Location: Manchester - Chester, England
Landed at Manchester at 10.30am, all luggage present and correct,(amazing as we'd last seen it in Toronto) we 4 adults on board another 7 seater 'van' taxi, (the only vehicle large enough to transport 4 adults plus 13 pieces of luggage) back to the Race's home nr Knutsford where we had left John's car on August 10th before leaving for the USA.
Tranferred our luggage, and back to Chester by lunch time, not feeling too bad, but wondering if, and when the jet lag would kick in. A wonderful and eventful trip at and end, lots of memories to enjoy.
Canada a great counrty we decided which should be revisited.!!
Location: Toronto, Canada
Another lovely 22 degree day, lots of sun. Such a pity we have to pack up (for the last time). How does luggage multiply and become so difficult at the end of holiday's?? This tedious job taking most of the morning with us trying to compact three pieces of luggage into two!! We made it, but with very heavy hand luggage which we hoped would not be weighed at the airport!!
Having stowed it all in one room with Mary and John's, we set off round the entertainment district to find one of the resturants in the row of 23 we'd seen the day before, and had our last meal in Toronto sat outside.
Then a walk back to the hotel to meet up with Mary and John who had gone off for a walk down 'The Path', load up the hire'van' and head out to the airport for our 6.15pm overnight KLM flight to Amsterdam. This a jumbo 747 which we had seats in the upper deck, a very good flight with exellent meal -- we chose the pasta dish. Both Annie and John watched 'National Treasure 11' before Annie had a snooze, breakfast arrived and we were shortly landing in Amsterdam at 7am for our 3 hour wait before departing for Manchester at 10.00am
Location: Toronto, Canada
A bright sunny am, so we took a city bus tour to learn about Toronto in 2 hours. This led by Gordon, a very chatty 70 yr old who chatted away through his mike whilst driving around the city. Briefly, In 1788 we British bought 250,000 acres of land from the Indians mostly on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
Younge St in Toronto stretches for 1200 miles north and divides the street system east to west in Toronto, and goes on to highway 11 to north Ontario.(Again we Brits built it and seemingly did not know when to stop!!!)
The only industry in Toronto is refining sugar cane, basically allowed as it does not cause pollution, imported from Cuba.
The CN Tower used to be the world's tallest tower, now superceeded by Dubai.. The Royal Bank of Canada, all gold looking is regarded as their nicest looking building whilst the highest building is The Bank of Montreal with 72 storeys.
In 1904 a massive destroyed most of the city so it had to be rebuilt.
Saw the ice hockey hall, with bronze figures outside (ice hockey is Canada's national sport) Union Station built in 1927 with 3 levels of track plus the subway.
Toronto boasts 41 theatres, and in one street alone, 23 resturants in one row!!
Learnt about 'THE Path', a wonderful linked underground system of walkways, in marble,with shops eateries etc, between the station, subway and most of the skyscraper blocks, this built so workers could avoid being outside in the cold snowy winters, and never need come above ground. Visiting part of this later, we were amazed just how grafitti free and clean it was, unlike London's underground.
Condo's here in the smart Avenue Road area costing $1.2 to $7m, almost all having 3 car garages!!
Our tour over, we left the bus near the CN Tower and decided we must go to the top. Queued for an hour, but the wait was well worth it! It is 346 metres high, and 114 stories to the main observation deck, then those feeling braver can ascend another lift to the pod almost at the top, then 447 metres and 147 stories high!! A 5 foot movement tollerence here which we could feel!
Worth the effort, the views across the city and lake were superb.
Decending without a wait, we walked across the city to The St Lawrence market, a wonderful collection of not only food stalls, but allsorts. Sniffed out a delicious crab sandwich, then walked back to our hotel -The Royal York (named as it has a green coronet shaped top (built in 1929).
Our last dinner in Toronto was at Moreton's steak resturant across town under The Hyatt hotel, wow the size of the portions!! So full afterthe steaks,we had to declined the souffle!!!
Our taxi driver en route back afterwards, very odd, thought he'd hit a wild animal so went around the block looking for it.
