Been Touring

beentouring

Been Touring

Join me on tours and holidays I have taken in Canada and around the world. My notes were written while travelling and only lightly edited to maintain fresh impressions.



North America » Canada » Alberta » Kananaskis Country July 12th 2019

Oh! The wild flowers! First we had to struggle along a steep ascent through the woods. After about 45 minutes, the path opened onto the Highland Meadows. Expanses of white, yellow and purple wildflowers carpeted the newly emerged grasses. My eyes swept from the tiny blooms to the towering peaks. Yellow Glacier Lillies grew in a profusion that promised good eating for the bears in a few weeks. Elaine was expert at sighting minuscule blossoms such as the purple Moss Phlox and the red Rose Root. Our walk was slowed to a crawl as we searched for little plants to exclaim about and to photograph. We paused for lunch at the base of the mountains all around the meadows. Now our imaginations soared as we marvelled at the rock so obviously ripped out of the earth ... read more
Wildflowers along a melt-water stream
A field of Glacier Lillies
Highwood Meadows

North America » Canada » Alberta » Lake Louise June 21st 2019

In the pouring rain we got on the Skrastins Club bus destined for Lake Louise. I was so shaken by the snowfall warning that I had provisional gear in case we were diverted because of bad trail conditions. Unexpectedly, the sky lightened after about half an hour, and encouraging spots of blue sky emerged after about an hour. Fresh snow twinkled from mountain tops, but nothing was on the ground. Rain ceased. While all the other hikers trod off on their paths, Candace and I had planned a lazy start to a slow day of relaxation. The coffee at the deli in the Chateau Lake Louise was mellow and rich, especially accompanied by a shared scone fill of finely chopped walnuts. Unnecessarily fortified, we joined the hundreds of international tourist... read more
Nature's sculpture
Moss fluttering in the light breeze
Victoria Glacier

North America » Canada » British Columbia » Trail February 15th 2019

As ever, Emerald Lake pleased us with its high-piled drifts. Sun-brightened snow drew us along a walking path into the dark woods. Probably a gentle stroll in the summer, the way was narrow - literally two-feet-wide. Slight mis-steps took us down to our knees in soft dry snow. Although the trees reflected no light, we heard the birds chirping from their depths on this moderately warmer day. After all, we were also hopping about, finding pleasure in our conversation. Not so solitary. We met another walker. Unable to pass on the tramped-down path, we danced into the deep powder, back and forth onto the harder surface. A little ways on, a small group valiantly stood to one side for us to slip-slide past them. Our light laughter spun out into the frozen sunlight.... read more
Hardy mallard
Swan blobs
Snow cone

North America » Canada » Alberta » Banff National Park December 28th 2018

The mountains boasted crisp cold on this morning a few days after Christmas. Bold skiers and snowshoers from the Skrastin's Outdoor Club strapped on their gear for an active day at Lake Minnewanka. We, the "townies" stayed on the bus for the short distance to Banff. With great cheer we walked along the streets filled with tourists, winding our way to the pedestrian bridge across the almost frozen Bow River. Thanking the town workers for an excellently groomed path through the trees, we chatted and strolled in the bright sun and striped dark shadows. In the winter blue of Bow Falls, the river bubbled through the naturally sculpted ice. Glacial snow gleamed from the mountains in all directions. Climbing up the path and stairs to the Banff Springs Hotel, I discovered the "other" side of the ... read more
Bow River ice
Lake Minnewanka
Brilliant snow

North America » Canada » Alberta » Kananaskis Country December 14th 2018

Immediately, the pale pink dawn initiated perfect views of the mountains. Soon we drove under the strong chinook cloud, watching the light of day slowly illuminating the familiar crags. Suddenly, as we drove south, the brilliant rising sun shone under the clouds onto the fresh snow on the mountain peaks. Nature’s whitest highlights dominated the deep ravines and dark evergreen trees. Walking around the grounds of William Watson Lodge turned my eyes down to the plants poking out of the thin snow-cover. Tiny frozen flowers steadfastly declared their faded glory from summer. Small bushes adorned the winter with their red bark. Harsh marks on brownish-grey tree trunks glowed copper in the sun. Cozy inside the Lodge, I watched gusts of wind scour the snow from the roof, appearing to create a blizzard. Moments later, calm prevailed. ... read more
Underside edge of the chinook arch
Magnificent glacier
Glowing mountains

