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 yesterday...an 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 kitchen...it 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 open...no 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.
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.