Oh Canada, you fantastic piece of land. This was hands down the best holiday of my life. It had everything – the most inspiring nature, scenic routes, camping and cooking on the stove, bears, elk, friendly chipmunks, crystal clear lakes, hiking and the most wonderful and handsome man that I have ever met.
Upon our arrival we have picked up our rental car – Grand Cherokee Jeep, this is important as we were planning to punk in it the entire holiday. It was big enough to sleep four and I could never complain that it wouldn’t be comfortable. We also bought a few necessities like a blow up mattress in Wallmart. Luky’s friend who lives in Vancouver lent us the rest of the camping gear and we were ready to go.
We woke up in a residential area on top of a hill with a pretty view and drove to the nearest picnic area in a forest, next to a little creek. I cooked scrambled eggs and ground my coffee in between the tallest pine trees and I honestly couldn’t be happier because fuck, I love this so much! I can’t explain it how much. I remember packing up our tent with my friend Kirsty somewhere on a cliff on the Isle of Skye while it was pouring down rain and I had to smile because for some reason, this is where I am in my element. Or when you are a few miles away from the Chilean bofrder in Patagonia after you have camped next to a volcanic lake, totally freezing your butt off but trying to save petrol and waiting for them to open the border, aaah memories. Anyway back to Canada. On the way to the wine region Okanagan valley we bought some blackberries and cherries that of course were fantastic. In Osoyoos we had a little swim and I was thinking that the lake was amazing but a little cold, but I had no idea what was yet to come. Stopped for a little wine tasting at a Lonely Planet recommended winery La Stella. In Pentincton we jumped into the Skaha lake because why not? And stopped to sleep somewhere past Vernon.
Again we were lucky enough to find a charming place for breakfast near Sicamous next to yet another lake (yes there will be a lot of lakes in my story). All I can say about this – nothing like scrambled eggs, coffee and a little bit of skinny dipping before the village wakes up. We stopped for coffee and lunch in Revelstoke, to use their slogan: The Gateway to some serious Mountains. And they had good coffee: Phil&Sebastian, obviously we bought the beans. Made a few stops on the way and finally made it to Alberta. Since it was already late we decided just to have a peek at Moraine Lake and do some hiking in the morning. It took as a while to get there as there was some serious traffic. The amount of tourists scared me a little bit. However the lake and the view was spectacular. The type of view poets write about. The amount of people did spoil the atmosphere a little bit, but I still couldn’t get over the mountains in the background, the serious blues of the water and the mirror like surface. Dinner right there on a picnic table, a few squirrels thought they would get some but they didn’t.
Super early morning, but it was worth it. We drove straight to the infamous Lake Louise and I can understand why. Given the early hour there was only a handful of people with us and the atmosphere was great. Red Canadian canoes on the lake, slightly cold and misty. I wish I could canoe on the lake as well, but for $75 per half an hour, I think I will wait until I can stay in the Fairmont hotel behind it for a week without going into debt. There was nobody on the hike to Lake Agnes, except for the chipmunks which made me feel like a Disney Princess, however I soon as they found out I will not feed them, they quickly abandoned me, those ungrateful creatures. We hiked all the way to the Little Beehive where it was just us and the view. Similarly on the Big Beehive, where we shared the nature with a friendly american family who took some photos of us and let us use their hammock. We continued to the plain of Six Glaciers which I do not recommend at least not if you have seen a glacier already because the way there was full of people, the view was nothing special and it just took forever. We finally made it back to the lake which now was as full as Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I quickly navigated through the asians with selfie sticks as I didn’t want to spoil my experience. I know that these world wonders have to be shared, but it’s so hard as it completely ruins the atmosphere of the nature. I fear the day you won’t be able to be alone in the mountains. As much as I try to avoid thinking about it, the ever growing population and rise of Chinese middle class sometimes fills me with dread.
On our way to Calgary we stopped for some coffee and pick me up snacks in Banff and spent the evening with Luky’s family. It was nice to have a proper Czech dinner in North America and I really enjoyed it.
