On my way... to Canada! | Miles Morgan Travel
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On my way... to Canada!

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To travel through the West of Canada including the Rockies, is something I’d never thought I’d ever get the chance to do, however this all changed when I won a place on an amazing trip planned by Prestige Travel, with help of Air Canada & The Rocky Mountaineer – to which I was super excited about!

To start the journey off, I flew from Heathrow direct to Vancouver with Air Canada, which was very comfortable and the staff on board the plane were very accommodating throughout the whole flight. Once arriving in Vancouver, it was a quick 25-minute transfer to downtown Vancouver where we checked in to the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel for a 2 night stay – it’s true what they say about a Fairmont bed… Best beds you’ll ever sleep in! After freshening up, we met a representative from Destination Vancouver and Tour & Travel Sales director from Vancouver Fairmont’s hotels who treated us to an amazing 3 course evening meal at the restaurant Notch8 within the hotel.

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The following morning, we started our day by taking a quick 15 minute stroll to the Fairmont Waterfront where we were hosted for the yummiest breakfast – I can confirm the French Toast just melts in your mouth! After breakfast it was time to meet our driver to take us over the bridge to the stunning Stanley Park. Within minutes from downtown Vancouver, with fantastic views of the over the city with many beaches dotted around, a 9km seawall path, hiking paths into the forest, this was quote the picture – but our next stop was the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

We crossed the swinging 460ft long bridge with stunning views across the valley – I admittedly found it harder than others with wobbly knees and death grip on the rails due to the heights. Once making it across to the other side and into the forest – thank god, we walked around coming across Raptor Ridge which house retired local birds of prey. It was then time to cross the bridge back over – I did ask about another route back but no luck – and onto the recently reopened Cliff Walk. Again, admittedly hard for myself, but worth the experience seeing the views, hearing the sounds and taking in the scenery.

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After making our way back to our driver, it was back to downtown Vancouver to Granville Island for a foodie tour in its world famous market. Over those next few hours we were taken through the history of the market by our tour guide Gina, along with tasting many foods, form local breads, cheese, noodles to sweet treats like macarons and donuts… Safe to say we didn’t go hungry!

After finishing our tour, we headed to get one of the many water taxis to the opposite bay to met our driver who then took us on a quick tour of Yaletown and Gastown and final stop being the Vancouver flyover which gives you a birds eye view of British Columbia forests and waters, all within a rollercoaster & cinema setting.

It was then time to head back to freshen up before enjoying a free evening exploring Vancouver, a few of us visited a recommend bar called ‘Cactus Club’ along the waterfront for a cocktail as we watched the sun start to set. After getting an early nights sleeps ready for the early morning start. We came to the main excitement of the trip… the Rocky Mountaineer! This involved two full days filled with food, drink, more food and scenery that took your breath away!

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Upon arrival at the Rocky Mountaineer terminal, you are met by lovely staff who take your luggage away (don’t worry you’ll see it again at your mid-point stopover). There are two levels to Rocky Mountaineer, Silver Leas which is a single deck carriage where your food & drink is served in your seat or the Gold Leaf which is split over two decks, with the restaurant for your meals on the lower level and the dome 360 glass views on the upper leave filled with very comfortable leather seats that have the option for heated seats & recline – which we took full advantage of!

Throughout the two days we were onboard, we were served by same 4 staff in rotation - The team were absolutely amazing, giving insightful history of the trainline and events that taken place, to pointing our areas (or animals) along the route as well as making sure our glasses and tummies were always full! Along the route, you have the option of going down to the viewing platform on the lower deck (gold leaf only) at the rear of the carriage where you can get a closer look at the nature and scenery passing by you all the while soaking in the fresh air!

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Day 2 of the train was by far my favorite, having found ourselves travelling through the heart of the Rockies, surrounded by snowcapped mountains, with beautiful turquoise coloured lakes at the bottom and forests going on for miles upon miles – making sightings for wildlife more exciting – many sightings we spotted were: Bald eagles, Kestrel and long-horned sheep, unfortunately it was a bit too early in the season to see any bears roaming around, especially with cold weather/snow storm they recently had.

