It has been a couple of days since I returned from the most incredible trip to Banff, Alberta and my body still hasn’t recovered. I have pain in places I have not had pain before due to things like rowing and horseback riding, and I have no less than 50 mosquito bites just on my legs. Not to mention, I will probably avoid looking at my credit card statements for the remainder of the month because of my gluttony while there.
But you know what? I REGRET NOTHING.
Okay, I lied, I slightly regret horseback riding but my horse was kind of an asshole….. I’ll explain later in post.
Let me start with the super basics of this trip.
It was my best friend Sherry’s birthday weekend and that is how this whole trip came about. Her, myself and my other best friend Jummy had never been to Banff and with the way Covid has been going we figured a trip WITHIN the country was our only option for escaping Toronto, without a need for quarantine. I know everyone’s first question is what were the restrictions etc. None. We zipped through our airport and theirs with total ease on departure and return. I recall barely even flashing my passport during this trip, only when it was used as an ID to board the plane.
That was it. No negative PCR test was required and no one asked about vaccination status. Spending a long weekend in Banff would have been kind of wild if we did need a PCR test to go and return, so I’m pretty damn happy that was not a thing for such a short trip. Just be prepared that your temperature will be taken before departure in both airports.
Cost of flight from Toronto to Banff with Air Canada: $227.88 roundtrip, direct (carry-on only, and you can read about that here)
Cost of stay from July 1st – July 5th at Banff Inn: $1440.89 ($480.30/per person)
In my opinion the cost of the place to stay is ghastly but Banff is expensive and it was the Canada Day long weekend. At least the place was clean, the staff was really nice and the location was AWESOME for exploring Banff. Also, they had plenty of parking and we had rented a car off Turo – which is like a car AirBnB.
Cost of Jeep Rental from July 1st – July 5th: $282.00 ($94.00/per person) – the awesome car owner also included the Park Pass for a discount to us, which you need to have visiting all these sites/entering Banff
Overall, a pretty pricey trip for going somewhere for a total of 4-nights WITHIN my own country – but I hadn’t gone any damn place for 15 months so I really don’t give a damn. I would spend that over and over again for the experience I was blessed enough to have visiting Banff.
Thursday, July 1st
If I had known the entirety of my trip I would be waking up at 4am, I would have slept in even longer before my flight. We didn’t fly out from Pearson until 2pm and we landed in Calgary at 4pm, their time. There is a two hour difference between the two provinces.
As I said earlier, the process for departure was very simple and straightforward. Yes, you have to wear a mask in the airport and also the entire duration of the airplane ride. I was so happy to be on a plane again and in the skies. Upon boarding the plane Air Canada also provided us with a little PPE kit that included a mask, hand sanitizer and wipes. I mean, I already had all those things on me anyways but it was nice to have extra.
We arrived in Calgary, picked up our car and made our way over to Banff in about one hour and a half. The drive was very straightforward as most of the time you are on the main Alberta highway that takes you anywhere. I will say, even the drive to Banff was super picturesque so make sure you keep your camera out for that!
When we arrived we went and checked into our hotel, Banff Inn. The hotel was small and very quaint, perfect for what we wanted for the weekend. There is a restaurant inside but they are only open for dinner and unfortunately we just didn’t have time to eat there during our stay. I will say, we were very disappointed the spa area was not open for use at all even though Alberta had lifted all health restrictions on the day we arrived. Shame. But, SHOUT OUT to the housekeeping for giving us three of everything with the toiletries! While I remember, the Hot Spring also stayed shut while we were in Banff (lame) but it was kind of neat to be in a place where masks weren’t so prevalent. Big difference from Ontario.
The staff got us checked in and we went to our room to drop our things and go do some exploring in the downtown area, which was only a 10 minute walk from us. Amazing location.
Initially when we walked into downtown, we thought we would eat first and then go see what shenanigans we could get into. However, it didn’t go like that and we ended up walking into this beautiful green area just a little outside of downtown. This was when we would first encounter our enemy for the weekend – mosquitos. I currently have no less than 50 bites on my entire body from this trip. I think the first 10-15 came during that walk into the woods on our first night in Banff. We were thinking, oh shit, we should have worn long pants and sprayed repellent on ourselves before heading in this direction, we will do better tomorrow. It’s a lie. These mosquitos are bionic or something because throughout every day of exploring it didn’t matter how much we sprayed ourselves or how much skin was covered, the blood suckers got through.
