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Enchanted By Cool Canada

Explore the Butchart Gardens in Victoria

Posted by on 13 Nov 2019 , in North America

When you mention travelling to Canada during the winter months, most people just think skiing, but Western Canada has so much more up its sleeves.

Having just returned from my first trip to Canada, I began with the thought of spending 10 days in a 0-degree weather, and I had to ask myself what I thought I was doing. But to travel there at this time of year, particularly during the Christmas season, just shows how much Canada has to offer - there are many more things to see and experience.

Our journey started in Victoria - this is a city where popular destinations like the Victoria Public Markets, Chinatown, Government Street, and the Royal BC Museum can easily be travelled to by foot. If you wonder a little bit further, you’ll be greeted by the cinematic Craigdarroch Castle and the gorgeous architectural structure of the National Legislative Building and Fairmont Empress. During the month of December, you’ll catch the Butchart Gardens coming alive as a Christmas wonderland with an amazing light display leading up to the 12 days of Christmas.

A great way to make the trip back to Vancouver is by sea plane - a quick 14-minute flight and you will arrive right at the centre of the city.

Once in Vancouver, you can immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit with the holiday markets at Canada Place during sundown or the VanDusen Botanical Garden for more festive displays of Christmas lights. Venture out of the city centre to experience the unspoiled beauty of Grouse Mountain with many available activities like snowshoeing, ice skating, and hiking; skiing and snowboarding are also within a 15-minute drive from the city. On your way back, stop off at the Capilano Suspension Bridge where you can test your head for heights, as well as admire the beauty of nature on the Treetops Adventure or the Cliffwalk. Here, you can learn about the native landscape of the area and be rewarded with a breathtaking sunset at the end of the day.

Making our way to the Canadian Rockies, we experienced the Snow Train on Via Rail where we were able to enjoy the scenic view of the panoramic path.

Once in Jasper, there is a variety of activities to do - from snowshoeing to a relaxing stroll through the gorge. Everything can be arranged prior travelling, so you can be provided with the proper equipment and carry on with your activities without a hitch. For a more low-key experience, you can indulge the foodie within and visit a local brewery for a pint or look for a local restaurant to try the local Elk meat.

When making your way to Lake Louise, there is a little hidden gem called Emerald Lake Lodge where the winter months transform the lake's waters to a sparkling surface of ice. The property itself is a delightful experience with the main lodge being over 100 years old and the owner decorating its interior for an atmosphere more fitting for the holiday season. The rooms all have fireplaces, a cosy spot for moments when you want to just sit and relax. The dining experience is exceptional as well, with a lot of the produce coming from their farms - from Elk to Bison, as well as jams and spreads, all of which you can purchase to bring home with you.

A short drive from Lake Louise and more adventures await you. No trip is complete without a visit to Fairmont Lake Louise - a place most popular for their bar on the lake and the picture-perfect ice castle standing at the centre. Many people come to ice skate, ride a horse-drawn sleigh ride or dogsleds, and explore the cross-country ski trails. For another adventure, you can take the Gondola to the top of Lake Louise Ski resort for a stunning vista of the area.

Continue to Johnston Gorge where there are two trails that will take you through frozen waterfalls and rivers. If you’re lucky, you might spot the local red fox leaving tracks in the snow.

Once in Banff, almost everything is walking distance from the centre of town or you can take a quick $2 bus ride to wherever you want to go. Visit the hot springs to rejuvenate yourself or wander down the main street where you might find little souvenirs to take back home with you.

The food of the region was amazing - I never had a bad meal. It was a delight to see that wherever we went the locals planned their menu according the season’s produce. The great-tasting wine from BC and local gins also added to the amazing food experience we had. No matter what time of the year you visit, it’s a foodie’s delight.

Despite the temperature readings on the thermometer, a good amount of layering and proper outfit planning allowed us to go through our entire itinerary without missing a beat. Besides, everything is prettier with snow!

• Kelly M, Sales Manager

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