Winter holidays in Banff (Dec 27 – 29, 2010)

For our year end holidays and getaway (literally), we wanted to go somewhere that is vibrant, warmer and easy to go around i.e. without snow.  Somewhere like Las Vegas.  However, we discovered we need lots of time and pre-planning for our US visa applications so we dropped the idea of heading south and have choosen Banff National Park instead.  Banff is one of the oldest national park in Canada, by the Rockies Mountain.  It is 4 hours drive from Edmonton so the distance made it accessible for last minute planning.

I was really glad that Las Vegas didn’t work out and we got to see Banff in winter.  Banff was quiet and all white on the contrary.  It is the very reason that we found ourselves surprised by the wonderful winter experience here.  We have always seen Banff in summer and we didn’t know what to expect in winter. 

Our first Banff stop was at the Lake Louise.  It was exciting because we got to walk on the frozen Lake Louise, saw a huge ice sculpture, saw people ice skating and playing ice hockey and appreciate the winter scenaries.

My hubby was especially excited because this is the first time we get to look at the Chateau Lake Louise from the lake.  It has always been the other way around. 

Lake Louise overlooking the Victoria Glacier on Rockies Mountains. Too bad the snowfall was heavy on the day this photo was taken and the glacier was hardly visible.

Lake Louise in Spring with a clear view of the Victoria Glacier

Aerial view of the Chateau Lake Louise, by the Lake Louise obviously. 😀

Walk from the parking lots to the Lake Louise, felt like walking into the woods though.

Kay was having a blast walking on snow and ice.  She was so busy stomping away, she doesn’t quite care what is going on around her. 😀

Kay: "Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!"

Kay wandering on her own....so much snow to stomp on she doesn't quite know where to start. 😀

People on ice. 😀

View of the Chateau Lake Louise from the Lake.

Skate at own risk and still many visit and skate on Lake Louise in winter every year. 🙂

Daylight is extremely short in winter hence we didn’t make many stops before we headed back to Banff Town from Lake Louise.  Having said that, I have taken some photos on the roads.  Here are some interesting ones. 🙂

Snoooow ~ !

Slippery and winding road to Lake Louise

We saw a few of these “bridges” along the way.  They are built for wildlife crossings hence all the trees on the bridges.  Wildlife such as bears, mosses, elks, deers, etc.  However, we haven’t seen any wildlife throughout our trip except a couple of birds.

For animal crossings....

In the evening, we strolled along the mainstreet on Banff Town, shopped for souvenirs and had the best ice-cream in Canada, Cows!

Moooo ~

Christmas Lights on Banff Town Mainstreet

Little red riding hood waiting for the bus. 😀

Cows - Canada best ice-cream!

We had the "chocolate monster" flavour on the chocolate waffle cone. Heavenly!

This is our finest dining since we got to Canada, at the Maple Leaf Grill and Spirits restaurant.  We had wild duck and salmon, both tasty and satisfying.  Mmmhmm….

Quebec Brome Lake Duck- The duck is tender and served with delicious sauce. Yummmm....

BBQ Wasabi Salmon with noodle. Kay loves the noodle despite it is cold and it is not spicy even it is cooked with the Wasabi.

We spent 3 days and 2 nights at the Banff National Park, with a big part of our time in the hotel room, sleeping and watching TV.  Besides walking on the Lake Louise and the mainstreet, we have also visited the Banff’s Canada Place sitting on the top of a little hill overlooking the mainstreet, the Bow River and Rockies mountains.  Unfortunately, we could not get a clear shot of the mainstreet the day we visited but I have included one that I found from the internet, for your viewing pleasure.

I love the tranquility around the Canada Place in winter.  The snow, the historical building and the medieval style gazebo added flavour to the season.

Gazebo by the little park at the Canada Place

The Administration building at the Canada Place

More stomping on the snow 😀

View of Banff Town Mainstreet in summer

We had an enjoyable time in Banff, with the weather, nature and some peaceful moments. 

