• Banff, Alberta, Canada •
… Explore! A Samyang 12mm f2.0 lens, an odd-sounding but functioning vehicle, and an open mind continued to help me uncover treasures as I travelled through the Canadian Rockies.
Losing any expectations I had on the last leg (ie. two days) of the trip widened my horizons, despite not seeing some of the point of interests I had so thoughtfully planned for. Which was odd, because these were the most fulfilling days of my trip out west… or maybe it’s just the magic of Banff.
Now if you haven’t yet read parts one to three of my Western Canada journey, here are the links in chronological order for your perusal: To the West!, Sea-to-Sky and Hwy 99, Beginnings in Banff. Or you can continue reading below, whatever takes your fancy.
Prior to checking in at Banff Inn, my boyfriend and I made a short detour to Vermillion Lakes, which like all of nature was doused in ice or snow at the time. Although literally outside of downtown Banff, not many tourists were in the area. Better for me! I was never a crowd chaser anyways… unless it is an absolute must-see. And it made the place all the more special.
We happened to visit on a long weekend, meaning more visitors (Albertans mostly) on what would be considered during the shoulder season. Like all tourists, we headed for the gondola at Sulphur Mountain. An absolute must-see. Heh, my repertoire of gondola experiences is expanding… to both my excitement and dismay. (May I remind you I dislike the slowness of gondolas).
We shopped (I just had to buy those wooden pens with the carved animals that everyone seems to get from Banff), and afterwards ate at Block Kitchen + Bar, a small but well-rated Asian fusion tapas bar just a short walk away the main road on Caribou St. We also tried Sushi House, because conveyor belt sushi with trains! And my boyfriend is a big fan of anything with a motor.
Ice grips. These nifty devices were what allowed us to walk on ice, invincibly. Sure, we had to grab onto each other, sometimes trees. But can you imagine going uphill with ice covering most of your path? We woke up first thing on our last day in Banff to a hike on Tunnel Mountain and brought our ice grips “just in case”. I remember the day I bought them just before our trip… me and my lame G2 licence had to walk home in the rain. Saviours, those little babies though.
On the other side of downtown Banff (I keep wanting to type Banff “village” because it is more village-ey than downtown-ey) is the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. You get to learn about this sulphurous (and therefore mildly odorous) hot springs, one of the first discovered from Sulphur Mountain. Commercialized, then recognized as a historic site, especially with the protection the Banff Springs Snail – you can get a dose of education while admiring the scenery.
If you drive a little ways out of downtown Banff, you will come upon Lake Minnewanka. Please go; this place is a gem. And you can see mountain goats! It’s not as well-known as Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, but you can forget them. I kid you not your jaw will drop from its enormity. To me, discovering this lake was the cherry on top. A calm, nice end to my adventure.