“So when are you headed to Banff again, Elena? Later this month? Excellent! You are most welcome to stay with us of course ..!” (In actual fact, we insist, Bill seems to add). This is my friend Bill and his beautiful family, who I’ve met during my wonderful stay on Vancouver Island in Tofino. They truly embody the very essence of the typical, Canadian soul I’ve felt and experienced all across the country so far: A most warm-hearted, welcoming spirit that has the capacity to move a traveller’s heart to the point of sheer emotional overflow.
I have become lost, my dear readers. Lost in the beauty of a place that has reached my heart, mind & soul in ways unimagined. That’s the Canadian Rockies & their outstanding community of people speaking.
As always, people are what make a place. Many of you, I imagine, will have heard about the “king of all road trips” in the Rockies, heading north or south between the two national park towns of Banff & Jasper. Heard about the masses of tourists that go there each year, the area’s stunning natural beauty. This time though, let me tell you about the human face behind one of Canada’s most popular travel destinations.
So what is truly local in a place like Banff that has just under 10.000 residents, but more than two million visitors each year? For me, it starts with a sense of community. No matter if it is the lady at the public pool, the Creative Arts Centre staff and their international conferences, festivals or arts retreats, the local restaurant owners or the Farmers’ market people we talk to: Banff has a lot going for itself, and this is reflected in the people that live and breathe to tell that story. How lucky for a curious, open-minded traveller therefore to be invited to “Banff’s backyard party”, staying at Bill & Fern Hodson’s family home in the town’s quieter, residential area …
Beyond Banff: Canmore, Minnewanka Loop & the Ink Pots at Johnston Canyon.
The magic of course does not stop in Banff itself. Many more attractions are offered within about a 20 kilometre radius of town. As my time on this visit has been limited, I opted for “going with the flow” and listened to what my friends & family would say: Care to join us for a visit to Canmore Farmers’ Market? Have you been to see the Inkpots yet? Let’s go for a drive around the lakes ..? Oh and Elena, you must go and speak to the people at the Banff Creative Arts Centre .. They will certainly be able to point you in the right direction.
In actual fact, let’s go there right now!
Next up, I shall spoil you to even more natural beauty, sharing my top picks of travel stops & glorious mountain scenery on what I deem to be “the most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth”: National Park Highway 93 on my road trip from Jasper to Banff & back.
For even more of that mountain glory in & around Banff, check out my entire photo gallery of my trip through the Canadian Rockies here:
I have also produced a travel video that highlights some of my travel adventures in Western Canada, all the way from Vancouver to the vast open plains east of the Rocky Mountains. A fascinating, funky take on what has truly been a life-changing journey. Enjoy with sound & smile 🙂
See you in Banff! 🙂