Arrive in Banff (little Australia)

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North America » Canada » Alberta » Banff
July 20th 2010
Published: October 7th 2010
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Today we are driving to Banff, but have to do a post home first. So after checking out we look up post offices in Carmen the Garmin. The first was closed down and had been for years, the second was a postal sorting depot, but yay, third time lucky, if it was closed/moved/gone to lunch, we were prepared to dump it with a ‘please post this note. Because we just couldn’t do this anymore!

So off we go to Banff, left about 11am, it’s so very scenic, much better than the Garden Route in South Africa. It starts off vary flat with a lot of agricultural areas then it turned more mountainous with snow and glaciers everywhere you looked. Don’t get me wrong, the Garden Route was really nice and we loved every minute of it, but after seeing all the snow capped mountains, pine trees, lakes and rivers with rapids, it does take the Bronze medal to Canada’s Gold when it comes to scenery. It’s about a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive to Banff, but with so much to see it’s easy to make it take a lot longer.

So there we are driving along in our Volvo listening to Abba with the windows down and the sunroof open and we come to road works. You wouldn’t believe how quick Tim got those windows up and the sunroof closed! At least going to see Mama Mia in London had a small positive effect in that I can listen to Abba now, but he’s not quite ready to come out in the open with it yet, hahaha!!!!

There are lots of mobile homes, caravans and touring motorbikers travelling in the same area. The only thing that is different here than home is that it is the retired set who have the big Harley’s and the young ones who are in the mobile homes and caravans, it’s like an alternate reality here!

The highways are really nice to drive on, traffic flows well and even though there are lots of road works going on we are not held up at all. There are chain link fences along the sides of the road to stop animals from getting hit and they have built overpasses for the animals to cross over (complete with grass so there is no difference where the overpasses start and finish) so they are still able to migrate around to find food.

Banff is a small town with 3 main streets and is very tourist driven. We booked into our hotel, Irwin’s Mountain Inn on the main street. We got a really nice room, the honeymoon suite, complete with spa overlooking the snow capped mountain in the distance in the very large bedroom! The hotel is really nice, the only down side that we can pick so far is everyone working here is Australian. I want to hear a Canadian accent!!! Perhaps I need to phone Heather back at home…


We went Banff Hot Springs. The water was 39 degrees, even I thought it was hot! Not many people putting their heads under the water! It was just looked like a normal swimming pool though, not a natural rocky hot pool. It is even topped up by town water if the water levels are low - but who cares, the concept is there, we are looking at pine trees and mountains and it is so beautiful and warm. Every 10 minutes or so you have to get out and sit on the edge to cool down, so as you watch everyone it’s a constant in, out, in, out. You can hire bathers from the 1920’s and there were a lot of people who took this option up. They looked pretty cool, they were blue with a white stripe, one piece and looked liked shorts and a tank top. At one stage it started to rain lightly, it was awesome with the cool rain in the hot pool, reminded me a little of living in Broome and Darwin in the summertime. Had a bite to eat in the outdoor café up there before heading back to hotel.

Got back to hotel in time to get ready for evening safari.


We were picked up in a big blue school bus by a lady and were told that that she would drive and we should all look for animals, we were already doubting how well this was going to work, especially when we discover that we only go on the main roads, not off road at all. Even with 20 odd people in the bus, we all had limited viewing and we were just going too fast to be able to see anything. Even at the lookout point the only living thing we saw was a couple of teenagers who thought they had found a nice quite place for a snuggle before getting invaded by a bus load of tourists. Not even a squirrel, chipmunk or big horn sheep ‘that will ALWAYS be here’. We ended up seeing a mule deer and a house mouse. We know nature is nature but I think if it had been run differently with someone to act as look out, perhaps something could’ve been found, we could have done the same thing driving around in the Volvo! The lady driving the bus was entertaining though and was reasonably knowledgeable but didn’t go too much into specifics. No bears today for Tim…

After about 2 hours we get dropped back home and share tapas for tea at the restaurant attached to the hotel, nice and we even scored a friendlier waitress, definitely a place you go to for convenience not for service.

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