Travel Tuesday: Banff, Alberta

Better late than never, as promised, here is a Travel Tuesday post on my trip to Banff, Alberta. I love Banff. Growing up in Alberta I spent many summer and winter vacations in the mountains—Banff, Jasper, the Kootenays. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful. Massive, snowy and exhilarating. The town of Banff, is a quaint, picture perfect little resort town nestled in this mass expanse of seemingly never ending mountains. Some of the notable mountain peaks surrounding Banff are Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain.

Banff is one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations, known for its mountainous surroundings and hot springs. It is a destination for outdoor sports and features extensive hiking, biking, scrambling and skiing areas such as Sunshine Village, Ski Norquay and Lake Louise Mountain Resort, all within the national park.

Did you know, Banff was founded in 1883, by three Canadian Pacific railway workers, who discovered the natural hot springs now known as the Cave and Basin. This natural attraction soon resulted in the Federal Government setting aside this and surrounding land as a Federal Reserve named the Rocky Mountain Parks. The town on Banff was soon to follow, named after Banffshire in Scotland, the birthplace of two Canadian Pacific Railway Directors. Quickly recognizing the tourism potential of Banff, Canadian Pacific built the Banff Springs Hotel. While the hotel was originally planned to service guests as a stopover while traveling across the country, it soon became a destination on its own and still is today.

There are plenty of great places to stay and eat while in Banff and at multiple different price points. We stayed at the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa. It was my first time staying here, but I was quite satisfied. The rooms were all recently redone, the hotel had a pool and spa area, onsite restaurant (The Keg) and a mini fridge in the room to keep our beer and wine cold for an après ski drink! It’s also about 5 mins away from the main strip (Banff Ave), which I prefer because it keeps the noise levels down. All in all, I would definitely stay here again.

The food highlights for me were The Maple Leaf Grill & Lounge and Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon, both on Banff Ave. We ate at the Maple Leaf on the Saturday night of our trip. It was St. Patrick’s Day and I had been hoping to go to the Irish Pub but it was just packed and we were both really hungry, after a full day on the hill. The Maple Leaf has a great atmosphere. It’s got stereotypical Canadian decor (think stuffed beavers and geese and wood) but the overall vibe is cozy and romantic. We sat in big cushiony chairs tucked in the corner of the room, with a wool Hudson’s Bay Company blanket covering the bottom half of the window for both privacy and warmth. To eat we had the Pan Fried Gnocchi and AAA Beef Tenderloin (both very good), followed by the Chocolate Soufflé for dessert (fantastic).

We ate at Wild Bill’s for our first lunch in town, after our drive in from Edmonton. I believe this place is a bar at night and a restaurant during the day. It has a very good central location, located on the second floor of the building so you have a nice view from the window as well. The service left something to be desired, however, the food was awesome. We had the Bison Burger and the Ranch-Style Turkey, which is a sandwich with turkey, lots of gravy and a little bit of sour cream….it was so, so good. You definitely get your bang-for-your-buck pub food here.

The main reason we went to Banff was to go snowboarding. We chose to go to Lake Louise to board because you can buy lift tickets from Costco and they are much cheaper. The hill is great. It has 4200 skiable acres, making it one of the largest ski areas in North America. There are tons of lifts and over 139 marked runs, plus the back bowls. So, as long as you avoid the main area, off of the first lift, you can generally board without people getting in your way. We couldn’t have asked for better weather when we went. It was probably about zero degrees and it snowed all day long. The only time I was ever cold was on the chair lift. The hill had tons of powder. At one point, at the top of the mountain it was a total white out. You couldn’t tell what was sky and what was mountain. It was actually a little freaky since I couldn’t tell where the run was, I was terrified of going off of a cliff! A great day though. I hadn’t been snowboarding in two years, just been too busy, I’m very glad I made it out this year though. This was a great weekend.

Friday Roundup

Happy Friday guys. I’m on my way to Banff, Alberta bright and early today. I can’t wait to get in a full weekend of mountain fun. I’ll try to get my photos up quick and dedicate my Travel Tuesday post to a recap of my mini-trip! Hope you all have exciting plans too, in the meantime here is the latest and greatest from Pinterest:

Pretty and calming bedroom:

A forever true quote by Oscar Wilde:

Awesome summer outfit:

Best brunch idea (a mimosa bar!!):

Favourite photo:

It’s time to get with the times … International Women’s Day 2012

Happy International Women’s Day everyone! I’m seeing lots of love for the ladies on my Twitter feed today. It’s great to see everyone recognizing the many contributions women make in their homes, their communities, their careers and the world in general.

International Women’s Day is recognized by citizens around the world to celebrate past progress towards equality for women, reflect on the challenges women continue to face and consider what action we can take in the future to ensure girls and women achieve equality in all aspects of their lives.

While women have made great strides in today’s world from where we were in the 1950’s, we still face challenges in many parts of our lives. This is why we must continue to take action on women’s issues.

From working to prevent family violence, to promoting women’s education in non-traditional careers, to ensuring pay equality, to mother’s rights in the workplace Alberta, Canada and the world still have great strides to make.

Alberta’s Famous Five ,Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards paved the way for women’s rights. They did not let adversity or circumstances deter them from fighting for equality. We need to continue this pursuit of equality, because let’s face it. Anything men can do, women can do too.

It’s disheartening to see issues such as pay inequality and mothers rights in the workforce still in the news. Regardless of how I feel about it though it’s still happened. Today the Edmonton Journal published an article reporting that in Alberta, disparity in pay equity shows women working full-time in the province earn 68 per cent as much as men. 68 per cent!!That means that despite the fact that I worked my ass off in university, and had a higher GPA than my male counterparts, they will still make 32 per cent more than me. We need to fix this ladies!

Also in the recent past, two women (here and here) who work in politics were chastised by another party member for bringing their still breastfeeding infants to a  meeting/vote. In this day and age, when little boys and little girls alike are being told that when they grow up they can do anything, and be anything they want to be, why are we still limiting women to a choice between career and family? We can do both and we can do it well. Until the day comes that men can push a baby out, women are going to be left with that job. So it’s about time that people just get over it, realize that women are fully capable of juggling both work and career, and get over their fear of breastfeeding in public. It’s just a boob guys, it won’t bite!