Chateau by the Lake

Today we had a half-day visit to Yoho National Park, taking in some of the highlights, before travelling on to Lake Louise by coach.

Emerald Lake was probably the highlight of the morning and very aptly named. The colour and the stillness of the lake made for some excellent photos with superb reflections of the mountains and vegetation.

There were some other photographic highlights to the morning including another bear sighting and an American robin which we don’t see in the UK.

We arrived at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise early afternoon. A very french sounding name and impressive building. Maybe my primary and secondary schooling of french will stand me in good stead here? On second thoughts, maybe not!

Lake Louise is surrounded by soaring peaks, with the Victoria Glacier and it’s emerald water, it is one of the most stunning sights in the world. Our room, on our one night stay here, will look out onto this stunning lake – I can think of no better sight to wake up to. Well, maybe aside from my dear wife’s face, of course!

Tomorrow we move onto Jasper by coach, stopping en route, to explore the Columbia Icefield.

We are back on the Rocky Mountaineer on Wednesday, so the food pictures will return. You have been warned!

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Castle in the Rockies – Banff

We arrived at our hotel last night – the Fairmont Banff Springs. This luxury hotel was originally built in the 19th century in Scottish Baronial style. Very impressive and ideally located just outside Banff.

Today was spent exploring Banff and the surrounding area. This included a trip to Bow Falls, not far from the hotel. Afterwards it was a trip up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. The views from the top were outstanding. On the way back to Banff we stopped at Two Jacks Lake – you guessed, named after two men called Jack!

Wildlife seen today include elk (seen on the edge of Banff), a chipmunk, ground squirrel and a bald eagle! I managed to take a photo of the eagle, not brilliant but nevertheless I got him (or her!).

No food pictures today. I thought I’d give you a break from them but don’t worry there’ll be plenty more to come.

Beavering along to Banff

An early start today, 5 am – what on earth am I doing up at this unearthly hour! More so, how did Susan manage to stir from her comatose-like sleep!

Day two, and it’s the rail journey from Kamloops to Banff. Our coach serving team are in mischievous mood this morning.

“On our left we are coming up to some award winning cows,” one of the team announces. Passenger faces gape out the window expectantly. What manner of beasts have won such an honour?

“They are outstanding in their own field,” she continues. The penny drops, we have been duped! Groans resound all around  the carriage.

We leave Kamloops and the arid scenery gradually becomes greener, with thick mixed forests hugging the mountain scenery, broken up by fast flowing rivers. The train passes through marshland – beaver country, the evidence all too apparent from the number of dams scattered around.

Finally we reach the Rockies and are now in bear country. By the time we reach Banff we manage to see bears on two separate occasions as well as big horn sheep. Once again the food is excellent – I am really going to have to get on my bike when I get back home!

All Aboard!

 

 

Today was the start of our rail trip!

Our destination was the town of Kamloops. From our hotel we were whisked off to the Rocky Mountain rail station where everyone gathered in the main hall prior to boarding the train. Piano music was playing on arrival and a bagpiper finished off the pre-boarding formalities, along with a welcome address from Rocky Mountain’s CEO.

We were soon boarding and on our way. Sunny weather accompanied us throughout the journey. The change in the scenery backdrop along the way was impressive. We left Vancouver, and travelled through rich deciduous and coniferous vegetation, as we weaved our way through the rocky landscape. We followed Fraser river for much of the way. Gradually the scenery took on a more arid nature. Barren mountainsides had a beauty of their own, coloured with mineral and sulphur deposits. Stunted and sparser tree growth became more frequent as the journey progressed.

There were a lot of good photo opportunities to capture the scenery as well as some of the wildlife. Several bald eagles and osprey were spotted along the way as well big horn sheep. We also passed several freight trains which seemed to go on for miles carrying their goods.

The food and service on the Rocky Mountaineer is first class and we already know that when we return to the UK we will be carrying a lot of excess baggage around our waistlines! I’ll definitely have to do a lot of cycling to redress that.

Tomorrow we travel on to Banff and we have been warned that the scenery will get even more spectacular!

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Play it again Sam
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Susan and I beside the Rocky Mountaineer
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The staff waving us off

 

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Two bald eagles in this – sorry about the quality

 

Capilano Capers!

Today included a trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you have seen the suspension bridge in the Temple of Doom then you have some idea of today’s trip. From the moment you stepped on the bridge it swayed from side to side. Luckily no one severed any of the cables saving me from emulating an Indiana Jones type escape.

The bridge has been in existence since 1889 but thankfully has been updated and modified over the years. The 450 foot span allows some great views of this North American rainforest.

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Another shot of the bridge
I also took some interesting shots of totem (story) poles which have been created and placed here by First Nation artists over the last 90 years.

Also included today was a trip to Grouse Mountain which overlooks the city of Vancouver. We were able to see a couple of “rescued” grizzly bears as well as some good views of Vancouver.

And finally the obligatory selfie …

A good day, although our tour guide seemed to be on a personal crusade to save the world. He was from one of indigenous tribes in this area. He talked non-stop about conservation but unfortunately it was information overload for a bus of mixed tourists.

It would have been all very interesting as a formal lecture and I personally learned a lot about salmon issues in the area as well as the development of conservation in British Columbia. But it went over most people’s heads. Bite sized chunks of key information, with pauses in between, would of been good! His heart, however, was in the right place.

Tomorrow we start our holiday proper. It will be the first day of our rail journey on the Rocky Mountaineer. We head north east towards Kamloops – our first stop. It looks like the weather will be fine so hopefully we will get some good views along the way.

Granville Island

🎶 Sitting on the dock of the bay 🎶 was definitely the song I was hearing. No, not Otis Redding (which would have been a major surprise!), but a snappily, dressed busker playing to visitors at one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions.

If you like food and markets, this is as good a shopping experience you will get. Hand-crafted items of all description are available to buy and you are sure to find that unique, personal gift to take back for friends and family. Walking through the indoor food market was all too tempting and I eventually succumbed. The only problem was … too much choice! How can you expect me to decide?

The island was a short walk (20 minutes) from our Downtown hotel to a ferry that took you across to the island. The ferry ride – 5 minutes!

Looking across from Granville Island to Downtown Vancouver
The ferry that took us to Granville Island
These should more than satisfy my sweet tooth!
Healthy options?
Back to the not so healthy options …
Anyone for savoury?
Good pasta selections …

Lookout!

The day started out with an early morning visit to Vancouver Lookout, located at the Harbour Centre in Vancouver. A 40 second elevator ride whisks you 553.16 feet above ground level to a panoramic observation deck. No, I didn’t time the elevator ride or measure the altitude – I cheated and got the info from the attraction leaflet!

From the outside, the Lookout didn’t look as big as I imagined, but the views from the observation deck were out of this world! I took a few photos but have only picked out a small selection, the better ones I’ll load up on a gallery website when I get back home.