Canada Part One - Home to Banff

14th August, 1997
15th August, 1997
16th August, 1997
17th August, 1997

Thursday, 14th August, 1997

Drop Cap ell, here we are, sitting at a panoramic window on the 9th floor of the Airport Park Royal Hotel, looking out over the airport and Botany Bay. Not very salubrious, whatever they do at Badgery's Creek (or wherever) it's got to be better than Sydney.

Drop Cap owever, the hotel is very nice, minibar, real coffee plunger as well as the usual, fancy bathroom with robes, cable TV etc.etc etc. When we arrived, following two fire engines into the forecourt (false alarm, apparently) a porter with a trolley came out to collect the bags. All very swish.

Drop Cap ac is enjoying himself with his binoculars, looking at the passing and stirring industrial parade. We have had afternoon tea and will eat here tonight. We are both getting quite excited. Geoff came on the train with us and helped with the bags. Hope he and Claude will be OK.


Drop Cap ad a lovely meal in Amelia's Brasserie then came back to a call from Geoff. He has had a fire call! That's three - in August! so far.

Friday 15th August, 1997

Drop Cap ery exhausting, as usual, Qantas OK on a 9 hour trip to Honolulu, but very full. Canadian Airlines were somewhat more comfortable (a DC 10) for about 5 hours to Vancouver and a little 737 airbus shuttle for an hour to Calgary.

Drop Cap t is raining hard in Calgary, the weather having broken from the 30 degree temperatures of the last couple of weeks. The Westin Hotel has tickets on itself but to my mind isn't as impressive as the Park Royal in Sydney. Quite nice, though. We seem to have lost a day, which of course we have, it's like a time warp. We arrived here on the day we set off but at home it is Saturday 16th, about 1 o'clock.

Drop Cap e spoke to Geoff after our welcome dinner and all seems well. The phone card worked. Very tired. Off tomorrow at 9.00 a.m. Pray for fine weather.

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Saturday, 16th August, 1997

Drop Cap e had a great "North American" breakfast today, complimentary, fresh OJ, coffee, toast, 2 fried eggs (over easy) sausages (me) bacon (Mac), hash browns and ketchup. Yummy! A good start to a rather cold day. Hopefully it isn't raining, yet.

Saddledome photograph

The Saddledome, Calgary, Home of the Calgary Stampede


Drop Cap nfortunately the rain came on again as we toured Calgary. It is a very spectacular city centre with many high rise buildings interspersed with smaller old sandstone ones. It also has a system called 15+ which are elevated walkways between buildings to save pedestrians from the weather in winter. Our tour director, Joyce, showed a good sense of priorities when she showed us two old fire stations and the Canadian Pacific Rail line, complete with a long mixed freight.

Fort Calgary photograph

Inside Fort Calgary, Canada

Drop Cap e visited Fort Calgary, a reconstruction of the original police post which began the town. It was interesting, although a bit corny (I didn't think the sight of either of us in Mountie uniform would be very convincing)

Calgary photograph

Winter Olympic Site and Flame, Calgary

Drop Cap ollowing this, we drove to the Olympic Park, scene of the Winter Olympics of 1988, where we had the luck to see a US ski jump team actually using the jumps. There is no snow, it is summer, but the slopes are carpeted and they land there. We had coffee there then proceeded to Banff after taking some photos of the Olympic flame.

Banff Hotel photograph

Chateau Banff Springs Hotel, Banff

Drop Cap he scenery grew ever more scenic and you could tell how truly spectacular it would be in fine weather. In Banff we looked over the town and headed off through the steady rain to find lunch, which we did in a shopping mall food court. A roast beef sandwich which was so huge that we shared it, a sausage roll and a can of 7 up. Then we browsed around the shops for a while. It is all tourist trap stuff, a la Darling Harbour and the Rocks. But I bought some "pins" for Neil and me and a postcard. I also got two pictorial calendars and some postcards and stamps at Fort Calgary today.

