Last week we took a trip - without the kids! - which is actually the first time we've truly been 'on vacation' in about four years. After driving through Lake Louise last summer, we knew we had to come back in the winter. So on saturday morning we set off - just the two of us - for a romantic four day vacation in the mountains. I've put together a few of our trip highlights... but I must say selecting photos was extremely difficult as everything was so stunning.
We flew into Calgary, rented a car (actually an SUV - you never know about the highways), and drove about two hours through the gorgeous Banff National Park. We arrived at the Fairmont Lake Louise around 4pm, and settled into the bar as we waited for my brother and sister-in-law to arrive. The hotel is beautiful, and on a saturday in december there was a lot going on. People passed us in ballgowns, ski googles, hockey sweaters, and luxury furs. It made for some entertaining people-watching.
We were super excited to ski/snowboard, and had originally planned to ski for two days. We rented our gear from the hotel, and took a short shuttle over to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. The snow reports had been great in the weeks leading up to our trip, and it did not disappoint. The hill is HUGE - way bigger than most mountains I have skied. We found some wonderful gentler runs to get our legs back into it, as it had been at least six years since I had ridden a snowboard. Being a sunday, it was pretty busy, but we never waited long/at all for lifts, and for the most part found some quiet areas. Snowboarding is HARD, though, and we were torn about going on day two. There were just so many other things to explore that eventually we made the decision not to. It was the right one:)
Instead of skiing a second day, we drove out to Johnston Canyon to go for a hike and see a spectacular waterfall. The drive itself was like something out of a movie - pristine white snow and perfectly droopy trees that looked like they would topple over with any more snow. Apparently this site gets over a million visitors per year, but we passed maybe 25 people on our hike. I can imagine in the summer it would get pretty crazy. The hike was beautiful and not challenging - good news for us as we had not brought ice-picks for our boots, as the hotel had suggested. The sun was peaking through the trees, and the air was a perfectly crisp temperature for being outdoors.
Our hotel room overlooked Lake Louise, and it had recently frozen over and a skating rink had been cleared. We looked out our window at the skaters below, and knew we had to give it a try. The hotel had a skate rental shop, but let me tell you - rental skates are the worst! I've skated my entire life, and played competitive ringette and hockey, but putting on a stiff pair of (dull) skates is super tricky! I felt like I was struggling... so no wonder so many people find skating tough. If you have your own broken in skates, it's a night and day difference. My sister and brother in-law joined us, and we skated around practicing (terrible) turns and pirouettes. Or perhaps I should speak for myself - mine were terrible! As we were taking off our skates, my brother-in-law checked his phone and saw that cnn had just released their top 10 most beautiful ice skating rinks in the world. Guess what was number one?!
I can't say enough good things about The Fairmont. It was such a luxury for us to get to stay there... and we got some amazing upgrades that made the experience that much more enjoyable. I was able to find a few minutes to visit the spa and get a manicure - a perfect treat for the holiday season. We ate at a cozy and elegant fondue restaurant - twice! - and the second time I didn't even bother with a main course. Cheese fondue, followed by chocolate fondue:) And lots of wine, of course.
If we had more time we would have definitely gone dog sledding; we saw the dogs hanging out at the beginning of the trail, and it looked really neat. And really, how many opportunities are there to go dog sledding?! We also missed the horse-drawn sleigh ride by mere seconds, but at thirty dollars per person perhaps it was money well saved. They sure looked beautiful, though.
In the end it was a wonderful four days. We were able to meet up with my brother and sister in Calgary en route to flights, and while brief, it was nice to catch up. It was also great to spend time with my brother and sister in-law, and we are indebted to them for making the trip a reality. And lastly - spending four days with just my husband was really great. In the car, we debated what music to listen to, as opposed to always 'managing' the children. We could talk, and listen, to each other over breakfasts and coffees, something that really doesn't happen much in our day to day lives. We arrived back in Winnipeg to two of the happiest babes we have ever seen... running into our arms and telling us everything they had done. With them was one tired grandpa - who along with my mom did an amazing job of looking after them. If you get a chance to visit Lake Louise, do it. It's a beautiful place, especially around the christmas season.