The World's Greatest
Captain Alistair Bear sails
Off the coast of Vancouver Island, Sept 99
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Alistair is back from the Maritimes
The Alistair Bear Awards
Now my dear fellow traveller what is your pleasure today?
Canada's West Coast, United States, New England, Britain,
Las Vegas, New York City, Canada's Maritimes
I have rated the getaways by bear paw prints. 5 prints is (to die for), 4 prints (worth more than 1 visit), 3 prints (You'll like it, you'll really like it!). No places are less than 3, otherwise they wouldn't be on this page.
So are you ready? Got your passport, camera, film, credit card, spare credit card, suitcase with wheels, travel diary and your address book? Okay we're off.................................................
--The Weekend Getaway--
Victoria|/Vancouver/ The Okanagan/Revelstoke
Yoho and Banff National Park
Calgary/Waterton/ Jasper/Quebec City
First Stop -Victoria, Canada (voted 8th best city in the world to visit)
Rating - 4 1/2 paw prints
Tulip Time/Butchart Gardens/ May 2001
(Oh beautiful for spacious skies....oops wrong anthem!)
Located off the West Coast of Canada, Victoria is the capital city of the province of British Columbia. You can fly there or drive there (except for the water bit between Vancouver and the Island, I suggest you take a ferry).
Things to do: The Parliament Building (free tour and walk around the back, it's nice back there), The Empress Hotel (just wander around), Miniature World (just behind the hotel), Whale Watching (seasonal), Harbour Tour (in the very silly Harbour Ferry Boats), Butchart Gardens, the Double Decker Bus Tour, Wax Museum, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Craigdarroch Castle and Oak Bay.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: The Royal British Columbia Museum, check out the Maritime Museum and the Tilikum (this 1802 indian canoe circumnavigated the globe in 1901). It's a great story and the book is available in the giftshop. I also booked a wonderful sailing adventure with the Great Northwestern Adventure Company. Alistair also loved Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse.
Take a walk along the Inner Harbour at night and treat yourself to some chocolate atRogers Chocolates, 913 Government Street, just a block from the Empress
Places to stay: Either go all out and stay at the Empress Hotel, The Olde England Inn, Oak Bay Beach Hotel , Clarion Hotel Grand Pacific, Days Inn, Crystal Court Motel, or the Helms Inn. Alistair stays at the Crystal Court or the Helms Inn because they are in the perfect location and very reasonable. A rental car is required if staying outside of the Inner Harbour area. Dollar and Budget Rental Cars are both friendly and reliable.
Places to eat: The Blethering Place - Tea Room & Restaurant (voted Residents Choice- Best of Victoria Awards), The Olde England Inn, or The Sticky Wicket. Good light lunch by the Maritime Museum called The Blue Carrot Cafe (Bastion Square). Also enjoyed the Rumrunner Pub in Sidney (not far from the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay in Sidney at 9881 Seaport Place).
* Victoria has a new bylaw which means there is no smoking in any restaurants/pubs.
Handy bathrooms- (yes bears can do it in the woods, you can't). Parliament Building and Empress Hotel.
Beautiful website on Salt Spring Island -CLICK HERE
Next Stop -Vancouver, Canada (ocean, mountains, cruise ships....what else is there?)
Rating - 3 1/2 prints.
Located on the West Coast of Canada on the shores of the Pacific. You can fly there, drive there, take a cruise ship there or even a train.
Things to do: Science World, Granville Island, Canada Place, Gastown, CN Imax Theatre, Kitsilano Beach & Vanier Park, Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC and the Vancouver Aquarium. Farther afield is the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, Capilano Suspension Bridge and English Bay.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Stanley Park and especially the walk around the park along the sea wall. Allow at least 4 hours for the walk and another 1/2 day for the Park.
Places to stay: I've had good luck with Bed and Breakfasts. I also spent a brilliant weekend at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver. The Hotel Georgia looks nice but I haven't stayed there and of course another wonderful CP hotel the Hotel Vancouver.
Places to eat: I've been told the Fish House in Stanley Park is excellent. However since childhood it's just not a trip to Vancouver without dining at the White Spot. In Gastown there's the Old Spaghetti Factory and we enjoyed the Steam Works Brewing Company also in Gastown.
Handy bathrooms- None I could readily find in Gastown. Certainly all the major tourist attractions have them, malls and restaurants.
