Tag Archive: Canada


Short Staycation Day 3

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It was another early morning.
I tried to get on the road before everyone else again and it worked out pretty well. Beaut of a view as I headed to Lake Louise.
In all the times I’ve been to the mountains, I’ve never been to Lake Louise and have you seen the photos of that place? How can you not go?

It’s a bit of a drive to get to – and once you’re there, there isn’t much too it. Well other than the amazing view.

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Quite enjoyed the little creek you have to cross over

It was quite cold being so high up and off the lake, a dramatic difference from the 28 degree the day before in Banff! The lake was a bit slushy but not really icy.

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Hello there little red canoes!

 

 

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They say the best time to get out the Lake is before 9 or so because it gets quite busy after that. I was lucky to make it there before the crowds. But after walking around a bit I couldn’t feel my fingers so I went and had breakfast inside the Chateau Lake Louise.

After that I took a quick tour around the hotel.

A lot of people were starting to arrive outside so I went and took a few last photos before hitting the road once again.

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I want to go back to Lake Louise in the summer at some point because I really want to canoe on the lake! And I want to go back in the winter one day to skate on the lake! Now if only the drive wasn’t so scary in the winter…

Between Lake Louise and Jasper there is A LOT to see. If you don’t do a bit of research, you’ll end up driving right past a lot of places going ‘oh what was that…?’
I only made a few stops because I wanted to keep a bit of a time schedule. Plus some of them I just didn’t know about until it was too late. So clearly I just need to go again. Anyway, I think I mentioned this was the first time I’d ever driven myself through the mountains. Once I hit the Jasper side of things, it got interesting. I drove through some snow, sleet, rain, fog, you name it, all within about a half hour. This part of the highway is also single lane. Half the time I was so interested in looking around, or looking for animals, I must have driven the few cars behind me crazy cause I’d look down and realize I was going 10km slower than the limit. Though – there were SO many speeders! Why are you going SO fast? What if you went around a curve and hit a moose or a bear? I beg you, please slow down.
Anyway, I’m not good with ‘edges’ – you know… being on the edge of the road looking down… and heights. Well, I guess it’s more the fear of falling. So I’m going down the highway and I can see these cars parked up on a bit of an outlook an thought wow, I wonder what’s up there, that looks crazy. Then I realized that was exactly the road I was on. My tummy was in my mouth for a bit, but I convinced myself to pull over on the lookout once I finally made it.

 

My next stop was the Columbia Icefield. I went as a kid, which was cool then, but I think you appreciate it more as an adult when you see what is happening to the area. You can do those big tire bus tours out onto the glacier. I didn’t, I just stopped in their very impressive (and very busy) interpretive centre.

It was then off to Jasper. I missed so much though on the drive. You could very easily spend two days just stopping at all the cool stuff to check out. Next time! I guess I can sort of forgive myself, after not being in the area for so long, at least I saw the highlights.

The plan was to get to Jasper and see how I felt. If was enjoying myself and wanted to stay, I’d stay. If not, I’d do the rest of the drive home. I can honestly say in the 19 years since I’ve been to Jasper, not much has changed. Except, I couldn’t find Jasper the Bear… is he still there? I always thought  near the train station but I never saw him 😦
Jasper is quaint. It’s not nearly as commercialized as Banff, which is nice, but there isn’t as much to do right in the town. I walked up the main street and looked around the shops. I decided that it was only just after noon, so I’d head home. Sorry, I only took one photo in Jasper!

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The drive as you continue to head out of Jasper is so nice. I did end up seeing and Elk and a mountain goat (damn tourists trying to feed it). Was sad I never saw any bears though! Maybe next time. It was a very long drive – once you get out of the parks area, and the mountains disappear, it’s so dull. I kept looking back in my mirror to get a last look until they finally went out of view.
I was so happy to get out of my car finally! And to have someone to talk to other than myself! I really enjoyed my little getaway. Sometimes you forget about the amazing things that you have in your own backyard. And is there ever a time when the mountains aren’t pretty? I don’t care how often you see them, they’re always impressive. I will really have to consider going back as soon as I can. This time I’ll take a week or so and really explore.