Location: Toronto, Canada
John and Annie decided today was the day to drive to Niagara, so set off in the 'van' plus sat nav, out down the Gardiner Highway, for I plus hours drive, giving great views of Lake Ontario as we went. My first view of the falls just amazing (John had seen them before whilst in Canada on business years ago) the spray going well up into the air. Went down a small cliff side railway and a mile plus walk, viewing the falls as we went, taking many photo's.
Boarded 'The Maid of THe Mist' and donned blue plastic hooded capes tro keep dry.(Very flattering!!) It was worth getting wet for, the roar of the cascade falls, plus the American and Bridal Falls (on the USA side) well worth every second. Saw a totally black squirrel. After walking back to the parked 'van', we set off for Niagara-on-the-lake, a historical village about an hour away. This drive took us through the wine lands of Ontario, but sadly no time to stop off!! Did the historical trail of the old houses there( a bit like Monteray) saw where the River Niagara joins Lake Ontario. Also Fort George which played a part in the history of Ontario. Had a welcome tea in The Battery cafe, sandwich called 'Under the Sun' a healthy option of veg and cheese. Then set off with ,John driving, back to Toronto. Sat Nav's have boggled us before, and this one no different, plus a slip road closed on to the highway, after much cursing etc we over ruled the sat nav to get back into Toronto.
Thought we'd try The Ontario Club ( a reciprical with the RAC in London, but their handbook out of date, so no go!!! Walked back to our hotel to a nice meal in the Library Bar.
Location: Calgary to Toronto, Canada
6am call ---ughh!! 7.30am depart hotel for Calgary International airport 14 miles away. So little traffic, thank goodness!! Waiting for our Air Canada 11.15 am flight to Toronto and the last leg of our trip. Superb flight, great airline too. Our last view of the Rockies as we took off, hope wecan return one day!
Interactive personal tv screen to use with masses of both films and tv channels to choose from, this not seen before on an airline! Looking out of the window, the scenery changed from mountains to flat prarie lands. 2 hours time ahead, but on landing we caught the end of hurricane IKE, making it a bumpy last 15 mins.
Off to the Alamo desk to collect the second Dodge van in black for our stay in Toronto. JM drove downtown in heavy rain, JR navigating as the sat nav we'd hired refused to work for ages.
Booked intoThe Royal York Hotel (Fairmont) room 4-178 looking straight at the CN Tower, all lit up!! Off to THe Library Bar for a much needed drink and meal. This a lovely dark panelled book lined room, a contrast from the light gold foyer and old station clock.
Location: Banff Springs to Calgary, Canada
After a night of heavy rain where we were, snow had fallen on the mountains giving stunning views of The Cascades, Mount Rundle etc seen when the cloud lifted. We packed up, then took a taxi ride to walk round the town. The taxi driver told us all Banff yellow cabs (Ford Saloons) had been police cars !!
Very chilley too, warmer clothes would have been welcomed!!
We had the hire'van' loaded and left for Calgary 132 kms away at 1pm. Deer seen on the road side, and as we headed out of the beautiful Rockies the scenery changed to the flat lands. Here is were the Pacific plate joins the plate.
Freight trains of a mile long seen hauling their loads. Police speed cops here use helicopters, sneekey!!!!
Arrived at The Fairmont Palliser hotel and checked into 1136, before a walk round the shopping area of Calgary.Now 60 degrees temp here. This looks a very affulent city, which we were surprised at.
John and Mary on their explore found a returant called Blink which we had a great meal in, only to discover the chief was from Newcastle on Tyne, he produced a lovely and unusual meal.
Location: Banff Springs, Canada
Stunning morning mountain views, with the roar of the Bow Valley falls in the distance. We found the hotel had 16 food and beverage spots to cater for all needs, one being a deli which was open 24 hours! So we decideda 'take out' breakfast snack was a good option. Walking back to the room with carrier bag of food, encountered two medium sized deer on the path nibbling the trres with hotel staff armed with brooms trying to persuade them to go!!
