Manchester – Toronto – Calgary – Canmore – Calgary – Heathrow – Manchester.
Bit of a trek that.
24+ hours of travel each way made worse by the fact I still can’t sleep on planes no matter how hard I try. I did get to read most of Travis Barker’s autobiography on the way there then watched Toy Story 4, RocketMan, Tolkien and a documentary on Sammy Davis Jr on the way back though so it wasn’t all bad.
I flew out on Friday the 27th of September and landed in Calgary at about 6:30pm local time, went to pick up my rental car and hit the highway to Canmore, about an hour’s drive according to my sat nav. Well, it took me nearly 2 hours as about 20 minutes in I hit a snow storm and couldn’t see shit.
You know in Star Wars when they’re sat in the Millennium Falcon cockpit and it goes into light speed, all the stars just become white streaks? Well that was basically all I saw on the drive to my hotel. That and the headlights of everyone coming up behind me in their 4×4 trucks while I was doddering along in my front wheel drive supermini hatchback. I think everyone between Calgary and Banff passed me on that drive. I also began sliding round bends on more than one occasion which, when you still can’t see shit, isn’t as fun as it’s made to look on Top Gear. In conclusion, and not to be dramatic, I nearly died before I got to my hotel.
I woke up Saturday morning to about 5/6 inches of snow covering the top of my car and icicles hanging off the bodywork. Yes, Canada is cold.
Once the snow had cleared and I was sure I could go driving again without ending up upside down in a ravine somewhere because of snow and ice, I went and did some exploring and let me tell you, Banff national park is just breathtaking. None of the photos you’ve ever seen of it (I’m also including my own in that) actually do it any justice until you can sit there and soak it all in in person. Literally incredible and I’m heartbroken that I had to leave. I’m dying to get back. If anyone would like to donate to the “Mik needs to get back to the mountains asap” fund feel free to send me cheques, postal orders or lucky lottery tickets.
Although I didn’t get to explore as much of the park as I’d originally hoped I did still get to spend an afternoon wandering around Lake Minniewanka, which is rather large, beautiful and tranquil, and an evening at Lake Louise trying to get some shots once the crowds had died down. Very rarely have I seen water so still (and never that colour) and even though it was still quite busy when I got there it still felt completely peaceful in such a spectacular setting, at the bottom of a bowl surrounded by mountains.
I spent a good chunk of time exploring what I could of Canmore on foot too. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a tourist hotspot with Banff itself being only 20 minutes further up the road but it’s still well worth a visit. Plenty of bars and restaurants (my favourites where The Mad Dog cafe for the best curry in Canmore and the Hogshead on main street for a nice quiet pint and some pub grub) to keep you satisfied and some really nice hotels (I stayed at the Mountain View Inn about 10/15 minute walk from the town centre and a stone’s throw from the highway which was great) to make sure you’re nice and comfy if you ever end up there.
Side note – if you do end up there make sure you check out all the galleries as well, some truly stunning artwork to be found.
I should probably stop waffling (I’m very prone to that) now and post some pictures shouldn’t I? Ok, I will. Mini disclaimer first though – I don’t claim to be a landscape photographer but I do like to dabble while I’m trying to satisfy my wanderlust.
All of my shots are available to buy as prints so if you want one to whack on a wall somewhere feel free to drop me a message and let me know.
I’m now off to start planning my next trip so the holiday blues don’t become too harsh.