After being eaten by the filthy flying creatures for a bit, we finally found a place to sit ourselves for a nice dinner. The place was called Block Kitchen + Bar. It was soooo damn busy in there but we were lucky to get a seat. I chose to eat the duck spring rolls and after that some mussels which were on special for the evening. But the highlight of this dinner was the drink I got and something my friend Jummy had ordered. First, I ordered this Passionfruit Mojito, but they were out of passionfruit and used mango puree instead.
I couldn’t even taste the alcohol in the damn drink and it was beyond delicious. Make sure you get this drink when you go here, you won’t regret it. Then, my friend Jummy ordered a smoked bison flatbread. Yes, bison. Oh my goodness, if you like cured meats? This is the choice for you. The bison was so darn delicious and the perfect amount of salty to go with my super sweet drink. Ah, divine.
Once we filled our bellies, we decided to head back to the hotel because we would be having a super early morning next day. This is where I will note that Banff has the longest day I have ever seen. I think we finished dinner at around 10pm and when we left the restaurant we couldn’t believe it was still so bright outside. What the hell is that about? Some magic going on there. We would find out that basically it was only dark during summer there between about 11pm-4am. Therefore, maybe 19hrs of sunshine for everyone and sunshine makes us all feel good! If you see the final picture below (after the food pics) that was what outside looked like at 10pm.
Friday, July 2nd
Here we go, the first super early morning. I think on our first full day in Banff we woke up at 4am and drove to Johnston Canyon for 6am. As I am not a morning person (I don’t even like speaking to people in most cases until at least noon), the idea of physical activity at 6am is foreign to me. My friend Sherry told us that we should arrive to all of our hiking plans very early because the crowds are typically crazy so there was a purpose to all of this.
Luckily, it was a Friday morning and from 6am-830am we ended up having Johnston Canyon to ourselves. We literally didn’t see a single other human until then. It was so peaceful and perfect being there early on a weekday because the crowds were non-existent. Make sure you eat a muffin or granola bar before heading into the Canyon, so you have enough sustenance in you but not too much to make you feel lethargic. BRING THE DAMN MOSQUITO SPRAY, even though the bloodsuckers attacked ruthlessly through our long sleeves and leggings. Of course, bring water or Gatorade in your bag as well.
I’d say that doing this specific hike first was a great idea because it was the easiest on the body compared to the other two we did later in the weekend. The trail is simple and there is not as much incline. Now, there was an option to go to some clay pots or something? But as soon as I saw the ‘3km upwards’ sign I said HELLLL NO. My lungs were already adjusting to the clean air, physical activity at 6am and the damn elevation. We made it to the lower falls and upper falls.
The temperature in the early morning was only 12-15 degrees so moving around was much more comfortable than if it were later in the afternoon in some crazy heat. You will get tired and you will sweat, but at the end of getting to the upper falls there is this refreshing area where the mist will fall on you and it’s like you’re a whole new person. It will cool you off and it was my favourite part of the whole hike.
One thing I do promise you is that you can totally do this hike! I am not particularly fit and I weigh 230lbs, if I could get through it, you 100% will as well. I know people worry about their fitness levels for hiking in wilderness and I can honestly tell you that for Johnston Canyon, you will love it and get through it just fine. We did have bear spray with us, but rest assured, we didn’t needing it for the entire stay in Banff. I wasn’t really trying to square up with Yogi anyways.
Made it through the first hike and now needed some real food. That muffin and water thing can only hold me for so long. As we got back to downtown Banff we found this cute restaurant called Coyotes. Most of the restaurants in Banff serve breakfast until 1130am, then lunch is like noon to 4pm and then dinner afterwards.
