Saturday, November 22, 2014

GCA VI: Into the Rockies

YVR

Fearing a whole lot of checkouts the next morning, KH went to the front desk before midnight to settle the bill. It was a mistake really, cause housekeeping thought we had left and kept calling and knocking. Ugh. The next morning, we got a cab easily enough and went to Vancouver Airport (YVR) to catch our flight to Calgary (YYR). For the first time, used a self service system where you actually print your own baggage tags and lug them to the belt. So kampung of me right? Ate a breakfast combination of Tim Horton's and A&W, and I must say that the former was the better choice. Bumped into a guy that I had met at dinner the night before and finally met his wife. Strange that she chose not to attend. Since she flew all the way with him, might as well watch him go on stage to get his certificate! The flight was just an hour but it was delayed because they had to eject the luggage of passengers that didn't turn up. Gave me enough time to watch "Maleficent" on the in-flight entertainment. Thankfully I brought my earphones in my hand carry luggage because Air Canada charged for them. KH and I synchronized our screens and shared the earphone. Hehe.

Tim Hortons

Surprised to see that at YYR, the baggage claims and the arrival hall share the same space. Yikes. That pretty much means that anyone can walk up to the belt and make off with your luggage! While waiting for our bags to arrive, KH went to settle the car rental at National. Once he got the car (it was a cute, white KIA Soul), we loaded our bags into it and went for lunch at the airport food court (no fear of theft like in back home). Shared a plate of rice with stir-fried chicken and beef prepared by a couple of pinoys. They were thrilled when KH told them that he was from Malaysia. So eager to show off his command of Malay by repeatedly asking whether "Nak tambah sos?". Perhaps that's supposed to have a double meaning? Finished up, bought coffee and a muffin from Tim Horton's (again) and hit the road! I drove really carefully in town (left hand drive!), but relaxed when we hit the highway. Signboards in Canada are dual-language to cater for the Francophiles. Just about 150km to Banff. When entering the park, we had to purchase a pass. They charge for each day we spend there. At major tourist attractions they would check for it. Guess it covers road and park upkeep, maintenance of parking and restrooms (a hole in the ground, but with hand sanitizer and toilet paper).

Welcome to Calgary

Moose @ Belt 4

Driving Soul

Darling Drive

Destination: Banff

Our first stop in Banff was Tunnel Mountain. No tunnel there, it was named thus because they thought that they needed to blast a tunnel through the mountain. It was a 3.6km return hike with a 300m elevation via a few switchbacks up the hillside. For one thing, it was cold and we were tired so on the onset we were already feeling a little hard-pressed. Lol. We persevered anyway. Just a third into our journey, we were rewarded with a great view of Banff. Several teens were there enjoying the view (and enjoying the fresh air by smoking) and I think too disinterested to continue further. We trudged upwards and met a couple who were descending. They told us that we were nearly there, only ten minutes! What a lie that was. The first major 'wow' near the top was the view of Mount Rundle. Crazy. Something that I can only describe as being very Mild 7 (those ciggie advertisements from my childhood). At the peak was a breathtaking view of Bow Valley. As it was getting dark, we hiked down and tried to squeeze in The Hoodoos before driving off to Lake Louise. However, we were unable to locate it on the GPS and the printed map wasn't of much help. So we just gave up and went for dinner at El Toro.

Trudging Up Tunnel Mountain

Mount Rundle

Summit Dating

Stop, Enjoy

Had a difficult time finding parking along the main road, so we turned into the residential areas. Parking with left hand drive was a challenge for me. Normal assumptions totally out. Haha. Luckily nothing happened to the car. Ordered a meat and cheese platter and some ravioli. Hardly touched the latter. Also had some sangria and beer. Walking back to the car was another challenge because we were full and it was f*cking cold! When we arrived at Lake Louise, it was already dark and bloody cold! Found the Lake Louise Inn easily enough. Checked into our creaky room (it was a wooden building away from the lobby) and plonked onto the bed. No air-conditioning was available, not that it was required. Just had to open the windows to enjoy the cold mountain air. And when it got really cold, we fired up the heater. Or just started a 'fire' in bed, whichever was more convenient.

Platter