Saturday, 30 November 2013



I spent longer in Kelowna than anywhere else I've been so far. It's not the most exciting place, nor the most beautiful, but I really enjoyed my time here. As travel is getting expensive (greyhounds everywhere) I decided to stay somewhere for a couple of weeks to space it out a bit, and I'm so glad this happened with Kelowna. 

Kelowna is on Lake Okanagan and so has a lot of beaches, the hostel being close to the shore I was able to wander along them without a trek to find them. It's much more of a summer city as a result...a lot of things were closed for the season and it was very quiet, both in town and the hostel. This is fine by me. A lot of people head up to the mountain, Big White, to work and ski and such. 

I spent many happy hours watching the water and the mountains and the ducks and feeling chilled.  

The hostel has become my favourite so far. I was picked up from the greyhound station, enough to start swaying in its favour already - getting to the hostel is the worst part by far. Upon arrival I was shown around and had been given a double bed...the joy in my heart. My goodness. 

The wifi was strong, the plugs were close and convenient, and I ended up spending most of the two weeks essentially in a private room as it was so quiet. 

Many of my days were spent enjoying films and tv with the few other people staying and working at the hostel, and it made me realise how much I missed sofas. I thought I did before, but it wasn't until I was curled up with tea that I truly appreciated how lovely it is. 

 This little madam cemented the hostel's position in my ranking. A CAT! In love. 


There is one unusual activity I can fill you in on. I spent a night ice picking. This is my coat afterwards. 

Ice picking is harvesting frozen grapes for ice wine, a sweet dessert wine. There are rules that have to be followed for it to be called ice how Melton Mowbrays have to be made there and you can't call it a Devonshire cream tea if you're not in Devon. The grapes are frozen, and have to be picked at at most -8 for it to be called Ice least in British Columbia. The grapes are pressed while frozen, meaning most of the moisture is left behind as ice. The sugars and flavours are more concentrated...and it takes a whole lot more grapes to make a bottle, making it an expensive treat. 

Along with a few others from my hostel we went off to a winery, wrapped up in many many layers, and picked grapes from midnight until about 5:30am. Both layers of gloves got wet quickly, and it soon became less interesting and exciting and more "why on earth am I here and not in bed?!" I didn't bring my camera, and I'm thankful for it. There was so much bending down and twisting and leaning, a bag would have made me very unhappy. The temperature was about -15 whilst we were picking...not that I necessarily noticed that so much. Most of me was fine, I was moving, just my fingers and toes got painfully cold after a couple of hours. 

An amazing, unusual experience that I could not have at home. This was exactly what I hoped for in coming here. It might not have been non stop fun, but that's the nature of exciting things, right?

I'm now on my way to Vancouver, on another greyhound through some more snowy mountains. I will never get bored of these views.




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Saturday, 16 November 2013


Aside from the post about my great train adventure, all the rest have been written at the end of my stay or on the move to the next place. Here, I depart from tradition.

I arrived in Banff easy and quick journey from Calgary. After getting off the coach and going into a little info centre to find out when the buses were running to the hostel, I overheard a girl in front of me asking the same question I had planned so I quickly jumped in to avoid the man repeating himself. It turned out the bus wouldn't be there for another 35 minutes, and that between us a cab would maybe be about a dollar more than the bus, made sense. The girl, Jaime, had actually been sitting next to me for the journey, but I was so captivated by the views that we hadn't spoken.

Cab taken, we arrived at the hostel and got ourselves settled in, my run of only getting the bottom bunk has broken by the way...and settling in to a top bunk is a lot harder. Jaime is only here until tomorrow morning, so to make sure she got the most out of her trip we got ourselves back into town to wander and familiarise ourselves with the area slightly. Major plus point of this hostel is that we get a free bus pass, amazing. It's not too far to walk, but when it's dark and cold it will prove invaluable I'm sure.

In town we got a delicious coffee and had a little walk round before heading back, meeting again later for a drink in the pub at the hostel where she had met a friend from home. While making dinner a little while later we started talking to some guys in the wasn't long before I was able to introduce some more people to Jungle Speed. As their friends joined them a little later, I can safely say I have never explained the game so many times in one evening.

This morning I woke up extremely cold, it wasn't till much later I discovered someone had had the window idea how long for. It was the kind of cold that makes me feel like an old lady, as my hips ached from being curled up all night. Tonight I will know better and bulk up the pjs.

I left the hostel to go for a walk and was hit, for perhaps the 20th time so far, by the unbelievable beauty of the place I am staying in. I am surrounded by mountains, the snow underfoot is all crunchy and crispy as it's too cold to go to slush, and it's so quiet. The town instead is fairly busy, but where the hostel has that wonderful lack of noise that only snow can provide. After seeing the bus was going to be another 25 minutes I decided to walk. I'm immeasurably glad I did. The walk was beautiful, mainly involving me staring in wonder around me, and the best thing that could ever happen to someone who has decided to walk and not get the bus - it only passed me as I reached town. What a feeling.

My first wander round Banff took me along the Bow River Trail. The water was freezing over, and the continually falling soft snow was settling in a way that was sure to have inspired snow globes.
The falls aren't very big, there isn't a very sheer drop, and there are no ponchos involved. But I absolutely prefer these to Niagara, sorry Ontario.
It was while I was at these falls that I saw an Elk! So exciting! He was HYOOGE. Couldn't get a photo, unfortunately, but freaking awesome.

The next day I turned left instead of right and walked the other way along the Bow River. A lot more of this was frozen, completely in some places. I read a couple of days later that the reason some parts of the ice were broken is because some elk fell in and they cut it away to try and give them a chance to swim to the shore. Very sadly, they didn't make it and 7 died. The photo in the paper showed a helicopter lifting one to drop it further away to give wolves a nice meal. Eep.

I'm now at the end of my stay in Banff, tomorrow I get on the bus to Kelowna. It's been an amazing week, I cannot emphasise enough how amazing it is to leave in the morning and be surrounded by mountains. I've been lucky enough to meet some fun people in my dorm, Gina and Meg, last night Gina managed to win a pool tournament and a pitcher of beer which she was ever so kind as to share. I think it was for the best, we were all zombies this morning anyway, eep. We played some pool, some foosball (babyfoot) and some darts. I EVEN got some of them on the board.

I'm going to miss Banff a lot, but it is one of the few places on my travels that I will get to revisit and enjoy again as it is a stop on my tour with Samantha. I have purposely left out things that I know we'll be doing, the hot springs and the gondola, dead excited about those.

This week has flown by, I can't believe I'm leaving here tomorrow morning. Not only has this week flown by, but tomorrow I will have been in Canada two months! What?! Isn't that insane? It feels like no time at all until I'm home, which I am absolutely so excited about. I've got 4 weeks till my Christmas Pal arrives, two and a half glorious weeks with her, then two weeks before I return to Blighty. That time is going to fly by and, as much as I am loving Canada, I can't wait to be home.



Friday, 8 November 2013


Calgary has been great. A lot more interesting than Edmonton, lots of lovely snow and some extremely fun people!

As the coach approached the city it looked really misty and foggy...when I paid slightly closer attention I realised it was snowing. At first getting off the coach and out into the snow was fun...however the, once again poorly written, directions gave me no clues as to where the bus stop I needed was, leaving me wandering around for a long time. When I eventually found the stop I needed I discovered it was the only one with no shelter...after waiting for about 30-40 minutes with no sign of a bus at any stop and the snow settling on me at a pace I was losing my ability to keep up with I decided that this time I could have a cab. It was only about $10, so a good decision I think. 

I got to the hostel, got my bed set up and headed out again to find something to eat. The snow was heavier now, but I can cope when I'm walking and am not carrying everything I own. It was a pretty beautiful walk, though I absolutely needed the hot chocolate at the end of it. It's warmed up slightly now, but at the beginning of the week it was bitterly cold, especially as I kept not realising and not dressing appropriately. I've learnt my lesson now, and put on all the layers I'm convinced are going to be too much and am hugely thankful for as soon as I get outside. 

On Sunday I was determined to find rugby. When I was in Toronto I had somehow come across tickets for Canada vs All Blacks and I was hugely disappointed that it would be when I was nowhere near and would have to miss it. Other people I met where much luckier than me; Laura, Lisa and Elizabeth - I am hugely jealous of you. 

One of my tasks on Saturday upon arrival in Calgary was to suss out the best place to go for the rugby and, after some inquiries to make sure where I'd found wasn't a no go, the next day I tramped off to the Tilted Kilt. I was not the only girl watching as the guy at the hostel had suggested I might be, but I was the only person watching alone. It was a peculiar feeling...I'm so used to rugby in a pub being as much a gathering as a birthday or similar, sitting alone felt like I was constantly waiting for someone to get back from the bar. I got myself a Guinness and onion rings (I KNOW! I'm growing!) and settled down for the game. I enjoyed myself, though some company would have been ideal. 

Obviously, it is nearing Armistice Day and poppies are in most shops. Above is the third poppy I bought...and the third poppy I lost. The design is prettier and it's a lot hardier than our poppies, but it's just a pin. A combo of this poppy and our green stem is what's needed. Take note. 

This is Jeff. I wanted to make a snowman, but it was too cold to attempt the real thing on my own, so I made a little baby one, Jeff Jeffty Jeff.

 Here he is with his Christmas Tree. 

These are three of the 'famous five', five women in Canada who fought to have women recognised as persons. You rock ladies!


As I think you must be expecting, I found myself a park! Prince's Island Park was exactly what I wanted...lots of snow to fluff through and some water to watch. The part of the water in the photo above is quite shallow, I found it hilarious to watch ducks do that kind of swimming where they actually walk on the you do at a certain point in a swimming pool that's getting shallower. 

 There were swings. There were no children. There were no adults. I spent a long time on the swings. 

