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Published: November 26th 2007
Canada has been truly sensational! We have absolutely loved our time here.
We started our Canadian journey in Vancouver, after a 9 hour flight from London which was one of the better flights we’ve had - for starters, when checking in at Heathrow the BA rep even asked if we wanted her to block a row of 4 for us ….. ahhh yes please! And then the air stewards were actually really friendly for a change - great! ;-) On arriving at Vancouver, we headed to our accommodation in central Granville Street and didn’t do a lot more before crashing into bed.
The next day we did a hop-on-hop-off tour through Vancouver, which is a pretty cool city! There’s something pretty awesome about having a city right on the ocean, yet rimmed by huge mountains! We explored Granville Island, a tiny portion of the huge and very impressive Stanley Park, and Gastown, originally the very start of the city that is now Vancouver! We also indulged in lots of good sushi, something we've been missing in London! That night we met up with Mel, who we met in the Middle East in August and she put her chef skills
to fantastic use and cooked us an awesome feast of food at her apartment in the flash area of Kitsilano. It was great to catch up with her! Around midnight, we hiked it back over to Granville Street via the Granville Bridge, which was awesome to see the city at night. It was also pretty freezing!
The next day we picked up our hire car - another very racy one of course - a Toyota Matrix - and headed off to visit the Capilano Suspension bridge attraction, only 10 minutes out of Vancouver. It was pretty cool, we had photos with totem poles, crossed the 450 feet long and 230 feet high suspension bridge, walked high in the trees on the “Treetops adventure”, basically smaller suspension bridges that are hung high in the trees so you can look over the rainforest from a pretty unique view. It was a cool visit, and we felt already that we were getting into the Canada you see in picture books, mountains, forests, rivers, the works.
Well, if we thought that scenery was great at Capilano, the drive along the famous “Sea to Sky Highway” as we drove from Vancouver to Whistler
was even more impressive. Driving alongside ocean then lakes and amongst towering mountains was just fantastic. We stopped off for photos at Shannon Falls and Tantalus Lookout, then for lunch in Squamish.
Reaching Whistler, we were really impressed with how gorgeous the mountain side village is. It’s so “fairybook”! We had a fantastic suite at the Whistler Pinnacle complete with fireplace and huge jacuzzi and that night caught up with Gregg and Narelle, who we also met in the Middle East, and Narelle’s sister Kate for drinks and Fat Tony’s great pizza! It was great to catch up with them and hear about all their adventures, as they are living in Whistler for this winter season. They even get all season lift passes from their employers - how cool is that!! ;-)
The next day we just explored the quaint village that is Whistler, took photos and so forth! It’s a pretty expensive town as all the people there are either tourists or, looking at the local real estate prices, relatively wealthy locals! We were also on the lookout for bears, but unfortunately could not find any! ;-( Unfortunately Gregg said it might be a bit cold for
them now (it’s been about -2 to -5 degrees during the day here). Kristi was hoping for snow, but Martin was dreading snow because of our long drive the next day. We caught up with Gregg, Narelle and Kate again on our second night there for Mexican and drinks and then before we knew it, it was time to go back to our hotel and grab some sleep before our 6am start the next morning for the long drive through to Banff, Alberta.
Sadly leaving Whistler behind us, we were on the road the next day by 6.15am and on our way to Banff, a 10 hour drive ahead of us. It was dark when we started out and got lighter as we drove through the Rockies. As the light began to glow on the mountains we were once again awe-struck by the Canadian scenery. It just keeps getting better on our journey! The Rockies were beautiful, they were covered in a light covering of snow but luckily the road was in fairly good condition and the only vehicles we met for about the first 2-3 hours were a couple of snow plows and sand trucks, other than that
we pretty much had the road to ourselves which was cool, and made the whole experience even more surreal! We just had to stop off a few times for photos of the scenery around us.
Coming off highway 99, we stopped at a little diner for coffee and then carried on our way, stopping for breakfast in Kamloops where we saw on the tv snow reports for places further north. We continued on our way, with about 500km to go.
After driving for several hours, we were about 150km from Golden when it started to snow! As we kept driving it got pretty heavy and the road was beginning to become not just icy but complete with small drifts of snow. We eventually established that in our little Toyota, the best thing was to find a truck and stick behind it as its huge wheels would blow the snow off the road. We continued in this way all the way to Golden, with times where visability was extremely poor and the snow was falling hard. It was a bit stressful driving in it, but definitely very surreal, the surrounding mountains were sensational and we’d never driven through such snow
for so long before, so it was a whole new experience! We saw a sign for a Wolf Conservation centre just before Golden and really wanted to stop but didn’t know how much heavier the snow would get. We were also originally going to stop and check out Golden, but the snow kept falling and we thought it best to carry on to try and reach Banff before dark. Snow + darkness not being such a good idea…. The roads up out of Golden were pretty treacherous, the worst yet, and after about 5 minutes of driving on thick ice we wondered briefly what we should do…. However then the road got a little better and we caught up to another truck and followed in it’s wake (though obviously a few hundred metres back in case of having to brake!). We didn't want to stop in case our front wheel drive toyota didn't manage to get going again! The next 1.5 hours of driving was pretty crazy, the snow just kept falling! On we went, and finally the road started to get a little better and the snow a little lighter. Then, bang, right on the Alberta state border the
snow just instantly stopped and the road was fine again! It was so crazy, it was like there was this line between BC and Alberta with the snow! ;-)
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