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emsr2d2 Banff - A travel report by Emma
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Banff,  Canada - flag Canada -  Alberta
1350 readers

emsr2d2's travel reports

Perfect skiing

  13 votes
My first ever ski trip to Canada took me to beautiful, chilled-out Banff in Alberta. Everyone had said I would be smitten by Canada but I wasn't ready for just what an impression it would have on me. It's everything they said, and more!


Banff itself is a small town in Banff National Park. It is centred around a long main street, Banff Avenue, with side roads running off it. Picture the opening credits of Northern Exposure (with the moose ambling down the middle of the road) and you've got it. The hotels are mostly at one end of Banff Avenue, then the cafes, restaurants and shops are down the middle. Plenty of ski/board equipment and clothes shops, as well as day to day clothing shops. More than enough cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from, ranging from little teashops, a veggie restaurant, Canadian specialities to the rather posh and quite expensive Maple Leaf. Lots of little plazas (malls) - a fudge shop where you can watch it being made, internet cafe, liquor store and more. So if you find you can drag yourself away from the slopes for more than half an hour you'll have plenty to do in Banff town.

Favourite spots:
Sunfood Cafe (also known as Nourish Cafe). The only veggie cafe/restaurant in Banff is slightly hidden on the upper floor of the Sundance Mall, above the fudgery and the Discover Banff Tours booking office. It's heaven for veggies. 3 pages of interesting nibbles, full meals, snacks, sandwiches, pastas. I had perogies (Ukrainian potato dumplings filled with cheese and fried in spring onions and oil, with grilled onions over the top, and a pot of salsa and a pot of sour cream to dip them in. There is a row of tea caddies as you enter which you are encouraged to sniff and pick your blend. Marakesh Mint and Vanilla Rooibosh were my faves. But the piece de resistance is the cheesecake. Apparently the owner's wife has hundreds of different cheesecake recipes and he likes to try them out on customers. DIVINE. It has great ambience, fairy lights, coloured soft curtains, comfy seats and friendly staff. And a menu that any vegetarian place in the world would be proud of.

What's really great:
Perfect ski conditions in Sunshine Village
Perfect ski conditions in Sunshine Village
The skiing! Well, that's what I was there for after all. From our hotel (the Red Carpet Inn) the ski bus ran from right outside the door to the 3 main ski areas. Sunshine Village was the nearest (25 mins on the bus) and my favourite. Best for beginners and intermediates, the runs are wide, gentle, practically empty. The snow was perfect. The lifts are efficient, run by friendly and pretty funny people and you can cover a lot of ground using the tri-area lift pass. The views from the top of the Strawberry lift and Angel Express were incredible especially on a sunny day.

Sights:
Johnston Canyon falls
Johnston Canyon falls
Johnston Canyon. Discover Banff runs a 6km walk to the frozen waterfalls of Johnston Canyon. It's an amazing, though tiring (as it's uphill all the way there, though of course that means it's downhill on the way back!). But the guides make it very interesting. Half the walk is on a purpose built walkway alongside the river from the bottom of the canyon, then the second half is through the forest until you reach to upper falls.
Our guide was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and happy to go at a reasonable speed so that everyone could keep up. Of course, everything was under several feet of snow and looked magical. Once you reach the upper falls, you have deserved the hot chocolate and maple syrup cookies the guide produces from her rucksack! Then a slow wander down back to the bottom, at your own speed for more photo opportunities and to just take in the sheer wildness and beauty of it all.

Accommodations:
Red Carpet Inn, Banff Avenue
Fantastic staff, clean rooms, a great hot tub on the 2nd floor.
Free breakfast (toast, muffins, juice etc) though it's serve yourself onto paper plates with plastic cutlery - but hey, it's free!
Ski bus stops right outside the door.
Only suggestion would be to try and get a room at the back, not actually on Banff Avenue as the traffic can be a bit noisy. And the water system has to be heard to be believed especially if you use the whirlpool bath that's provided in some of the bigger rooms.
Angie and Shane on reception were just great - helpful, friendly and always happy to just chat

Nightlife:
Birthday fun at the Hoodoo
Birthday fun at the Hoodoo
The Hoodoo Lounge is the main place to go. Nightclubs aren't really my scene but we went there for a mate's birthday. The music is loud, drinks are relatively pricey and the clientele is eclectic and mostly friendly. If you get there early, you can claim a table with sofas or bar stools. It was getting pretty busy when I left at midnight, and is open til 2.30am.

Restaurants:
The Old Spaghetti Factory. This place is amazing - it's on the upper floor of the mall on the corner of Wolf Street. From the outside you would never realise how big it is.
The menu is incredible - you really only need to order an entree, as the order includes soup or salad, sourdough bread and garlic whipped butter and then icecream after your meal. All for about 15 dollars a head. There was plenty of choice for both carnivores and veggies, lots of choice of drinks and we were so full when we left we could barely move. The staff are friendly and helpful with any problems over the menu. This was the first place we ate on our vacation and it was only because there were so many other places to try, that we never made it back here.

Other recommendations:
The dog sledging with Discover Banff tours is great - 3 of my friends went on it. Cold but fun. The dogs are loud, enthusiastic and very cute. It's an expensive trip but apparently well worth the effort.
The night-time ice walk across a frozen lake, to roast marshmallows over a firepit was also great fun. Listening to the coyotes howl late at night, feeling like you absolutely in the middle of nowhere is amazing.

Published on Saturday March 18th, 2006


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Tue, Mar 28 2006 - 03:19 PM rating by mistybleu

Lovely report, I've just got back for skiing in Europe so I know how you must feel. Banff sounds like a magical place.
Amanda

Mon, Mar 20 2006 - 02:04 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent report

Sun, Mar 19 2006 - 08:26 AM rating by marianne

Hi Emma,

Excellent report would have been 5* if you had added a few more photos.

Marianne

Sun, Mar 19 2006 - 06:59 AM rating by gloriajames

hello emma,
love the snow pics esp of johnston canyon falls.
why not add more pics to your report?
nevertheless a good read.
gloria

Sat, Mar 18 2006 - 06:03 PM rating by isaacmolina

This one is the best out of your 5 reports

Sat, Mar 18 2006 - 05:46 PM rating by davidx

The place provided the chance for a good report and you have done an excellent one. Thanks.

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