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Short Staycation Day 2

I got up bright an early on Saturday morning to head to Banff. I didn’t quite want to get out of that comfy bed and robe though…

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I headed down to breakfast in the hotel at the Rimrock dining room. It’s such a fabulous looking room. There are photos and artifacts all over the place to look at and how about this fireplace? DSC01701

I opted for the buffet as I can never turn down a buffet but I have to say – this one was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t bad but it was great. The staff though were great and it was a nice easy start to the morning.
I took just a few snaps of the hotel lobby as I waited for the valet to bring the car around.  I again just have to say the staff there is really excellent and so nice. I really enjoyed my stay.

And it was off to Banff! I’m lucky that I’m an early riser on the weekends so I was on the road just after 7am.

I haven’t been to Banff in 12 years so I was quite excited to go. I had also never driven myself there, so an adventure though the mountains was also something interesting.
Anyway, the drive itself is great. It’s so much fun to see the mountains get bigger and bigger the closer you get. And before I knew it, I had arrived at the Park gates. It’s still a bit of a drive until you’re in Banff proper but just being in the Park is great. I got to town and did a couple loops, it was fairly quiet being so early still. It still looked mostly like a remembered it. It has mountain village charm with a bit of commercialisation. Anyway, I decided my first stop would be the famous Bow Falls.

It was perfect, it was early and quiet and still a little crisp in the air. Part of my wishes I had just sat there all day. It ended up being 29 degrees so – a towel and picnic would have made for a lovely day. But as I said, 12 whole years means you have a lot to check out!

I made a quick trip over to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. I had been invited to an event at the hotel and I had never been before so I was looking forward to checking out ‘the castle’. Quick shoutout to Poppy Barely for inviting me to their special event at the hotel, I mean shoes and Veuve Clicquot – two of my favouite things in one of the most beautiful settings!
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After that and a snoop through the hotel, which includes the loveliest ballroom I hope to have my wedding in one day… if I ever meet a man that will marry me… I was off on the next stop. A different view of the Banff Springs. DSC03233

Another ‘must do’ in Banff is a stop at Surprise Corner. The trail that starts from Bow Falls does go all the way up there but I hadn’t considered hiking – so I never actually packed proper shoes – so I drove up there. It’s a fantastic place to stop and take some photos.

Once I was done there, I was able to check in early to my hotel. I stayed at the Rundlestone Lodge – Pallisar hotel it’s not. It’s certainly a no frills kind of hotel but it was clean, there is a pool and a restaurant and free underground parking. I quickly changed and decided to do a walk down the main street in Banff. This is all we did the last time I was there. There are so many little shops to go in – most of the souvenir stores sell the same tack but there are also some fun pieces to find, like jewelry or art. If you go and want to check out some great art, I suggest the The Banff Gallery featuring the art of Jason Leo Bantle. It was so hard to not spend all my money on all the photos in there! I do plan to order a couple to hang on my wall at home. I wandered in and out of the shops and stopped for some lunch. It was so nice and warm and everyone seemed to be enjoying – the line up outside the ice cream shop was quite long.

After my walk I had sorta done everything I had planned on doing, which sucked in a way. I ended up getting my swim suit and heading up the mountain to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Nothing like sitting in a 40 degree pool when it’s already 29 degrees outside.
It’s a bit smaller than some of the other hot springs but it was alright – though, like I said, not really a hot day activity. I only stayed for about a half hour or so.

There are no shortages of place to pick to eat in Banff but I couldn’t decide where to do. The biggest issue I had was my hotel was way at the end of the road and I didn’t feel like walking all that was, plus I was alone and while I believe Banff is quite safe, I don’t always feel comfortable walking alone in a place I’m unfamiliar with. I ended up at The Keg which was in a couple hotels down. The only thing that ruined my dinner was this – what I assume was mother and daughter – who were also sitting on the patio, talking as loudly as the could at each other. I can tell you pretty much everything about their lives, including the fact they had a whole jug of Sangria, which they pronounced sangree-AAAH. Two men joined them, who spoke at normal levels. The ladies ordered another jug and continued to tell all of us all about their lives.
That was pretty much the end of the night for me. I walked back to my hotel and sat on my great big king sized bed and watched TV. I mean, vacation is about catching up on rest and being a bit lazy sometimes too, right? I also wanted to go to bed early, knowing it would be a long drive to Jasper in the morning.

