I’m Going on a Bear Hunt | Miles Morgan Travel
Foreign Exchange Click & Collect

Today's Foreign Exchange Rate

Miles Morgan Travel Logo

For today's rates please contact your local branch

£1 = $1.245
£1 = €1.151
Order Your Currency Now

I’m Going on a Bear Hunt

samintro

My trip started by catching a train from Evesham to Heathrow, something I’ve never really considered in the past, however, with the soaring prices of both petrol and car parking at UK airports I thought I would give this a try and boy was it easy, two and half hours door to door. Only thing to bear in mind when planning this is that the Heathrow Express is about a 10 minute walk from Terminal 2, fortunately my planning was spot on and I very soon met up with my other colleagues travelling to Western Canada along with Joe & Vicky from Prestige Holidays and Sarah from Rocky Mountaineer – oops did I mention I was going on this!!! Little bit excited!

We flew from London with Air Canada direct to Vancouver in little under 10 hours by far the longest flight I have done but comfortable enough and it was the start of the food fest that seemed to dominate this trip. The views over Greenland and Newfoundland literally took my breath away and I hope you can get a feel of this from the photos below – absolutely stunning – it’s amazing what mother nature can do!

samvancouver

Arriving in Vancouver we travelled directly to our hotel the Fairmont Vancouver, check in was very swift and I was soon whisked up to my 6th floor room – overlooking the main road down to the port and the National Art Gallery to the side. After a quick wash and brush up it was straight back downstairs to the inhouse restaurant Notch 8 (so called for the top speed a train can reach) to meet our hosts for dinner – the food and company was fabulous but due to jetlag and it being nearly 3am (UK time) I can honestly say I don’t remember much more than that, so I swiftly took myself off to my Fairmont bed and sank into the covers.

In the morning it was a quick stroll (15 mins) down to the waterfront for breakfast which again from was hosted by the Fairmont at their flagship hotel in Vancouver, surprisingly named the Fairmont Waterfront.

samwaterfront

Following breakfast and quick check out of their roof top swimming pool and views over the bay it was on to meet our driver to take us over the bridge to Stanley Park.

Stanley Park is a 1,000 acre park predominately surrounded by water, minutes from downtown Vancouver with fantastic views over the city with access to a beaches, a 9km seawall path (ideal for cycling, walking and for the more adventurous, rolling blading and skateboarding!), hiking paths into the forest where you will find indigenous totem poles, it is also the location that Trish & Cathie from Race around the World couldn’t escape from! Luckily Brent our driver made sure we made it out and onto our next stop, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

suspensionbridgesam

Capilano Park (or to give it it’s true name Kiapalano which in Squamish means “Beautiful River”) was one of the first destinations for adventurous Vancouverites and dates to the late 19th Century when the suspension bridge was opened, built by locals swimming the river to get the ropes and wood across the ravine!

We crossed the swinging 460ft long bridge with amazing views across the valley – with some hanging on harder than others! Once we made it across the other side and into the forest, we came to Raptor Ridge which houses local birds of prey. When we visited, the Treetops adventure – similar to our Go Ape – was closed for refurbishment but is due to reopen in the middle of this of this year, so if you’ve not had enough of an adrenaline surge crossing the bridge then I would strongly recommend you try this out too – if you do, come back and tell me what I missed!

cliffwalksam

It was then back across the bridge and onto the recently opened Cliff Walk which gets you closer to the flora and fauna of the forest.

After Capilano if was back to downtown Vancouver to Granville Island and its world renowned market for yes you guessed it, a foodie tour! Over the next couple of hours, Gina our tour guide took us through the history of the market along with tastings of many foods from local breads, cheese, fish and even macarons and donuts all washed down with strong black coffee at the end.

foodtoursam

When we finally ‘rolled out’ – you will see this becomes a regular event – of the market we again met our driver (not before taking one the many water taxi’s that operate over the bay) who took us on a quick tour of the Yaletown and Gastown with its famous steam driven clock and onto Canada Square and yet another adrenaline fuelled appointment this time the Vancouver Flyover – think roller coaster and cinema in one! You’re strapped into your seat and go soaring over the amazing British Columbia Forest, prairies and water to fully immerse yourself in its history and sites.

