Wow, what a trip! We landed in Edmonton and were greeted by our contacts from Travel Alberta and Edmonton Tourism. We dined and laughed at “Craft,” a lovely restaurant with an extensive and impressive beer menu, and then checked into our hotel, Chateau Lacombe.
The hotel is centrally located in downtown Edmonton and features a beautiful revolving restaurant on the top floor. One of my favorite things about this hotel is their pastry chef! They baked all of their wonderful pastries and cakes! There are great view from the hotel, and all the rooms are being upgraded. The plans for refurbishment are lovely!
We went to Elk Island National Park and had a great tour, and heard stories on how the bison ended up here and how they have survived for all of these years. (P.S. they didn’t have a very easy time of it!) After that we tried our hands at cross country skiing at Strathcona Wilderness Centre.
After lunch we made our way to the River Valley Adventure Company and a Segway in the Snow adventure, whoo hooo! And snowshoeing around the river and the park nearby. Just beautiful!
And what's the best way for eight women to end their day?… SHOPPING, of course! If you didn’t know it, the largest mall in the northern hemisphere is in West Edmonton! The West Edmonton Mall is truly a special place, with something for everyone. There's even a hotel in the mall, Fantasyland. They have an Olympic-sized hockey rink, a giant pirate ship, and an extremely large wave pool, a full amusement park complete with two roller coasters, a merry go round, and more… wow! And, of course, restaurant row! It's quite a place to experience.
Woke up very early and got on the VIA Rail train to Jasper. Since this train does the Trans Canadian route, there are sleeper cars, an observation dome car and a fabulous dining car. It's a great ride and I even saw a moose on the way.
Jasper here we come! We stayed at the Jasper Park Fairmont Lodge, We were in an eight bedroom luxury cabin. At night he dark sky was not only amazing and beautiful, educational too! The planets are so visible here, and we Southern California princesses went out in 35-degrees below zero to see such a beautiful night sky. All good but, Brrrrr!!!!!
Next day we took an ICE WALK!!! I don’t know when I ever have seen frozen waterfalls, and such incredible beauty in Marmot Basin. With strap-on cleats we walked along the frozen canyon floor at Maligne Canyon, just incredible! Not to forget our too-good-to-be-true Royal Bull Elk we saw on our way there and on the way back: 8 points on one side and 7 on the other.
The next day we snow shoed on Pyramid Lake, then took a two-horse open sleigh (it was a short sleigh ride as it was too cold for the horses!) Cold but beautiful.
At Deer Lodge in Lake Louise I had my favorite meal on this trip -- a Bison rib eye, to die for!!! And I also had a very good sleep in their beds: they don’t have TV’s there and it made it so much cozier! The Lake Louise Gondola was so awesome and we tubed!
Onto Banff! The Rim Rock Hotel in Banff was incredible! My view was amazing! I literally walked in and went ohhhhhhhhh! Great hotel, great staff, beautiful grounds. We had a fun party in the Penthouse Suite with private chef and excellent wine, a fabulous last night together.
Alberta is a destination for all seasons. And With Calgary or Edmonton being approximately three hours by plane from California gateways and 5 hours from NY-area airports, it’s a no brainer!