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Canadian Rockies Adventure - Day Six

Banff Springs Hotel Day One - Vancouver
Banff, Alberta, Canada Day Two - Kamloops
403-762-2211 Day Three - Jasper
Day Four - Jasper
Banff Springs Hotel Home Page Day Five - Lake Louise
Day Six - Banff
Day Seven - Calgary

Thursday, June 29, 2000

We got to sleep in a little this morning, which was most welcome. We had breakfast in the family restaurant of the hotel at 9 a.m. Keith had the Eggs Benedict, and Lori had the roesti potatoes. For the uninitiated, roesti is a large round serving of shredded hash brown potatoes, topped with things such as cheese, bacon, chives, etc. (We make this at home.) Again, the service was superior. Keith noted that the people who worked in the hospitality industry in this region of Canada seemed to have two settings: happy and super happy. Our waiter this morning was turned up to super happy, as he was very perky and asked, "How’s that iced tea treating you!!!" We truly appreciated the extra effort we received from nearly everyone we encountered on this trip.
We walked part way around the lake and took some pictures. We were blessed with another gorgeous day and the sun sparkled on the stunning lake.
Since we were uncertain as to where to go to catch our motorcoach (and we weren’t even sure if we were still with Rocky Mountaineer or with some other tour operator), we opted to take our own luggage downstairs and wait in the general area we had been dropped off. Others from our tour were milling about as well, uncertain as to what came next. We were relieved to see a Rocky Mountaineer motorcoach show up at noon, and we boarded while Keith kept a watchful eye on our bags, to be sure they were loaded into the luggage compartment (they were). Alas, we no longer had Mario.

Our first stop was to see the Spiral Tunnels. They are tunnels carved into the mountain to reduce the grade of the railroad tracks. The train enters a tunnel, circles inside of the mountain, and exits the mountain at a level much easier for the train to handle. We were fortunate, and a train showed up while we were there, so we could see the engine coming of the mountain on one level as the rear of the train was entering the mountain on another level.

We entered Yoho National Park and took the road to Takakkaw Falls. On the way, there was a switchback. The bus went up the 1st part, backed up the next level, and forward on the 3rd. It was a little scary, but the driver was obviously very capable. We could see rockslide sites as we progressed and went through an area that had experienced an avalanche recently - there was snow nearly as high as the bus on both sides of the road that had recently been plowed out. The bus parked, and we took a nice walk to the falls (after Lori made the obligatory restroom stop, of course). All the water was still that startling emerald color, even the more shallow streams. Where there were rapids, the water was not as deep in color, but still beautiful.

Back aboard the bus, we saw a black bear runnning into the woods, and later on we watched a bear calmly munching dandelions by the side of the road. We stopped at Emerald Lake. It was pretty, but Lake Louise was much more impressive. Most important to those on the tour was the snack stand. The tour had begun at noon, and many hadn’t eaten lunch prior to the departure (we had looked ahead on our itinerary and had thoughtfully had a big breakfast, but we too were getting hungry). Being some of the youngest people on the tour, we were also the first ones to hoof it to the snack stand, and we munched on a couple of "smokies" (much like kielbasa).

We entered Banff National Park, and arrived in the town of Banff shortly after 5 and nearly all the others on the tour were dropped off at their respective hotels, giving us a chance to get a quick look at their accommodations from the outside. We arrived at our destination, the Banff Springs Hotel, around 5:45 p.m. In sharp contrast to Chateau Lake Louise, our group was met by someone who gave us a brief introduction to the hotel. The Banff Springs Hotel resembles a castle. It is 100 years old and there have been many additions over the years. There is lots of dark wood and small nooks and crannies. It is also very easy to get lost. We felt as if we had to walk a mile to our room, up and down lots of different stairs. We actually got lost and had to stop at a bar and ask for directions. The room was nice but a little bit of a disappointment as we were actually below ground and the window opened right out onto the grass. We were happy to see the room had air conditioning.

This time we had planned ahead and had selected a restaurant from the information we had picked up earlier in the day. While Keith checked in, Lori made a reservation at the Waldhaus restaurant with the concierge. After changing, we set out to find the restaurant (after a brief stop at the bar where we had gotten directions for some liquid refreshment). We got directions to the restaurant from the bartender as well. The restaurant was German, and was actually located in a separate building back behind the hotel, down many steps. The building appeared to have been a former ski lodge of sorts. We first stopped in the bar downstairs where Keith had a beer and Lori had some champagne.

We went upstairs to the restaurant for dinner. We were given a nice table out in a cupola with a beautiful view of the valley. Since the day was a warm, beautiful one, the windows were open to allow the refreshing mountain breezes to caress the lucky diners. Of course, the sun was still up and it seemed more like a late afternoon dinner than a mid-evening one. We had views of the mountains, stream, and golf course. Keith ordered the German meat sampler as an appetizer, a salad, and chicken stuffed with veal and ham, with a side of buttermilk mashed potatoes. Lori had shrimp scampi as an appetizer, a salad, and had spaetzle as her entree. We split raspberry parfait for dessert, complemented by ice wine, recommended by Corey our waiter, who was outstanding. We stopped at the "directions" bar once more for an after-dinner drink, then headed off to bed.

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