Needless to say after all the stomping, Kay took a nice long nap on her way home. 😉

Kay fast asleep behind her storybook. 😀

Trip to Calgary 2

Traffic into Calgary downtown can be unpredictable.  It only took me 20 minutes to get to the office by cab on the first day but for the same distance, it took me 35 minutes on the second day; and the traffic was really smooth on the third day, which is a Friday, so before I knew it the cab driver has already pull up in front of the office building.  I watched the Global Calgary morning news for weather and traffic reports and forecasts.  It really helped to be able to see live traffic reports.  There is a camera on the roof of the Global Calgary TV station that provide live feeds of the road conditions which I travelled everyday.  It feels funny to say this but I found this part of the morning very interesting, way more interesting than the continental breakfast and Starbuck coffee.  (Waves to the camera. :D)   

Office of Global Calgary. The camera on the roof top i.e. the little black "stick" sitting on the left corner of the roof, faces the Deerfoot Trail. Remember to wave when you passby. 😀

Calgary downtown seems to be more quiet on Friday.  I suppose a lot of people work from home, work shorter hours or take day off on Friday.  The good thing about this part of the world is its’ flexible working hours.  You will find this culture in most of the company’s offices.  This means as long as the employees work between 37 to 40 hours a week, they will be fine….so what alot of people do is work through lunch hours or they work longer hours on Monday to Thursday occassionally and then take Friday off.  They called this “modified hours”.  (Hmmm…..come to think of it, I believe Jo in UK does the same thing too. :D)  In my opinion (which bosses in Asia may not agree), this gives great flexibilities to employees to put more focus on their family and personal lives while getting their jobs completed as expected.  It is also a reflection of trust the management has over their employees.  It encourages positive attitude and boost higher morale when one is empowered to manage his/her own work schedules as well as given the breathing space to do their works.  No wonder people here (here = Canada in general) are more relax i.e. less stressful, compared to the people in the Asia.

Only if my immigration process was this easy....

Throughout my three days in Calgary, I have got this question a couple of times everyday, especially when others found out that I am rather new to Canada. 

 “So what brings you to Canada?”

…….and my answers would usually be surrounding in laws have been here for over 20 years now, more quality and better living standards, more affordable education fees for the kid, etc.  By the third day, my answers sounded like a well practiced phrase.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I am also constantly warned about the cold and bitter winter in Edmonton.  Whenever I said I actually like the weather here (and I mean Spring and Summer and Falls) most people would laughed and said that’s because I haven’t experience the winter and although winter was way much colder ten years ago with at least eight feets of snow, it is still very cold now. 

Global warming - good and bad

I can’t help sigh a relieve when I heard that.  Edmonton does appreciate a few degrees higher in temperature to make the City is more livable in winter, though the cause of temperature raise is an undesirable one. 

Yikes!! Sorry for side tracking…….

OK, back to Calgary.  One of the things that I worried about was my dress codes.  I wasn’t sure if I should bring business suit for this trip.  Afterall, I am working for a consulting firm.  However, business suit will not keep me warm in the below average temperature….so I took a bet with warm and professional looking cardigan and pants.  I have only brought one piece of business jacket to Canada anyway.  My initial plan was to be a stay-home mom for one year so I have never guessed that I will be back to work so soon.  Hence, I gave away most of my working clothes.  My contingency plan was to buy a set in Calgary if I really need to but I arrived in the office 45 mins early on my first day and while waiting for my colleague to come get me, I had the pleasure of sipping coffee at the lobby while watching people and observed what they are wearing…..my conclusion? I am just appropriate with my dress code, except my thick coat of course.  😉

Rush hour and busy lobby - not exactly the one I was in but similar.....

So yeah….there you go with a more descriptive post of my thoughts and experience in Calgary.

Til I post again, have a good one! 🙂