Short staycation

I booked myself a long weekend to head to Calgary, Banff and Jasper.

I was supposed to be in Calgary for an event but the devastating wildfires in Fort McMurray, the event was cancelled.
I still had hotels booked and desperately needed a couple nights with a change of scenery.

I left for Calgary early Friday morning. I used to live there so, while I enjoy going back to the city and see things (and how things have changed) – it’s not overly exciting, like if you were going somewhere new.

While some might call it blasphemy for a born and raised Edmontonian to say ‘I like Calgary’, I’ll say it anyways. Their sport teams on the other hand, well…
Basically if you haven’t been there, go. It really is quite a lovely city. There is lots to do. The most famous event is obviously the Calgary Stampede but if you don’t care to visit in July or just want other things to do, some of the many things I’d check out include the Glenbow Museum, the Military Museums, Stephan AvenueCalgary Tower, and Canada Olympic Park (Calgary hosted the 1988 games). Or do as I did and take a road trip to the mountains…

It was a pretty quiet day in town for me. I headed to Chinook Mall for some shopping and a quick coffee with any old friend. But that meant I accidently found myself on Glenmore Trail at the start of rush hour. The one thing I never got use to – was driving in Calgary. Doing 100 km/h and then come to a sudden stop for no apparent reason. Anyway, I met a friend for dinner at the Blue Star Diner. I totally forgot to take a photo of what we had – I had the burger, Lacey had wings. They were really good. It’s a cute little spot, pretty unassuming but if you’re in town and want a quiet, small place for some food, put this on your list.

After dinner I finally had time to head downtown and check-in to my hotel.
I was fortunate enough to stay at the Fairmont Pallisar.
For those who may not know, there are a number of Fairmonts across Canada (and a around the world!). Many here have ties to the rail line. They’re all very swish. I’ve been to the Chateau Frontenac (great patio), and the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald is one of my favourite spots for cocktails, they also do a crackin’ high tea. I’ve been to the Pallisar twice before but never have stayed there. It met all my expectations, it was such a great stay.

The valet helped me unload my trunk before taking my car to their secure parking. Check-in was super quick and easy. I really did think as just some single person only staying one night I’d be stuck in some dumpy room in the far back corner. Turns out I was wrong.
On the 11th floor, with this as my view.

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Not bad! Once I was in my room and my bags arrived, I wished I had checked-in sooner. Heck I wish I has just skipped shopping and dinner and came to the hotel. The bed was one of the top 3 comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in. The bedding was just awesome and I was oh so tired. Plus it didn’t have any cat hair on it, which is a hazard in my house. I am also disappointed I never made it down to the pool. I packed the bathing suit with every intention but I didn’t make it, looked lovely though.

I did head out for a bit, down over to National On 8th for a couple drinks with a friend. It’s a pretty cool place, with a fantastic rooftop patio. It’s quite trendy and loud so if that’s not your scene, there are plenty of other places to go in the area. But I think it was great! The drinks were decently priced as well… we didn’t eat anything but the food looked good going by.

After a couple drinks I went back to the hotel – very excited to sleep in that cozy bed!
Maybe I’m just so used to staying in hotel in other countries but I liked that there were big fluffy facecloths in the bathroom along with the towels. The bath products were nice too – I just used the soap but took the mini lotion with me because my hands were so dry.

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Cuba Day 3

So after dinner last night we sat around in the court yard for a bit. It’s quite boring just sitting around to be honest. There was some music but nothing too exciting.

I came back to the room and watched an old episode of ER and went to bed. I had a bit of tummy trouble, nothing too serious but it’s never fun. Luckily it went away after a while and I was able to get some sleep. Still found it noisy though. It not just people in the room next door, it’s creaks and cracks and the fridge, the wooden doors that need to be slammed shut ect.

