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.

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