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Canada - Trafalgar Tour

Calgary, Jasper, Banff, and train trip to Kamloops & Vancouver

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Day 30

Today we were heading to Calgary, but it was going to be tricky. Our flight was strangely enough set up to fly to Calgary via Chicago. With a 50 minute stop over. We were worried with the amount delays in Chicago due to extreme weather over the last month but all was good. We safely made Chicago in time for the connecting flight. I was luckily enough to get a seat in ecomony Plus as Jo was booked in the last seat in economy. After a brief discussion with stewdess Jo was able to sit with me and we played Phase 10 for the next couple of hours.

When arriving in Calgary we collected bags, and needed to find a ATM to pay for our taxi. Going to the Bank of Montreal ATM you will soon realise that ANZ travel cards will not work here. Interesting!! We organised a taxi and informed we had a travel voucher from Trafalgar. This did the trick and we got dropped off at our recently renovated motel.

Found a Safeway supermarket up the road to make some rolls for dinner and got some money from CIBC too. Crashed in bed that night after a long travelling day.

Day 31

Woke up to a fine & sunny day. Polished off some breakfast then organised a taxi to take us to International Hotel down town. We had 8 hours before we met the rest of group from Trafalgar tour so we thought good chance to venture around Calgary. Amazing to see the sky walks that connect all buildings while Calgary go thru their freezing winter.

Finally the time had come to meet our tour leader, Russell and rest of the group. There was 50 new faces sitting the dining room. And most of the age group was 50+. Russell explained to us how we meet in the morning and where to leave bags so they could be packed on the bus. We had a welcome drink with the group then headed to China town for dinner. When we got to the restaurant Uncle Benny greeted us, and we sat down to a feast, then back to the hotel before the first official day of the tour.

Day 32

Early start, we had breakfast with a couple from Essex, and despite the age gap we got along really well. Then onto the bus. We headed out past some ski jumps used when Calgary hosted the winter Olympics (think Eddie the Eagle) and they still get used today - even in the summer. Our lunch stop was at the Columbian Icefields and we got to walk out on a glacier which was neat (and really cold 0 degrees, Sean wore shorts). Had lunch there - there then continued our trip, and stopped at the Athabasca falls, which were really nice to see. Only 45 minutes to Jasper - and along the way we saw a Black Bear, then 5 minutes out of Jasper another one. The cars and busses stopping to watch don't seem to phase the grazing of the bears. They just mind there own business and keep on eating. After an exciting day travelling and seeing amazing wildlife, we met new people over dinner. We were seated with two ladies from Long Island (one saw Secretariat run in the Belmont in 1973), New York and a couple from Sheffield, which was a great. Had a lovely chat with them over dinner. For dinner Sean tasted Bison meatloaf, very interesting.

Day 33

Sleep in and time to explore Jasper. Had a good look around and a spot of gift shopping. Met up with the rest of the group to check out a really neat Canyon. Then back to Jasper for one last look around, before the nature walk. Bus picked us up and took us to Mt Edith Cavell. Glaciers and views from here were pretty amazing. We even saw a Marmot, which is an interesting creature. Almost looks like a cross between a possum and a beaver.
Weather was starting to close in so we cut the hike short and headed back for the hotel. The temperature had dropped 10 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Day 34

We woke in the morning to find the storm from last night had caused snow to fall. For breakfast today we sat with people from St Cloud (Minnesota). First trip of the day was Lake Peyto, what amazing view. Sean also got to play with snow for the first time. He also threw snowballs around too. So back on the bus and we stopped at the spiral tunnels - these were amazing. Trains use these tunnels to get through parts of the Rockies - really is great to see. Some of the long freight trains can even see there end after they turn through the mountain and come out underneath the other tracks - really need to see this to fully understand. Had lunch at lake Louise Village, and went on to explore some of the other lakes in the area. There really are some spectacular lakes. The other highlight was seeing 3 more black bears today. Got into Banff around 5.30, and had a quick tour around Banff, before we got to the hotel. Had a lovely dinner at the hotel, and one of the staff actually grew up in the same little Aussie town as Jo - small world.

Day 35

Canada Day - got on Bus and headed off to discover Lake Louise. It was pretty amazing. Had some lunch then headed to the Gondola's. Went up Sulphur Mountain in the Gondola, and had amazing views from there. Even took the boardwalk out to the weather station, for even better views. A few little squirrels were the only sign of life from there, but good view of the Banff Springs hotel and Golf Course. Watched the Canada parade, through the main street of Banff, and most of the parade seemed to be made up of Marching Bands from local schools, which we don't really see that much of back home. Had dinner at an Irish pub, but ran out of energy to stay up and watch the fireworks. It doesn't get dark til around 11 at the this time of the year, so can't really have then any earlier.

Day 36

Today we had quick breakfast then had our own walk up to Tunnel Mountain. It took just over 40 mins for us to climb it. Fantastic views were in store, of Banff, the golf course and the hotel. Finally we wandered down and saw plenty of people starting their trek up Tunnel Mountain. We decided to make our way to golf course. After another 1 hour walk we finally made it to the course. Purchased some lunch had a look around then decided to head to Banff Hot Springs. We waited for 40 mins for the bus but it never arrived, but to our joy a Elk stopped by to say hello - and it was no further than 10 metres from us. We got some great shots and watched how it stopped traffic in 45k/m zone. Amazing!

We walked all the way back to the hotel, and we were a tad exhausted, but we needed to prepare for the Farewell Dinner. Tonight we sat with Mike & Kate who came from Albury. Funny couple in there 60's. More packing then bed cause we were up at 5.45am for the train.

Day 37

Today we snuck down to the golden arches for breakfast and sneaky look at the internet. Back to hotel and 36 of us were heading on the Rocky Mountaineer. Ten of the 36 were travelling in the gold leaf while the rest of the red leaf. On the train we went. Waved our good byes to Russell & Patrick from Trafalgar tours.

The trip on the train was going to take just over 10 hours to our first stop, Kamloops. The views on the train were amazing, plus we had the experience of travelling thru spiral tunnel's. That was pretty cool! Most the time the cabin staff just fed us food. Finally we arrived at Kamloops and they had organised a bus for us, which took us to our hotel 20 min walk out of downtown. That was frustrating.

We needed to stretch our legs so we walked into town and caught up with Bob & Pat who were staying in gold leaf supplied hotel. We had some food at a irish pub and discussed how the service varied. Time was up and we wandered back to hotel know we were hopping up in another 6 hours time.

Day 38

Second day of train trip - another early morning. Saw plenty of ospray nests and eagle nests, went through plenty of tunnels, amazing scenery, but it was a long day. Train was due to get in around 5, and we didn't get in until after 7. We were greeted by protestors who had recently lost there jobs with Rocky Mountaineer (which is why we had staff from other countries who didn't have much knowledge of the area). They bussed us away from the depot so we weren't closely subjected to the protestors. Then when we got to downtown vancouver, we then caught another Cab to our hotel for a well deserved sleep. It is amazing how tiring it is sitting down all day. Looking forward to seeing Vancouver. Yay

Posted by Seanjo 09:33 Archived in Canada

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