We pretty much faffed around Calgary (I love that phase – to faff around, it’s my favourite British phrasal verb.) and we had a coffee tour that our friend arranged for us, guess what? It was at Phil&Sebastian, Luky clearly knows good coffee when he sees it. The coffee was great, the venue was unique and original and the roasting process interesting and our guide Javaid really friendly and cool. After we had to rush off for a dinner at a Japanese restaurant with the family. Lukas went to watch his cousins hockey game and I did some serious route planning and writing taking advantage of the wifi connection.
After breakfast, and some solid faffing around, we finally left the beautiful and comfortable house to our even more beautiful and comfortable vehicle and continued to Canmore, which I loved! A cute little mountain village with designer shops and craft beer. Yes, the Czech in me finds it extremely important to try local beers whenever possible and if the sun is shining. Since it was over thirty degrees we rented a stand up paddle board from a guy who was like: Czech people!!! I was just surfing with my friend Jirka yesterdaay 😀
We made it to Banff and went to see the most spectacular hotel that I have ever seen – the Banff Fairmont Hotel, I can just imagine what the atmosphere must be there like in winter. Instead of lounging there with a whiskey glass next to a fire place like it should be done, we ate some cereal bars in the back of the car. It was actually so much fun. I don’t remember what we were laughing about the whole time but we really were laughing so hard that people who walked by smiled and said hi. After a few viewing places which I cannot recommend due to crowds we made it to Lake Minnewanka for the sunset and my oh my, could this be more beautiful? The lakes, the daring forests that grow all the way to the tops of the mountains, the green tea we were drinking the slight chill of the evening. What an atmosphere, which was only enhanced by a group of goat we took a selfie with. We also saw our first herd of elk by the road.
We had our breakfast at the exact same place and set for a hike where we saw some marmots, a lots of squirrels and heard some rock avalanche, which was extremely loud as we were alone on the top. Lukas made me ring the bear bell with no break as it really was in the middle of a forest. We spent the rest of the day chilling out in the car with the booth open to the view of the lake and mountain, which is my favourite combo. After we continued to the Icefields Parkway, which probably is the most picturesque road I have ever seen, I mean talk about a road trip. It winds down slowly in between glaciers, mountains, endless forests and lakes. We stopped at one and jumped right in, this lake wasn’t featured in any guides and thank god for it as we were able to enjoy it in peace while munching on Canadian blueberries. We found a perfect spot for dinner next to a glacier river and it was such a romantic moment. With the sunset, the river, I feel like I haven’t lived without him. Like all my other travels meant nothing because he wasn’t there. As we drove away at dusk a brown bear just casually walked across the road, luckily there was no traffic so I was able to stop but all we saw close up was his bear bum hahaha pun intended. It’s such a rare experience to see this massive creature in its natural habitat. The place we chose for the night was a parking lot at Saskatchewan Crossing, which was close to perfect because they had draught beer in a typical Canadian pub.
This day started with making friends with a massive grizzly bear. We stopped on a side of the road to pee… I mean to take photos and as Luky was going down with the camera suddenly he yelled no no not going there, there’s a bear! And there really was, we followed him for couple of meters and took a few photos until he disappeared from the view but man oh man how exciting! The hike I chose for the day Valley of the Five lakes was everything and more. Jumped into lake number one, water was great. It was even better in lake number five, clearly nobody wanted to do the full trip, we were completely alone and I didn’t bring bathing suit anyway. There’s something extremely liberating about swimming naked. I need my own lake. Or just cross the boarded to Germany, I mean they might have a few things wrong going on, but they love their nudist beaches for a reason. Although I must say it was somewhat repelling seeing an elderly german man frying a sausage next to his sausage on a shore lake close to the Czech border. Oh the summer of 2016, I will never forget. After the refreshing swim, I cooked lunch while lounging in a massive wooden Canadian chairs next to a wild white water river under the shade of trees before entering Jasper. Apart from having a local draught ale, going on a historical walking tour and chilling out in the hot springs we didn’t do much for the rest of the day.
We woke up to a gloomy atmosphere as the smoke from the BC fires has made it to our location. Never the less we went for a forest walk after breakfast (which a goat tried to eat) along an enchanting river to the source of the springs. The forest smelled amazing and the forest floor was soft and again I felt like I was in a disney movie. We sat on a log chatting. We drove to Maligne lake and did a small hike around Moose Lake, no moose to report around the lake as they were hanging out at the parking lot later on, still pretty cool. We cooked dinner and slept right there.