Later in the week I took myself off to Calgary zoo. It was quite badly affected by the flood earlier this year, half of it is still closed and there are a few animals who have been relocated permanently. Despite this, I decided to go and have a was only $10 and, coming from a place where the zoo costs about £30 per adult, I was not going to pass that opportunity up. 

I really enjoyed myself! I remembered how much I love penguins first of all...

Then got utterly baffled by these goats. As I walked towards their enclosure, I just saw the back of one of them on a rocky cliff thing. I instantly thought it was a polar bear and my internal alarm systems went berserk. That fence is far too low to house a BEAR! It could easily jump from there to the path! Why is there nothing between it and some goats?! Closer inspection revealed them to be just some more goats. But there were enormous, and almost definitely are a cross between goats and polar bears. 

I fell head over heels for this dude. He looks so grumpy...I decided his name would be Sir Curmudegon. Maybe Lord. He definitely has a title. 

Bison are fun to watch too. Their faces have a very human quality to them, but like a ghostly apparition of a face. The more I looked at them, the more I was convinced that these were more like animals you'd see inhabiting some distant planet in some Sci-Fi movie. 

Ducks walking across ice is surprisingly adorable. 

Not sure this guy took to me too well...took my photo and back away. Yes, fence, but it's not nice to antagonise is it? 


I got a bit bored yesterday and wandered round the shopping centre (I cannot call it a mall) and found myself a little corner to sit. It was nice...this sort of thing should happen more. 

During the trip I have been lucky enough to meet up once again with Emilie, a girl I met in MontrĂ©al. First I spent an evening at hers chatting...then she made me dinner the next night...and then last night her friend Pippa invited me over for dinner. Being a fellow Brit, she managed to read my mind perfectly and made cottage pie. I had been thinking about cottage pie and shepherd's pie and Cumberland pie all week, and it was all I wanted. It made me a very happy girl. Then - pudding - scones! Yes! With clotted cream 'n' all. 

I really enjoyed myself last night, thank you Emilie, Pippa and Tanya! Makes me sad to be leaving Calgary tomorrow.

Today I went over to the Crossroads Market. It was a long nd boring walk, and I was hugely disappointed when I got there. Maybe in a better mood with the full flea market I'd have loved it. Sigh. 

My next destination is Banff. I'll be going there during the tour with Samantha, but as it is so close to Calgary I decided I would just double up. I'm sure the scenery will be beautiful enough to stomach twice! 

If you have any ideas of where I should go between Banff and Vancouver, let me know. There are 4 weeks (roughly) between leaving Banff and Samantha arriving that I need to fill. I don't have a car...I don't want to rent one. Greyhound is basically my option because the trains have so few stops here...if I end up in Jasper that would work out great, I can get the train then! I'll be going to Lake Louise on the tour too...and I'm told that that will be enough, so I'm not going to do that twice. Answers on a postcard! Or comment. Whatever. 


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Saturday, 2 November 2013



I arrived in Edmonton about 5 hours later than I had imagined I would. I was tired and fairly grumpy by the time I got to the hostel, not in the best mood to start my exploring. Powering through, I wrapped up and starting exploring Whyte Avenue, one block down from the hostel. 

Whyte Avenue is a quirky sort of street, lots of vintage and independent shops. This kept me amused for a good chunk of my week, as each one had different things to peruse. There was one brilliant shop that I could have spent a fortune in, had I not kept myself strictly reined in at all times. 

I loved looking through all the old toys, though I felt a little sad that it wasn't very likely I'd see something familiar the way I would if I was browsing the same shop at home. 

Browsing through old photographs is always a huge source of pleasure. Imagining all the stories behind each one, and how they've come to be in this basket in a basement shop! A lot of them seemed to be in Germany from what the notes on the back said. Immensely interesting to sit and sift through. I nearly got one as a little memento, but I couldn't decide on a favourite. 


We had snow! It wasn't a huge covering, more of a dusting, but it's still exciting. The cold here is very dry, there were still patches of unmelted snow through the week that would certainly not have lasted back home. Very cold, but nice to finally get to wrap up in all my warm things!

I took myself of to the West Edmonton Mall for a day. This place is enormoid. There is a water park... 

 ...with amazing looking wave machine, 

 ...a sea lion show! So bizarre to see this surrounded by shops...


 ...not forgetting the amusement park! This looked like a lot of fun, but the tickets were too pricey for me. I've not included photos of their ice rink or the china town area of the centre. Immense place, easy to spend awhile wandering around. 

 This is my bunk. How low is that bunk? That bunk is practising for a limbo competition. As I type, my head is stinging from the latest thwack inflicted on it by this blimmin' bunk. It's not a great place to relax, I can't sit up in it and it's very dark. 

Ahead of a possible Halloween party in Calgary I found some things to make a last minute extra cheap costume. In one of the vintage stores I found a red $5 dress and decided to roll with a red riding hood theme. I picked up a $4 slip and a shoestring, and with the kind loan of some scissors from the girls in the shop, I constructed my hood. It does the job, as long as I don't put the hood up. 

Up early tomorrow morning, gotta catch a bus to catch a bus to Calgary. 

Until next time! 



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