Western Canada Trip: Banff, Alberta (Pt. 4)

I have been dreaming of the day I’d see Alberta. This trip was more than ten years in the making, and let me say, the Canadian Rockies were more than I ever expected.

During my 5-day trip to Alberta, I stayed in Calgary, which is about a 1.5 hour drive to Banff. Banff is a resort town, close to snowboarding and skiing, parks, trails, and a must-do gondola ride up the mountain – now, if you hike up the mountain yourself, you don’t need to pay for a ticket. But I had a bit of a cold, and didn’t have the energy for the climb. Plus, I really wanted some good non-obstructed photos.

The drive is also simple. Almost a straight shot up the Trans-Canada Highway, exiting at Banff Ave. Coming from Calgary, the mountain view creeps up on you, until your entire eyeshot is rockies: grand and magnificent.

banff
banff village
banff village banff canadian rockies, alberta canadian rockies, alberta banff
banff gondola banff gondola

Did I mention I listened to “Alberta Bound” by Paul Brandt going down the gondola? I felt it was appropriate.

alberta bound
banff gondola

Western Canada Trip: Whistler (Pt. 3)

My absolute favourite adventure in British Columbia was my all-day trip to Whistler, about 1.5 hours north of Vancity.  I spent the day at Whistler Blackcomb, equipped with my GoPro HERO, snowboard, and an EDGE card for full access to the resort, including the AMAZING “Peak 2 Peak” gondola.

Whistler is a MUST for anyone interested in heading to BC. While you’re there, you’ll want to grab a photo in front of the 2010 Olympic podium, which sits atop the mountain. FYI – Whistler was the site for the Nordic events five years ago, and was one of the largest celebrations in the municipality’s history. And of course, the area continues to see thousands of visitors for sporting events; a few weeks ago, it held its World Ski & Snowboard Festival.

NOTE TO TRAVELLERS: Use Epic Rides as a affordable shuttle from Vancouver to Whistler. I got a return ticket for $35 CAD, which is cheaper than many of the competitors, and I found the service to be phenomenal. Did I mention the views on the drive there were INCREDIBLE? Bring a camera, and be sure to sit on the LEFT side while en route to the resort.

Whistler Whistler Blackcomb Whistler Blackcomb Whistler Blackcomb Whistler Blackcomb Whistler Blackcomb Whistler Blackcomb Whistler

Western Canada Trip: Vancouver Aquarium (Pt. 2)

During a early morning trip to Stanley Park, I decided to visit the Vancouver Aquarium, self-described as a “non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life.”

The aquarium is beautiful, jam-packed with energy – school kids, teachers and families lined up with me for its 10 a.m. opening.

While I was there, I checked out the Canadian premiere of “Sea Monsters Revealed,” an exhibition which looks at world’s most amazing (and giant) sea creatures from the inside (literally) out. The exhibit uses “plastination” to showcase the dissected bodies of the marine creatures – an incredibly interesting way to learn about the unusual “monsters” beneath the waters.

Vancouver Aquarium
Vancouver Aquarium
Sea Monsters Revealed
Sea Monsters Revealed
Vancouver Aquarium
Vancouver Aquarium

Western Canada Trip: Vancouver, British Columbia (Pt. 1)

For the past two weeks, I’ve been travelling Western Canada. Over 14 days, my stops included Vancouver, Whistler, Banff, and Calgary. In the next couple of days, I’ll be sharing pictures from my vacation; a grand vacation of endless mountainous views and the spectacular Canadian Rockies – which stretches from Bow Valley to Jasper, Alberta.

But let me start in Vancouver, British Columbia – a lively, confident city with upscale shops, organic restaurants and a 22 km scenic seawall path.

You’ll get the best views on the Burrard Inlet waterfront, behind Canada Place, with an afternoon stroll through English Bay, or with a visit to the Harbour Centre and the Vancouver Lookout – a $16 dollar ticket will allow you all-day access.

Canada Place Vancouver
vancouver convention centre
vancouver english bay seawall
vancouver english bay seawall
vancouver english bay seawall
vancouver lookout
vancouver lookout
But I love most about Vancouver? The view at sundown.

downtown vancouver at night
downtown vancouver at night
downtown vancouver at night, vancouver lookout

Cherry Blossom Season in Washington, DC

If you ever have a chance to visit the capital of the United States, you should schedule it around the cherry blossom season in Washington, DC.

I haven’t been lucky enough to be there in peak season; I’m usually too early or too late. But if you’re planning on going this year, the best dates are April 11-14.

You’ll also want to check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is on now until the 12th. According to festival’s official website, “The date when the Yoshino cherry blossoms reach peak bloom varies from year to year, depending on weather conditions. The mean date of blooming is April 4, but nature is not always cooperative and the National Park Service horticulturists cannot make an accurate prediction much more than 10 days prior. The blooming period starts several days before the Peak Bloom Date and can last as long as 14 days; however, frost or high temperatures combined with wind and/or rain can shorten this period. See more information about the blooming period.”

The site also suggests visiting three key areas: the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the Washington Monument grounds.

I stuck to the Washington Monument grounds – and a heads up, it is very busy and very hot. Unlike the frosty temperatures of Toronto right now, you’ll want to pack a light jacket, t-shirts and possibly shorts if you’re lucky!

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