The ski trip story started with Eli and Belen’s plan to go skiing in Banff the first week of March. Since I didn’t go skiing during spring break and I wanted to ski in Canada, I decided to come along, together with Reds and Sylvain.
On Thursday March 1st Reds, Sylvain and I took a bus to the airport in Winnipeg and got on our Air Canada flight to Calgary. Eli and Belen took a later flight because they had an exam in the afternoon. In Calgary we got in a taxi to the hostel, checked in and walked downtown to get dinner and do some shopping. When we got back Eli and Belen had arrived to the hostel. We changed and went to The Palace, a nightclub in downtown Calgary. The Palace was really good, all of us felt like we were in a European nightclub and it was definitely better than any place in Winnipeg because of the atmosphere, music, Finlandia vodka and REV!
On Friday March 2nd the car rental company picked Sylvain and me up to get the car at the Rent-a-Wreck office. We got a blue Ford Taurus Wagon, complete with cruise control. So we picked up the others at the hostel and parked downtown. The first thing we visited was the Calgary Tower. From this 190m high tower we got a perfect view of Calgary and the Canadian Rockies in the distance. When we got down, we walked around the city for a while and got lunch in a huge mall. Since we got used to Winnipeg temperatures, Calgary felt really warm and we could walk in our sweater, even though it was only about 5 degrees. Before leaving Calgary we visited l’Eau Claire Market, a mall with a lot of small boutiques, kinda like the Forks in Winnipeg. Then we drove off to Banff.
We were afraid there wouldn’t be any mountains in Canada, because the terrain was completely flat when we were flying more than 1200km from Winnipeg to Calgary. But about 50km West of Calgary the Rocky Mountains start. It took us about 1.5 hours to drive to Banff on the Trans Canada Highway 1. When we got to Banff we visited the Banff Springs Hotel first, the most beautiful and expensive hotel in Banff. Too bad we couldn’t stay there and had to check in at the hostel. After our dinner there we drove downtown to hire a snowboard for Sylvain and skis for the rest of us. Back in the hostel we went to sleep early.
On Saturday March 3rd we drove to Lake Louise, about 50km from Banff. Lake Louise is most likely the best ski resort in the world, it’s certainly one of the largest in Canada. Since this was my third day of skiing I took a lesson in the afternoon. A pretty good idea, since I already gently crashed into a few snowboarders in the morning (weird boarders, always sitting down in the snow…). After closing time we drove to Chateau Lake Louise, which is actually located on the shore of the lake. We had a drink in the lounge bar and drove back to Banff. After dinner in the hostel we went to the Aurora club and partied with the locals and other tourists…
On Sunday March 4th we drove to Sunshine Village, a ski resort 10km from Banff. We left pretty late and therefore had to park at least a kilometer from the entrance, since almost the entire parking lot was filled up. Almost everybody in Canada drives to the ski areas by car. Luckily there was a tractor with trailer that gave us a lift to the base station of the gondola, which brought us almost all the way to the top. Sunshine is a bit smaller than Lake Louise, but still larger than for example Pra Loup in France, and there were a few really nice runs.
In the evening we brought back Sylvain’s snowboard and took a bath at the Hot Springs in Banff, where the water has a natural temperature of 37 degrees. Really relaxing after a day of skiing.
On Monday March 5th we drove to Lake Louise again for our last day of skiing. Since Sylvain was going to back to Winnipeg this day, we brought Tom along, who was staying in our room in the hostel as well. Although it had been sunny so far, it was snowing a little bit this day. The skiing was still great though, especially since I was getting more experienced and Lake Louise offered more challenges. In the evening we made dinner in the hostel and brought back our skis. After that Eli, Belen and Reds went to Aurora again and I spend the evening talking with John and Tamara who wanted to work in Banff during the summer. It seems a lot of young people have this plan for the summer and why not; the Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the world and Banff is an interesting town for sure. They almost talked me into it as well, if it weren’t for the fact that the jobs available are absolutely not study related and pay less than I get now.
On Tuesday March 6th we drove to Jasper, about 300km North of Banff. The Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper is definitely one of the most spectacular stretches of asphalt in Canada. We got amazed by the views of the Canadian Rockies after every turn. The road conditions were pretty good and the snow in the middle of the road only made the trip more scenic. We thought we could take a snocoach at the Columbia Icefield, about halfway, but everything along the Parkway is closed during the winter. Therefore we arrived in Jasper in the afternoon. We walked around town for a while and had lunch at the KFC, but there was not so much to do as in Banff, so we decided to drive back to Banff. We arrived in the evening after having driven for more than 6 hours through the Rocky Mountains that day.
On Wednesday March 7th we checked out of the hostel in the morning and drove back to Calgary. We walked around a few shops and a mall before returning the car and getting a ride to the airport. Air Canada brought us back safely to Winnipeg and we got back to the U of M by taxi.
Altogether it was a great week of skiing and sightseeing in the Canadian Rockies.