Realm.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »