Author Topic: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)  (Read 15154 times)

Offline Ergel

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4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« on: July 02, 2015, 04:40:23 PM »
Planning: My wife has been hesitant to leave our kids in recent years and as such we have not gone away alone since visiting Vancouver in 2013. However, she agreed to go away in honor of my 30th birthday (hence the 4 for 30 - 4 days for my 30th birthday).
I don't have that many vacation days from work so I decided to plan the trip around the Canada day (July 1) and take off two days to make it a long weekend. My first thought was to go to the Maldives. However, that is not a feasible trip for Sunday to Wednesday as you lose all of Sunday and most of Monday flying east. I couldn't do it Tuesday night to Sunday either as Sunday is shiva asar b'tamuz. In order for this trip to work, I need to fly west. It was pretty easy to decide on the Canadian Rockies.

Flights: I booked a Sunday morning AC flight in J into Edmonton and returning in Y Wednesday night.

Hotels We would spend the Sunday night in Jasper and two nights in Lake Louise.
For Sunday we were originally booked in the Whistler's Inn for $228 CAD. The Thursday before the trip (the last day to cancel my reservation) I checked the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and it was selling for $208 CAD (down from $400+ a month prior). I canceled my reservation at the Whistler's Inn and booked the Fairmont.
I opened up a Chase Fairmont card and received two free nights, booking in the Fairmont Lake Louise.

Car: Reserved a full size car from Hertz one way rental. Was $350. (I tried to use Hertz points that I had purchased from Daily Getaways but despite the fact that those dates were not on the blackout list on the Hertz site, they were charging me double the points and therefore it was not worth it to use the points).
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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2015, 05:33:20 PM »
Sunday: We had an uneventful flight out to Edmonton (other than leaving at 7:08 for an 8 AM flight, had plenty of time to spare). Service was disappointing, even by domestic J standards. Barely offered to give us drinks, etc. Unfortunately, our kosher food did make it on the plane (although it was actually kind of edible).
Arrived on time into Edmonton and quickly rented a car.

West Edmonton Mall: The only thing to do in Edmonton is the mall. It is one of the largest malls in the world and it is unbelievable. Between the water park, amusement park (with two roller coaster, one of which is really intense), 2 mini golf courses, sea lion, boats, casino, largest bingo hall I've ever seen, hotel, etc. you could spend a few days there. We spent an hour walking around marveling at the place. We met friends for lunch at Cafe Levi, a small cafe in the mall. I had the fish and chips which were OK. Wife had penne which was also OK. Nothing to write home about, but nice to have a kosher option in a city with such a small Jewish population.

The drive over to Jasper took around 3 hours. It's a very boring drive. Two lane highway (in each direction) until the last 75 KM when it is just one lane in each direction.
Admission into the park is $19.70/day for 2-7 people. We were only charged for three days, which I assume is because the fourth day was Canada Day.

Maligne Canyon: We hiked from first bridge at Maligne Canyon down into the canyon. We turned around before the climb to fifth bridge. It is really a beautiful hike. The hike back up is pretty strenuous. We hiked for about 1.5 hours. Definitely recommended.

Jasper Park Lodge: We then checked in to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. We were upgraded to a deluxe room in the main lodge. The view was unbelievable. However, the hotel leaves what to be desired. The service in the hotel is really not polished. Plus, there were dirty dishes from room service in the hall for most of our stay. The vibe of the whole place is that of a camp (although the rooms are OK).
The most disappointing part is the lack of air conditioning. They do have a ceiling fan as well as fans you used to bring to camp. Apparently most of the time it's not that hot in Jasper, but the night we were there it was extremely warm. It is a really old building and that's why they don't have AC. Not sure why they can't have portable units like they do in Lake Louise.
We then went to a nearby lake to BBQ for dinner and called it a night.

Pics to follow.
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Offline tzifanya54

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2015, 12:34:30 AM »
Are there any other kosher establishments in Edmonton, other then the cafe? Is it a viable shabbos option?

Offline sam28

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2015, 05:19:37 AM »
Nice report so far keep it coming with pictures please .

Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2015, 03:34:14 PM »
Are there any other kosher establishments in Edmonton, other then the cafe? Is it a viable shabbos option?
No. They apparently have some kosher options in the grocery store (groceries, not prepared food), but it's very expensive.

It is a very small community and I'm sure they have shabbos hospitality if that's what you are looking for
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Offline elit

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2015, 03:40:56 PM »
No. They apparently have some kosher options in the grocery store (groceries, not prepared food), but it's very expensive.

It is a very small community and I'm sure they have shabbos hospitality if that's what you are looking for
I heard (don't know of its true) that the Garmizians maintain that restaurant at a loss so the community has something

Offline Dan

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2015, 03:42:40 PM »
Unfortunately, our kosher food did make it on the plane
Alol
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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2015, 04:36:07 PM »
I heard (don't know of its true) that the Garmizians maintain that restaurant at a loss so the community has something
That is correct
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Offline benjie1305

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2015, 08:01:31 PM »
Nice. Short. Sweet! Hope u don't have to wait until the 40th to go away on your own again.
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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2015, 10:34:02 AM »
Maligne Canyon




















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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2015, 10:35:46 AM »
View from Jasper Park Lodge Room
I didn't take pictures when we arrived, only the following morning when it was rainy and gloomy. They don't do justice to the view in the in the sun





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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2015, 01:25:32 PM »
Monday: This was the one day of really bad weather. Fortunately, most of the activities we had planned for the day were short walks to lookouts rather than extensive hikes. We had planned to check out some of the facilities at the hotel (boating, shuffleboard, etc. - it really is like a camp) but nixed that due to the weather.