It was then back to the hotel to freshen up before a free evening exploring Vancouver, before our very rude early morning alarm clock – but boy was it worth it!

Yep, it’s the Rocky Mountaineer – two days of food, drink, more food and possibly more drink and then there’s the scenery oh my goodness it just blew me away.

samrocky

Upon arrival at the Rocky Mountaineer Terminal you are meet by staff who whisk your luggage away – you won’t see this again until your arrive at your mid-point stop (for us this was Kamloops) where it magically appeared in my hotel room – leaving you to admire this. There are two levels of service on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer, Silver Leaf which is a single carriage where food and drink and is served in your seat or Gold Leaf which is a double height carriage with the restaurant car being on the lower level and the bi-level glass dome coach on the upper level where you will find your very comfortable leather reclining and heated seat.

rockysamview

The team onboard were amazing and so much fun that even when the scenery leaving Vancouver was a little industrial still managed to keep up the excitement of our upcoming trip – as well as ensuring our glasses and tummies were never empty! During the trip they regale you of the history of the trainline and events that have taken place over the years and pointing out areas (and animals) of interest. You have the option of remaining in your seat or going out to the viewing platform at the rear of the carriage where you can get closer to nature as you trundle along at no more than 30 miles per hour!

We arrived in Kamloops and due to a couple of delays enroute it was straight to bed for me at the comfortable Delta Marriott Hotel which as I mentioned before, I opened my door to find my luggage waiting for me! I settled down ready for another early start the next day for a final leg onto Banff. Depending on your day two destination you are collected from your hotel between 6am and 6.30am. Leaving my luggage in my room – felt weird but I trusted it would find it’s way to Banff on its own – I made my way downstairs to meet my colleagues and jump on the bus to the station to get on board again. As with every departure the team left on the platform all line up and wave flags as you depart and wish you a safe journey – was it just me that felt like royalty – I don’t think so!

rockygoodbyesam

Day 2 on the train was when we found ourselves in the Rockies surrounded by soaring snow-capped mountains with sapphire and emerald lakes at their bases, surrounded by forestry making for many sightings of bald eagles, kestrels, badgers and long horned sheep (to be honest we felt they looked more like goats but didn’t want to upset our Canadian hosts so kept quiet!) Unfortunately, it was still a little early in the season to see any bears but we made up for that whilst in Banff – more of which later.

After being fed until we all thought we would burst – the crab ravioli literally melted in my mouth – we arrived in Banff and onto our next exiting few days.

hotelcanoe

Banff Railway station (as in Kamloops) you are assigned to your bus depending on which hotel you are staying in – your attendants will advise you of this before you disembark. Making our way through Banff felt like going back in time to an unspoilt Alpine resort, all hotels are built to strict planning controls making for a very aesthetically pleasing ambience throughout the town – no neon lights here!

We made our way the newest hotel in the resort the Hotel Canoe and Suites the views from the front of the hotel and our rooms were unspoilt. After a warm welcome by the hotel staff and quick check in along with requests for tea and coffee, these are not left in the room rather made up and placed in storage jars to be as sustainable as they can, I made my way up to my fourth floor room, only to be met by a colleague who had checked in earlier saying “Sam, we’ve got a balcony!” and yes we did have a balcony along with one the biggest rooms of our stay to date with two double beds, large bathroom with all the mod cons and even a small kitchenette so if you didn’t want to go out of an evening you can cater for yourself. After the obligatory photo of us all standing on our balconies, it was time to change and check out downtown Banff and its nightlife! The hotel is located on the outskirts of the town and as such is a 15/20 min walk into town, however, the local bus service is excellent with a stop being right outside the hotel it couldn’t be more convenient.

mirrorbear

After a lazy morning – we decided after two early starts and doing nothing all day on the train apart from eat and drink – which is exhausting – we would have a later breakfast in the hotels private dining room, before heading off to first stop of our day the Banff Gondola – yet more amazing views, lots of snow, oh and more food at the Northern Lights Restaurant at the top of the viewing area and even found a bear (ok he was a statue made of mirrors but still!). It was then time to descend to join our final tour of the day which was through Banff National Park and onto Lake Louise.

