Adventures in Alberta, Canada

Hi everyone! I have not written in a long time because I was busy enjoying my so-called ultimate vacation of 2017 which happened last June 8 – 24, 2017. I just came back from a trip to Alberta, Canada which, for me, is one of the best vacations I have ever done.

Because it was a long-time dream of mine to be able to visit Canada, I immediately grabbed the opportunity to get a tourist visa when I found out that my parents were planning to go this year. Luckily, my application got approved and so we proceeded to buy plane tickets.

It was a long time coming but finally, it happened and boy was it worth the wait.

I have nothing but love for Canada and this post will tell you all the reasons why.

[Disclaimer: Long blog post ahead]

Manila to Vancouver

We left NAIA some time after lunch and because it was a really long flight (with changing time zones at that), I had to condition myself to know when to rest. After 11 hours and 40 minutes of flying, we arrived at Vancouver International Airport (YVC) where we waited for our next flight bound for Calgary.

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Thanks, PAL!

Vancouver to Calgary

We waited for about four hours for the next flight. By then, the time zone was already completely different from Manila. In this flight, I was lucky to have scored the window seat and all throughout the hour and ten minutes of flying, I enjoyed the views of the snow capped mountains.

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Left: Vancouver International Airport (YVC); Middle: Connecting flight to Calgary via West Jet; Right: Snow-capped mountains

Touchdown Calgary

We arrived in Calgary International Airport (YYC) around 6:30PM (their time zone) where we got fetched by my uncle, Con, and cousin, Mark. On the car ride going to their house, I observed many things including how wide the roads are and how fast the cars were.

All our relatives gathered at my uncle’s place for a welcome dinner. And because it has been years since I last saw them, I was thrilled to be in their company. What made me more ecstatic was when I was handed a mojito which was personally mixed by my cousin, Carlo.

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Welcome drink!

Ah, let the escapades begin!


In this post, I will not summarize our day to day activities but instead, focus on the different factors that I have observed and experienced while I was there.

PEOPLE

Living up to their known stereotypes, Canadians are honestly very nice people. In every establishment I went to, I was always warmly greeted and attended to.

Other Observations:

  1. When in restaurants, servers always start with the beverage orders first and then come back after some time to get food orders (unlike in the Philippines where one orders both food in drinks in one go). That in point, remember to always look at the beverage menu first to avoid any kind of pressure when the orders are being taken.
  2. Self-service. What is nice about this is that it teaches one to be less dependent on others. Most of the time, there are self-service counters in establishments such as gasoline stations and grocery stores.
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Self-service at the gasoline station and grocery store. It is really very obvious that Canadians do not have trust issues.
  1. The drivers in this country are very disciplined. I have observed that there is an automatic give and take process on the road and they also tend to prioritize pedestrians. I also heard that the actual driving exam to get a license is really strict and fines for breaking any traffic regulation are expensive – maybe those are some of the reasons why there is no traffic in Canada (or at least to where I have been to).

Note: “Traffic” in their context means moving at a slower speed than the speed limit assigned to a specific road. For example, during rush hour, cars move at an average of 30kph instead of the usual 80-100kph. (Also remember that the cars are still moving. In the Philippines, well, traffic is much worse)

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What traffic?
  1. They value time. When the meet-up is at 9:00AM, they will be at your front door 9:00AM sharp. When the bus is scheduled to arrive at 8:00AM, it will be there at 8:00AM and will leave as scheduled and not wait for late passengers.
  2. I noticed that there are a lot of immigrants living in Alberta and maybe that is why the culture is diverse as well. I tend to find Filipinos everywhere I look and to prove this, my cousin and I always played “Spot the Filipino” wherever we were.
  3. Canadians love the sun. I have never seen people running, biking and playing while the sun is still high up. Well not until Canada. In the Philippines, people usually go outdoors either really early when the sun is still not as harmful or during late afternoons when the sun is about to set.

WEATHER

If there is one word to describe the weather, it would be FICKLE. One minute it’s sunny and on the next one, it suddenly becomes rainy. In the morning, temperature can be as cold as 2 degrees Celsius but turn to 27 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. Of course I am coming from my experience during the time I was there. I still have not experienced their Spring, Fall and Winter.