Next Stop -Okanagan, BC (It's Canada's own Italian Riveria. We have wineries, vineyards, apple orchards and beautiful lakes).
Rating- 5 paw prints
Located 4 hours East of Vancouver or 7.5 hours West of Calgary in the province of British Columbia. You can fly into the city of Kelowna but you'll need a car.
Things to do: Winetasting, visiting the many wineries, more winetasting, water sports, the Dominion Radio Observatory (think Contact - the film starring Jodie Foster), the SS Sicamous and did I mention winetasting? Here's a little list of winery websites in the area. Oh yeah....lots of golfing too.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: (Kelowna) take a walk around the Okanagan Resort Hotel, beautiful views of Lake Okanagan (some 73 miles in length). Lake Okanagan is also home to the Ogopogo, perhaps a distant relative of Nessie the Lock Ness Monster? On your way out of town stop at Mission Hill for a tour and some winetasting. The other winery I recommend is Quails Gate located just minutes from Mission Hill. Take the drive from Penticton to Naramata just for the scenery.
Places to stay: (Kelowna) The Grand Okanagan Resort, any number of great B&B's and my favourite in Naramata (about 45 minutes south to Penticton and then 10 minutes north east in Naramata the Sandy Beach Resort. Call the Sandy Beach Resort as they don't tend to respond to e-mail.
Places to eat: (Kelowna) the Impeccable Pig (it's kinda fun, real casual), or the Cheesecake Cafe . (Naramata) The Camp Creek Station Neighbourhood Pub, (Okanagan Falls) The Okanagan Falls Hotel and Pub, (Kaleden) 1912 Restuarant.
Handy bathrooms- Certainly not readily available in the wineries. You'll have to stick with hotels and restaurants. Public restrooms in Kelowna at the City Park. Also strangely enough two restrooms at the Dominion Radio Observatory. In Penticton there is a washroom aboard the SS Sicamous and behind the giant peach on the beach.
Next Stop -Revelstoke, B.C. and environs (I've always wanted to say "environs". I think it means stuff kinda nearby).
Rating- 3 paw prints
Things to do:Canyon Hot Springs (about 30 minutes east on the Trans Canada), Mount Revelstoke National Park (lotsa trails and purdy scenery), The Enchanted Forest (for kids and us bears-located about 20 minutes west of Revelstoke on your left hand side), Revelstoke Railway Museum.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so:Revelstoke Dam (it's a good long tour and well worth the effort), 3 Valley Gap (especially the ghost town), the Last Spike (closer to Sicamous just off the Trans Canada well sign posted also called Craigellachie) and D-Dutchman Dairy (where everyone whose anyone stops for ice-cream). The dairy is just east of Sicamous look on your left if you are driving towards Vancover.
Places to stay:Monashee Motel, 3 Valley Gap, Best Western"Wayside Inn", Frontier Motel 1-800-382-7763 (it's cheap and silly but I like it), good breakfasts in the restaurant and you get a breakfast voucher if you stay here, Canyon Hot Springs, or Four Seasons Manor B&B (1-877-837-2616) on 815 MacKenzie Ave
Places to eat:Frontier Restaurant, Black Forest Restaurant (5-10 minutes west on the Trans Canada).
Handy bathrooms:The usual spots including tourist attractions, restaurants and gas stations. Also washrooms at D- Dutchman Dairy.
Next Stop -Yoho and Banff National Park (Includes Lake Louise)
Rating- 5 paw prints
Yohois located approximately two hours from Calgary (your closest airport) and is just inside the BC border.
Things to do: The magnificent Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls (higher than Niagara), Lake O'Hara and the Burgess Shale.
Banff National Parkis located approximately one hour from Calgary (by car, much longer by foot)
Things to do: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Sulphur Mountain Gondola in Banff, Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs (Banff), The Cave and Basin (Banff), Luxton Museum in Banff(can you find the Merman in the gift shop next door?) , The Whyte Museum, The Banff Springs Hotel (sorry they are renovating but it's still nice), and the Banff Administration Office Gardens.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so:
Emerald Lake - Stop for a pitcher of Rum Punch at Cilantros
(Alistair votes this as the best Rum Punch in the entire world)
Takakkaw Falls - Walk up to the falls and get a good soaking
Lake Louise - Take a stroll along the lake and maybe if you feel energetic hike up to the Little Beahive where they have a little coffee shop.