I’m so angry I didn’t get a photo of the drink I chose while at this restaurant. They had a nice assortment of fresh juices that you could mix into your own concoction, but I asked the waitress what the most delicious one was. She told me to get the orange + apple + carrot + ginger drink. Listen, this perked me right the hell up. After drinking this I felt like even if I wasn’t fully vaccinated that Covid could never touch me. (before you crazy anti-vaxxers go crazy, this was just a joke)
For sustenance I chose the Mountain Man meal. This was MY kind of breakfast because 1) it’s huge and 2) it involves a bunch of delicious things I like. 2 eggs. 2 wildberry pancakes. oven roasted potatoes. chorizo sausage.
Hello? Earth to delicious, we found a winner.
Even if you don’t get this big meal, make sure you get the drink and that chorizo sausage! Wonderful.
All three of us were pretty darn tired after all the hiking and delicious food, so naturally, it was nap time. Because you’re waking up so early and going to sleep late, these daytime naps will save your life. Or energy. I’m just being dramatic because I like naps.
I don’t think I need to include photos here for how the naps went, so just trust me – they were awesome.
Now as we came into the evening time, oh yes, time for food again.
The restaurant we were going to on this night, I had made reservations for weeks ahead. A coworker had mentioned this spot to me and as soon as I saw something called ‘the exotic fondue dinner‘ – I KNEW I HAD TO COME HERE.
This is The Grizzly House. They specialize in fondues, but clearly the one had especially caught my eye. We had the reservation for 730pm and the place was PACKED. Thankfully we had made this reservation ahead of time because I am not sure we would have gotten seats otherwise.
Let’s get to the good stuff now.
The deal you want to get is the ‘complete fondue dinner’ which is four courses and you must have two people minimum to order it.
First, you get to have the soup of the day or salad – we had chicken and tortellini
Second, a Neuchâtel (cheese, wine and Kirsch) fondue, or a Bagna Cauda (Vegetable Fondue) – we got the Neuchâtel
*** this is where I will add GO EASY on the second course because once you dip your bread in the gooey, melty, cheese – you will not stop and you have more food coming.
Third, each person can choose from one of the six fondue entrees – Jummy had the beef and lobster fondue, Sherry got the seafood fondue and I, of course, got the exotic one.
Fourth, a chocolate fondue with melted Toblerone chocolate and fresh fruit.
Because I am greedy, I did not ONLY get the fondue dinner courses, I also really wanted to try the Escargots De Bourgogne, which are snails in garlic and cream sauce.
Okay so, the soup was good and a nice base for the dinner. The second course we clearly didn’t follow what we know best because we demolished damn near all the bread in the cheese fondue. I liked my snails, this was the first time I had eaten them in garlic and cream sauce so it was different than my previous encounters with said food.
To the main course – this exotic fondue thingy.
On the menu it says my meal should consist of: Shark, Alligator, Rattlesnake, Ostrich, Frogs Legs, Buffalo and Venison. They were out of some menu items so the items I ended up getting were: Mahi Mahi, Alligator, Frog Legs, Ostrich, Kangaroo, Venison and Buffalo. I was not sad about the changes because I had shark before, no big loss to me.
What happens is that they bring out this big hot rock, and you pour garlic butter all over it and that is how you cook your food. Sherry and Jummy had straightforward items to cook, since seafood is finished pretty quickly in comparison to some of the fatty meats I had gotten. The waiter specifically told me that the alligator and frog legs had to spend the most time on the rock or I could get food poisoning. Awesome, love living my life on the edge.
Mahi Mahi: was so damn delicious
Kangaroo: too thick and chewy for me
Frog Legs: very tasty
Ostrich: surprisingly delicious
Venison: did not like it one bit
Buffalo: it wasn’t the worst item, but I don’t need to try this ever again
For the ones I did not like, luckily each of us had a tray of various sauces to dip the meat / seafood into so I finished my food, but with like a lot of teriyaki sauce.
The final course was the chocolate fondue and I hang my head in shame for how quickly we finished that. Melted Toblerone is THAT BITCH okay? If I could have taken a bath in that chocolate, I probably would have.
You will love everything that happens at this dinner and even if you don’t necessarily want to eat every animal that went on Noah’s Ark, you have plenty other options that will not disappoint you.