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Of rain, double rainbows and sunset hues

Other Observations:

  1. I noticed how my skin gets really dry fast because there is no moisture in the air. Applying lotion is a must to keep the skin soft and moisturized. In the Philippines; however, the air is humid so it feels hotter than it is supposed to be.
  2. Sweat is rare. While temperatures can rise as high as 32 degrees Celsius during summer, I noticed that I do not really sweat because the air still feels cold. Heck, one will not even feel his/her skin getting burnt because there is no discomfort from the heat.
  3. It is possible to rain and snow at the same time. I was fortunate to have witnessed this phenomenon they call “flurries”.
  4. Hands down accurate weather forecast. Because the weather is fickle, Canadians usually rely on a website that indicates the weather forecast. Refer to this site for the weather update.

LIVING

My first reaction when I saw the neighborhood where my uncle’s house is was that the American television shows were real! Yup, I was thinking of 7th Heaven/Modern Family and the like. Houses here are somewhat similar in shape and only differ on the materials used on the exterior. But more or less, every house has a standard garage that can fit two cars, backyard, basement, laundry room, three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms (one bathroom does not have a shower).

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Sample neighborhood

Other Observations:

  1. I was told that houses are usually priced starting at $500,000 CAD. Town houses can start at $300,000 CAD and some other types of houses for less depending on the location. Then again, people have an option of getting a loan.
  2. People see where their taxes go! This is really important because they get to enjoy benefits such as free medical check-ups, free education until high school (for Catholic and public schools). But public schools here are extremely different than in the Philippines in terms of class size (Canada has about an average of 20 per class), road developments, maintenance of public parks and environmental regulations (absolutely no smoke-belching cars anywhere!) to name a few.
  3. It is common to work while studying and also common to have a blue collar job and this is nothing to be embarrassed about because labor in Canada is expensive!
  4. Easy laundry. I have not seen clotheslines when I was there maybe because it is common to use a dryer immediately after using the washing machine. Walang kusot kusot!
  5. Land area is extremely wide! I remember thinking that Alberta can still fit the entire Philippines and still have excess land. I know I was exaggerating but was I really?
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    Wide and vast land area with stunning views to boot
  6. Farmers/Ranchers are superstars. Because of their land area, they are considered to be the richest people.
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    The yellow greens here are Canola. This is one of the most common crops that I saw in Alberta
  7. Overall, I think the cost of living in Canada is high but can be sustainable so long as one has a job.

FOOD

Alberta is well-known for its beef and boy did it live up to my expectations. Every beef dish I ate there was extremely good because of the tenderness of the meat and the taste.

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Glorious. I like my steak medium well. This is from Montana’s BBQ & Bar.

Other Observations:

  1. Rice is not common. Coming from an agricultural country, I had quite a difficult time adjusting to eating burgers/poutine/non-rice meals for lunch or dinner.
  2. This is another popular dish I discovered in Canada. Poutine is a mixture of thick fries, gravy, cheese and optional meat. Calorie bomb!

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La Belle Patate’s yummy poutine!

  1. Hefty serving. I was not able to finish a single order by myself and my mom would always share my dad’s order.
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So much food on the table even though some of us shared orders. Right photo taken at Masa Sushi
  1. A lot of wasted food. Coming from #3, a lot of people do not finish their food and sometimes just leave it as soon as they get full.
  2. Bear-proof trash cans. In order to prevent bears from coming into the city to search for food, specially designed trash bins are made.
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To open, slide hand under the hole on top, press a button and then lift. Sometimes there is no button though. Photo credit: Wikimedia.org
  1. A bit bland. The taste of chicken and pork and some others are a bit bland to me. True enough, nothing like the food in the Philippines.
  2. Water comes with a straw. In every place I have been to where I asked for water, I always got a glass of water…with a straw. Lol.
  3. Water bottles are important! People do not throw plastic bottles away but instead recycle or sell them.
  4. There are also different cuisines here ranging from American, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and more. I have not seen a Filipino restaurant but at least my relatives prepared Filipino food for us every now and then. Yum!
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One of the yummiest Pho’s I have ever tasted
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And of course, the foodies. Here are some of the places we went to for good food. (T-B, L-R: Boston Pizza in Drumheller, Starlite Diner Car in Boden, Cantonese Restaurant in Jasper, Pho Hoan Pasteur in Calgary and Kinjo Japanese Restaurant in Calgary

PLACES

Alberta is really heaven on earth for outdoor enthusiasts like myself. I remember being always taken aback with every place I visit.

