Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beautiful Banff (Throwback post)

Banff is, as you might imagine, quite an expensive place to stay, so we only had a couple of days here.

We spent one day looking around the town, and taking the gondola up Sulphur Mountain, and the next on a tour.

Up Sulphur Mountain, Banff
Going up the mountain was OK, but wasn't especially exciting. There is an observation platform at the top, and you can do a one kilometer walk to the meteorological station if you wish.

Up Sulphur Mountain, Banff
Ground squirrel, Banff

We sat and watched the ground squirrels running around and foraging for food instead.
Ground squirrel, Banff

Lake Louise
But of course the main reason for coming here was to get out to see the surrounding areas. With not driving, this had to be a tour. we selected on that went to Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefields.

I think that Nic was a little disappointed that we weren't stopping at the nearest lake, not because it is Banff National Park's largest lake, but just because he liked it's name - Lake Minnewanka.

Our first stop was, for us, the highlight of the day - Lake Louise. It isn't the biggest lake, but it is stunning. With a backdrop of snow capped mountains reflected in the wonderfully still blue waters, it looks truly beautiful.

Lake Louise
Not surprising then, that there is a fancy hotel, the Fairmont, right next to it. I dread to think what it costs to stay here for the night. Happily though, they had the decency to build it just far enough back not to spoil the views.

The lake is named after Queen Victoria's fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, who was married to John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll, and the Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. I often feel sorry for famous people, when I see some of the rubbish that gets given their name, but this is something that I think anyone would be proud to have named after them.

Lake Louise
I think it is a testament to how beautiful this place is, that my favourite photos here is Nic's one with the dandelion head; even with the background completely out of focus, it still looks amazing.

Lake Peyto
Another lake that we stopped at was Lake Peyto, where the draw is not so much the scenery, (though that still is good,) but rather the colour of the water. These strong blues or greens come from the silt that flows in to the water.

Some of the rock sinks as usual, but some is ground up as finely as flour, so remains suspended in the water. When the sunlight hits these tiny particles, they scatter the blue-green rays, creating the colours we see.

Our final visit on the tour was the Columbia Icefields. Having visited the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, and having been to Antarctica, we weren't really expecting much from this bit. It certainly isn't as impressive as either of those, but it is still worth seeing, and if you haven't had the chance to get up close (ish) to a glacier before, I would certainly recommend it.

The icefields are the largest in the Rocky Mountains, with the huge Athabasca Glacier sliding its way down the mountain. Sadly, like many glaciers subjected to our warming climate, this is a receding, or melting glacier.

The trip out is fun, as they take you on huge great monster trucks, that can make their way safely across the ice, The drivers also act as your guide, and if our's was anything to go by, they given you some interesting information in a fun and humourous way.

The space that you have to walk arould on the icefield isn't huge, but it is enough, as the point really is to look out over the glacier. If you have an empty bottle, you can fill it with some natural glacier water - though it may be best to get the guide to do it for you, judging by some of the attempts that we saw!

All in all Banff - or rather this area of the Rockies - is one of those places where the reality does live up to the expectation. It is stunning out here, and it has definitely made it on to our list of places we would go back to.


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