One question that I get asked a lot is what is the best place I have ever traveled to? If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this since I’ve come home from living in Rome, I might be able to go back soon and live quite a comfortable lifestyle with unlimited pizza and a pink vespa. I like to let people down most of the time and list off thrilling places such as Oklahoma or Ohio (no offense if you reside in those places). When I see their disappointed faces, I tell them it was just a joke. They look back up with a glimmer in their eyes, anticipating my response. Will it be Paris? Lima? Maui? Nope. Good ole Canada. Let down face returns.
CANADA IS UNDERRATED. When I first moved to Minnesota, all I knew is that it bordered Kay-nay-dia. The place where people said “Eh”. The place that has maple syrup that was the real deal according to my mother. The place that has fake bacon. The place my parents weirdly honeymooned. I wore a sweatshirt that said Canada in 7th grade and my fellow Minnesotans booed me. That is when I learned in order to be a Minnesotan, you had to hate Canadians. I still don’t know why to this day that this it is a thing, but I learned to hate our neighboring country.
It all changed summer of 2016. My grandmother asked me to take this trip across British Columbia and Alberta with her. I decided to go, even if it meant betraying my state. I stepped off the turbulent Delta flight and Canada preceded to steal my heart.
Reasons to get your booty to Canada and places to go
The U.S. Dollar is stronger than the Canadian Dollar! Wanna have more money to spend? Yes? I thought so.
The legal drinking age is 19! I’m not say travel somewhere solely because you can drink, but I sure didn’t mind it when I was there.
Canadians are super nice and they love to talk. I met so many kind hearted and interesting people in all the places I visited.
It’s a short flight compared to countries on other continents. For my friends out there with a fear of planes but a strong wanderlust, this is a good way to go abroad minus the long flight.
Vancouver is an incredible city! It is beautiful, clean, right on the water and fairly temperate throughout the year. There is so much to do from Stanley Park to The Vancouver Aquarium. Gastown is one of my favorite areas to hang out. It feels super European and there are endless shops to browse. There is also an wonderful food scene for all you foodies. Because of the large Chinese population, the dim sum is amazing (I recommend Victoria Chinese Restaurant) ! Plus, for all you basics out there, it is the headquarter of Lululemon so you can go see where your see through leggings all got started. We stayed in The Pan Pacific Hotel and I highly recommend it. It’s located in the heart of Vancouver and the place where all the cruise ships dock. I was able to see countless Alaska and Disney cruises depart daily.
From Vancouver we took the phenomenal train called The Rocky Mountaineer. Aboard the train, we sat in a car that had glass domes on top. The views of the passing Canadian Rockies are still unlike anything I have seen before.
Here is a video about the train if you are interested:
Our first stop was a small town called Kamloops. It was cute, but just as place that you can see everything in a day. After that, we boarded the train and went to Jasper. We stayed in a log cabin at The Fairmont Jasper. The hotel was fantastic and being in nature wasn’t so bad either. We only had two days there, so we spent them lounging at the resort and exploring Maligne Lake (one of the most photographed lakes in the world).
From Jasper, we took a bus to Lake Louise. This place is so magical and surreal that it felt fake. We stayed at the lovely Chateau Lake Louise, built by Swiss settlers when the Canadian Railways were being built (history lesson for ya). It is an expensive place to stay, but just walking around the lake as well as the hotel is worth the visit. There are plenty of other places to stay around the area. If you are here, I recommend getting high tea. You sit at the table sipping oolong tea, eating scones and looking at the bright blue lake.
Our last stop before departing in Calgary was in Banff. Banff is a super cool town filled with great food, shopping, and the famous Banff Springs Hotel. If you like ski towns like Aspen or Breckenridge, you’ll love Banff. We explored Banff National Park, stopping to observe wildlife and the stunning Lake Moraine. We also spent a fair amount of time snooping around the hotel, which was built by Scottish immigrants. I had learned that The Banff Springs Hotel is considered one of the most haunted hotels in the world a few days before my trip. As someone who still can’t even watch Ghostbusters (not a joke), this was less than pleasing. Though the hotel is magnificent, it really does have an eerie feeling. Naturally, during our second night the power went out at exactly midnight and I was sure that I was going to die. As you can tell, I made it and I would still stay at the hotel again (though I would bring a flashlight, a silver spoon and some garlic next time).
Canada is amazing and I couldn’t recommend you to go more. There are still so many places that I want to visit like Toronto or Montreal. Make sure that when you decide to travel, you’re not ignoring our neighboring country because if you do, you’re missing out.