  1. Calgary

  • My main city! Lol. Calgary is one of the biggest cities in Alberta Here is where the famous Calgary Stampede is celebrated and where other iconic spots are located.
  • Costco
    • The S&R of Canada. This and S&R pretty much have the same feel and format to it. Costco has almost everything and I believe that, “when in doubt on where to buy items, go to Costco.” This is also where I bought my neat hydration pack!
  • “Calgary Stampede
    • Celebrated during July, this festival has a carnival feel to it with different rides, games and food stalls around. The main agenda of the whole thing; however, is the rodeo.
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Thousands of people gather to celebrate the Calgary Stampede
  • Canada Olympic Park (COP)
    • This area is very prominent in the city of Calgary because of its structure. Aside from the colored buildings, there are ski lifts and a big slide among others. Activities include but are not limited to: Mountain biking, skiing (during winter), swimming and sliding and the so-called Sky Luge. The idea is to take the ski lift to the highest point of the hill and ride a kart to go down. What makes this extremely fun, aside from the exhilarating feeling that the speed gives, is the view of downtown Calgary that riders get to enjoy while driving downhill.
    • I got to enjoy this experience with my cousin and two of his friends (who are getting married soon, by the way! Congratulations!)
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Rode the Sky Luge thrice with my cousin and his friends.
  • Bowness Park
    • There are a lot of recreational activities that can be done here such as kayaking and paddle boarding along Bowness River. We did the former and had some time for a short dip
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Kayaking along Bowness River. I remember our boat crashing into a tree with so much dew and insects and I felt bad for my cousin for taking most of the damage because he was the one in front. Lol that was a good laugh.
  • Downtown Calgary
    • This is the business center of Calgary where a lot of corporate offices are. To compare, this is like the BGC or Makati of Calgary. This is why the vibe felt familiar when we visited it.
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Downtown Calgary during the day as seen from Crescent Heights. Thank you to my high school batchmate, Faye, for the tour!
    • Here is where I also saw some iconic structures such as the Peace Bridge, which is said to have cost around $10 million. The Bow Building, which is the second tallest office building in Calgary. Outside this building is a large wire sculpture of a head. There are other wire sculptures around downtown but this was the only one that I saw. Another structure is the Calgary Tower, which is said to offer the best views of the city.
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Thank you to the downtown crew for the tour! Images above show the Peace Bridge, Bow Tower and Calgary Tower
  • Chinook Mall
    • This is considered as the largest mall in Calgary. It is like a typical mall with branded stores, cinema and more. I was also happy with the things I bought here too.
  • Cross Iron Mall
    • What I like about malls in Calgary is that it has different names and therefore, different interiors and feels to it. In the Philippines, the malls are mostly but not limited to either SM or Robinsons and the look is just the same for all.
    • Outdoor gear shops. I loved how outdoorsy the Bass Pro shop looked. It also did not disappoint as it has everything from fitness apparels to hiking and camping gear to dog gear.

 

  1. Cochrane

  • Just about 20 minutes away from Calgary, this small town has it all. From superb restaurants to famous dessert places to accessible gyms.
  • Anytime Fitness
    • This is my first branch outside the Philippines. And while I was familiar with some machines, there were those that were new to me and so I did not bother figuring out how to use them. I was really happy to have been able to workout in Canada though.
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First Anytime Fitness branch outside the Philippines!
  • Town Hall
    • A relatively small restaurant that serves good food.
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Dinner at Town Hall courtesy of Jehan
  • McKay’s
    • An ice cream place! This is somewhat similar to Carousel Creamery. What entertained me was their corkboard of the world map with pins that were put there by the customers. A lot of people love the ice cream here so it is no wonder the place is world-famous.
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The famous Cochrane ice cream! I had Buttery Butter Brickle and I loved it! Inside the store was a cork board of a map and customers are encouraged to put a pin on where they are from. Just look at how many pins are stuck on the Philippines area (even a part of Mindanao broke off! Lol.)
  • Ghost Lake
    • Another glacier-fed lake which is available for different water sports. We had a quick visit to look at the lake and saw a couple of kids wearing their swimsuits and getting ready for a swim.
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My cousin told me that it is called Ghost Lake because this is where Casper lives. Not sure if that was a joke though. Lol. Edit: It was a joke.
  • Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
    • This non-profit organization teaches guests all about wolfdogs and houses several of them as well. There are three types of tour packages one can avail including the interactive one where guests can feed and touch the wolfdogs. My cousin and I; however were contented with just a tour of the sanctuary without any interaction.
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Some of the wolfdogs at the sanctuary. They are very timid but obey once they see food.
    • There are also different rescued animals that are in the shelter as well such as the Coydog (coyote + dog), goats and Alaskan Malamutes.
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Meet Skookum, the giant Alasakan Malamute at the sanctuary. The guides say that he likes to hang out with people more than the wolfdogs.

