In the style of Bar Luhrmann in which he gives the advice to the 'Class of 97' of 'Wearing Sunscreen', my advice to the whole of Canada would be 'Ditch the French'. It might have been clever and funny in the beginning but it now just silly. Since we have been here I have not heard one word of French spoken. Yet every sign here is duplicated in French. What is the point? and think of the money that could be saved.
Incidentally, Baz Luhrmann did not write or even actually deliver the 'Sunscreen' speech. Instead he just quotes an original essay written by Mary Schmich for the Chicago Tribune. You can have that information for free.
Anyhow now after clearing that up and saving the Canadian Government millions of dollars, we had woken up to a bright crisp day. Our Hotel did not provide breakfast so we pushed the boat out and stopped at MacDonalds for Bagels en route to the Banff Gondola.
We had pre-booked (and saved 20% off the price) a ride up the mountain time of 9.10am. However despite being 30 minutes early we were allowed to take our journey early. Karen was almost disappointed with this as there was a fully stocked Starbucks within the Gondola base building.
The journey up only took 8 minutes, not because the distance was short but due to the fact the gondolas moved faster than any other chairlift we have ever ridden. The ride was smooth though and the views got more spectacular the higher we went. Despite being relatively early there were still a few people at the top. We decided to stroll on the boardwalk to admire the view from what we though was the summit. The stroll turned into a longer walk than we thought as the boardwalk led us to the actual summit up and down a few hundred steps and a far distance away. Each twist and turn gave us a slightly different aspect of the valleys below. The air was definitely thinner up there and although the sun was out there was a 'nip' in the air.
We could have easily stayed up there much longer but had been given a 'down' time of 10.30. It was just as well that we had been allowed to ride up earlier as we would have really been quite rushed at the summit. However Karen could hear Starbucks at the base calling her so didn't object too much.
After a dutiful caffeine stop at the aforementioned store we drove back down to Banff and stopped in the Cascade Gardens. They were very pretty and what made it more appealing - free to enter.
A final stop for the morning was at the central supermarket which surprisingly well stocked although after making our purchases of salad and fruit for lunch we had to walk round the block to a liquor store to get a couple of bottles of wine for later.
We ate our lunch back on the balcony of our rooms and chilled out for a hour before setting out on our first 'hike' or stroll of the holiday. We walked through the town and along the river bank to Bow Falls. It was only a couple of miles but very enjoyable. The water was a lovely colour and the falls (more like rapids) were bustling and noisy. Whilst we were there we had a chat with a couple of Park Rangers who were telling us all about the bears which was interesting.
Slowly we made our way back to town calling into a couple of the ubiquitous gift shops and the Visitor Centre (where Karen reverently read all the instructions of what to do if a bear approaches you - just in case) en route.
We returned to our rooms quite tired from our exertions of the day and needed a 'snifter' of wine before we set off to walk to our chosen Dinner venue. We went to Wild Bill's where I chose the Elk Burger which was very acceptable. Wild Bill's is a western style bar which is popular with the locals as they have Live Music most nights. Tonight it was to be a locally renown Country Band, but they were not due to be on until 10pm. We knew there was no way we would be still out at that time of night! That was a real shame, but we were both shattered from all the walking and climbing of the day. As we predicted, Karen was sound asleep back in our room well before the time the band would have started their set.
Today was the day when I first came to realise what all the fuss was about when it came to the Canadian Rockies. The crisp air, the beautiful light and the fantastic scenery. I've not seen enough yet to know when it fits in my all time top 100 places, but I am hopeful it will up there.