Tuesday, we had to wake up insanely early to get to the airport for our 5:55am flight (BOS-DFW, DFW-YYC). Everything went smoothly, and we picked up our rental car in Calgary and hit the road for Banff. It was a beautiful drive, with the mountains coming into view the further we traveled. We checked into the Rimrock Resort, which was gorgeous, and were thrilled with the view from our room on the ninth floor.
We spent the rest of the day unpacking and settling in and ate dinner in the hotel’s Larkspur Lounge that evening.
On Wednesday, we woke up early because we were still on east coast time, so we grabbed a to-go breakfast from the hotel coffee shop and drove out to Vermilion Lakes, just outside of Banff and a popular place to view sunrise and sunset. It was quite cold, but beautiful, and there were only a few other people there.
After sunrise, we got on the Bow Valley Parkway for the more “scenic” drive to Lake Louise (I put that in quotes because every. single. thing is scenic and ridiculously gorgeous in Banff). We stopped at Johnston Canyon to take the short walk up to the waterfall, and were happy to find it wasn’t too crowded (reportedly this place is jam-packed in summer, and indeed the following weekend on a beautiful sunny day, we passed by and saw both large parking lots completely full, with many, many cars parked out on the side of the road as well).
Due to our early start, it was still just mid-morning, so we decided to visit Moraine Lake on the way to Lake Louise. (I wonder why Lake Louise isn’t called Louise Lake.) One thing that we saw over and over was the incredible water color in these alpine lakes and streams. It’s such a startling shade of blue that it looks fake. Moraine Lake was beautiful, of course (I’ll just stop saying how beautiful and gorgeous every sight was – assume it’s a given). We climbed up a short but steep trail to get a good vantage point on the lake.
Finally, we arrived at Lake Louise, which lives up to its reputation.
We walked along the lakeshore, and then had lunch inside the Fairmont Chateau. We sat at the bar because it was so crowded, and had a Thai chicken soup to start and then shared a panini. We finished off with lovely spiked hot drinks:
That night, we ate at the Rimrock Resort’s best restaurant, Eden. The meal was delicious and the wine pairings excellent.
On Thursday, we woke up to a snowy, misty morning, and decided to stick close to home and just explore the region right around Banff, as well as downtown Banff.
First, we took the Tunnel Mountain drive up to view the Hoodoos and surrounding scenery.
Then we headed into town to do some laundry (no, I was not going to pay $7.50 per t-shirt to have laundry done at the hotel!). We ducked into the food court next to the laundromat, and ended up having one of the most delicious meals at a little fast food Sri Lankan place. We asked the lady behind the counter what the difference was between two items on the menu, and since she didn’t understand us at all, we ended up ordering the Kuthu Roti without meaning to. She proceeded to go back and chop an onion and a few other things we didn’t have a good view of, roll out a long thin piece of roti and cook it on the grill, then she chopped the roti up, mixed it in with the fried onion and spices, then put 3 of the curries sitting in warmers at the front of the counter (chick peas, mixed vegetable curry, and butter chicken) in on the grill with everything else. It was a glorious mix of flavors and I vowed then and there to get back there at least once before we left.
After lunch, we went to check out the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. The mineral springs were in a small enclosed space, and the sulfurous odors were so overwhelming that I thought I might throw up. The site had a very interesting new exhibit about internment camps during both world wards, which was very informative and well done. Afterwards, we wandered around downtown Banff and went in all the little touristy stores, then went back to the hotel to work out before dinner. Dinner was at Ticino, back in downtown Banff (we took the bus, as the hotel gives free bus passes) at Ticino, a Swiss-Italian restaurant I had bought a Travelzoo voucher for. We had a cheese fondue to start, then we each had a really good stuffed chicken breast with a hazelnut breading.