 

  1. Canmore

  • Another town outside Calgary, this place offers their own charm with the surrounding mountains as a backdrop.
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    Three Sisters Peak behind me
  • This is one of the places where I got to try McDonald’s. I noted how one can also do self-order via some of their machines and just wait for their orders at the counter. This is also where I got really surprised about finding out that they also serve 20-piece nuggets! What is interesting is their food there tastes the same as the food here in the Philippines. I mean, how do they do that?
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How some people order in McDonald’s. Customers have an option to pay via credit card or cash. If the latter, customers will then have to line up to the cashier to pay. 
  • Grotto Canyon
    • A quick and easy hike that is mom, dad and dog friendly! However, I strongly suggest bringing insect repellent as mosquitoes there are big and aggressive and will do anything to bite warm blooded creatures!
    • I appreciate the really beautiful views that I saw as soon as we got out of the forested part of the trail. As we trekked further into the canyon, we finally saw what we hiked up for – the falls! What makes this interesting is the fact that the water comes from the glaciers of the mountains that are melting.
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Upper left – group photo at the jump-off. Lower left – the beautiful view along the trail to Grotto Canyon. Right – what we hiked up for, the falls.

 

  1. Drumheller

  • This is another town in Alberta which is also known as the Dinosaur Capital of the world. This place is also rich in history because of the abundance of fossils that can be found here.
  • Royal Tyrell Museum
    • This is Canada’s Dinosaur Museum and, in my opinion, one of the centers of paleontological research because of the large number of fossils that can be found here. The reason why is because the Canadian Rockies are once part of the seabed. The museum also has an area that shows where the magic happens and when I say magic, I mean the place where the palaeontologists bring the fossils in to clean and study. The whole place itself is fascinating and is a must to visit for tourists.
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Some of the things we saw at the museum. Dinosaur bones and fossils that were found in the Canadian Rockies.
  • Horseshoe Canyon
    • This place offers a better view and firsthand experience of the badlands. Sadly, we did not spend so much time here due to the circumstances but people can choose to go down from the view deck and explore the badlands.
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This gives a better view of the badlands.

 

 

  1. Kananaskis Country

  • This is the place where we did our hikes, the forefront of the Canadian Rockies! The drive going here is marvellous because of the view of the Rockies all around.
  • Mt. Yamnuska (1st hike)
    • My first Canadian Rockies experience! As they say, you never forget your first!
    • This mountain is said to have an elevation of 2,240+MASL and a difficulty of “advanced” (in Canadian basis) maybe because of the available option to scale the mountain via rock climbing. To be honest; however, this mountain is the most technical one I have done to date maybe because of all the rock scrambling involved. Lastly, average time to the summit is around three hours. I will make a separate blog post for my hike experience but I would like to share that this mountain has one of the most technical trails I have ever gone through.
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Upper left photo: Mt. Yamnuska; lower left: chain segment part of the trail; center: forest trail; right: scree segment of the trail
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View of the rockies from the summit of Mt. Yamnuska!
  • Barrier Lake
    • This is a man-made lake which is a short drive away from Mt. Yamnuska. My cousin and I made this as our side-trip after hiking up Mt. Yamnuska. Swimming here is possible so long as one is capable of handling the cold water.
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At Barrier Lake wearing Mt. Pulag shirt
  • Nihahi Ridge (3rd hike)
    • My third Candian Rockies experience! The second one is in Jasper which I will later on share.
    • Even before coming to Canada, I have dreamt of hiking this mountain because of all the photos that my cousin shared on his Instagram and Facebook page years ago. Imagine my excitement when the day finally came to hike up Nihahi Ridge. However, on this day, I was extremely sleepy due to the physically draining activities that I did during the previous days (see day-to-day itinerary below)
    • Elevation is at 2545MASL, the difficulty is said to be “moderate” and the time to reach the summit is also at three hours. Again, I will do another separate blog post for this but just to give everyone a brief background, this mountain is also very rocky and comprised of a lot of shale along the trail. This is also where we saw a fossil! (But let us save that story for later)
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It has been a long time dream of mine to be able to scale this and I am really happy to have finally fulfilled it. This is easier than Mt. Yamnuska but also more beautiful in my opinion.
  • Elbow River
    • The glaciers that melt from the mountains are what feed this river and make it really cold. This was our side-trip after hiking up Nihahi Ridge.
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The water is really clear but also cold at the same time. Brr!