As we woke up, we set out for a hike to Bald Hills, after about a 20 minute of walking we decided naah let’s just not today and we turned around and walked back to the car while making several jokes about how the people walking up think that we are already coming back from the top. Turns out, it was the best decision anyway as it started to rain heavily about 20 minutes later. I bought some supplies including red wine and roast chicken, which we ate right in the car escaping the rain. We spent the rest of the day driving about 700km. The only thing to report was excellent coffee in a wooden hut across from the information centre in Clearwater, BC and an even better brownie. Also a stop in a town called Cache Creek, which was almost a ghost town due to the fires that have been in the area for over two months. Lady in the Inn, where we asked for directions, told us that she hasn’t seen blue skies for almost the whole summer. She also told us that the road we wanted to take was closed so we had to take a detour, which was anyway interesting and a bit post apocalyptic. I still enjoyed drinking my Okanagan valley wine from a tin cup. We finally stopped at a campsite past Lillooet, had some baguette, salami and wine for dinner and went to sleep.
We drove to the hike called Joffrey Lakes, three absolutely stunning turquoise blue, ice cold lakes that we walked to through an enchanting forest trail. Finally we made our way to Whistler where we made a rash decision to book a luxurious hotel for the night. With jacuzzi, sauna, a sun terrace with mountain view, red wine and a fire place – no regrets.
We spent the morning in the hotel and it wasn’t until lunchtime when we finally made our way to town, we had some poutine for lunch and watched downhill racing. The town was buzzing, a really posh place, the Aspen of Canada. After we have had enough we walked to a train wreck in the forest across a little wooden bridge. We set out for Vancouver but not until after I bought the coolest Whistler Blackcomb t-shirt from Roots – made in Canada believe it or not! The reason why we drove to Vancouver was that Luky’s friend told him that we can go onto a helicopter ride as she had two free places. Unfortunately thanks to the horrible traffic we didn’t make it, but we saw the helicopter. At least we made the sunset next to the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Quick visit to Wallmart a dinner at Wendy’s and suddenly it was late at night and we made it to Luky’s friends house. We all had beers together and chatted for a few hours, which was really nice.
Late night and an early morning, not the greatest combination but again it was so worth it. We drove to Squamish and hiked up to Stewamus Chief, which is the second largest monolith after Yosemite. It was a pretty much a vertical hike and my stomach is still a bit sore today. The views and the rock were spectacular. We walked up so quick that I was sweating through my eyelids. Obviously I couldn’t sit on a plane like this for twelve hours so I needed some sort of “shower”. There was one and only lake on the way so I jumped in it and even managed to shampoo my hair. It was so cold that passing by Chinese people actually took photos of me. I don’t know if I told you this yet, but I am pretty hardcore. Just the perfect combination of tough but girly 😀 it’s true, you can’t make this up. The very last thing we did was to have lunch at a fancy little restaurant Olive&Anchor in Horseshoe Bay and off we drove to the airport. After returning the car, Luky’s colleagues picked him up and drove to Pentincton where they will be working for the next two weeks. I spent about three hours at the airport, which didn’t seem that long as Vancouver was one of the slowest airports. Only for check-in and security it was nearly an hour and a half and getting a sub in Subway another half an hour. Air New Zealand btw is a shitty airline. I know that airplane food is not great, however I never had an issue eating it and I can’t count how many flights I have been on, but Air NZ food was disgusting. I actually bought snacks for the way back and I wouldn’t touch their scrambled eggs with a ski pole. And it wasn’t just a coincidence because this was the case for all four flights. Next time it will have to be Air Canada. And yes there will be a next time, Canada is just to spectacular to only spend two weeks there.
Arrival to the Gold Coast wasn’t half bad either, 25 degrees, cloudless sky, fresh breeze. Yes please, remind me of this whenever I complain because I really have nothing to complain about. Thanks to jetlag I spoke to Dominika, my mom, my dad, Radek and Misa. I went for a morning swim today and really enjoyed it. Had a coffee with my former flatmate Lilly chatting on the beach and to beautifully wrap up the day I got a little drunk on sangria at a Mexican restaurant with my pretty colleague Kate. Now, can I just go back to Canada please? Thank you!