Banff! So gorgeous! I can't sing its praises enough. I would never get tired of those beautiful mountains. I arrived in Calgary on a Friday afternoon after an easy, direct flight on American Airlines from O'Hare (flight was a bit shy of 4 hours). I rented a car in January for my June trip for Friday through Wednesday morning and I got a STEAL. I mean it. I paid $150 USD for the entire rental and every time I checked after that, the price for that period of time was $360 USD or more. Book about 5 months before, I suppose? That was also my first time renting a car in a foreign country by myself, and I was a bit worried since I don't drive a lot. However, I didn't have to drive much, thanks to my friend, who ended up driving once he arrived and I got to just be a passenger and observe the scenery. :) Shh, don't tell the rental car company.
Anyway, I had plans to stay at an Airbnb outside of Banff in the town of Canmore, for just one night. Canmore was an hour and some change drive from the Calgary airport. However, I drove straight to Banff, bought a 24 hour Canada Parks Pass at the gate to Banff National park for about $7 USD, because the town of Banff is within a National Park of Canada. Then I stopped for a 3 pm lunch at Bear Street Tavern. That place was so nice I ate there twice, it was my first and last meal in Banff! I had a turkey club pizza (and leftovers) the first time with a kiwi kolsch. Kolsch is not normally my beer of choice (sours, IPAs, stouts are my jam) but I was intrigued by the kiwi and I wanted something local, of course. I also saw that the ABV was low and knew I was going to be driving on to Lake Louise, about 30 km from Banff on the highway.
After my lunch, I went to Fenlands Recreation Center to pick up my half-marathon race packet (race review coming in another post) and then I drove to the beautiful Lake Louise. I wanted to also go to Moraine Lake, but I left Lake Louise as it was getting rainy and I was worried about driving to a higher elevation on the windy road by myself in the rain. It probably would have been fine but I was also tired and ready to check in to my Airbnb and unpack, relax, etc. I'd been going since 5 am that morning, from one time zone ahead.
I'm kind of sad that it was sunny when I got to Lake Louise and then 5 minutes later the clouds rolled in, but there was nothing I could do. The aqua water and the mountains were gorgeous and I'm so glad that I saw it. I will definitely go back as I have another Via Ferrata route to conquer - more on that later.
I remember seeing a photo of the Fairmont Lake Louise when I was a teenager and immediately questioning where it was and how I could get there. It took me a long time but this trip was an amazing and slightly early 37th birthday present to myself.