Western Canada Pt. 6: Banff Town (September 2017)

Part 6 out of 6.
Read about the rest of my Canada trip HERE

Although my 7-day tour had ended, I decided to extend my stay by a day, with the thought that the next time I’ll be in this part of Canada might be a very long time from now. There was too much to see in Banff that our short tour just didn’t cut it.

Walk from one end to another in an hour. Hike a mountain from each side of the perimeter. Loosen up in the hot springs after the hike. Sample the finest fudge and maple anything. Shop for quirky, aztec knick-knacks and artisan mountain apparel. Hop to the pub to sing along to classic rock songs. Spot a coyote running across the street in the middle of the night. Admire the beauty of the Rockies from wherever you stand. Such is life in the humble mountain town of Banff.

 

BOW RIVER & FALLS

Between Upper Hot Springs and downtown Banff is the stunning Bow River. The park area is so huge that one can still enjoy moments of solitude despite the many tourists. What’s great about it is that it comes with a complete set of nature’s best: the Rocky Mountains, a river, waterfalls, flora and fauna, a forest trail, right beside the town proper.

 

BANFF CENTRE

I was debating whether or not to continue the detour to Banff Center as I walked along the dull path that led to it. Thankfully, my curiosity was stubborn enough (as it always is). Because when I arrived, I was welcomed by this STUNNING, non-obstructive view of the Rocky Mountains. I quickly sat isolated on a low, soft, grassy hill, and lied down to watch the clouds race across the clear blue sky. It. Was. Bliss.

 

THE REST OF BANFF TOWN

I walked to Cascade Gardens to have lunch before resuming my window-shopping. I couldn’t get enough of the unique winter items I couldn’t get a hold of back home (we’re sort of tropical babies), so I purchased a few nice things to remember Banff by.

 

FAIRMONT BANFF

The most esteemed structure in town is the Fairmont Banff, strategically at the very edge of the city where one can enjoy an unobstructed view of Banff National Park over an extremely expensive steak dinner. I snuck in and captured a few postcard-worthy photographs (without permission) on the veranda.

After my stroll throughout town, I had a delightful, good-value dinner with one of my co-participants in the tour at Banff’s Version of Olive Garden (I TOTALLY forgot the name… again). This was before the worst thing happened.

 

THAT HORRIBLE EVENING

Remember when I told you that I extended a day to tour alone around Banff? On my supposed last day, I had to call to rebook my reservation, and I was duly sent a confirmation shortly after it. It was for 12-hour midnight bus to Vancouver + 3-hour ride to Seattle. That night, the Greyhound bus arrived 40 minutes late, and as I attempted to board the bus, the very hostile driver insisted that I was not on the list of passengers. I understood that he was only following protocol, so I called up Amtrak‘s hotline (I booked through them, Greyhound happens to be the thruway partner). After a few minutes of horror and panic (as my flight to Manila would be two days after, in which I wouldn’t have time to rebook to another day), I found out that there was nothing they could do to get me to Vancouver by the following day. And so, as I resisted the urge to pity myself, I quickly booked a last-minute flight to Vancouver from Calgary, which was an hour and a half away.

Thankfully, a stranger I met at the station was headed for Calgary Airport the next day. I decided to tag along on bus to Calgary at 8 in the morning the following day, which left us with 7 hours with no accommodation. Frustrated by the expensive flight I HAD to spend for, I decided not to spend on another night. A few minutes later, we found ourselves at the hostel I stayed in the night before, saying hello again to the people I just said goodbye to and I thought would be seeing for the last time. We ended up sleeping on the wooden seating by the open window at the lobby, unable to rest comfortably due to the freezing cold and the limited space. It was a terribly long night, and all I could think of was home. Yes, for the first time throughout my month-and-a-half away, I was homesick. But I was grateful for Samesun Banff‘s friendly staff (hostels always have the best culture), who allowed us to use the common areas and even grab free breakfast. In many ways, I had learned my lesson.

And so, the following day, I left BC without any more complications (thank God!) and was also comforted by the last sight of the Rockies I might have seen for the last time in my life.

 

This journal on my tour around Canada is over, but there’s still much for me to share about my US experience. I’m definitely sharing more stories in the following posts!

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