Banff - Stop at "MOOS" on mainstreet and have an ice-cream in a waffle cone. The waffle cone is made "while you wait". Yup it's fresh and still warm from the waffle iron (Yummy)
Places to eat: Cilantros at Emerald Lake, the Lake Louise Station (you can dine in a railway car) at Lake Louise, and in Banff why not try Melissa's or Ticino Swiss-Italian Restaurant. Very high end food but really good go to the Maple Leaf Grill on Banff Ave at Caribou. It's in the King Edward Hotel building.
Places to stay: Don't cheap out. This is the time to spend the money for accommodation. In Yoho stay either at Emerald Lake Lodge (very, very pricey) or Cathedral Mountain Chalets (very pricey). In Lake Louise treat yourself and stay at the Chateau Lake Louise or thePost Hotel. In Banff why not a night at the Banff Springs Hotel (beware of ghosts). Other good ,but lower priced hotels in Banff, include the High Country Inn and the Banff Caribou Lodge (both good value). Alistair's favorite place though is the Blue Mountain Lodge. Very European, quaint, friendly, and well located. For a family or group of 4 or more I really enjoy the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort.
Handy bathrooms: Public restrooms at Emerald Lake, in the Chateau at Lake Louise, public restrooms in the park next to the bridge in Banff.
Next Stop - Calgary
Rating - 4 1/2 paw prints
Calgary- Alistair's Hometown. It has a big international airport so you can start here, hire a car and hit the other hot spots. I have asked my good friend Cody to do a little Calgary website for you. Now remember I live here so I haven't stayed in these hotels. Still they come recommended or they are very well located.
The Palliser Hotel
Sheraton Suites Calgary
The Westin Calgary
(Cody's Calgary Website)(Day Trips from Calgary)
Next Stop -Waterton Park (home of the world's best strawberry daquiri). It's just 3 hours south of Calgary and yup, you'll need your car again.
Rating- 4 1/2 paw prints
Things to do: Take a cruise down the lake to Goathaunt Montana, have a drink in the Prince of Wales Hotel, drive up to Red Rock Canyon and look for bears, visit Cameron Falls (in the town).
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Drive up to Cameron Lake and rent a canoe. Paddle like mad across the lake and back (helps if you have a good looking man or woman with you to do the paddling). Afterwards head back to Waterton to the Kilmorey Lodge. Go to the gazebo or the restaurants outdoor patio and order up yourself a strawberry daquiri.
Places to stay: Kilmorey Lodge
Places to eat: Did I say Kilmorey Lodge yet? This is also the home of the "BEST" hot chocolate (with peppermint schnapps) and strawberry daquiries in the world.
Handy bathrooms: At your hotel room (Waterton ain't that big), Cameron Lake and the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Next Stop -Jasper, Alberta (Did someone say white water rafting?)
Rating- 4 1/2 paw prints
Things to Do: Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Maligne Canyon, Pyramid Lake, Jasper Park Lodge and Miette Hot Springs.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Go to Maligne Lake and take the cruise to Spirit Island. You must go white water rafting. The best company is Whitewater Rafting (Jasper) Ltd at 1-403-852-raft. Alistair also has a good friend in Jasper known as Jasper the Bear. Alistair thinks Jasper has a very imformative website so please check it out. Click on "Jasper"
Places to Stay: Jasper Park Lodge (nice views but very pricey), Beckers Roaring River Chalets (my personal favourite), Lobstick Lodge (good value), Pyramid Lake Resort.
Places to Eat: O'Sheas , Jasper Park Lodge or for fine dining try Beckers Dining Room.
Handy Bathrooms: Maligne Lake in the lodge or public washrooms outside. All attractions have either washrooms or outhouses.
* * *
Next Stop- Quebec City, Quebec (home of maple syrup and people that say "oui")
Rating- 4 1/2 paw prints
Things to do: Wander around the Chateau Frontenac, stroll through old town, admire the Basilique-cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec, take a 1/2 day tour to the Island of Orleans, Montmorency Falls and the Basilica at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre.
Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Have a drink (at night) in the Bar St-Laurent in the Chateau Frontenac and get a window seat overlooking the St. Lawrence. Do not miss a stroll along Dufferin Terrace and please see the Basilica at Sainte-Anne-de Beaupre.
Places to stay: Only one place, the Chateau Frontenac
Places to eat: aux Anciens Canadiens
Handy bathrooms: In the chateau, also at the Museum of Civilization.
Last updated 2002-10-15
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