Welcome to another episode of Call Me Ajala- COVID Edition. I will be taking you on my trip to Banff for the day!
Sometime in summer when movement restrictions within the city were eased, three friends and I went to Banff. It was my friend’s birthday and her sister came to surprise her with the trip. it was really sweet, plus she covered all the expenses for the day. Alberta had just put the mandatory indoor public mask use in place, so we had to remember to bring those along to Banff and wear them.
The day started pretty early, and after about a two hour drive from Calgary, we got to Banff and located a parking facility close to the town. A lot of the shops did not open till about 10-11am, so we did a little walking tour around town to locate gift shops, look for exact change and proceeded towards the bus stop for the bus to take us from the city to the Gondola ride. The Gondola ride is a cable car ride to the top of a mountain at about 2,281m. To go on the Gondola, you have to book ahead for a timeslot to board. The ride is also paid for before coming as well. So we boarded the bus from town to the Gondola ride parking lot and were directed on how to join the line for the ride.
The gondola is really an experience, especially being up that high. Truthfully, when I got in to the cable car and it began to ascend, my life flashed like twice before my eyes. To keep your mind at rest, try not to look straight down because the height difference will shock you. The fact that I also thought it was only wire that was holding the car from falling was another thing giving me heart palpitations. There were even portions of the ride that the car will go a little faster and I felt as if it had lost control and was sliding off on its own. The view though- oh my God the view- is amazing. Being up high but still close enough to see features and make out what they are is really an experience. The water, the buildings, the mountains and the trees- sights to behold. The ride took about 20 minutes for us to get to the end on a mountain.
The mountain we stopped at is known as Sulphur mountain and when you get to the top, you have the opportunity to go on the Sky walk to an even higher elevation. At the top of this other elevation are the remains of a meteorological station that is no longer located there. Sulphur mountain is part of a range of mountains which include Cascade mountain and Rundle mountain that you can see from literally anywhere in Banff, but you are closest to them on the skywalk and the observation decks. Anyway, so we stopped at the welcome centre on Sulphur mountain, and from there we were guided to either go sightseeing, go on the skywalk or go for food in one of the numerous food places there. There are about three or more restaurants at the top of the mountain and you have to make reservations before coming. From the restaurants you also get amazing views.
We had a lunch reservation by 12pm at Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen– there is an option to go for their set lunch menu for the day and that was what had been booked. While seated at the table in the restaurant we could take off our masks because obviously you need to eat. The food was a highlight. For the first course which was the chef’s soup and a roll, I was really apprehensive about it because anything that says soup outside Nigeria, I usually avoid it. This particular one however exceeded my expectations. The spices, the consistency, everything. And then the bread roll that came with it was warm, fresh, soft and just very airy inside. By the time I was done with that I was a little full, but we move. The main course was among three options so I chose the juniper & coriander braised Alberta brisket with edamame rice. The way food is named in all these restaurants is worthy of note. Basically what I ate was rice, meat with edamame beans sprinkled on it, but market must sell.
The food was a hit back to back though. From the rice to the sauce to the meat, nothing was a miss. I was replete by the time we were done eating. After resting for a few minutes, we decided to go on the skywalk to walk off some of the food we just ate. There were a few resting spots on the walk, as well as signs telling us the stories behind the mountain ranges and several stops and as we got higher in altitude, the air got thinner. We also went to the viewing deck at the top and from here you the view was even more spectacular. By this time more tourists had saturated the place and so everywhere was pretty full. Eventually we had to return to the gondola for our ride back down (which you book just like you book the ride up). On the way down shortly after boarding, they took our pictures and we had the choice of purchasing the pictures in the giftshop. As you are exiting the area, you have to pass through the gift shop which i think is an amazing marketing strategy.
We ended the trip with a walk down the river, and then walked back to the parking facility and drove back home. I really enjoyed Banff and I plan to return to soak in more of the natural goodness that emanates from there. Definitely a must-visit in Alberta, in all its hilly glory.
Till the next post,
Stay safe, bye!