North America » Canada » Alberta » Lake Louise September 7th 2018

My tiny off-shoot of the hikers tackling the mountains around Lake Louise opted for a relaxing day walking on the lake shore and a little way up along the creek that feeds the lake. Hundreds of tourists pursued the same route in the warm sunshine shadowed by the tallest trees of the forest. The green/blue glow of the most beautiful lake in the world kept my mind from seeking any other visual excitement. We sat on a bench to eat an early lunch. Apparently, this bench belonged to a particular chipmunk. The moment we opened our lunches, it jumped on our legs and arms in a life-and-death battle to eat our food before we could. Shouting, hissing, leaping about, waving our arms - nothing scared this scavenger preparing for winter hibernation. We moved on; he didn't. ... read more
Creek feeding Lake Louise
Rocky Mountains at dawn
Lake Louise

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin August 1st 2018

At last, we had an extra bit of time to sleep in (until 7:45) and eat breakfast at a reasonable pace. I chose fabulous Irish ham (not juicy, not very salty, great flavour) and soda bread and strawberry jam. As we learned later, we could have ordered a hot breakfast also, but I was already full. Our hotel proved to be about 45 minutes from the centre of Dublin. When we arrived, a crucial street was blocked for repairs. The medieval streets were never meant for a 55-passenger tour bus. We applauded driver Tom each time he slid through very narrow, tight turns. Rain, then drizzle accompanied us around the streets, thus we were happy enough to be inside the bus. Half an hour late, we picked up our official city tour guide. The main points ... read more
Guinness Experience atrium
Steak sandwich, Irish style
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin July 31st 2018

Breakfast at the Dromhall Hotelwas excellent, particularly since kippered haddock was on the menu – large, tender and smoky. This hotel has really treated us as guests. Driving through the Irish country side was a joy – green and gold fields saturated my mind with freshness. Our destination was Blarney Castle, which turned out to be much more historic than the cliché of its Blarney Stone. (View map) The emerald green park around the Castle was profuse with plantings and flower beds. At first Susan and I were of a mind to enjoy the outdoors, rather than queue for the Blarney Stone. When others from our group returned from the Castle and spoke highly of it, we... read more
Blarney knot garden
Micro-distillery
Watermill for power in 22 foot Mill Building 1794

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Killarney July 30th 2018

Our coffee break this morning was an opportunity to see the thatched cottages of Adare. (View map.) My original experience with thatching was in Chawton, Hampshire, Jane Austen’s home. Thatched cottages are very expensive to maintain. The cottages of Adare were small, with lovely flower gardens inside their stone walls. Across the road was the large stone Trinitarian Monastery church, dating from the 12 century, although what we saw was mainly restored and built in the 19 century. Inside, the polished wood gave a warm character to the stone vaulted nave. Down the road, there was a large shop, designed (it seemed) to tempt grandparents into buyin... read more
Friends in the Jaunting Cart
Dromhall Hotel
Westwinds sign

Europe » Ireland » County Limerick » Limerick July 29th 2018

Our morning excursion was to the extraordinary Cliffs of Moher, (view map) a natural step-like exposure of escarpments overlooking the sea. In bright sunshine, the grass was emerald green, and the skies were sapphire blue, and the sea was a slosh of turquoise waves. Along with hundreds of other tourists, I carefully climbed up the worn path to the top prominence. The views at each step were much the same, but each one was fresh in the changing light. The similarities to cliffs along the coast of Newfoundland were striking – same turf, same friable edge, same crashing Atlantic Ocean. Back in the historic part of Limerick, we had a bit of time for lunch. A fair number of us went to Dolan’s, a pub where some of our group ... read more
Path on the Cliffs of Moher
O'Brien's Tower from the Cliffs of Moher
St Mary Church




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