Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter Break 2014 - Part 4: Banff (Bow Falls, Hot Springs, Vermilion Lakes)

Late Wednesday morning (after the museum), we went for a drive to Bow Falls.

It's a beautiful lookout point and photography area.

Many trails were closed in Banff because it was still quite icy there.

After Bow Falls, we went to Banff Upper Hot Springs.

The parking lot had a great view of the surrounding mountains.

We enjoyed a soak in the hot springs and ate lunch at the cafe there. 

After lunch we drove to Vermilion Lakes, another scenic point.

Mt. Rundle looks particularly majestic behind the lake. 

Vermilion Lakes was absolutely beautiful. The wind died down and the sun and blue sky came out for just a bit while we were there, which was great timing. 
However, right before we left it got quite cold and windy and it seemed like a storm was coming so we went back to our hotel to relax a bit before supper.

and stay tuned for the final blog installment of our Easter holiday - Banff Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter Break 2014 - Part 3: Banff (Banff Ave, Rocks & Gems Shop, Whyte Museum)

We drove to Banff the Tuesday after Easter, in the afternoon.
The drive was beautiful as we got closer and closer to the Rockie Mountains.
Note: We did a lot in Banff even though we were only there for a couple days. This blog post will just detail Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. 
This was the view from our hotel room window. Our hotel was amazing. Our room and view were beautiful.

On our first night in Banff we ate supper at the restaurant in our hotel. It was a bit fancier but we wanted a treat. I got chardonnay and Stephen got ginger ale.  

Stephen ordered some seafood fettucini with lobster tail, scallops, shrimp, and mussels. It had a fancy foreign name in the menu but I forget it. 

I got the veggie burger with salad and honestly I wasn't too impressed. I took the cheese off the burger because it was just too much and I wasn't a fan of the creamy/greasy dressing on the salad. We also each got tomato soup to start and it was very rich, so I was quite full by the time my food came. It was a nice experience even though I didn't love the food I ordered. Fancy restaurants like that aren't usually great for vegetarians so I just have to suck it up.
That night we just relaxed at our hotel. It had a spa and the mineral water pool, hot tub, and eucalyptus-infused sauna were open to hotel guests so we enjoyed that.

On Wednesday we had the entire day to spend in Banff. We headed downtown in the morning. It was overcast and snowing gently, but it wasn't too cold to walk around.  

We spotted this horse and carriage on Banff Ave.

The coolest store we went into that morning was the Rocks & Gems shop. 

There were precious stones, gems, geodes, and fossils all over this store. 
Stone Inukshuk charms.
I loved the pretty coloured stones and jewellery and Stephen loved the fossils and this mammoth tusk.


Stephen bought an ammonite as a souvenir. This is the explanation of what it is. 

In a different shop I bought these two postcards for my collection. 

After exploring some shops we got a morning snack - beaver tails. We first had these in the summer in Ottawa with our friend. It's deep fried dough flattened to look like a "beaver tail" but it's really just like an elephant ear or doughnut, just made "Canadian" for tourists. You can get different toppings. I got nutella and banana, Stephen got cinnamon sugar.  

Next, we went to the Whyte Museum. 
The permanent exhibits are about people exploring the mountains, the wildlife in the area, and the history of Banff. But the Whyte Museum is also an art gallery, and the art exhibits were our favourite part.  
The Fury exhibit by artist Stephen Hutchings was amazing. 
Read the artist statement below and enjoy these tiny photographs of the beautiful art.  
My favourite was Storm Fugue, on the front of the pamphlet. Stephen's was Storm and Drang, the top image on this page.  
"Hutchings renders charcoal drawings to large canvases and washes them with thin layers of paint, building layer upon layer to produce atmospheric potraits bursting with distinct personality and exploding with drama and emotion." 

The second exhibit was Portraiture, which "traces the art of portraiture from the 1920s through to the present day." 

The final exhibit, which was also an art sale was Grant Smith, who mostly does watercolour landscapes. 
You can check out his art here.

and our time in Calgary.

And stay tuned for my next blog post about our time in Banff!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter Break 2014 - Part 2: Calgary

We drove to Calgary on Easter Sunday.
The sun was setting just as we got into town.
We stayed with our friends and spent the evening visiting with them.

On Monday our friend Maddie cooked us an amazing brunch, and then our friend Jeremy took us to Melodiya Record Store. 

Stephen bought Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 1. He has vols. 2 & 3 so now the collection is complete. I didn't buy anything.
Next, we went to Fair's Fair which is a used bookstore with multiple locations in Calgary. We went to the one in SunAlta. It had these and other strange murals.

I bought these two novels. The one on the right has been on my to-read list for a while. The one on the left I got because I just finished a novel by Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings) and I really liked it and want to read more of her work.
The last place we went to shop was Sentry Box game store. The sign outside claims that it is the largest game store in the world. and it is really big.
This entire shelf is just versions of Settlers of Catan. 
None of us bought anything at the store but we did enjoy this hilarious sign.

We spent the rest of Monday relaxing at our friends' house. They cooked us a delicious supper, we visited, and then watched a couple episodes of Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, which I'd never seen before but everybody else had and it was super funny and clever.

On Tuesday, Jeremy took us to Bluestar Diner.
It had adorable signs everywhere. 

I got the blueberry banana pancakes and they were delicious. 
Stephen got an omelette burrito. 
Jeremy got bison chili.
We actually liked this place so much that we went back for lunch on Thursday when we came back through Calgary, because it was close to our friend's work where we had to go. We both got the veggie burgers and tried both the regular fries and the yam fries and it was all delicious.  

I spotted this sidewalk advice outside our friend's work.

There was also this "Tiny Art Gallery", with this exhibit and an explanation (below). 

After a great couple days visiting with our friends we left Calgary on Tuesday afternoon to head to Banff. Here is a sneak peak of the Rockies: 

Check out our Easter Break Part 1: Saskatoon

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post about our time in Banff!