We four decided an outing to Lake Minnewanka (no I'm not joking) was a good idea. Last night's taxi driver had told us it was worth a visit. So off on the Tunnel Mountain road through thick forest, all eyes of those not driving were on wild life watch, sadly none seen.
Lake Minnewanka an 18 mile long lake, here we all boarded a cruise boat for the 2 hour tour of the lake,plus guide talking about the wildlife in the area -- cougars, packs of wolves, black bears, grizzleys and chipmunks etc. Bald eagles nest here but had flown about 2 weeks before. but before we came back the weather had turned, the cloud came in and very heavy rain.
Drove back via The Two Jacks lake and Bow Valley River and falls for lunch in the hotel lounge.
Later on Anne and John did the hour and a half heritage tour of the hotel with the hotel's archiviest, a really interesting tour and guide. As with Lake Louise, this hotel developed because of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and as our great transport hotels in the UK and Scotland did too.
Location: Lake Louise to Banff Springs, Canada
Again awake early 6am, to see the wonderful sunrise over the glacier and lake, breakfast on the balcony to catch as much of the view as possible. Friendly whisky jack birds joined us again for bread, so tame and a delight to see so close to. Kayacks on the lake looked so peaceful, John wished we had more time to take one out. We did however, walk the path to the end of the lake (over a mile) to look back at the hotel. Sun out and hot too.
Saw a couple of cheeky chipmunks begging for food from a lady eating sweets, one of these animals running up her leg!!
Then a farewell to a romantic lake, and setting, and off in the hire 'van' to Banff Springs an hour away.
Banff Springs hotel like a majestic castle of dark stone, set against a backcloth of mountains and pine forests, no lake here though.
Our room in the Stanley Thompson wing overlooing a spectacular view (1311).
Lunch here outside on the terrace of the main hotel in warm sunshine - bliss!!
Later, with a window open in our room, a familiar nose heard, the ping of a golf ball being hit by a driver!! Annie decided a walk to investigate was called for, so set off down a track, being aware a bear could share the route(but no such luck) But a spectacular golf hole, high tee off point to drive over the river! Further on the lovely Bow River Falls.
At night a meal in The Grizzly House fondue steakhouse in town, this a recommend by Marion Kutzer we'd met at Lake Louise. This great fun, with 60's/70's memrobilia everywhere plus music too.
Location: Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Waking at 6am for a view of the sunrise over the glacier was well worth it, wow and wow again!!! Camera out for as many pics as possible of the changing light over the lake and the sun came up.
This a very special place we can never forget!
Location: Kamloops to Banff, Canada
Left Kamloops, (the Sheraton 4 Points Hotel) the 5th largest city in British Columbia at 8am for our marathon 600 kms drive through amazing scenery to Banff and Lake Louise. Saw small deer in the firlds outside Kamloops, and in one field a fox being chased by a deer!
Our route to the Rockies followed the Thompson River for many miles. Kamloops was a fur trade centre used by white settlers, then gold prospecters. But the Canadian Pacific railway in the 1880's was the real expansion of the territory.
Saw the White lake, a huge horseshoe lake en route to Sicamous, such a pretty area. Then the 3 Valley Lake Chateau hotel at the end of the lake, west of Revelstoke, looked so inviting for a coffee stop, but John M having managed to pass a long line of traffic decided we could not stop, but a note made in the diary for future!!! In Golden, after a driver change to Annie, a road block this for a driving licence check by a very polite Canadian policeman! Sadly low cloud and some heavy rain spoilt the scenic views through Glacier National Park and then Banff National Park, but through the cloud we could see fresh snow on the mountains.
Arrived in Banff at 4pm, called at the Banff bureau, but wow how the temperature had dropped. We discovered from the Shell garage man that snow had fallen the previous weekend ie Sept 6/7th. Banff very pretty with hanging baskets from all lamp posts and wide streets, further investigation left for a few days time when we are back here.
Drove on another 40 mins to Chateau Lake Louise our hotel for the next two nights, road signs warning of bears, elk and moose on the roads!!! Sadly none seen.
