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Canadian Rockies Adventure - Day Seven

Palliser Hotel Day One - Vancouver
133 9th Avenue Day Two - Kamloops
Calgary, Alberta, Canada Day Three - Jasper
1-800-441-1414 Day Four - Jasper
Day Five - Lake Louise
Palliser Hotel Home Page Day Six - Banff
Day Seven - Calgary

Friday, June 30, 2000

We got to sleep in again, which was most appreciated. We had breakfast in the Alberta Room, which was very dark (and our table was sort of falling apart). We were glad we had chosen the Waldhaus for dinner the night before. Our request for iced tea seemed to particularly puzzle the serving staff, and it took them a good 15 minutes to hunt down the iced tea. We considered the service so-so, and were not as impressed as with our experience the evening before.

We checked out and left our bags with the bell desk. Our tour guide of the previous day had told us the bell staff at Banff Spring considered themselves to be superior at handling baggage and would be offended if we tried to do it ourselves. Since they seemed to have their act together (much more so than at Lake Louise), we let them do their job. We checked out. We had wanted the experience of staying at this hotel, but decided if we go back, we may try one of the others (the Caribou or Rimrock, perhaps). Ours was a classic hotel, but very dark, and the service could be a bit uneven.

We had the morning free and decided to go into the town of Banff. We caught the trolley into town. The Banff Springs Hotel is actually outside of town and would have taken some time to walk to. The trolley arrives once an hour and the cost is negligible. It is a jitney with wooden benches and extremely scary brakes, but it served the purpose and was quaint. We noted that Banff appeared much more commercial than Jasper. We learned that the town had just recently put the brakes on development, whereas Jasper had cut off development much earlier. We also learned that residents owned their actual houses and condos, but rented the land from the National Parks. The cost of living is extremely high. We spent some time in the shops, then stopped for lunch at Wild Billís. We sat on a balcony overlooking Banff Avenue. Keith had a cajun chicken sandwich (yes, in Canada), and Lori had some nachos (again, yes, in Canada). We just sat for awhile, drinking in the views of the mountains. We caught the trolley back to our hotel for our 2:40 motorcoach pick-up. We picked up guests at the Rimrock Lodge (the one hotel we hadnít seen the day before, as it was further out of town than our accommodations). They said the Rimrock was fabulous. It was built only a couple years earlier, and they had found a loophole in the zoning restrictions in order to create a hotel that was around 7 stories high and that hugged the side of the mountain (the main entry was on one of the upper levels). The zoning has since been changed. The hot sulphur springs pool was right across the street from the Lodge.
Our first stop was the Sulphur Mountain Gondola. Lori liked the gondola better than the Jasper tram, as it only accommodated 4 people in each gondola, all could sit, and it was not as claustrophobic. The gondola takes 8 minutes to ride up to the top. There were beautiful views, and we took some pictures topside. We saw some mountain sheep at the top, who werenít too thrilled with the tourists. There were many steps and decking the more adventurous could take to the summit; we opted out of that. Instead, we had a beer and gazed out the windows.
We werenít scheduled to reach our final destination (Calgary) until 8 p.m. Everyone on the tour had had quite enough of the bus, and we noted that everyone got back from each stop early. We stopped at Bow Falls. They werenít very high, and looked more like rapids. A movie ("River of No Return") was made here with Marilyn Monroe and Robet Mitchum. Next was the Cave and Basin Center, where the stinky sulphur springs were discovered in the late 1800s. This is where the concept for Canadaís National Parks began. We went through a stinky cave, saw an old swimming pool, and a very stinky sulphur basin where tiny snails live that are not found anywhere else (and obviously the snails must have no sense of smell). The scrunched-up noses shared by all on the tour were hilarious. The next stop was the aptly-named Surprise Corner which as a startling view of the Banff Springs Hotel.
Around 5, we left the Rockies (regrettably) and the landscape became rolling hills as we neared Calgary. We arrived at the Palliser Hotel (www.palliserhotel.com) in Calgary around 7 p.m. We were given a huge room with a king-size bed. We had bought a bottle of wine and some crackers in Banff, and we immediately plunged the wine into an ice bucket. The concierge recommended Divina, an Italian restaurant just around the corner. When we sat down at our table, Keith noticed the Calgary Tower was right next to our hotel! We split an order of bruschetta, and Keith had a Caesar salad and chicken linguini. Lori had a salad with shrimp, and a burger with a side of pasta. We strode down to the Marriott after dinner for a drink, then returned to our room where we donned some robes, got comfortable, and opened our wine.

Saturday, July 1, 2000

We were tired of buses, so we took a taxi to the airport (another $25 cab fare). The Calgary airport is fairly small and clean. Unfortunately, there was a problem with our plane and the delays reverberated throughout the day, causing us not to get home until 2 a.m.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We typically take very relaxing vacations, and this was considerably different for us, as it was an organized tour and much more of an adventure. The scenery was beautiful and the people were some of the friendliest we have encountered. We highly recommend the Canadian Rockies as a vacation destination. Some day we will return.

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