Friday, 1 July 2011

Hockey, Mountains, Lakes, Glaciers and Towers (Going up to come down)

This post may contain numerous inaccuracies and not all the photos as I have not uploaded them yet. Its been a while since I last post and obviously this post should cover the whole of Canada.
The title references most the things I did in Canada. I went up quite a few things, and so I also came down.

I arrived in Vancouver smack bang at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Play Offs. They even had the hockey broadcast in the immigration hall. This set the scene for the first couple of weeks. Hockey, Hockey and Hockey.

After spending a few days in Vancouver, I headed off to Victoria to meet my friend Mercedes who is currently working as a Naturalist for a whale watching company. In Victoria we saw some sites, I had a canadian breakfast (Pancakes, Bacon and Maple syrup). We saw some things, the houses of parliament for BC, a farm, won a quiz etc etc. Mercedes also took me Whale watching, we saw a Humpback which was pretty cool.

We also watched the Canucks win their second game of Hockey. I returned to Vancouver, took in a few more sights, ran around Stanley Park and watched more Hockey, this time on the street. The atmosphere was excellent and are what I will remember (no riots for me) Canucks eventually lost but by then I had headed to Whistler. Before I left, I went to Hip-Hop Kareoke was which absolutely fantastic. I loved Vancouver, it is chilled, interesting and I met lots of interesting people (despite the hostel being full of jobseekers :P)

Whistler, was the next stop. It was alot of fun. I spent far too much money on 'Adrenaline Junkie' activities. Firstly hurtling down mountains via Zip Lines, including a 2200ft line which was awesome. After this I threw myself down mountains on a Bike. Also totally worth it and a lot of fun, also absolutely knackering.

The next step was an overnight bus to Banff. Banff, is one of those picturesque little towns surrounded by mountains and despite being a small town it is rather fun due to it being so close to 3 skiing resorts. In Banff itself I went to the 'hot springs' - which aren't a patch on the numerous springs in Japan but was a nice relax after the long bus. The second activity in Banff was Sulphur Mountain. Due to injury I got the cable car up to the top and walked to the adjacent mountain for epic views of the valley.
The best thing I did in/around Banff was a day trip to Lake Louise and the Colombian Ice field. Both completely astounding wonders of Nature...
I also saw some wild Bears, Two Black Bears and one Grizzly :)

Banff was rounded off by a stint in the bar with a French Canadian Ska Punk band. There is alot more to do in Banff; hiking, canoeing, biking etc.

Next up was Calgary. Im going to be honest here, I didn't really like Calgary, This may be due to my own annoyance of spending longer here than I wanted to due to my own misbookings. In the same sense it was being rebuilt, seemed to lack cohesion and lacked city feel. The main reason I went here was to visit Hooters, purely because I've been to Hooters in five other counties and now six. Ironically there is a Hooters in Toronto making this whole excursion totally pointless. However I did visit the Zoo, and that was excellent (and hilarious - see slightly rude pics). I know my Dad has a contact in Calgary but I just didn't feel it, As mentioned that may have been my own fault.*

* I met a girl in Boston, and she also thinks Calgary sucks.

Escaping Calgary I flew to Toronto. Due to previously mentioned misbooking I only had one full day in Toronto. Cramming in as much as I could, I enjoyed Toronto and am disappointed I had so little time to take it in. I walked around a lot, saw the Hockey hall of Fame, City halls, (both old and new, the new one was rubbish 70s modern carp) I finished Toronto off with a trip up the CN Tower, the views were excellent as usual. The last thing I did in Toronto was have some proper Canadian food, the national dish of 'Pountine' for those that don't know, Poutine consists of Chips, Gravy and Cheese Curds. It was surprisingly nice.

The last Canadian experience was Niagara Falls. One again a natural breathtaking beauty. However alot of the 'sights' around the falls are costly experiences. I would say that some are not worth it. For instance on the America side, there is a viewing platform that barely shows you anything that costs $15... yet if you walk around you get much closer and its free. Either way Niagara falls was excellent, I quite want to go back in Winter to witness it while frozen, which no doubt will again be quite a sight.

That whistle stop review of Canada is all for now. I am in Chicago, I have met up with Welshie and as such shenanigans are occurring. However, for this you shall have to wait until the next time.
Will post the photos when I get the time. Are plenty on the FB or Picasa in the meantime. (links to the topt)

Lastly, Witnessed some Chicago thunderstorms today which were pretty cool.

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