PS: Hiking up the Rockies is risky because of the following:

  1. Wild life. Since Canada is a Bear Country, always remember to bring a bear mace and go in groups and make noises when hiking.
  2. There are no guides there and no other fees that hikers need to pay unlike in the Philippines. But because of this, the hikers should always be mindful of the trail because there are a lot of forks. Some trails may look like the right one but it will eventually lead to a dead end or to someplace else which might lead hikers to do bushwhacking that may lead to wildlife encounters.

 

  1. Edmonton

  • The capital city of Alberta. This is a three-hour drive away from Calgary.
  • West Edmonton Mall (WEM)
    • The biggest mall in North America that has an indoor roller coaster and water park! We were not able to go around the entire mall because it was that big but I was fortunate to have been able to swim in the water park.
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    Inside West Edmonton Mall
    • There are several slides with different features that every guest can try. As for our case, we only tried two slides because we were pressed for time and because I was cringing at the height of the other slides. Aside from the slide, the biggest pool in the area is a wave pool which creates the illusion of being at the beach, well added to the fact that there are also beach chairs and sand-colored floors.
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    Edmonton’s indoor water park! (Which also looks like a beach from afar) 

     

  1. Banff

  • One of the most popular tourist destinations. This is a town where Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located. The town itself is full of souvenir and outdoor shops and a lot of food stores as well. For Pandora lovers, exclusive charms are available in Banff which cannot be purchased anywhere else.
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The town of Banff! Do not forget to drop by Beavertails to try their famous and delicious pastries! 
  • Bow Falls
    • Part of the Bow River, the falls itself is short yet very wide and has strong currents. This is also a very popular tourist attraction because of its proximity to the town proper.
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The short but wide and strong Bow Falls. During summer season, the water levels are strong which cause the falls to produce mist.
  • Lake Louise
    • One of the most beautiful and most popular lakes in Alberta because of its emerald waters and mountain background which happens to be the Victoria Glacier. There are a lot of hiking trails that start here which give a better view of the lake and canoes are also available for rent.
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The beautiful emerald lake – Lake Louise! Do not be fooled, the water here is also glacial-fed which means, it is very cold.
    • Beside the lake also rises the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – a luxury hotel built for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Moraine Lake
    • By far my most favorite lake because of its turquoise, glacial-fed waters! The drive going here is a bit long but absolutely worth it. Because we were pressed for time, my cousin and I were not able to explore the area that much but next time I visit, I will make sure to allot time for kayaking and hiking up for a better view of the entire lake.
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The most beautiful lake I have been to. The water looks like the factory of the blue Gatorade. Haha! I really wanted to explore the place further but because of the limited time that we had and the number of people present here, I was only able to take a photo from this angle. There are places where people can scramble up to for a better view but I will save that for next time, promise!
  • Lake Minnewanka
    • Otherwise known as “Lake of the Spirits” is another beautiful lake in Banff that we visited. Surrounding the lake are several mountains which make the area very picturesque.
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    This gorgeous lake is made even more beautiful by the mountains surrounding it. Our group stopped here for a while to take photos before going to Jasper.
     