Kilometers Walked on Friday: 12.4km
Saturday, July 3rd
Here we go, another early ass morning. I believe today we were supposed to wake up at 330am but chose 4am because Johnston Canyon was so empty for us early in morning, we thought maybe we’d get lucky again.
Wrong. Very wrong. We drove up to Moraine Lake and as we arrived at 530am, we took one of the final TWO parking spots that were left. There must have been people waiting to take photos in that place from like 3am. I would not be surprised in the least bit.
We saw men and women taking their engagement photos, hanging off the rocks. We saw quite a few people doing time lapse videos. The craziest thing I saw was people in flip flops. What the hell is going through your mind to wear flip flops to somewhere you have to climb? I was in running shoes and my balance and traction was off quite a few times, I can’t imagine doing the type of climbing and hiking I did in flip fops. I do not recommend at all.
The first thing we did when we arrived at Moraine Lake was climb a bajillion rock stairs to get to the top of another big rock so we could take photos with the hundred other people there overlooking the water. The climb was very worth it, but it really sucked trying to get any photos without ten people in the background ruining it. Thank goodness I am tall and I was able to climb a rock and just lift my arms up really high to get photos of the lake without humans in it.
As you can see from the photos above, the climb was totally worth the view of the sunlight coming up over Moraine Lake. Tougher incline than Johnston Canyon, but still not a total killer. I could breathe, after a while.
Once we came down off the high rock, we took a walk along the trail (totally flat) to see around Moraine Lake. This was a nice, calm and peaceful walk along the water. It was even more beautiful up close. The further you walked down the lake, towards the little waterfall/stream, the more blue and unreal the colour of the water was. Interestingly enough, there was almost no people on this trail along with us. It seemed that everyone who came early and took up the parking was just there for that initial view over the lake that you had to climb. I really liked having the trail to ourselves because there is no rush and it is peaceful – aside from those damn bloodsucking mosquitos of course. They are always present.
Once we got back to where our walk had begun, it was CANOE TIME! If you’ve ever seen photos of Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, I’m sure you have seen people in the canoes taking selfies. We wanted to be those people.
The canoeing shop opens at 830am. We were in line behind one couple, and after us there was about 4-5 families also waiting. Only 3 people can go into one canoe, you can’t switch spots, don’t get in the water because hypothermia will get your ass and the cost for one hour is $120.75 total, so about $40 per person.
When you go onto the canoe, you will get a life vest with a whistle on it and your paddle. We were lucky because Sherry had done canoeing before so we put her in charge of steering. Jummy and I just used our big muscles to paddle and get ourselves as far into the lake as possible for optimal photo taking.
All I need to say is, this is a must-do activity if you are physically capable and have the funds. Going in the middle of Moraine Lake and taking a breather was like no other experience this weekend. Definitely my favourite moment.
We finished up our time on the canoe and as we headed back to the parking lot we noticed that it was starting to get empty. This would have been around 10-1030am. We figured this was the perfect chance to try to head over to Lake Louise and that spots might be available in their parking because it was later in the day.
Let me just put a big LOL here, because this went so badly for us.
First we drove over to the area where everyone parks and there’s like a strip mall and a Lake Louise visitor center. We went inside for directions and got a map. The gentleman at the desk explained to us exactly where to go, so we followed that. He told us there was no parking available at the part closest to the lake and that walking from here would be our best option. Cool, no problem.
We begin walking – across one bridge, then through the bush, then over some train track and then over another bridge into some more bush. We walked about 45 minutes only to get to a point were our path was FLOODED. Yes, flooded. There was no way to continue on this way to Lake Louise, and yes we were following the map accurately. We had to now walk 45 minutes BACK to the car and figure out another way.
The only other option at this point was to try and drive to that closer point, where the Fairmont Hotel is by Lake Louise and see if there is parking available. We drove there and as we passed by the entrance to Moraine Lake we could see Parks Canada had closed off that entrance because there was no parking left, but since we were let in towards Lake Louise maybe we had a chance!
