Monday, June 18, 2012

Canadian Rockies, Days 9 and 10

Hello, all. I realized that a recap of the final two days of the vacation was missing and I've been caught up with some things on my end (applications, movies/TV, books, videos, etc.), so they've been lacking.  But I'm currently watching Bedlam and decided to pull out the laptop and do a bit of multi-tasking.  Anyways ...

Day 9 was a rather rainy morning and a rainy day overall.  We brought in breakfast (pastries and the like) and ate in the hotel while deciding how to spend the day.  One of the things that my mom had wanted to check out was Gastown, the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver and a core downtown area.  However, it was on the rainy side, so walking around wouldn't be the best option ... but we decided to gather our things and walk around Gastown.  The rain had let up a bit, but there was still a light consistent drizzle.  We walked up and down Water Street and window shopped/browsed some art galleries and jewelry stores.  The brother wanted poutine from one of the restaurants we passed, but my parents thought that it was a farther walk, so we ended up going to a nice café (The Water Street Café) (and by nice, I mean most people were slightly dressed up while my brother and I were in T-shirts and jeans). The food was pretty good.  After walking around in the drizzle for a few hours, we went back to the hotel and hung around until dinner from one of the nearby sushi restaurants that we had ate in two nights prior.

Day 10 was a partial day, as we were catching a mid-afternoon flight home.  It was a lot of last-minute packing and checking out and gassing the car up before dropping it off at the airport and going through customs pre-clear.  Funny story there, actually.  We had to go through a second screening process because we had some apples (along with sandwiches and food gifts for family/work friends).  Long story short, we couldn't take the apples with us.  Never happened to us before.  I tried meeting up with Austin between when her flight got in and when we had to board, but airport security wasn't too allowing.  In the meantime, the brother and I got some poutine from the terminal's Burger King.  It was alright, but don't go to fast food places for poutine.  There are better places to get it from.  Anyways, the flight home was pleasant. I managed to watch Safe House and Rushmore.  (I was more excited for the latter because it was on my list for a while and I had tried to watch a copy that I got from the library, but either the VHS or DVD (I don't remember which) was scratched up or tracking or something along those lines.)  We met the car service in the pick-up area outside the airline check-in desks, made our way home, and called it a night ... but I stayed up to finish The Wind Through The Keyhole.

And so ended the Canadian Rockies vacation.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Canadian Rockies, Days 4 - 8 catch-up

Okay, long-overdue vacation recap to date ... and go!

Day 4:
- Chair massage
- Athabasca Glacier/Columbia Icefields
- Dinner at Evil Dave's
- Very interesting chat with the owner of Our Native Land in Jasper. He's very knowledgeable when it comes to ammonite and jewelery.

Day 5:
- Maligne Canyon/Gorge walk
- Lake Beauvert walk
- Dinner at Fiddle River

Day 6:
- Saw a bear near the resort
- Lunch at the Flour Mountain bakery/café on the way to Kamloops (halfway point between Jasper and Vancouver for us)

Day 7:
- Lunch at Blue Mouse Café in Hope, BC (where 'Rambo' was filmed 30 years ago)
- Toro sashimi at dinner in Vancouver

Day 8:
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Rented bikes and rode around Stanley Park. Also met two very nice brothers (one visiting from the UK and the other who emigrated to Calgary in the 70s).
- Walking around parts of Granville Island
- Learned a bit more about a fudge-making technique from a fudge seller in the Public Market on Granville.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Canadian Rockies (a placeholder)

Hey, folks, the Wifi where we're staying tonight is shoddy (at least it is on my phone; no clue why), so you'll be getting a big big big post tomorrow once we're settled at the hotel in Vancouver.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Canadian Rockies, Day 3

A few things to add on today, namely activity-wise.
1) The gondola: It's about a 15 minute or so round trip from near the Banff Fairmont up to Sanson Peak and back. Beautiful view of the surrounding park both ways and up on the peak. There's a touristy area (gift shop, snacks, restaurant) up top, along with a walking path over to and up to a former observatory. The walk and climb are rewarding for the view ... and the occasional begging squirrel, but be careful with them.
2) Lake Minnewanka: There's a really nice hour-long cruise of sorts around the lake with a knowledgeable guide and a chance of seeing some wildlife.
Otherwise, I met up with Kelsey (allomer from DailyBooth) for tea (and a very nice chat) and talked travel stuff with a Welsh couple on the cruise. They emigrated in the late '60s to Ontario and were taking an RV trip with some friends of theirs from Britain from Vancouver to Calgary, so they made some sightseeing suggestions for Vancouver.
Oh, and as for food, there was another stop at Wild Flour, ice cream from Cows, and dinner at Poppy Brassiere.
Now ... to bask in the beauty of Lake Louise and maybe work on more 11/22/63 before turning in. Hope you're all enjoying the recaps and pictures!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Canadian Rockies, Day 2

In yesterday's post, I was going to talk a bit about Banff, where we've spent the first two days. Well, I might as well do so in this post.
Despite only being in Banff for a limited time, I love it! The town is nestled in, well, Banff National Park, and is nearby Mount Rundle. The downtown area, centered around Banff Avenue, is about a 10 minute walk from the main stretch of hotels. There are some touristy shops, along with some outdoorsy stores, a small movie theater, and a gem store or two. You can also find a number of restaurants, ranging from casual to quaint to wholesome to slightly fancy. We hit up The Old Spaghetti Factory (Italian chain in Canada), Wild Flour (healthy sandwich, pastry, and coffee cafe of sorts), and Balkan (classy Greek restaurant). And there are a number of sweeteries, too, like Mountain Chocolates (a wide selection of fudge, handmade in the window), Cow Ice Cream (Canadian chain; We'll make it to one as we go west.), and Beavertails (gelato, beavertail pastries, smoothies, etc.).
Apart from the food, there is the nature to revel in. Standing on Banff Avenue and looking around at the surrounding still snow-capped mountains is stunning. There are also a number of local sightseeing attractions, like lookouts onto Bow River, a Johnston Canyon hike, and horseback riding along Spray River. We took the small hike this morning (loud, stunning, and a little wet) and followed it up with a 3 hour horseback ride (stretch beforehand and have good posture/positioning while riding). During the ride, we forded two rivers and nobody got dysentery! The views of the mountains ... I can't help but gush.
Overall, the area is a quaint mix of touristy and residential (There is a community high school in town!) and an awe-inspiring mix of nature and culture that reminds me of a mix of Aspen (never been there, though), the area near my great-uncle's place in Vermont, a downtown area not too far from my home, and a bit of Alaska. I wish I could spend more time here, but maybe on the next trip.