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16 August

Up for a leisurely breakfast in the hotel. This was Beryl and Amy's first experience of transatlantic breakfasts. I can't get used to their combination of savoury and sweet items on the same plate. Still it was reasonably cheap and fulfilling and we caught the shuttle back to the airport to pick up the hire car.

This meant a bit of waiting and I was feeling that our holiday hadn't really started even though we were well over 24 hours into it. This soon departed when we got the car keys. We'd hired a mid-range Cavalier. What we got seemed about the size of aircraft carrier (especially from behind the wheel) and gloried in the name of Chevrolet Malibu; what incredible poser value!! It was still nerve-racking driving it out of the airport and through Calgary even though we'd picked a route which only meant one turn virtually all the way to Banff.

The driving became easier as we left town and I became more used to the size of the car. It took a couple of hours to get to Banff and it is relaxing dual carriageway for most of the way. The road follows the Bow Valley and we were soon getting the feel of the mountains around us. The only stop en route was at the entrance to the National Park. There is a fairly hefty toll (35) for an annual pass; the breakeven point between paying per day and buying one of these comes if you are staying for about 8 days. Looking back I don't think it is a bad price; there are all sorts of free interpretational sites and parking is free throughout the park; last year we were paying 4 a day just to park in Devon.

On arriving in Banff we checked into the apartment (Tunnel Mountain Chalets - see logo) and then had a quick look around town, getting some ideas for what to do. We then went for a walk on the Hoodoos Trail which follows the Bow River and is very pretty. We got our first view of Mount Rundle which dominates the town; the twisting strata of it's rocks are incredible.

The route back was slightly less interesting mainly following the road round Tunnel Mountain (this is a continuation of Mount Rundle which has been cut off by the Bow River). We did stop in Banff Centre which seemed to be an adult education college. I had a look round their modern art gallery which had some super works.

We went back into town for our evening meal. We ate at Earls which we later discovered is a chain. The food was very good and the atmosphere lively. The mashed potato was very interesting. I tried a brew which described itself as an English bitter; it almost succeeded having just a hint of lager about it. The name? Albino Rhino!

We took in the tourist bric-a-brac in the shops until it got dark and retired. The local time is 7 hours being BST so it wasn't surprising that we were going to bed fairly early.




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