Wrong. We legit drove all the way there to be shuffled through the parking as signs saying ‘lot full’ were everywhere. Disappointed isn’t even the accurate word, we were just annoyed and tired at this point because of the initial flooded path and now this parking lot being full. Urgh. We left to go back to our hotel.
I think the anger in us was now building because we hadn’t eaten anything substantial and being let down twice, seeing it was 1pm was pushing it. Again, we walked into downtown Banff and ended up eating at this place called Balkan. We had tried twice to get some food here earlier but every time it was closed or too busy. We lucked out, at least we were able to have lunch this time. I didn’t take photos, but I suggest you get the Balkan Donair with the Greek fries.
After leaving the restaurant we decided to also indulge in some ice cream. If you didn’t know, even in your worst mood, ice cream will likely make you smile.
There was this one ice cream spot we kept seeing lines in front of, so we had to try it out as well. Don’t worry if you see the lineup, it goes super fast and the staff are really efficient. The place is called Cows and they even sell merchandise with cows all over it. I got a scoop of Fluff n’ Udder and Peanut Butter Cup. Mood, fixed. Success.
As with the day before, it was nap time. Between the hiking and canoeing at Moraine Lake, and the let down at Lake Louise and now all the food we ate. Totally knocked out.
This is where you guys will really think I’m the most glutenous person on the planet. So we wake up right? And there was a reservation for a place called Tooloulou’s. During our breakfast on Friday we had perused the menu of the restaurant next door and as soon as I saw the words, ‘Cajun, grits and shrimp‘ in the same menu I knew I had to have it. We made a reservation the second we read it.
Now, we had gone to eat there with a mindset that we just wanted a small bit of food because we weren’t super hungry. Just maybe an app right?
Absolutely no way. Once you read the menu, choosing less than 6 items was already proving to be impossible.
We ended up trying the Cajun calamari and catfish bites for appetizers. The calamari was pretty regular tasting but those catfish bites were literally melting in the mouth. So soft and a nice sauce to go with it. Very light and tasty, but a big portion of them too.
Definitely thought we would just eat this for the evening, but like I said, gluttony is a bitch.
I not only decided to get the ‘steamer bucket‘ – which comes with whole crawfish, clams, mussels and a side of sweet cornbread….. also, I just HAD to try the cheesy garlic grits and andouille mac & cheese. I ate it all, except the cornbread and grits, because I took half of each home so I could have it for breakfast on Sunday.
Everything was good. EVERYTHING. You had hundreds of choices in sauces from their shelves as well. So you can make it as mild or as hot as possible. My belly was so happy before bed.
I was barely able to walk back to the hotel I was so full, but again, NO REGRETS HERE. I want to add, this may have also been the most reasonably priced place we ate all weekend. Pleasant surprise.
Kilometers Walked on Saturday: 15km
Sunday, July 4th
Oh look, it is 4am again and we are up and going to do physical activity.
Today we would make the second attempt at visiting Lake Louise, but like, 6hrs earlier than the day before.
We arrived at about 530-6am and look, the parking lot only had maybe 10-15 cars. This was the opportune time to visit Lake Louise.
Now, for this lake you don’t have to climb a damn thing to see it, as soon as you arrive it is right there, in all it’s beautiful and perfect glory.
And trust me, it IS perfect. There is no flaw, no imperfection, and no movement. The lake is just present, and you will not believe it until you see it in person. The pictures I took of it are awesome, but they will never show you how magnificent the lake is. Figured I would make that very clear from the jump because I could post 1000 pictures and you would still show up at the location in disbelief. I know I did.
Do you think we took the easy road here? No, of course not. It was not good enough to just show up at the base of the lake and take it all in. No no. We had to go do all that extra shit, and when I say extra, I mean EXTRA. During our trip to Moraine Lake, a couple told us to make sure we climb up to Fairview Lookout – they said it was a bit of a climb but that the view was worth it. Cool. I had seen signs for like 6km+ hikes, this one was only 1.8km and then 1.8km down. We could do this, we did all the other stuff for past two days so why not?
So we get to climbing and this shit is STEEEEEEP. This was by far the most physically daunting climb during this trip (I thought, in that moment). It was all incline and my lungs and calves were burning, big time. We were lucky to have the climb to ourselves, but boy I wish someone was pulling me up the hill on a sled or something.
