An Overview of our Alberta Discoveries

My husband and I try to go skiing for a week at least once a year and so far we’ve been to about 15 different ski resorts on the east coast, anywhere from Ontario to Quebec, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. But we had never been out west in the Rockies. Well, it was time to change that…..

So we planned a trip to the Canadian Rockies, and for both of us it was the first time for us to see this majestic mountain range. Just after we landed on March 4, 2006 we started off with a whirlwind four-hour tour of Calgary to get a sneak peak at Canada’s Heart of the New West. Our extremely knowledgeable tour guide took us to the Calgary Tower, Fort Calgary and past the Stampede Grounds and Calgary’s Saddledome. Of course Canada Olympic Park was one of the main attractions on this tour.

Olympic Cauldron at C.O.P.

The same evening we enjoyed a wonderful Italian feast at Il Giardino on 4th Street and we had a chance to get to know one of Calgary‘s most successful entrepreneurs. We enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Deirdre and Henry Brost at the historic Twin Gables Bed & Breakfast and got a huge surprise at breakfast when we realized we were enjoying our morning meal with two big celebrities (you’ll have to read the article to find out which famous people shared the B&B with us….).

After breakfast we walked all the way from the Twin Gables to downtown from where I took the C-Train to get to the Kensington area, one of Calgary‘s main restaurant and shopping areas. I had a brief lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant called Indochine Bistro where I found out that the young owner had originally come to Canada as a refugee from Vietnam. What an amazing success story: from Vietnamese boat person to successful Calgary restauranteur….

Then it was time to head west on the Transcanada Highway to our destination for the next week: Banff, a picturesque town nestled inside the famous Banff National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course we went skiing and we had a chance to check out 3 major ski resorts: perfectly groomed Norquay, high altitude Sunshine Village – located on the Continental Divide, and the unbelievably huge and scenic ski area of Lake Louise. Well, there is definitely something to be said for West Coast skiing…..

Two outstanding attractions are the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and I had an opportunity to explore both these magnificent structures in detail. Canada’s history is inextricably intertwined with the history of the railroads. The Canadian Pacific Railroad played a key role in opening up the west and these castle-like railway hotels figured prominently in Canada’s development of the West Coast.

Last Friday a wonderful adventure provided the highlight of my trip: I went dogsledding with Snowy Owl Adventures on a crisp crystal-blue winter day, high in the mountains above the town of Canmore.

Our adventure was almost over, but I had one more chance for exploration: on Saturday I took the gondola up to Sulphur Mountain from where I got a perfect 360 degree panoramic view of Banff and the surrounding mountain ranges. I checked out the Cosmic Ray Station and after a brief forest hike past the Banff Springs Hotel, I visited the Banff Park Museum, one of Canada’s oldest natural history museums.

Our Alberta explorations were rapidly coming to an end, and just before we headed to the airport we went on one final walk through Calgary and explored the famous +15 walkway system that keeps Calgary visitors sheltered from the harsh winter air. We also explored a beautiful tropical hideaway called Devonian Gardens….

Along the way we got to explore some great skiing, magnificent mountain scenery and historic buildings, the exuberance of a dog-sledding team raring to go and the outstanding hospitality of the people of Alberta. We’ll be back…..

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