Been Touring


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 » 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 Limerick » Limerick July 28th 2018

Irish rain at last introduced itself – overnight and this morning after breakfast. My plan for a quick departure from the hotel worked well, and I had a last breakfast at Ann’s Bakery. Two blocks in the light rain to get to the airport bus stop, and the bus came a few minutes later. I thought we were driving through a more working area of Dublin, when suddenly I recognized the central bus station from my random walk yesterday. From there we travelled at a fast pace directly to the airport, arriving in twenty minutes, half the time scheduled. Which meant I arrived before the slightly delayed arrival of the plane with all the Westwinds travellers. After considerable time, I finally saw the other members who had travelled on their own and joined them. After more ... read more
St Mary's Cathedral
King John's Castle 1210
River Shannon

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin July 27th 2018

After breakfast at Ann’s Bakery, I checked out the bus stop for tomorrow and tried again unsuccessfully to get a working SIM card. One place gave me the SIM card for free and suggested Tescos (grocery) or Spar (convenience store) to get funds put on it (“topped up”). Both stores were nearby, but neither knew how to top it up. One clerk suggested Car Phone Warehouse – “around the corner”. Couldn’t find it, but I did find the fruit and vegetable market. This consisted of two pedestrianized blocks with two long lines of carts with the same fruits, being bananas (7 for a Euro), strawberries (2 Euro a box), blueberries and mixed berries. Uninspired I decided to walk to Grafton Street where yesterday I had seen a Car Phone Warehouse. Today is a cooler day, mostly ... read more
St Ann's Church 1721
Modern colour for the stone building
Samuel Beckett Bridge

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin July 26th 2018

The raucous calls of seagulls all night did nothing to interrupt my ten hours of sleep. Great draughts of water helped me overcome the dehydration of flying, and breakfast at Ann’s restored my energy (black pudding and mushrooms today). As forecast, the sun shone again - great exploring weather. Across the Liffey River and past Trinity College, I found Grafton Street, recommended for buying a SIM card for my phone. Grafton Street was astonishing! A long stretch of the wide street was a pedestrian mall bordered by Irish and international big brand names. People hustled and bustled, whether tourists or locals. Later I learned it has been a pedestrian zone for forty years. The only phone company I saw was Vodafone, but their package that included the UK as well as ... read more
Dublin Fusiliers Arch 1904
Reading "cage"
Maria Edgeworth, influential Irish author

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin July 25th 2018

For a day with no sleep, I have seen a lot. Yesterday I left home at 7:20 to catch the bus to the airport and ate a splendid eggs-and-bacon breakfast. At 10:30 I departed for Toronto and was soon surprised that the “free snacks” in Westjet Plus meant a full Chicken Caesar wrap followed by a decadent brownie, accompanied by a beer. In Toronto airport, after running between far-flung gates, I had to ask the gate attendant if there was time to go to the washroom. The clock said it was about dinner time, so on the way to St John’s, I received another Chicken Caesar and brownie, with green tea and Glenlivet. To my surprise the flight from St John’s to Dublin was under four hours. With considerable effort, I shut down my mind and ... read more
Dublin Central Inn
Trinity College Front Gate
Book of Kells

North America » Canada » Alberta » Canmore June 8th 2018

June 8 Benchland Trail, Canmore Warmth bathed us from our morning start to our afternoon departure. While the best of Skrastins Club hikers tackled the steepness of Lady MacDonald, my group of less ambitious walkers strolled along the lower Benchland Trail. Pine trees still sported bright new tips. Aspen leaves twinkled in the pale sunshine. Dandelions have colonized the trail edges, interrupted by white flashes of a few tiny flowers. Columbines stretched their bowed heads above the leafy carpets. June 15 Sundance Canyon, Banff With the threat of rain, yet the sight of bright blue sky between puffy white clouds, I set off fully protected by rain pants, waterproof jacket, and wide brimmed hat. To promote better access for lots of people, the path was paved for quite some distance. The Bow River marshland startled us ... read more
Ahh! Blue sky and puffy clouds!
Unexpected view of a big river
Quiet reflection

North America » Canada » Alberta » Kananaskis Country May 18th 2018

May 4 Bow Valley The brightness of fresh green delighted our eyes on this first hike in the mountains for the year. Cold waters reflected mountains and the sky, behind a screen of fuzzy pussy willows. Long, straw grasses lay matted over tussocks, hiding tiny shoots of growth. May 11 Troll Falls Troll Falls is our reward at the end of a gentle stroll through the woods. The rushing fall of water hasn't yet melted the icy crusts of snow. Around some corners and up the hill we find ourselves overlooking the recently-opened new Kananaskis Golf Course, surrounded by darkly looking mountain peaks. May 18 Lusk Creek Sculptural trees and stumps transcend the reality of past fire that made a prairie of a forest. Vistas display the beauty of mountains and valleys, playing with our imaginations. ... read more
Pussy Willows confirm it's spring.
Many Springs screened by Pussy Willows
Crocus peeking through the grasses

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