  2. Jasper

  • Just like Banff, this is also one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Alberta. It takes about six hours of driving to get here but the views are incredible with snow-capped mountains, lakes and more.
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On the way to Jasper, we got to pass by the Columbia Icefields. It is said that the glaciers here are up to 100 meters thick! There are tours available in Icefileds Parkway should guests want a tour around the area.
  • Tekarra Lodge
    • This was where we stayed for three days and two nights. The place has several cabins for rent and within the area is the so-called “Twin-Lakes”, where the guests can swim on their own volition, and further into the area is a view deck of the Athabasca River.
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    Tekarra Lodge has nice cabins and has a view deck for Miet and Athabasca River (top center) and a lake where guests can swim (bottom center). We stayed in this place for three days and two nights while exploring Jasper.
  • Our Lady of Lourdes
    • A church in the town of Jasper. There are a lot of Filipinos who go here for mass.
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    Outside the church. Notice how it only has limited mass schedules?
  • Glacier Skywalk
    • A suspended view deck overlooking snow-capped mountains of the Columbia Icefields and is built with glass floors. To go here, guests must proceed to Icefields Parkway first where they will ride the shuttle bus going to the entrance to the Glacier Skywalk. Note that no other cars are allowed to enter the Glacier Skywalk area except for the shuttle buses. Parking is available at Icefields Parkway. To go back, guests will have to ride the shuttle bus again.
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    The Glacier Skywalk may look intimidating at first because of the elevation, as seen above, but it actually is not. The downside here is the number of people walking altogether which makes photo ops a bit difficult.
    • We saw mountain goats below the glass and it was enjoyable to watch them eat while standing at the edge of the mountain. I mean, how do they do that so calmly?
  • Jasper Skytram
    • A seven-minute cable ride up 2,277MASL of Mount Whistler. Guests then have an option to trek further to the summit of Mount Whistler at 2,500MASL. During the ride up, we observed several dying pine trees which our guide said is because of Pine Beetles.
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    The group is ready for the Skytram experience! There will be about 20 or so people plus a tour guide inside one cable car.
  • Mount Whistler (2nd hike)
    • The easiest one out of the three mountains because of the established trail but also the most unforgettable because this mountain was where I experienced snow! Lol. My cousins and I had to go a bit off-trail just so I could touch the clump of snow and even though it is not fresh, snow is snow!
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The group at Whistler’s Mountain after the ride via Jasper Skytram. There is an option to trek further to the summit.
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Along the trail of Mt. Whistler. The ice is not fresh anymore but it is still incredible how it has not melted even during summer season. Snow experience, check!
    • Trivia: The mountain is called Whistler because of the marmots that reside here that make whistling sounds whenever they sense danger. Luckily, I saw one fluffy and fat marmot eating grass. So cute!

 

  1. Priddis

  • A small settlement in Alberta which is about an hour away from Calgary.
  • Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
    • Because my nephew is fond of astronomy and the observatory mentioned above conducted an open house star and planet gazing, we did not miss the opportunity to go. There were many telescopes available here and we got to see Saturn and the Hercules Star Cluster! We were not able to see from all telescopes because of the number of people that were present but it was still great because it is not everyday that you get to see the stars and planets upclose.
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    People gathered at the observatory to see the stars and planets up close. I enjoyed this visit too because it was my first time to see Saturn and the Hercules Star Cluster. It. Was. Amazing.

 

OTHER THINGS TO NOTE

  1. Long days!
    • During summer, Canada experiences long days maybe that is also why we were able to do so many activities. The sun rises before 7:00AM and sets after 10:00PM. Pretty long, right?
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      This was taken around 9:30PM.  Usually, it gets dark after 10:00PM. People can actually say “I’ve had a long day” during summer because it is literally true. Haha
  2. Strict driving rules
    • What impressed me is that Canadians really follow the rules whenever they drive (well, except for the speed limit sometimes). Some of the rules include stopping for two seconds whenever there is a stop sign, following the speed limit of 30kph for school zone and 50kph for construction (according to my cousin, the speed limit is up to +10kph of what is seen in the sign. So if the sign says 50kph, a driver can go as fast as 60kph.)
    • There are also different traffic light signs which I never got to understand fully like the solid green which means “Yield” and the blinking green light which means “Go”. In certain situations, a driver may also be allowed to go even if the stop light is “Red”. A bit confusing for a tourist like me. Lol.
  3. Mailbox is set on a part of the street
    • Unlike in the Philippines where mail and packages are delivered right at one’s doorstep, in Canada, there is an area where all the mailboxes are and it is the duty of the resident to get mail from there.
      20642097_10155043100726359_19372943_o
      This mailbox is assigned to different houses around the area. Everyday, my cousin goes here to check if they have mail. Larger packages are often placed inside the bigger box below (seen at the bottom left of the mailbox) and the key to that box is left inside the mailbox of the receiver. For even larger packages, the receiver oftentimes has to go to the office to claim it.
  4. Heated seats
    • Get this, cars are equipped with heated seats that one can switch on whenever it is cold outside (aka winter).
  5. DISTANCE IS MEASURED BY THE TIME IT TAKES TO GET THERE
    • This is really important because for Filipinos like myself, an hour is just near because I took the traffic condition into consideration. But because there is no traffic in Canada, an hour is already very far. This can already mean up to 200km of covered distance.
    • I remember being intimidated by the signs I saw on the road because more often than not, the distances are in hundreds. Wild! Then again, this goes to show how traffic takes up most of the time when traveling.