After maybe 30 minutes, we made it to the Fairview Lookout and yes, it was worth the climb. I believe their canoe rentals didn’t open until 11am, so the water was relatively empty and super calm. The view was everything we’d wanted and we spent a while there just soaking it in.
This is where the ‘extra’ I mentioned comes in. So Sherry was using this ALL TRAILS app that is basically like Google Maps, but for the hiking hippies. This app said that if we went down the opposite direction than we had come up, this trail would lead us to walking along the the lakefront all the way back to the start. This sounded wonderful to all three of us because of course you want to walk next to the lake, just like we did at Moraine.
Before we descended down the opposite way than we came from, there was a sign that read ‘THIS TRAIL IS NOT MAINTAINED‘. Since we trusted the app and think we are Dora(s) the Explorer(s) we didn’t care about that sign and went down that different path. Dumbass decisions I tell you.
This trail was LEGIT not maintained. We had to carefully go down slippery rocks, over gravel, hold on to trees, walk through some thick bush and I can’t even tell you how many spiderwebs were walked into/through along the way. This was for sure not maintained, but it was getting us to where we wanted to go so we kept following it, so far it was going the exact way we wanted. The downhill trail on this unmaintained path was tough, but at least we were going down and not up, so our bodies handled it better. Scary, but not exhausting you know?
We finally get to the bottom and the water is awesome. Being at the same level was almost as beautiful as being up on the Lookout. Now we were on flat/even ground and we would just take this route back to the start.
EHL. OH. EL. We thought.
Maybe 50 meters into our walk, the path is flooded. There is literally no path. The bush is THICK so you can’t even walk up and around because you don’t know where the flooding stops. You know what that means? After being exhausted from the normal climb and damn near losing our lives coming down the unmaintained trail – we would have to take that same unmaintained trail back up to the Lookout. This was the only way to get back.
So let me say, FUCK YOU All Trails. Yes, had to get that off my chest.
The sheer anger and frustration of what happened is what I think fueled us in going back up the almost 2km incline of those rocks, trees and gravel. We made it back, but nothing about this climb was fun or enjoyable in any way. Please don’t take the road less traveled, learn from us, it will lead you to almost slipping on some tree roots and hitting your brand new veneers off a rock. Not exactly how you want your hikes to go.
AS if my body hasn’t been traumatized enough for one day, it was time to go horseback riding. Now, I had never been horseback riding before and the only reason this activity was happening was because it was one of the birthday gifts for Sherry. We drove back to downtown Banff area for this activity.
I found the activity on GetYourGuide – 1-Hour Bow River Horseback Ride. I thought maybe one hour wasn’t going to be anything crazy, take some photos and videos and get out. Naturally, this morning was not MY morning.
The guides at the horsie stables were so nice and helpful. Also, very patient. Shout out to them and for their help during this activity. There were some beautiful horses all over the place and I never took in how big these animals were. I had ridden a camel before in Abu Dhabi and that was scary enough, but at least I was on sand. This was bush and concrete.
We were taken through the safety rules and also how to control the horse, along with being given helmets to wear. Then it was time to meet our horse. Because you have to weigh under 230lbs to do this activity (thank God I had just lost 6lbs) – I think they matched you with a horse depending on your size. Oh, and don’t try to lie about your weight, they literally will have you step on a scale as soon as you enter and fill out the safety forms. Awks.
My horse was a big white one named Titan. I was told that Titan could be a little difficult and that he liked to eat too much. Me too Titan, me too. I figured this would be the perfect pair me and him.
The guides had mentioned to not let the horse eat anything while we are on the trail because berries and certain plants could hurt their bodies. They told us how to pull on the horse if they tried to eat it so we could stop them. Tug up and kick them with your heels in the tummy. I personally was not ready to kick a horse in the stomach, because I am a wuss and I don’t care how much they said they can’t really feel it.