On our way out of Jasper we came across a cow elk. Cool to see it up close:







We stopped a couple of times to take pictures of the mountations:



Athabasca Falls: We then stopped at Athabasca Falls. Really a must stop. The falls are huge and powerful, and the surrounding area is pretty interesting too. You can walk down a path where the river used to flow and carved out a cool path in the rock.
We spent about a half hour here. The water looks dirty here in the summer. That is apparently due to silt in the water from the meltoff from the glaciers. Water should be clearer in other seasons.















Sunwapto Falls: The next stop on the Ice fields parkway is also a beautiful waterfall. Much less to do here other than the short 2 minute walk to the falls, take a picture and go. Same comment about the water as above.











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Offline AharonInIsrael

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2015, 03:12:31 AM »
Enjoying it! Thanks for writing it up and looking forward to the rest!

Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2015, 12:43:34 PM »
Correction. Last pic of the waterfall I marked as Sunwopta Falls are actually just a waterfall on the side of the road that we took pictures of.
The pictures below are of Sunwopta Falls: (These pics were taken with my phone as I did not want to get my camera wet)





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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2015, 12:57:47 PM »
Next up was the Glacier with Brewser tours. We bought in advance a package which included the glacier, the skywalk and the Banff Gondola. Total was $100/person.
When we arrived we needed to get a ticket with a specific boarding time for the glacier and the skywalk. We arrived at 1:20. The place was mobbed - however, there are two separate ticket counters, one right when you walk in, and another in the back near where the gift shop. The one in the front had a 45 minute line. The one in the back was maybe 10 minutes. We quickly had our "boarding passes" for the glacier for 2:15. We also got boarding passes for the Skywalk for right after that (at 3:45). With 45 minutes before our departure, we ate lunch in the car (on a nice day there tables outside to eat on, but the rain precluded us from using those).

Glacier Tour: The glacier tour starts with a 5-10 minute coach bus ride which takes you to a landing area which has these huge ice vehicles to take you onto the ice. After another short ride down one of the steepest official road in North America (I think he said it has a 32 grade). Bus driver talks to you on the way up and down giving information about the glacier and the vehicle you are driving in (there are 23 of them in the world - 22 are owned by Brewster for this tour and one is owned by the US government and used in Antarctica. They cost $1.3 million). You then have 20 minutes out on the ice and are returned to the main lodge. You can drink the water on the glacier. It is delicious and refreshing. A very cool and worthwhile experience.

Skywalk: I had originally thought that the skywalk was built over a glacier. This sounds like it would have been cool. However, it is really just built over the side of the highway. 2 years ago, you probably wouldn't have even pulled over to see the view at the side of the highway. Now they have made a whole attraction out of it. I have never seen a bigger tourist trap. It is a glass walkout over nothing. Worse than having wasted the ~$20 on it, was the time wasted we could have used to see other things.
I would definitely recommend skipping this and instead do a hike which our guide recommended - directly across from the Brewster building you can hike to the foot of the glacier. There is a road down to a parking lot. From there, he said it's a 15 minute hike on a paved path. Seemed pretty cool but we didn't have time for it.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 01:01:54 PM by Ergel »
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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2015, 01:01:20 PM »
Glacier:







Ice Vehicle:






Skywalk:








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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2015, 01:09:43 PM »
Random IceFields Parkway pics:















« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 01:15:07 PM by Ergel »
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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2015, 01:14:03 PM »
Peyto Lake: Our last stop was at Peyto Lake. There are two parking lots, one for buses and handicapped and a second for everyone else (with a 5 minute uphill walk to the lookout). Being that it was after 5 (and I figured, correctly, that the parking lot would be empty) and my wife is pregnant, I drove to the upper parking lot and parked there. A short 1 minute walk and we were at the lookout over Peyto Lake. It was insanely beautiful, and I'm sure it would look even better in nice weather. We were attacked by mosquitos, so we took a few pics and were on our way.







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Offline Dan

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2015, 01:16:36 PM »
B'Sha'a Tova :)
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Offline Ergel

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Re: 4 for 30: The Canadian Rockies (Ergel's TR)
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2015, 01:21:17 PM »
We then continued onto Lake Louise. We would be staying the next two nights in the Fairmont. It is a historic hotel, however, while the building was beautiful and the service much better than the Fairmont in Jasper, it still doesn't live up to the billing of a luxury hotel.
We were in a junior suite which was nice. Unfortunately, as they were fully committed for Canada Day week, I was unable to get a lakeview room (which was a real bummer). There was no AC in the room but on request (which I did at the checkin counter before even going up to the room) they put a portable AC into the room. This was fine and did not adversely effect our stay.
It is a huge hotel and therefore impossible to have any personal service. The service was not nearly as proactive as staying in the PH Paris or PH Zurich. It was a fine stay, but not an elite luxury hotel.
We checked in and checked out the lake and then we were off for dinner. We had another BBQ at a picnic area 5 minutes from the hotel.
We opted for self parking at the Fairmont for $30/day (crazy). There is a public parking lot next door. However, there are signs all over saying that you cannot park there overnight. Not sure if this is enforced or not, but we did not want to test it.
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