Today I woke up and it was bight and sunny and exciting.

After a less and ideal breakfast (I still can’t get behind the food here) we set off for Varadaro. We went to the flea market and a couple malls. It wasn’t really worth it. It was cool being driven around in the old Chevy but it was just a bunch of crap (and I do mean that in a nice way, maybe I should say tack? Some people put a lot of time and effort in to some of those goods so I’m not discounting that – but how many fridge magents and t-shirts does one need?) and women asking if I want my hair braided. I did buy a necklace for my mom (might keep it hah)

So I still need something for my dad, brother and maybe some friends. I plan on doing my Christmas shopping here. I just realized too that I didn’t take any pictures in town and now I’m a bit disappointed 😦

We came back and had lunch and then I headed to the beach. It had clouded over a bit but wasn’t bad. I fell asleep for a bit on my chair – my own snoring woke me up. There were these really annoying French people were so loud. They were playing with some ball thing that made a buzzing noise in the air. The one guy couldn’t catch a cold if you sneezed on him. The only thing worse was the LOUD Russians.

I went in the water for a bit. It was different today, lots of sediment and shells and sea weed washing up. I wonder what causes such a change from one day to another? I collected some cool shells, not too sure what I’ll do with them yet but I’ll find something.

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Beach

We watched skydivers land on the beach. They asked if I wanted to try it and I said no. Then it was time to head back to the rest of the gang who were over at the pool.

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Pool at Paradisus Princesa del Mar

We wanted to go back to our rooms for a bit before dinner and on our way we ran into our friend Mr. Happy. Well my aunt saved him some good from the buffet the day before and had it in her room. So, she (we) coaxed him to follow us and he did just that. And guess whose room he decided he wanted to stay in?

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My new friend Mr. Happy

Yup, mine. We’re pals. He ate his stolen food on the patio and then had a short bath while I showered and took a bit of a nap while I got ready for dinner. He didn’t really want to leave when I was ready to go. He seemed quite at home and happy on my bed. Poor dude. We got him to go though and he went his way and we went ours.

Off we went for dinner – though I do find it odd that the buffet doesnt open until 7pm for dinner. That seems kinda late, no? We have sat at the same table since we’ve been here and have two really great ladies taking care of us. We once again just sat around for a bit in the courtyard area. Not sure what the entertainment is tonight. Anyway, off to bed, have to get up early for Havana!

Oh yah, look at my blanket animal!

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Pillow person!

Cerveza’s and Cohiba’s

Hi everyone! Wow it’s been awhile! I didn’t go anywhere this summer, just did a bit of a staycation. Went to local festivals and activities, relaxed and sat on a lot of patios. But that’s not why I’m here. This week we decided to go to Cuba just before Christmas. I cannot wait to plop myself down on a beach and sit there. I haven’t been on a proper beach since I was in Australia. That was a lifetime ago. This will be my first time (the others have been before). So now I need your help! What should I know about Cuba before I go? I know the country is slowly changing as their relationship with America changes. We’ll be in Cayo Coco – so tell me what’s good, what’s bad – the lot. I look forward to hearing what all of you have to say.

Summer time travels

Happy May Long weekend everyone – or just regular weekend depending on where you are. Here I’m happy to say I have an extra day off. For many May Long signifies that summer is just around the corner. So have you many any plans yet? Well I wanted to pass on these two articles that I came across this week posted by Global News.

The first one is a great guide to road tripping across Canada. Whether you’re from Canada and just plan on doing more of a staycation or you’re a first time visitor, this has some amazing ideas!

Canadian Road Trip

And if you remember a post I did a while ago about Edmonton – the city just made a National Geographic list of best summer trips. Just another reason to visit. Check it out!

Best Summer Trips 

Let me know what your summer travel plans are!

Morning all! Hope things are well. Have any of you travelled over spring break? Would love to hear about your adventures.
Saw this article posted yesterday about the most common travel mistakes people make – take a look.

