Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prairies and Mountains

Alberta is stunningly beautiful. With a varied landscape ranging from the flat prairie flatlands surrounding the small city of Calgary to the majestic mountains poised over the valleys in Banff, this province is filled with some of the most beautiful natural wonders that I've ever seen.

Calgary is such a walkable city that we were able to see most of its highlights in one afternoon. We went to the top of the Calgary Tower (see?? another step towards conquering that fear of heights) to get a better sense of the layout of the land. On our way up, we asked our host when it starts to snow in Calgary. When we reached the top, we noticed some white flakes falling through the air. Question answered.

From there, we visited Stephen Avenue, home to the trendy boutiques and hottest restaurants in the city, and then drove by Calgary's famous Stampede grounds. After hearing numerous stories about the event, I will definitely have to come back for the Stampede. We saw the Olympic Park. Apparently, the events are open to the public now. I considered giving the ice luge a try, but thought against it at the last minute. Had to save some stamina for the rest of the journey.

I couldn't help but sneak a picture of this sign hanging in our Western-themed (is it still "themed" if you're in the West?) restaurant the first night:








Our time in Calgary was short but sweet. Banff was calling our name, and I'm not one to turn down a visit to a scenic destination from which I'd heard stories of world-class skiing, fondue, and hot springs (!!).

The drive to Banff was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Every ten minutes, I'd find myself lifting my jaw up off the ground. Words won't even do it justice.










In Banff, we dropped our belongings off at the Fairmont Banff Springs, one of the most luxurious hotels I've ever had the pleasure of staying in. The castle-like structure is perfectly set at the base of the snow-capped Canadian Rocky Mountains, with unbelievable views from every room.


I then participated in one of the most terrifying moments of my adult life. Yes, I may be exaggerating just a tad, but I do have a serious fear of heights...and I took a gondola up to the top of the mountains (arriving at a height of 7,486 feet)! Once we reached the top, I managed to take a few pictures of the incredible views and I couldn't have been happier about my decision to venture to the top. You could see everything from up there.









Day 4 of the trip took us on a road trip to Lake Louise, where the color of the lake is literally the color of the Caribbean. This gorgeous blue-green lake sits at the base of the surrounding regal mountains. It was snowing quite heavily when we bought our lunch, but the color of the water pulled us from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise's dining room out to a bench set in front of the lake.

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

What an amazing trip. Your descriptions and pictures make me want to check it out. So beautiful!!