Birthday At Banff

For the past years, I celebrated my birthday usually with my family and close friends. Previous celebration was held with simple party. What am I trying to say here? The fact is, my birthday is being celebrated with people. I commonly received birthday greetings and gifts from dear friends. But this year, it was different.

Why I said it was different? First, I am out of the country. It means that those people who used to know my birthday was not with me this time. Second, most of them will not be able to contact me because I never gave my number to them (except to my family, my boss and some colleagues). Third, I never mentioned or probably the right word is “reminded” them that my birthday is almost coming or happening in Canada.

But, even this is the case, I have plans. My birthday will be happening in a different country which is totally a different place from what I used to be, I just thought that I have to celebrate it in an extraordinary way.

I was in Canada that time for training purposes and since I have this eagerness to see some places in this country, I planned to go out and see it. I went to Banff, Alberta (I am not sure who might reading this might say, you wanted to see “Canadian Rockies”). But to be honest, I just have this little idea what will I expected to see in that place. All I am expecting is to see beautiful places that are totally different of what I used to see.

Friday – May 16 (I went to work that day – because I have to), but I went home early because my bus schedule to Banff was 6:30 PM. I rode Greyhound bus (and I am very lucky because the bus station was just near the place where I stayed in Edmonton). Total travel time was five hours and there will be two station where the bus will stop: Red Deer and Calgary.

Since I am traveling to Banff alone and no one was with me and I am not familiar with the place, there was incident that I thought that Red Deer was Calgary. I am not listening to the bus driver when he mentioned that we were in Red Deer. One of the passenger just told me we were at Red Deer. From time to time I have been sleeping during my travel from Edmonton to Calgary. I arrived in Calgary around 10:30 PM. The next bus to Banff was 11:30 PM. The Calgary station was in Calgary downtown, I went outside the bus station and looked around the place. I saw the Calgary Downtown that night. It was pretty much similar with Edmonton Downtown. I never able to capture pictures because I am quite shy to the people passing on me. What I did was I remember as much as I can what Calgary Downtown look like that night.

11:00 PM, I went back to the bus station and waited until 11:30 PM (I am surprised because the bus that will be going to Banff will go to Vancouver too (during that time I wish I can go to Vancouver). Another thing, our bus driver was a woman who was surprising for me.

Few minutes after we left Calgary station, the bus got some technical problems and the driver decided that we need to go back to the station where we came from. It was the best decision she can made, and she told us that her most important responsibility was her passengers safety (which was great but I am kind of bit worried because I am supposed to be at my hotel in Banff at 1 AM – May 17, my birthday), we went back to the station and transferred to another bus.

I arrived at Banff station at 2:30 AM and no one was around. I am thankful that my boss in Canada gave me a mobile phone temporarily. I able to call a cab in Banff and the cab picked me up in the Banff station. I am at the front of hotel where I made my reservation and to my surprise they are telling me to go to another hotel, this made me confused and made me worried because it was almost 3AM in the middle of the morning and I am still outside of hotel in a place which I visited first time in my life and I am alone. I went to Ptarmigann Inn and talked to the hotel clerk, and told them that I had been instructed to go there. The friendly old men accommodated me and explained to me that I will check-in in Ptarmigann because the hotel that I made my reservation was full. I did not object anymore and I am thankful that I can go to my room and rest before my day will start.

3:30 AM, I went to bed and slept for four hours.

I woke up at 7:30 AM and prepared myself. The tourist bus picked me up at the hotel at 9 AM. I met Kevin, the tourist guide. Since I never had my dinner before I went to Banff, I am really hungry and requested Kevin if I can still order my breakfast. He agreed to me and he will be back to me after picking up the other tourist.



Around 9:30 AM, we were on our way to Banff National Park. First stop Johnston Canyon. I wondered that time, what we were suppose to be doing in a canyon. Kevin told us that we were going to hike in a canyon.







During the hike, I found out that Johnston Canyon has a very amiable trail. And I like Johnston Creek too because there were still ice at the side of the creek. There were three falls that we found while hiking the canyon. They called it the Lower Falls, first falls that we saw, then unnamed falls, but I call it Middle Falls since it’s between Lower and Upper Falls. The last falls was simply the Upper Falls. During the hike, Kevin talked about the Canyon (and I cannot remember it now). I prepared the hiking activities that was why I brought lots of bottled water and because of this my bag was heavy. During the hike I was accidentally fall while trekking the trail with solid ice at the ground and I was glad that not so much people around that time when it happened to me, even Kevin did not notice it. I enjoyed watching the creek and listening to the sounds of the water flowing into the creek. I like the mist of cold weather in the canyon. I also went to the small passage which similar to a cave passage so that I will be able to see up close and personal the Lower Falls. Then, we continued our hike. We saw the unnamed falls and for me its perfect too. Then we walked upward until we found the Upper Falls. The surrounding of Upper Falls were still ice. And I am thinking that this fall is more beautiful during summer season. After taking pictures around that falls, we descended the canyon. We were at the ground again past 12 PM.

