To Canada! Snowy perfection in Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.

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January 14th 2013
Published: January 29th 2013
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So back when I moved away to Spain last year, I left my boyfriend Doug behind, but we kept our relationship going (thank you skype). I went home briefly for a long weekend in February, and then Doug moved to Canada in June two weeks before I returned home from Spain. Despite the multiple time zones and the difficulties long distance causes, our relationship kept going strong, and I was able to fly from Korea to Canada to see him for my two-week winter vacation!

I flew into Calgary, where despite travelling for about 20 hours, an hour had only passed on the clock. I was so excited leaving the airport to see all the snow and had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And to see Doug in the flesh again after 11 months, well it was great! We spent the first evening relaxing in Calgary so I could battle the onset of jet-lag. The next day we headed off to pick up our rental car and depart for Banff. Once we got out of the city the views were stunning as we headed west on the trans-Canada highway - vast snowy plains with the Rockies looming large in the background. The scenery had a dream-like quality, still hadn't really sunk in that I'm in Canada after so long planning it! I'm only starting to get an idea of just how vast this country is. After paying for our National Park pass we stopped in Banff town itself for lunch and I had a revitalising mac & cheese! Still horrendously jet-lagged but determined to explore. Despite all the snow it's not actually all that much colder than Busan strangely enough. The town has an alpine feel and is very picturesque. Full of tourists though, and winter sports shops abound! I spotted a (specifically) Korean Catholic church, funny how countries follow you around. There's sherry vinegar from Jerez in Spain on sale in my nearest Lotte back in Korea.

We couldn't stay that long as we wanted to get on the road and find our accommodation for the night - Storm Mountain Lodge. It's such an idyllic place. The site is nested in amongst tall pine trees and boasts 16 log cabins and an impressive old hunting lodge. Biult by Canadian Pacific Railway in 1922, it certainly contained plenty of old world charm! Our cabin had a cosy double bed, an open fireplace with chopped wood stacked up outside and in, a perfectly proportioned bathroom complete with old clawfoot bath, and a porch decorated with fairy lights. Definately in a dreamworld. They had carved paths out of the snow all around the site and we went for a walk around the woods - hoping not to come across any bears or cougers! We lazed in the lodge beside the massive stone fireplace drinking delicious and expensive red wine. Now we know how the other side lives! They had an old sled for a table and a giant moose head called Mabel hanging above us. The lodge was very quiet which suited us perfectly. We retired to dress for our evening dinner and had a superb meal! For starter we had bison pie (delicious and packed full of thyme) with a mouthwatering salad which I could have easily eaten all on its own. Then I had a butternut squash and mushroom risotto, and Doug had a rack of lamb cooked to perfection. Even the bread was delicious, with herb-imbued butter. If that wasn't Michelin starred fare then I don't know what is. We were so full by the time we'd finished that we couldn't even look at the dessert menu. We polished off our wine by the fireplace before retiring for the night.

The next day was another travel day. After a delicious and healthy breakfast we wistfully departed, hoping we can afford to come back! We hit Lake Louise pretty early for some sight-seeing. The snow was really deep and the landscape sparse of colour apart from the bark of the trees and the beige of the Fairmont hotel by the lake. The snowy mountains blended in with the white of the sky and the lake had completely frozen over and coated in snow. I'm sure it looks absolutely spectacular in summer. There was a part of the lake safe enough to skate on, and in the centre of this was a really cool ice-sculpture which we were honour bound to pose around.

We hit the road to Jasper, heading on the icefields parkway, 230km until the next petrol station! It proved a pretty spectacular journey. Mountains and more mountains, coated in trees and snow, every corner rewarded us with another jaw-dropping vista. The road was just about cleared of snow and very quiet almost deviod of cars, definately in the wilderness!There were plenty of interesting roadsigns warning us about avalanches and caribou crossings. We spotted a good few frozen waterfalls and glaciers - peeking blue out of all the snow. We arrived in Jasper before dark - a small town with the same alpine feel as Banff but a lot quieter. We completed our errands and headed 3km back out of town to find our hostel. We got a shuttle into town that night and went to a homebrew bar. They offered us a sample of their beers to help us choose which ones we wanted to try - ingenious. So nice to drink proper tasty beer again! We relaxed with our pints making plans for the next day and the future in general - life is good.

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