The Gatwick blogger.
The best of Canada and Alaska.
One Sunny afternoon in July we boarded a very cramped plane to Calgary. On arrival and waiting for our rep to collect all her charges there was quite a lot of banter going around. It looked promising for some fun as we were going to be spending a lot of time together. Our fellow travellers were ready for a good trip.
Downtown to our hotel and straight out to the show ground to see what was going on.
It was the world’s greatest outdoor show, the Calgary stampede. Amazing feats of bravery in the main arena. Cowboys by the dozen, showing their skills. Riding cattle that were not too keen on the idea, driving wagon trains, trying to break in horses. It was all an exciting spectacle.
We returned the next day and saw my favourite, the Shire horses. It must have been hours of work to get them to look so smart. They were from different parts of the world. There was one English breed there, but did not feature in the rosette giving. They were pulling purpose made wagons with beautiful livery.
The food court was something else. Turkey legs that looked like they were from elephants. Very large ribs, enormous bowls of fries and corn dogs (battered and fried corn on the cob).
In addition, there were fun fair rides, side shows, farm animal displays and strange looking equipment. It was necessary to buy a cowboy hat.
The time came to leave Calgary and go with our guide on a coach into the Rockies. After an overnight stay in Banff, a Rocky Mountain town. The next day we boarded the rocky mountaineer train, and took up our seats in gold class (well worth the extra). We set off after all receiving our instructions about meals, drinks etc. There was an outside viewing platform on the train which was where all the photographers compared notes. The experience was like flying first class with lots of space. We were upstairs in the glass roofed train which gave excellent views of our beautiful surroundings. The front of the train was a long way from where we were!
We passed lakes the size of Wales, waterfalls and beautiful vistas. Our meals and drinks surpassed our expectations, as did the jokes that were passed between us travellers.
The staff on the train were determined we had a good time and provide a great experience for us all. At the end of our first day in the Rockies, our overnight stay was in Kamloops, an old frontier town. Quite ragged around the edges, but had the facilities we needed, bars and restaurants. The hotel greeted us like royalty!
Next morning we were back on board and continued our journey through varied vistas. There were desert scenes, farmland. As we neared Vancouver, we were back in urban environments. The station was the size of a town in itself. Acres of sidings, and railway equipment. Off to our hotel, a high rise downtown. We had a fabulous meal there the first night, a tasty duck with a plum sauce.
Vancouver delivered as an excellent cosmopolitan city, vibrant and buzzing . We went to the fish harbour that was full of shanty buildings and interesting shops and eateries. A lunch of calamari with a lovely aioli washed down with a local beer and with great views of the water. There was a trip up into the hills behind the city giving us fantastic views of the harbour and the frequently taking off and landing seaplanes. There was plenty of history to keep our interest.
The last part of our trip was looming. We were taken down to the docks and onto our cruise ship, the Celebrity Infinity and on boarding, straight to the martini bar. What fun! Tom Cruise look alikes throwing cocktail shakers around and pouring multi drinks in perfect form.
Settled in our cabin we took in the programme. What to do and see at all of our ports of call.
We were not sure how the food and service were going to be but we were in for a fantastic treat. The eggs Benedict, delicious with strips of crispy bacon, yum. Fantastic seafood in the evening, lobster tails, crab and prawns. It was good to bump into our fellow travellers as we moved around the ship. Never made it to the quizzes and competitions. We seemed to keep being drawn to the Martini bar. I was making a mission to try all the different gins and cocktail combinations. The bartenders made it all look so spectacular.
Our first stop was a tiny fishing port named Icy Strait Point. We were going on a trip, first to see whales and then on our return ashore to see Grizzly bears. There were a lot of whales spotted but from a distance. When we reached shore again, we were taken in an old American school bus through the village and out into the country. We pulled in and set off through the undergrowth. Felt like a rain forest as it dripped on us from all the foliage above us. Some areas were quite swampy. Eventually we got to the river where there were viewing platforms. It took until the last one and we saw two Grizzly’s. The photograph is of the youngest one who was resting before being chased by the older, much larger and angrier grizzly bear.
Suddenly being soaking wet did not matter!
Next stop was an old mining town named Ketchikan. The gold rush had left its legacy as we made for the saloon bar as we could hear the music. An old timer was belting out the numbers and taking the Mickey out of all the differing nationalities.
Lunch in an outside tented bar. You placed your order. Many kinds of fish and chowder. They shouted when it was ready. Cod and chips Hong Kong. Chowder Florida. Scampi for Scotland. Of course a talking point. Long tables where you could pass the marmalade!
Then on to Juneau. Here we decided to go for bust and tick off something on the bucket list. A seaplane ride. A private one with four of our fellow travellers. The seaplane was an old de Havilland built in 1951, a good year. Amazing sensation when the floats lifted from the fiord and we were soaring over the peaks. We touched down for a picnic on a pontoon built for that purpose. The photograph is of yours truly on that pontoon!
The last night on the ship was looming. We went to the gaming tables for some fun. The captain graced us with his presence during which he lost a few dollars in the process.
So, too soon we were back in Vancouver and off to the airport. Saying goodbye to all back at Gatwick. A brilliant holiday and I don’t think I even mentioned the weather!