Over the next week or so, I’ll be sharing a series of posts from my time in Alberta. I admit I have a bit of a sexy love affair with the province –- if I were going to live anywhere else in Canada, it’d be here. (Even if Montreal is my favourite city…working in Alberta would just be so damned good.)
I also have newfound respect for Albertans after watching everyone pull together during the floods. People are wonderful and although it really, really sucks, disaster can bring out the best in us. Weird how that works.
Unfortunately I know a few people who cancelled their travel plans after all the chaos. But Alberta is pretty strong. Like, crazy stupid strong. So while you were cancelling your travel plans, Albertans were busy restoring their roads and buildings and homes as quickly as possible.
For my birthday, a handful of my friends and I headed out of town to escape the Stampede madness, and set our sights to Banff. And it occurred to me that I never wrote about the actual town of Banff before, only briefly. I’ve been through the area about four times. Of course it’s the Rockies that bring us here, but Banff itself is one of those places where I can see myself living very happily for a stint.
1. Food, food, food
Seeing as how it was MY birthday, I subjected everyone to my demands and the first place we hit up was The Eddie. The burgers here are monsters, and it was the first place I ever tried an elk burger (surprisingly delicious). They also have bison and moose, and of course Alberta beef. I’m not much of a meat eater but I will eat Alberta beef until the cows come home (ba-dum-TISH).
This time I tried the PB&J burger. Seriously. Look at this beast.
They also have something called The Trashcan — a massive beer mug containing 2 ounces of vodka, gin, rum and triple sec, 1 ounce of Blue Curacao, lime juice, and a full can of Red Bull. The can and all.
Other restaurants where I’ve dined and enjoyed:
Elk and Oarsman Pub + Grill – A swanky, cabin-like restaurant that does steak particularly awesomely. (Holy crap, “awesomely” is a word?)
The Grizzly House – For “lovers and hedonists”, the menu revolves around fondues and hot rock selections, including RATTLESNAKE.
Sushi House Banff – A model TRAIN surrounds the bar where the chef prepares his food, and you can pick items straight off the locomotive as it chugs by. If you’re like me and people taking food away from you is a high-stress situation, you’ll need a beer first.
The Bison – All I’ve got to say is BEER AND GOAT CHEESE RAVIOLI.
There are also a crapload of coffee shops and cafes for your perusal, Shakes Café being one of my faves.
2. MOST OF THE STREETS ARE NAMED AFTER ANIMALS
“Why, it’s on Lynx Street…at the end of Wolf.”
3. Banff Ave. Brewing
I make a point of stopping at Banff Ave. Brewing Co. every time I’m in town, because it’s one of my faves. The novelty might have something to do with it: I was told you can’t get this beer anywhere else, because it’s on national park property. I love the Blonde Ale and the Cream Ale equally.
Other than the beer, I visit because the staff is always exceptional with their service. Also, they have Donald Trump Poutine.
4. The nightlife
Banff is a busy little town, and with a massive influx of Australian and Kiwi travellers, there’s always a party. Every. Single. Night.
Everything’s within walking distance, so you can even organize your own pubcrawl. Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub is a good place to start, with a weird mix of characters (I was once propositioned by a group of swingers). I also like St. James’ Gate Olde Irish Pub.
But finally, The Dancing Sasquatch nightclub never gets old for wrapping up the end of the evening. Plus sometimes the sasquatch literally dances outside.
5. You’ll never be bored here. Not in one million years.
Every time I’m here, the options are overwhelming. I’ll never, ever get sick of the Rockies, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. On my latest trip, I visited Johnston Canyon…a place I never knew existed.
In four years, I’ve:
Cruised Lake Minnewanka
Sat in a gondola and cried my way up Sulphur Mountain
Visited Lake Louise SEVERAL TIMES
Visited Moraine Lake
Checked out some HooDoos
Took photos at the Bow Glacier
Hiked Johnston Canyon
Whitewater rafted on the Kicking Horse Canyon (from BC)
And I’ve barely scratched the surface. I haven’t hiked my way to the teahouse at Lake Louise, participated in any overnight camping trips, nor hit any trails by horseback. Ye gawds, I need more time. Always.
My friends Pete and Dalene recently created an excellent resource for travelling around Alberta called Road Trip Alberta. They know their stuff!
If you’re travelling Banff and have any questions, hit me up.I want to share all the love with you.