Travel Mistakes 

Definitely happy to say that I’ve never had anything like these happen to me – but they do happen! Have you ever had an oops?

Crowdfunding to pay for travel

Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept.  Go on one of the many sites and you’ll see people asking for money to pay for medical expenses, helping a friend or family member who’s found themselves in a tight spot, paying for their education – and people who want to travel. I’m a believer in that people can spend their money on whatever they want, they’ve earned it, it’s their right. So if you want to drop $500 on a new purse instead of a local charity – totally your prerogative. That’s also why I don’t find asking strangers for money for something ‘frivolous’ like travelling , is a terrible thing to do. If they want to and they can, then that’s great! The thing is – if you never ask for something, you’ll never get it. Most of the people I’ve seen on the sites are younger and are looking to go on their first big trip. Some of them just want to get home for Christmas.
Last week just for the heck of it, I signed up and asked for donations to put toward my *hopeful* trip to Switzerland next  year. So far I’ve had no luck but it was worth a shot! Maybe someone will take pity on my and throw a hundred bucks my way haha.
How do you feel about having strangers help pay for your travel expenses? Have you done it or would you try it? Let me know!
In the meantime, if you’d like to help a girl out – here’s my link 😀

Holiday travels

Happy Monday everyone! I can’t believe it’s already December… have you started thinking about a winter getaway? I sure have but probably won’t be in the cards this year. It was so cold here over the weekend – got down to the -40’s with the wind-chill. If that doesn’t scream ‘get me to a beach’ I don’t know what does. The good news is, if you’ve been thinking about it there are some ‘Cyber Monday’ deals out there… some of them aren’t the greatest but might be worth a look depending on what you’re in the market for…

Westjet still has their Black Friday sale on – you have to travel by January 5th and there is only one ‘warm’ destination on sale. Who knows, maybe they’ll add more later today.

Air Canada is having a Cyber Monday 15% off sale.

Expedia is offering 50% off but you need to travel by the end of the month. Great if you’re looking for a last minute deal.

Redtag also has a few offers, probably your best bet for a warm destination.

There are a bunch more so I won’t list them but it’s worth browsing around today if you’re looking for something. Let me know if you find anything good and what your winter travel plans are! Stay warm 🙂

Places You Should Go – Whistler

So my last post was all about fun in the summer – hopefully you booked your The Yacht Week experience! But seeing is winter is just around the corner, I thought we’d focus on something a little more seasonal.

Whistler. Oh Whistler. It’s like a tiny fairy village full of twinkling lights and fluffy snow and and stunning mountains.

Your adventure begins as you travel the stunning Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver. The views are just ridiculous the entire way… I’m glad I wasn’t driving so I could just stare out the window and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Depending on how fast you drive and whether you pull over to stretch those legs, breath in the beautiful mountain air and take a few snaps – it’s about a 2 hour drive from Vancouver to Whistler.

I stayed at the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside and I can’t recommend it enough.

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It’s a stunning hotel located right at the base of Whistler Mountain. I was a bit early for check-in so my room wasn’t ready yet. But the kind ladies at the front desk gave me a free upgrade to a ‘suite’ meaning I could check-in right then and there! How nice is that?! My suite wasn’t exactly what I was expecting … I was thinking sweeping mountain views and a great big luxurious room. Well I got the mountain view…

I’ve never been in a hotel where the bed pulled out of the wall before! haha … It was a really lovely room in actual fact, it was just smaller than I expected. I would have hated to see what my original room looked like! The Murphy bed was quite cozy and I spent quite a bit of time cuddle up in front of the gas fireplace.

The outdoor pool was wonderful as well…it was just warm enough where you could still enjoy it. I also loved their eucalyptus infused steam room. I want one in my house! There are a few upgrades the hotel could make, I’m sure that can be said about almost every hotel but the pros far outweighed the cons.

One pro? Having a pub in the hotel. It’s called Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub and it’s great! The food is good, they have a great selection of boozy drinks and live music. Plus it’s only a short stumble back up to your room. I ate a couple times here and enjoyed it. On my last night I spent hours sitting at the bar talking to some businessmen and the handsome bartender with an Irish accent. There was just a little bit of a wobble in my step when I finally left.