Checking in here, met by lederhosen bell boys plus felt hats!! A huge foyer. But the best to come when we arrived in our room.(883)
The view from the balcony took my breathe away as it spanned both the emerald coloured Lake Louise below and the glacier beyond.
We had a two tier room here with lounge area on one floor, then up a spiral staircase to the bedroom, bathroom and two angled balconies, such a romantic view down the lake, just dreamy!
After the unpacking, a quick walk round the hotel and supper in the saloon complete with saloon double doors!!
Location: Vancover to Kamloops, Canada
On the road again this am.the 'van' loaded by a bemused bellboy when he saw our luggage (4 folks) On a lovely sunny am we set off out of Vancover for the last time and off up the Trans Canada Highway - route 1 north west for Kamloops. Route 1 took us onto route 5, JM doing a sterling job of the driving with JR in the navigation seat, the girls in the back chatting.
Almost a petrol crisis as we almost ran out of petrol, unlike the UK where motorway services are every 30/40 miles, we went miles and no sign, JM just coasting on all down slopes. Relief, found one in Merritt just off the highway.
Driver change and on to the Sheratan Kamloops 5 plus hours from Vancover, on the edge of town and our night stop, plus a Rics steak house!!
Location: Whistler to Vancover, Canada
Awoke to enjoy the stunning forest views again. Annie could not resist a dip in the pool, the outside one heated to 30 degrees and the hot tub 40 degrees!!!! Swimming in there and looking up at Whistler mountain somehow magic!!! Made me want to --- yes you guessed--ski again!!!!
We discovered a farmers market just outside the hotel ,a nd enjoyed a walk round, great fruits,jewellry, art, cookies and a live band playing too.
Decided to explore Whistler centre about a 20 min walk away, so saw our first red maple tree, enjoyed coffee sat out in heat!! Saw a chickadee bird too and just missed a black bear in the area outside the hotel, did hear someone shreak though and wondered why!!!!
Anne and Mary bought a huge bag of the cotton candy to munch en route back to Vancover -- just too good to miss!!!
Two and a half hours back to the Pan Pacific, a quick change and over the road the the Waterfront Fairmont and a crab and cheese fondue-- delicious!!! Diet will definitely be needed when back in Cheshire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Location: Vancover to Whistler, Canada
Split up the luggage to leave most of behind in the Pan Pacific, then to Alamo hire desk to collect our 'van' for the next few days adventures in Canada. Gosh the size of this Dodge machine -- a full 7 seater job ( this needed for the luggage when we leave on the 8th) It came with sat nav, so with Annie driving the beast and JR (John Race) in navigation seat we set off for Whistler along route 99 the Sea to Sky Highway rated as one of the world's three great drives, for the 75 miles to Whistler. Massive raod widening going on to cope with the forthcoming Olympic traffic. Stopped in Squamish for a Tim Horton's coffee and doughnut stop and driver change to JM (John Marr),Annie now in a rear armchair seat with Mary (Race). Stunning scenery with snow capped mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and wall to wall pine forests. Found Chateau Whistler our hotel for the night and left the'van' to be valet parked!! Sat out in hot sun to enjoy a cold drink before we set off to explore the grounds. This to be the venue for the 2010 winter olympics, but looking at grass and no snow seemed odd. Interesting though to see where it will all take place in 2010.
Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain join and itis a huge area. Annie and JM decided to go up Whistler Mountain as the bubble lift working, so enjoyed a 25 mins ride up over pine forest with ' mad mountain bikers' coming doen the grassy ski runs at rapid pace below us. We noted ambulances parked on statigic corners!!!!!!!!!
Up at top 6,500 ft we spotted marmot, chipmunk and a grey/black/white bird we later discover was a whisky jack. Sadly the next chair lift to 10,000ft had just closed, so strolled around enjoyed the views and statue of Inuksuit and came back down(by lift). Walked back through some very expensive looking house developments to the hotel. We 4 had a lovely meal together in the hotel, with 'cotton candy' (Canadian candy floss) served with the coffee. It was elderflower flavour and delicious too.