My heart is extremely happy and grateful to be able to go to such a wonderful country. Again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank these wonderful people:

To my Dad and Mom for always reminding me to fix my papers and get a visa so I can come with, for allowing me to have a separate itinerary during some days so I can explore. Thank you for understanding why I had to go out everyday so I can see as much as I could given the limited time that we had.

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The dream – hiking with my parents

To Uncle Con and Auntie Lot for welcoming us to your home, feeding us good food and touring us to Jasper and for all the gifts! I had such a fun and comfortable stay and I bet my parents did too.

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With the fambam at Uncle Con and Auntie Lot’s house. This was our home for most of the days that we were there.

To Uncle Oca and Auntie Nelia for also welcoming us to your home, taking us shopping and touring us in Drumheller. Thank you also for all the gifts! I promise to come back and use your treadmill longer.

To ate Christine, kuya Jayson, Dom and Eriond for bringing us to Drumheller and for the sumptuous dinner that you prepared in your home and for taking us all out for dinner too. I also enjoyed the Porsche ride and the visit to the observatory with you guys! Let us take another photo after five years – I bet my height will still remain the same and Eriond would probably be taller than me and I will be the smallest one in the group. Oh great. Haha! I will miss Jackston!

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A photo of my nephews and I then and now. Left photo taken in the Philippines and right photo taken in Canada

To Jehan and Angel for welcoming us to your home and preparing lunch for us. I loved the basement session that we had where we *ehem* played table tennis and where you guys taught me how to further enjoy my tequila. *ehem* I promise to sleep over next time!

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At my cousin, Jehan’s house. My dad’s selfie stick never fails!

To Carlo for still remembering my face. Haha! But seriously, for making me delicious drinks. I will miss the unli Mojito and Blue Lagoon privileges! Thank you also for getting us the cottage in Jasper and for treating me sushi and steak and for not uploading my horrible tennis video. Haha ang dami pala! I hope you remember me every time you pass by Dalhousie. DALHOUSIE. A dollhouse-ie. I wish we could have spent more time to go around but you know, you can always go here or I can always go there (ipon lang ako ah. Haha!)

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The one behind all my cocktail drinks!

And lastly to Tenten, official photographer/videographer/driver/organizer of this trip, for bagging the BC Award of the year! I now understand why commute is not an option there. Sorry na, Commute Queen ako dito eh. Haha! Thank you for sacrificing more than 3,000km of car mileage all throughout our stay and for dragging (haha) me out to so many beautiful places and making me do so many activities. I have so much to be thankful for because duh, you were the one who accompanied me most of the time. Haha! I was finally able to fulfill my promise of visiting you guys and you were finally able to fulfill your promise of taking me to the Canadian Rockies! Huhuhu ulit!

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From #TeamPlaid in Mt. Maculot, Philippines to #TeamJacket in Mt. Yamnuska, Canada. Taray!

My cousin, Tenten, made a quick video summary of some of the activities that we did in Canada. The editing is also nice so be sure to check it out!


Below is our actual itinerary for the duration of our stay. Note that most of the days are always packed because planning where to go is heavily weather dependent (as mentioned, the weather here is really fickle and changes every now and then) and we wanted to do a lot of things while the sun is up. Again, sun sets at around 10:00PM during summer.

