Hey everyone!

I am back from my trip (sadly). I cannot tell you all enough how amazing it was for both myself and Bryon. We enjoyed every minute of it - so much that our eyes were overwhelmed with the sights we were able to take in. I want to tell you everything about our trip, but I have to do it in chunks because there's just so much. It will likely take up most of the week, but we'll see how I can work it out. Also, I want it to be as detailed as possible, so that if you decide to make a trip to Alberta you can collect some ideas and such.

This was a long weekend trip, so we were limited. However, I've been to Alberta before with my family and was able to see the glacier lakes when there's wasn't snow and ice, and I can tell you now that both summer and spring (and likely winter too) have their benefits. Personally, I prefer the spring. Yes, we did miss the brightly coloured lakes and I will come back again to see them, but seeing avalanche tracks, bears out of hibernation and beautiful snow covered mountains and frozen lakes was so beautiful. Our destination was Banff. There's Banff National Park, and there's the village, Banff...which is in the National Park. You can also stay in Canmore, which is about a 15 minute drive south of Banff - likely more affordable lodging options. We stayed at Tunnel Mountain Resort in a loft-style room, which was perfect for all of us. It had a wood-burning fireplace, 2 washrooms and a kitchenette. I would absolutely stay there again!

We flew to Calgary from Toronto. It was a 4.5 hour flight, so it wasn't too bad. Once we got to Calgary we rented a car (Bryon is part of the Emerald Club because it comes with his medical package or license...I have no idea), either way, we rented a really nice Infiniti SUV, which was amazing on gas and a really smooth ride. It ended up working out great because we did A TON of driving throughout the weekend, so it helped to have a comfortable car. We got in fairly late, so we stayed the night in Calgary, just at a Best Western. It had free breakfast and was close to the airport. We also wanted to be able to enjoy the ride into Banff when it wasn't dark out. We left pretty early the next morning. There is no airport in Banff, so you have to fly into Calgary and drive there, and it only takes about an hour and a half. As you leave Calgary, a wall of mountains gets closer and closer and closer...until you are fully driving through the Rockies.

We were meeting my best friend, Christina and her cousin. Christina was driving in from Kelowna, so Bryon and I had the day to explore on our own. Our first stop was Lake Louise. Lake Louise is perhaps the biggest tourist attraction. It's a turquoise blue, glacier lake with beautiful historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise sitting on its edge. It really is beautiful. Still frozen, we didn't see much of its blue hue, but knowing that it would attract a major crowd over a long weekend, we went at the perfect time - just before noon on the Friday. After that we drove to Johnston's Canyon for a hike. It was an easy hike, not too long and the incline wasn't too steep. It's really beautiful to see. I have heard that during the winter months it can get dangerously slippery, though. Luckily, the trail wasn't snowy or icy, but the canyon did have layers of ice around the edge, which made it extra pretty. We did go off the trail (which I don't think you supposed to do) to hike down to the water's edge to see the famous cave. You wouldn't know it's there unless you go down, because it's hidden...but it is STUNNING. We tried to take photos but the sun was so bright so they're not the best. I'm not recommending you do this, because it's dangerous to get close to white water... (duh), but I have no regrets.

We did stop for lunch before our hike. We didn't eat at the Chateau because we were not dressed appropriately, nor did we want to spend the money on an expensive lunch. We moved on to the village to check into our hotel and get our suitcases settled in. It was around 4pm at that point and we drove down to the Banff Gondola - it's much better than it sounds. While it was slightly expensive, this tourist trap is well worth it. I had a mild panic attack on the way up, because it's SO HIGH hahaha. But eventually I settled down and enjoyed the 8 minute ride up the mountain. A the top there's a centre with 4 viewing platforms (the top is the best, obviously), and there's also a boardwalk that goes across the mountain to a viewing point. It snowed a little while we were up there, which made the experience that much better. I loved every moment of it. We went at a really good time because there were no lineups and the crowd was quite thin.

After going back down the gondola to the bottom, we grabbed a few groceries like granola bars, bananas, apples, milk and yogurt for healthy morning snacks and snacks for our hike the following day. We met up with Christina and went for dinner at Banff Ave. Brewing Co. While Banff has a very lively nightlife, we didn't have the energy to party with 20 somethings this weekend, so we took our party back to the hotel.

It was an excellent first day!

<3 Caitlin

above: Lake Louise (still frozen)

above: Lake Louise

above: Johnston Canyon

above: Johnston Canyon

above: Johnston Canyon

above: Johnston Canyon

above: Banff Gondola

above: Banff Gondola

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Caitlin Melvin | | Toronto, Ontario

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