So we start on this ride and Titan? This greedy horsie made problems for me the WHOLE ride. He wouldn’t walk fast with the rest of the line, and he kept trying to eat all the damn bushes and berries. Didn’t matter how much I pulled on the steering rope thing or my weak ass kicks to his stomach because I didn’t have the heart to kick him hard. Tough ride for me. I really tried hard to stop him from eating the stuff, but he got the best of me like five times. Everyone else had these smaller horses to grips and control who weren’t eating everything, and there was me and Titan, big person and big horse.
I was so happy when this activity was over, it has been about 4 days since the ride and my crotch area/thighs still hurts. I will never ever be doing this again, I will stick to riding camels thanks. Please do make sure you wear long sleeves and long pants with socks that cover your entire ankle when you do this activity. Although I had long pants on, my shorter socks left some of my ankle exposed and once the ride was done I had about 10 bites per ankle from the damn mosquitos. I don’t know what is bigger than a kankle, but I have that. Kankle supreme max.
This whole morning had traumatized my body so the only answer was taking a nap.
We had reservations for something cool that did not involve hiking or horses in the evening. This was time to dress up, put on a cute outfit and go look fabulous above Banff.
What you want to do is book the ‘Sky Experience’ Package.
For $111.00 per person you get the gondola admission and choice of appetizer and entrée at Sky Bistro. This is obviously if you want to actually go up and eat at this restaurant, otherwise just pay the price of admission for the gondola and go see the views.
The ride up the gondola is not for anyone who is afraid of heights, do not do this. The capsule you’re riding up in is small and it will shake a little. Your trip up and your trip down are 8 minutes each way. I personally loved it, because I’m all about a view that didn’t require a hike at this point. Plus, we all had heels on and that would have been ridiculous.
The view from the Sky Bistro is amazing. The restaurant is clean and elegant, and the service was on point. One thing that caught us off guard is that aside from us three, only one other couple was dressed up for this fancy restaurant. We asked our server what was up with that and he explained that many people do the hike and then want to sit down and eat, as well as, that Alberta has a lot of ‘casually rich‘ people so it was normal for people to be dressed super relaxed even in the fanciest restaurants. Odd. But, whatever floats your boat.
Our reservation time was for 6pm and we were seated promptly in a good location, so we had a nice view. The seats right next to the windows are reserved for two people, so damn you couples and your romantic view. I began my meal with a drink, called the Mountain Mule. Vanilla Bean. Vodka. Ginger. Ahhhh it was so good and refreshing. As my appetizer I had the scallops (good) and as my main I had a beautiful salmon dish (also, good). Let me tell you about the dessert though. Oh my goodness.
They had a s’more panna cotta. Anyone who knows my love of desserts, knows that I love me a good panna cotta and this one came through with flying colours. Oh, it was so delicious I truly contemplated ordering a second one. I didn’t but, it was close. Instead I just got a second Mountain Mule. Balance.
After eating we went up to the 4th floor sky deck and took photos of the surrounding areas overlooking Banff. You have to visit up there because of the 360 degree view, unlike in the restaurant where you only look in one direction. It was lovely, and I suggest everyone go up to the restaurant for dinner in your cute outfits. Just make sure you have a reservation, the Sky Bistro seemed like a very busy place.
I feel like we returned to the hotel pretty early from dinner and then just knocked out. We contemplated going out to a local pub, but after the day we had with the hike, the horse and the gondola we were buss. The weekend definitely took its toll. I know I fell asleep early and it was my first full night of sleep in Banff.
Kilometers Walked on Sunday: 12.1km
On the Monday morning we woke up (well rested, slightly sore) and drove back to Calgary airport.
This was an awesome trip and I think all of you should do it. Now, I know there must be a budget way to do this trip, but after being inside for so long, my ass did not give a damn about a budget. My intention was to do everything I could and eat everything. You can make the money back, but you’ll never lose the memories of whatever awesome experience you had with your best friends.
I hope this post provided as much detail for you as possible, I know it was long but at least there was some pretty pictures right? Prior to my trip to Banff no one had mentioned the need for a Park Pass, no one told me about the long daylight in summer, the crazy parking situations at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise and I definitely had no idea that all these kick ass restaurants options were available there.
Happy informed travels to you all!