What a flight! Almost 15 hours, non stop, from Sydney to Vancouver. I'm almost going to vow not to do such a single long trip again if I can avoid it. It would have been much better to have broken up the journey stopping over at Honolulu, the only place that's fairly halfway.
After a transfer flight form Vancouver we arrived at our final Canadian destination of Calgary. The first thing we noticed was that everywhere was covered in snow, big deal most of you might say, but this was the first time that I have ever seen snow! I kid you not. We were guests at the house of NS who is a high-school friend of my wife, Selcen. This is the first time I got to meet NS, and subsequently her mother and brother. There's no doubt that these people are one the friendliest Canucks one could meet, and it was pleasure to do so.
Once we got "home" from the airport no more than an hour had passed and it started to snow. Like I said above, this is the first time I got to see snow, so I tried to make the most of it and went outside to check this strange phenomenon out. It felt great, but I can understand that too much of it would make life quite more difficult.
After a good nights sleep we went for brunch at Melrose cafe which has this great chocolate fountain where you dip diced fruit and indulge. Chocolate coated Pineapple is amazing! We headed out to one the larger shopping centers, namely Chinook Centre (for the ladies) and then onto Future Shop (for myself). For dinner we had a traditional Canadian meal of meats, ranging from duck to succulent elk, at the gorgeous River Cafe.
We did all the touristy things, we went up to the Calgary tower to view the city and the beautiful mountain ranges, the Canadian Rockies, which were just visible in the distance. We did the trip to "downtown", had burgers at Peters (love the shakes!), and we visited Staples (much like Office Works here in Australia).
One the main sightseeing attractions was the trip to Banff and Lake Louise. Wow, could this place be any more picturesque? The mountain peaks are high and covered with snow just look amazing. I'm not much of an outdoors person, but the sights we saw here made me want to just grab some hiking gear and go for long hike with zero technology attached (well, okey, maybe a GPS device).
It being winter here Lake Louise was completely frozen over. The beautiful Chateau Lake Louise which overlooks the lake is really a grand work of art. We entered and looked around the Chateau, the inside is as beautiful as the natural scenery that surrounds it. One day if we ever return to Calgary I would very much like to spend several days here.
Banff, which is also a popular destination for skiers, was breathtaking. We took the gondola ride to the top and then at below zero degrees celsius we walked towards the old weather station where people have carved their names into the wooden planks. On our way down the mountain we stopped off at The Fairmont Banff Springs, the hotel that is part of of The Fairmont company (as is Chateau Lake Louise). At night, the main street of Banff is abuzz with tourists and locals - we did the obligatory souvenir shopping picking up some Maple Syrup and other memorabilia.
This pretty much wraps up the first leg of our trip, from here we travel to Istanbul.