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Once arriving in Banff, we were assigned to a bus (depending on which hotel you’re staying at) your attendees will advise you of which one to get onto before disembarking the train. Making our way through Banff, we got to our hotel which was the newest hotel in resort the Hotel Canoe & Suites. After a welcoming by the hotel staff upon check in, we made our way up to our room on 4th floor with two double spacious beds, a large bathroom and even a small kitchenette to cater for yourself if you wanted a cosy night in and the BEST PART… A balcony with breathtaking backdrop views of the snow-capped mountains! This particular hotel is located on the outskirts of the downtown Banff, as such a 20 minute walk into town, however with a superb local bus service (better than my hometown) and a stop right outside the hotel, it is easy to get around.

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After a lazy morning (taking full advantage of not having to set an alarm before 7am), we had a late breakfast before heading off to our first stop of the day, the Banff Gondola. As you could’ve guessed, I was nervous due to the journey up & back down but once getting to the top of the mountain with my feet firmly on the ground, the views were amazing, and the snow made me feel like a little kid again! With making our tummies full with even more food at the Northern Lights restaurant, I challenged myself to try reach the top viewing platform to see the scenery from those platforms – only made it 3/4 way up due to the crispy fresh wind battling against me and being cut for time… but my gosh was it worth it! After making our descent back down the mountain it was then time for our final tour of the day through Banff National Park and onto Lake Louise.

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With a guided commentary by our driver/guide from Discover Banff tours, we started off going through Bow Valley Park, where we saw a family of deer – the excitement of this woke us of from our power naps and had our faces stuck to the windows hoping to see more wildlife! Upon arriving at Lake Louise – which was still frozen over from long winter, the sight was beautiful nevertheless! Due to its sheer size, it is one of the last lakes in Canada to thaw, sometimes even as late as June, something to be aware of if you want to see the famous picturesque turquoise waters.

After heading back to Banff, we headed to 3 Bears Brewery for one last evening meal in Canada, a place a would highly recommend (in the summer its best to book in advance as staff said that is their busiest period) – where we had the family buffet, which is a selection off their menu which they bring to your table and your help yourself to as much or as little as you’d want… perfect for families or larger groups!

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Our final morning in Banff, we headed up to Fairmont Banff Springs – easily accessibly by the local bus service. This hotel gave me gothic Hotel Transylvania castle vibes, which fitted as its (allegedly) known for having its own resident ghost… spooky! To start us off, we once again filled our tummies with breakfast in the comfort of the Vermillion room which had views of the snow covers landscape/mountains and then followed on with a completed tour of the many different styled rooms where I found my dream four poster bed!

It was then time of say goodbye to Banff & the Rockies and head off to Calgary and await our flight home, however before heading to the airport we had time to stop off at another Fairmont (Fairmont Palliser) in the town center, where we met our guide from Calgary tours who took us on a walking tour of the city. Our last part of the tour was a visit to the Calgary Tower, which my colleagues happily went up and experienced - I had decided to sit this one out in the end after facing my fear of heights too many times of my personal liking… We headed back to the Fairmont for, you guessed it… MORE FOOD, followed by a tour of the hotel rooms – each room being spacious!

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Our journey had sadly come to an end, so it was time of bid farewell to our hosts and make our way to the airport for our flight home. Top tip, if your flying economy and its an overnight flight, check to see if the flight is full, as most airlines will let you move to a row of empty seats where you can stretch out and make yourself a comfy bed with the pillows & blankets provided – can honestly say best nights sleep I’d had in a moving vehicle!

I hope my overall experience has given you an insight to this beautiful, amazing country and gives you a taste of the types of experience you could personally enjoy yourself! It is another country I have fallen in love with and would happily visit time & time again…

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