There is lots to see and do in Whistler year round. I was actually told you’ll probably find more to do in the summer than in the winter. I seriously couldn’t begin to name them all so I’ll just show you a few of the things I did. I need another trip to fit more of the activities in for sure. I wasn’t there long enough! For a list of all the activities you should definitely check out their official website here. I found the site enormously helpful while planning my trip.

There are no cars allowed right in Whistler Village so you can walk from one end .. where my hotel was.. clear right on to the other. I did this many times, definitely got my exercise in. I popped to all the different hotels just to see what they’re like, all the fun shops. Some sell the usual tac, others you can find unique treasures and of course the high end goodies!

A ‘must do’ is the Peak to Peak Gondola. It’s great even if you’re not a skier, you can head up the mountains, check out the views and have something to eat. I’m not a huge fan of heights. I don’t mind them but I do tend to get that fluttery heart, sweating palms thing going. So I was quite proud of myself for not having an absolute panic attack. I had my moments.. but I survived. Luckily once you start going up and you’re mesmerized by the view, you kinda forget your scared.

I was pretty excited to see the bear. Also glad I was too far away for him to get me.

And then… you get to the top.  I had lunch in the chalet and check out the neat little Olympic display before heading across on the Peak to Peak over to Blackcomb Mountain. It was a little less foggy over that way, could see right down to the village and even the bob sled/luge track from the Olympics.

Soon it was time to come back down. I enjoyed my trip but also wanted to get back to earth 😉 and put some dry socks on. I saw another bear – or maybe it was the same fella… either way. Those bikers sure hit the breaks when they came around the corner. And then I ran into a more friendly mama and baby bear in town. Cute eh?


I also visited the very quaint and very unique Whistler museum. I learned all about the area, how it was founded, the wildlife that call the area home. Tons of cool things to see and do. It is quite small and I was the only one in there. It was a real treat. Definitely worth checking out.

The favourite thing I did in Whistler.. I sadly didn’t take pictures of. I went to the Scandinave Spa . Just thinking about it now makes me want to cry. I want to go back to bad! It’s an amazing, amazing experience.
The hotel drove me up to the spa which is nestled in the side of a mountain. Of course. I was dropped off in a parking lot and then literally walked through the woods on a little path until the spa appeared before me. It was magical.
It’s peaceful from the moment you arrive. I was checked and taken downstairs for my massage. You know how most places play soothing music in the background while you’re having your treatment? Yah – they had a window open and I listened to the gentle sounds of real live birds, the breeze rustling the leaves and a babbling brook. Heaven.
After a blissful hour – it was time to head to the Scandinavian Baths… *gently weeps* … it’s a hot/cold/warm experience said to be incredibly good for your health. You first relax in a nice warm tub, then jump into a cold pool and then find youself back into a warming station. The website I gave above explains the experiences so much better than what I just said haha. And its not just hot tubs and cold tubs, there are different stations to try. My favourite was the dry sauna. I could have stayed in there all day long. I started to go a little stir crazy though. You can’t talk in the baths. Like at all. Me not talk? I think that was harder than trying to psych myself into jumping into the cold water! I only briefly saw one other woman while I was there so at least I wasn’t really tempted to talk to anyone. It was just me and the birds and the beautiful view of the trees and mountain fog that sat on top of us. It seriously was heaven… the whole entire day. I cannot wait to head back to Scandinave … I so wish it was closer!

I fear I have rambled on far too long now. I will add, if you’re a foodie, Whistler also has some truly amazing and award winning restaurants. I’m not going to mention and by name as I didn’t take any photos from any of them. But every meal I ate was exceptional and the service was also great. Except for the really, really creepy waiter at the steakhouse.

I highly recommend a trip to Whistler even if it’s just for the day. Winter or summer. Just go. Lots to do, lots to see. Things are a little expensive but hey that’s all a part of travelling.

 

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Bye Whistler!

 

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