Banff photograph

Rosemary and Mac on Banff Springs Hotel Terrace

Drop Cap fter we got back to the bus we went off to see the Banff Springs Hotel, a huge castle-like structure built in the Railway heyday of 1880. The view from the Terrace was wonderful, but left us thinking of what might have been in fine weather. Then we went on to have a look at Bow Falls and the Hoodoos. The latter are eroded sandstone residue which stand above a spectacular bend in the Bow River and while looking at then I saw a chipmunk up close and Mac saw an elk through binoculars.

Drop Cap hen to our hotel, the Banff Park Lodge. We have one dinner here and two breakfasts but have to find our own dinner tomorrow night. We have booked dinner for 7 o'clock tonight. Tomorrow we go rafting down the Bow River, then, if weather permits, up Sulphur Mountain by gondola.


Drop Cap fter a delicious dinner (they are doing us proud) we posted a couple of cards at the box in the foyer and set off for a walk along the Bow River. This is a glacial river, full of blue green sediment from melting glaciers. Very pretty, and reflected the trees and mountains. I think it is trying to clear up. When we came back we decided to do a load of washing but discovered we had forgotten the wash gel. So off to an all hours grocery 5 minutes away to get some detergent. All the packs were huge except some Tide at 2 for 89c which did one load each. Oh boy!

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Sunday 17th August, 1997

Totem photograph

Totem Pole in Banff Gardens

Drop Cap e had a nice lazy start today since we didn't have any official things before 11 a.m. A good buffet breakfast was followed by a walk in the town, across the bridge over the Bow River and into the Cascade Gardens. These are simply gorgeous, full of little waterfalls, bridges and lovely flowers. The sky turned bluer and bluer and the sun came out, showing the surrounding peaks relatively unshrouded. We took a look at the totem pole outside the museum and headed back to the hotel to get ready for our excursion.

Rafting photograph

Dan and the raft, Bow River Banff

Drop Cap e headed for the river for what was billed as a "gentle float downriver" and found ourselves signing waivers against being sued and putting on lifejackets.

Rafting photograph

On the Raft, Bow River

Drop Cap he big raft was quite full as we headed downriver under the guidance of Dan. We practically started at Bow Falls and, far from drifting like the Lady of Shallott, it was quite choppy and Dan had to work quite hard to get into channels. We had one collision with a log jam and people at the far end had to duck a tree. It was very spectacular, though, surrounded by peaks sporting new caps of snow. We passed the Hoodoos, which we saw yesterday from the top but saw no wildlife at all.

Elk photograph

Elk on the Fairway, Banff Golf Club

Drop Cap hen we came back to town in the bus at the end of the ride we passed the Banff Springs Golf Club, and there, resting casually on the new fairway, was a whole herd of elk! Mainly females and calves but at least one young buck. It was a sight to see. Apparently the Golf Club has spent a million dollars building a fence around the course to keep the elk out because they tend to leave special hazards around the grass but the Club is situated in National Park and only lease the land and the Parks Service told them they had no right to fence the National Park and they had to spend another million getting rid of it. And the elk came back. Since they are wild we were not allowed out of the bus, but we took some photos from the door. Great.

Drop Cap hen we went on to the Sulphur Mountain Cable Car. This treat had been postponed from yesterday. I was more than a little apprehensive when I realised it was a suspended car which only held four. We shared ours with Ian and Fiona Wing from the Peak District (Chapel en le Frith!) and she and I were equally scared. But the panorama! We were surrounded by snowy peaks stretching on forever. It was wonderful. Then, unfortunately, rain swept over the summit driving people inside and a line formed to get back down which took an hour to clear. We had hot dogs and hot chocolate up there, then came down, (it was worse than going up - I felt like kissing the ground when we got down) then caught a cab to the information centre in town where I got all sorts of info from a Parks employee about the National Parks.

Pan Sulphur Mountain photograph

Panorama from Sulphur Mountain, Banff

Drop Cap retty bushed, we walked back to the hotel via a supermarket to get some drinks. We'll be going out to dinner later. Tomorrow Lake Louise. Please stay fine!


Drop Cap ac went off to find the Railway Station which he found but there aren't many trains left except freight. We walked up to Coyote's deli and grill for dinner and had bruschetta and a smoked chicken pizza between us. Very nice, and good service. Home to pack, Not a good night but OK in the end.

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