With guided commentary from our English driver/guide Tina from Discover Banff Tours she took us through Bow Valley Parkway – where we finally saw some wildlife in the form of a deer family - and onto Lake Louise, we stopped along the way to the see Castle Mountain so named due to its castellated mountain top, however, after World War II it was renamed Eisenhower mountain much to the locals disgust and outrage it reverted back to the name it holds today in the late 1970’s. Then it was on to a still frozen but nevertheless beautiful Lake Louise with the backdrop covered in snow, the lake, due to its size, is one of the last lakes in Canada to thaw sometimes as late as June. In the background of this beautiful location is another stunning hotel the Fairmont Lake Louise which is open in parts to non-residents to view the stunning interior.

lakelouisesam

A couple of tips given to us by our guide should we have guests travelling under their own steam is that Lake Louise is the last place where you can refuel – both the car and yourself – should you be considering the journey onto Jasper and finally if you’re parking at Lake Louise take note of which car park you are in (there are three) and it’s very easy to get them mixed up – trust me I know!

Dinner that evening was in Downtown Banff at the 3 Bears Brewery which I can fully recommend, especially for families – they do a family buffet that is a selection of their main menu which is brought to your table for you to serve yourself – as much or as little as you like along with a drink of your choice and is very reasonable.

banffspringssam

Our final day in Banff started with a bus ride up the Fairmont Banff Springs or to give it it’s local name the Chateau with its gothic architecture and even (allegedly) has its own resident ghost. Breakfast was held in the Vermillion room with views over the snow covered valley and was completed with a tour of the many different styled rooms – very few of the rooms (although given the same grading) are the same and some just need to be seen to be believed, luxury on another level!

From here it was time to say goodbye to Banff and head off to Calgary and our waiting flight home, however, there was still time to stop off at another Fairmont – this time the Fairmont Palliser in the town centre, where we were met by our guide from Calgary Tours who took us on a walking tour of the city. Having seen the city from ground it was now time to see it from up high and this meant going up the Calgary Tower, built in the late 1960’s for a time it was the tallest building in North America (until the CN Tower was built 5 years later – more of that on my earlier blog!) and fun fact, due to the winds has as much concrete in its foundations as it does in the entire tower!

rockyviewend

It was then back to the Palliser for, yes you guessed it, more food, followed by a tour of the hotels rooms – again as you would expect from a Fairmont hotel, even the lead in rooms were large but the suites well they were beautiful and the view from the Fairmont Gold Lounge was exceptional.

It was then time to bid a fond farewell to our hosts and Canada and make our way to the airport for our flight home. Tip if you’re flying economy check to see if you flight is full and if it’s not and it’s a night flight most airlines will let you move to a row of three empty seats where you can experience the equivalent of business class – ok maybe not the food and service but at least you will get a form of a flatbed – best night’s sleep I’ve had on an airplane anyway!

I trust my experiences above have whetted your appetite for this amazing country and I look forward to passing on my experience to you in store.

One last thing… No I didn’t see a bear and I wasn’t scared but here’s a picture of one you may see if you choose this stunning destination for your next holiday!

samoutro

Latest from our Travel Experts

“Remarkable” Queen Mary 2 with Jade

jadeintro

Day 1

25th April 2024 was my year anniversary at Miles Morgan Travel and the that day I stepped aboard...

Read More
Sailing on the Ocean Waves with Teresa

teresa intro

What an amazing opportunity and unique trip to do with Star Clippers. If you have any interest...

Read More
An Adriatic Adventure with Jo Alexander

jointro

DAY 1

My journey on Titan's 'Croatia Star of the Adriatic' tour started with the VIP pick-up from home in a...

Read More

Stay Updated



Stay up to date with all our latest news, expert advice from our Travel Specialists and the very best travel offers.