Tag Archive: vacation


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.

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 2

I feel so gross.

So last night after I typed away, I actually ended up watching the Michael Buble Christmas special. It was great having a bit of home, though I don’t know why I’m so home sick. This is supposed to come at the end of the trip, not the start!

My aunt came and knocked on my door a bit after that to say my uncle sat down on their bed and broke it and they were being moved to another building.

I eventually fell asleep. Woke up to the sound of the pouring rain. Great. Thankfully by the time I actually go up it had stopped. I took myself to breakfast. It was ok. I’m a big eater and I love food but was again underwhelmed by what I had. There was a cute little cat that came and joined me on the patio – looking for breakfast I supposed.

After breakfast I stopped and got a mojito and walked to the beach and it was exactly what I needed. This is why I came. Beeaach. I felt like literally running into the water but that’d be weird and I had a dress on.

 

I went back to my room to put on my swimmers and then headed back to the beach. I sat there for a bit, met up with the family, went swimming in the ocean. First time I’ve been swimming in the ocean since Australia, no sharks this time! Had my Ursula Andress moment, no conch though – wish I had a photo of me walking out of the water with my salty hair. Eventually it started to get cold – it was still cloudy from the morning rain – so I walked back to the resort area and met up with the family. We sat around the pool for the rest of the day and drank, which is why I feel gross. I wasn’t super drunk but I was a bit buzzed and like I said, hungry. I’ve sobered up now but I just feel gross. Anyway, we ended up on a cabana and who joined us? A resort kitty. I love cats, made me a bit less homesick for mine, we had a nap together haha.


Now I’m in the lobby bar. That made me sad. I still feel like barfing, I ordered the closest thing to ginger ale they have and a water. Maybe I just need that wall of bread from the buffet. Can you imagine if it had been hot or if I had really, really drank? I hope this passes. Might not check in until tomorrow now. Meeting the fam here before dinner at the buffet. Might go to Varadaro tomorrow and then we’re booked for a trip to Havana on Thursday.

Cuba Day 1

People warned me that things move a little slower in Cuba then in the ‘real world’ but I was not expecting this.

Let’s go back to this AM. To be honest, this was probably the least excited I’ve ever been for a holiday. I desperately need a break. But between guilt over leaving my cat all alone for the first time ever, guilt over the money, a little seasonal depression /anxiety – I was less than thrilled. I actually started to cry at home this morning, how lame! Especially for someone who normally loves to travel. This is another new country on my list and some place I did want to go.

Anyway, the flight wasn’t too bad. It always amazes me how awful people are and how some just have no clue how to behave in public/on a plane. Keep your clothes, on cover your mouth when you cough, use your inside voice – all that jazz. We flew Air Transat. The plane was older, kinda dirty and no individuals TV’s, which I find to be odd these days but you can download their app to use on your tablet. I just ended up spending most of my time looking out the window.

We got to Varadero and that’s when the slowness started. It took ages to get through customs – aagggess – it was painful. And of course, all those people going through customs had to get money then too – and that was also another long line.

We finally got on the shuttle to head to the resorts, which would another long journey. But I’ll say, at least the bus ride entertained me. I knew things here were different, I mean the airport is surrounded by an old wooden fence. It’s a fairly rural drive for the first bit but It was nice to see all the green and some of the houses that are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Going through actual Varedaro was cool, more neat houses and architecture, lots of colour and of course, the cars! I’m looking forward to exploring there.

We finally got to the resort the Paradisus Princesa del Mar but there was more waiting. They took our passports and told us to wait. And wait we did. I don’t understand why this very long process took place. I’m traveling with my aunt, uncle and grandparents. They’ve all done this kinda vacation before they say they’ve never done something like this done. Usually check-in/rooms and that sorta stuff is settled on the bus. We fiiinnally got our passports and keys to our rooms. We all loaded up on a golf cart and off we went to our building – which was pitch black. There was no power outside or in the hallways of the building. So there we are, walking in the pitch black trying to find our rooms. It was terrifying and I was not impressed.

The room is ok, two beds pushed together to make a bigger one. I checked for bed bugs, one looked in a bit better shape than the other so I’m sleeping on that one. I don’t think there is actual bed bugs, I’m sure I would have seen more evidence but it’s always a concern. There is a canopy over the bed but it’s kinda dirty and falling down. The bed has a waterproof cover on it, reminds me of the plastic bed I slept on in the dorm my first year at college. Good size room though and a nice big patio – looking forward to seeing the view in the day time. The walls are quite thin though, I can hear other people in other rooms.

After another scary we walk in the dark – we went to the buffet for dinner. This was also something I was warned about, the food. Was it great, no. There is lots of food but not much that I’m too interested in and what is there, sorta all tasted odd. There is a whole wall of different breads to pick from which might be a saving grace. I’m hungry.

After that we tried to find the evening entertainment. We did, kinda. There was brass band and they were good, there was supposed to be some other stuff but we couldn’t really find it. I don’t think much could have entertained me anyway. I’m tired and sticky and bored and still in an off mindset. I’ve got six days to perk up!

I’m hoping tomorrow being a full day, I’ll enjoy myself. I want sunshine and a beach. Right now I’m in bed, watching a U2 concert on tv .

So – day one, long, slow, sticky, my hair is starting to look like Monica’s on that episode of Friends when they go to the Caribbean, it will only get worse too. Oh I do love, love the warm and humidity so don’t get me wrong! Looking forward to what day 2 brings, I think.

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!

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