Itinerary

Day 0 (NAIA – YVC – YYC)

  • 11 hours 40 minutes from NAIA to YVC
  • 4 hours layover
  • 1 hour 10 minutes from YVC to YYC
  • Arrival at Tuscany, Calgary
    • Mojito as welcome drink
    • Watched the Downtown Calgary fireworks

Day 1 (Sunday: Calgary)

  • Calgary Stampede
    • 2 rides
    • Bought poutine and mini donuts
    • Watched the shepherd competition
  • Sky Luge at Canada Olympic Park
  • Bowness Park
    • Canoe
    • Bowness River
  • Sunset at 10PM

Day 2 (Monday: Calgary and Cochrane)

  • Market Mall, Cross Iron, Costco, Anytime Fitness Cochrane, Jehan’s place, Town Hall Pub
    • Shopping for clothes, mountain gear (Bass Pro and Mountain Warehouse)
    • Ate hotdogs and bought hiking pack at Costco
    • First AF branch outside PH
    • Tour of Jehan’s place. Outdoor gears, table tennis, Patron and other liquor
    • Good food at Town Hall – ordered watermelon mojito and mac and cheese

Day 3 (Tuesday: Calgary and Drumheller)

  • Costco (30pcs wings and iced cappuccino)
  • Drumheller
    • Boston Pizza
    • Royal Tyrell Museum
    • Badlands
    • Tim Hortons
    • Horseshoe Canyon

Day 4 (Wednesday: Kananaskis and Calgary)

  • Hike to Mt. Yamnuska
    • 6 hrs total
  • Barrier lake
  • Played tennis at a sports complex
  • Ate at Kinjo

Day 5 (Thursday: Canmore and Banff)

  • Grotto Canyon
  • Canmore Town
    • Ate at La Belle Patate
  • Banff Town
    • Mc Cafe
    • Visited Tambayan ng Kabayan Filipino store
    • Bought from Beaver Tail
    • Bow Falls
  • Moraine Lake
  • Lake Louise

Day 6 (Friday: Banff and Jasper)

  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Glacier Skywalk
  • Passed by Columbia Icefield
  • Tekkara Lodge (room 42)
    • Star Gazing

Day 7 (Saturday: Jasper)

  • Jasper Skytram
    • Hiked to Whistler’s Mountain
  • Jasper Downtown
    • Cantonese Restaurant
    • Swam at the Twin Lakes/Dead Man’s Lake
    • Our Lady of Lourdes for mass (7:30pm)

Day 8 (Sunday: Canmore and Calgary)

  • Bye Jasper
    • Experienced Snow+Rain (flurries) while on the road
  • Ate lunch at Mcdo Canmore and ordered 20pc nuggets, salad, large iced coffee
  • Dinner at ate Christine’s place in Calgary

Day 9 (Monday: Bowden and Edmonton)

  • Starlite Diner Car (Bowden, Alberta)
  • West Edmonton Mall – biggest mall in north america
    • Waterpark (swam and slid off 2 slides)
    • Shopped at Winners (make up), Spencers and Stitches

Day 10 (Tuesday: Kananaskis and Cochrane and Calgary)

  • Hiked to Nihahi Ridge
  • Elbow River as side trip
  • Jehan’s place for dinner and Glenn’s place for 2nd dinner (26th avenue)

Day 11 (Wednesday: Calgary)

  • Slept over at uncle Oscar’s place
  • Chinook Mall
  • Masa Sushi
  • Ate Christine’s place

Day 12 (Thursday: Calgary)

  • Chinook Mall with Faye
  • Seoul Korean BBQ
  • Village Ice Cream
  • Downtown Tour (Peace Bridge, Crescent Heights, Scottman’s Hill, Bow Building)
  • Dinner at a family friend’s place

Day 13 (Friday: Cochrane, Calgary and Priddis)

  • Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
  • Ghost Lake
  • Mackay’s Ice Cream
    • Cuban Coffee and Buttery Butter Brickle flavors
  • Montana’s BBQ
    • Steak medium well
    • I drew flags
  • Co-op Grocery
  • Fergus & Bar
    • Dinner with family courtesy of Jason and ate Christine
  • Ate Christine’s place
  • Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
    • Saw the following using their telescopes – Saturn, Hercules star cluster, Milky way

Day 14 (Saturday: YYC – YVC)

  • Pho Huan Pasteur, Calgary for the despidida lunch
  • YYC International Airport
  • YVC International Airport

Day 16 (Monday: Manila)

  • NAIA International Airport

20632428_10155043157011359_1539218939_nCanada is truly a place worth visiting. It boasts so much beauty not just in landscapes and cityscapes but also beauty in terms of the people who live there. Indeed, this has been my ultimate vacation for this year and it took a while before I could accept that I was already back in Manila.

Hopefully, I can visit again soon.

Thank you for reading this really long blog post and I hope this will help those who are planning to go to Alberta as well.

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