Whistler, Lake Louise and everything in between

Tuesday was a travel day. We got up at a reasonable time, checked out of the hotel in Whistler, went for breakfast and then got back on the Sea to Sky Highway to Vancouver. It rained a lot more going down and seeing signs that say “winter conditions ahead” are a bit nerve-racking. The scenery is just as beautiful going the other way (yes, it’s the same scenery but it’s seen from a different direction).

Got to the airport, dropped off the car, checked our baggage and went through to the gate. We had a quick bite to eat for lunch and then boarded the plane. It was packed. I think it might have had something to do with a Toronto flight being cancelled as when we landed in Calgary I overheard a woman ask about the connecting flight to Toronto. Equally, it could have just been fully booked.

Bit of mid-air entertainment on the Westjet flight. The commentary for the safety demonstration was amusing (though I think Glen and I were the only ones laughing). At the end, the flight attendant said, “And if you have any problems, please keep them to yourselves as we’ve had a long day. Only joking! Of course, we’re here to help.” Later we went through some turbulence and dropped a couple of metres. Been a while since I’ve been in turbulence that bad.

Stampede in Calgary Airport
Stampede in Calgary Airport

Landed in Calgary and went to collect the hire car, only to find that I’d booked it from a place that’s 15 minutes away from the airport. We were told to give them a call and they’d send a shuttle. Luckily I had a working phone. What do people do who don’t? I called and was told to wait by door 6 and the shuttle was on its way. 15 minutes passed and nothing. I called again, confirmed where I was supposed to stand and waited.

Still nothing. Called a third time as by then it had been 30 minutes. Got put through to someone different who said I needed to wait at a different door and that the shuttle would now be 15 minutes away. I spat the dummy and cancelled the booking. I should have said why but I was too annoyed (mostly with myself for not checking where the car rental location was when I booked).

We then booked from one of the six regular companies at the airport. The price was more (due to the airport location) but it was there and available. (And the people behind the counter here were absolutely terrible. I don’t think any of them enjoy their jobs. Or life.)

Lake Louise from our window
Lake Louise from our window

An hour after landing we were on the road, tearing down the Calgary highways. Bit unnerving taking these big roads first up as everyone goes quite fast and the change in scenery is unsettling at first. There are no trees for as far as the eye can see. Just plains and lots of housing developments. It’s big sky country and a little overbearing.

We eventually got onto the TransCanada Highway and set course for the mountains. Amazed once again by how much the landscape changes in this country and seeing the clouds hang over the mountains, while it’s really bright and sunny over Calgary.

Entered Banff National Park for free, thanks to Canada Parks passes my cousin and aunt bought for us, and zoomed through the forested valleys below the snow-covered mountains. Just breathtaking.

Inside the lobby
Inside the lobby

We arrived at Lake Louise close to 7pm, an hour and a half later than I would have liked but it was still pretty by the fading light. There’s snow everywhere and big snow banks out front of the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise, which isn’t that picturesque as the snow’s a bit dirty. Still, the inside of the hotel is old-world and charming, the room is good and the bed comfortable. We’ve also been given a lakeside room and the view is really what you’re here for. Not to compare, but summer here must be, well, like living in a postcard.

We had a rather expensive dinner (captive audience) at the hotel, but it was nice and easy and filling. By the time we were done it was about 9ish, the sun had set and that was pretty much the night. Glen spent the rest of it working on abstract submissions for a radiology conference, which he finally completed. Good to not have that looming, and great that we’re in Lake Louise.

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