Next, we move to Pilot Mountain lookout which just near the canyon since it was along the Bow Valley Parkway. We drove to the place and had a short walk up to the lookout view-point, I was really amazed in the view of Pilot Pond just near the Pilot Mountain ground. It has dark green color at the middle and light green color at the side. Pilot Mountain is one of the mountain that can be easily recognize due to its shape. Its distinct compare with other Mountains in Banff National Park. This was the mountain that I been looking after when we went out the Banff town site while on our way to Johnston Canyon.





After the tour in the morning till afternoon, I went home and had a short rest at the hotel. Then, at night I went for wildlife safari, I am somewhat curious what animals looks like in Canada. First, we went to Mount Norquay (for what I know this mountain is famous for skiing and other winter related activities). We went there hoping we could see some animals around the place. While on our way to the top, we found Mountain Goad Kid and while moving around we found deer. We stop in a lookout view-point in Mount Norquay wherein we can see the whole Banff town site and the valley itself.

















Next, we move to the Vermilion Lake hoping we can find some animals and we were lucky to find some birds near in the lake. Even though we never saw a lots of animals, I enjoy looking around the Banff National Park. I saw Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain while we were enjoying the awesome view of Vermilion Lake. I really enjoyed all the places we visited, I never regret that I decided to visit Banff during my birthday.

I hope I can comeback in Banff in the future.

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Downtown / City Center – Edmonton (Part 2)

Downtown was the place that excites me when I was on my way to my hotel from the first day I arrived in Edmonton. I planned to go out that night after I checked-in to my hotel at Crown Plaza which located in downtown and rested for a few hours.
Edmonton Downtown (mixed photos)

When I heard the word downtown, the impression to me was that this is a place where most of the people go. This means that this is a busy place. I went outside the hotel to walk around the downtown at past 9PM. That night I saw City Centre Mall, Bell Tower and other shopping store. But to my surprise, most of the establishments were closed and I did not expect it. I was surprised because downtown looks dull to me that night and I saw few people around. I cannot stop myself to compare this place to cities we have in Philippines. Weekend made the cities busy too. There are lots of people outside, malls are open until 11 PM. When I was in downtown, I was a little bit shocked. Since mall were closed that time, I had difficulty to find a restaurant that I can have my dinner. I stopped at the front of Bell Tower and decided to take a cab and asked the driver to drive me to the nearest open restaurant. The cab driver brought me to a Chinese restaurant. I was glad because I can eat rice. The driver waited for me and he drove me back to the hotel. First night, was not that pretty much excited but I have a lot of time to enjoy Edmonton.For almost two months of staying in Edmonton, one thing that I can say about downtown is, it is a busy place during weekdays but dull or I can say ghost town during weekend. Weekdays because most of the offices are located here and lots of people are working here.When I met my colleague at work, I had a chance to dine in different restaurants in downtown. The following restaurants are Co co di,Haweli, Sherlock’s Homes and Kids In The Hall Bistro. I had a chance to eat at Courthouse Cafeteria too. There was another place where my colleague used to eat. I can’t remember the name now. It is located in the food court. All I can remember is the name of the owner. They call her Amy. I just like to mention it here because, there is something especial in this eatery. Since it was located in a food court, there are other diner near in Amy’s eatery but to my surprise, most people or I can say all people are falling in line with Amy’s eatery while none will be seen in other diner. Sometimes I pity the other eatery because competition to dining business does not really exist. It is like monopolizing the dining business in that place.Few days passed, some of my colleagues walked me around the Citadel, Canada Place, Sir Winston Churchill Square and City Hall. One thing that I noticed in places in downtown. There are connected ped ways to each building structure. And I learned that its purpose is not to go outside especially during winter season.

Canada Place
Shaw Conference Centre

Magnificent Fountain at the front of City Hall

City Hall

100 St

I was lucky when we visit City Hall, the reason was I met one of the councilor of Edmonton City. But unfortunately I did not bring my camera to have a picture with him.

I admired the city hall because it has a great and distinct structure of the building. It has a pyramid glass ceiling and impressive fountain at the front of the building. I remembered that one time, when I planned to stroll again at the downtown, I witnessed a high school graduation event in city hall.

Most of the prestigious hotel in Edmonton can also be found in downtown like Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, The Westin Edmonton, The Sutton Place Hotel, Crown Plaza Chateau Lacombe (where I stayed during my first five nights in this city), Courtyard by Marriott and a lot more.

Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

The condo unit where I stayed is along 104Th street. One Saturday morning, I was surprised when I went outside, there is a market along 104Th street. And people are coming by. Then, I realized after I checked some of the features of Edmonton downtown guide, that 104Th street is what they call city market. I did look around and found a lot of stuff being offered, plants for gardening, foods and souvenir stuff

Bell Tower at Downtown Edmonton

104 St

Grant MacEwan College

102 Avenue

102 Avenue from The Bay Mall

102 Ave corner 102 st

During my last day tour in Edmonton which happened last June 7, 2008 – Saturday, with my buddy at work. I had a chance to see what is inside the Shaw Conference Centre. During the time we went there, there is ongoing convention and to my surprise Shaw Conference Centre is vast and huge place. And like to add also that I cannot forget that my buddy and I tried to ride the slant elevator just for the experience. Well the ride was cool.

When I was strolling around downtown, I met few Filipinos at the front of City Hall. Unlike me, they are in Edmonton for contract working. They were also new in the city that was why they were also touring the place. Because of them, I had a chance to have some pictures of places in downtown with myself. I was really thankful because I met them.

TELUS Plaza, what can I say in this place? Of course, TELUS Tower is great and I like the open plaza, where you can just sit there and enjoy the beauty of the place. But there is one place that I really like, I don’t know what they call on that part of the plaza, most people do smoke in this place but I like the view, because I can see North Saskatchewan river and the panoramic view of south part of Edmonton. It was a really nice view.

Telus Plaza South (2nd Highest Building in Edmonton)

I also had a chance to see the Little Italy. A place where buildings and houses looks like of course in Italy during my unplanned tour in Edmonton together with some friends I met at the church.

Another experience I had in downtown is watching ball games. How can I forget my first ever ball game that I watched in my entire life. I am not really a sports person but when I found out that David Beckham will be visiting Edmonton and will play football game, I bought a ticket and watched his game. I went to Commonwealth Stadium after the office and I had this experience where the LRT station are full of commuters, this was the first time that I saw a lot of people inside the LRT station, because my previous experience most of the time especially during weekend, not so much people riding the train. These people will watched Beckham games. Based on what I heard while inside the stadium, the people dropped by to watched the game was reaching 35000 and for me that was significant number. During the entire game, people are yelling of Beckham games, especially women. They loved David Beckham.

I can say that I have a lot of things that enjoyed in downtown, lots of places that I had been, and a lot of people who I met. And I think this ends my story at Edmonton Downtown.

Telus World of Science – Edmonton (Part 1)

Maybe the people who read this might say “Are you a kid?”. And one thing that I will respond to is a smile. Telus World of Science is a museum where most of the kids and children go. The word science itself is enough to say that it’s a museum to educate children most of the time but adult like me will also benefit to this kind of place. For me, any museum is fascinating, because I know that I will be learning something or I will be discovering something in this place.

Inside the EPCOR Environment Gallery

I visited Telus World of Science last May 30 2008, Friday. I came from the office, then I went home to the condo unit where I stayed and I took a bus to go there. Since I was never been there before, I used my Edmonton Map (it was actually an ETS – Edmonton Transit System map). I found that there was a mall before the museum – its Westmount Centre. I took a bus from downtown to Westmount station and I rode another bus to Telus World of Science. Well, discovering a way to go to somewhere around Edmonton was one of the exciting experiences I had in this city.Since I visited the place during the weekday, there were few visitors inside the museum. And most of the visitors I saw were children together with their parents. I went to the counter and inquired how I will be able to get a tour inside the museum. The officer explained to me, then, I paid a ticket and one of the crew did a brief orientation. I have a map and it helps me to find myself where I am. First, I went to EPCOR Environment Gallery where I discovered where Edmonton is getting the source of their electricity. Next was Allard Family Gallery where I found the “Body Fantastic”. Then, the next thing I did was watched an IMAX movie “MUMMIES – Secrets of the Pharaohs”. Last but not the least I did was, I went inside the Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre (Canada’s largest planetarium dome theatre) where I experienced a 3D star and laser light shows. I am a frustrated dreamer of being astronaut, and when I was able to see the show, all my dreams of being astronaut are all coming back to me.

Main Entrance
Telus World of Science

Before I leave Telus World of Science premises. I also found observatory with lots of telescopes RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) Edmonton Centre. And I was lucky because I was able to view one of the star named Acturus using one of the huge telescope and I saw a wonderful star that looks like a planet.

One of the Telescope from Observatory

All I can say was I really had a great time visiting Telus World of Science. If I will have children someday and I will be given a chance to go back in Edmonton, I will definitely bring my kids in this place.

Edmonton – Silent Capital City of Alberta

Two things I will never forget in this city. First, the people I met and second, the places that I was able to visit for a short period of time.

When I informed by my boss in Manila that I will be sending in Edmonton for training there was a part of me that was unhappy. Why? Because I never heard the name of this city. I never knew that this city was existed. I wish I had been assigned to Vancouver or Toronto, because these two cities are well-known to the whole world. But, it was not my wish that should be followed. It was work that was why I was sent in this city.

I arrived in Edmonton City International Airport at past 6PM or almost 7PM last April 26, 2008 and it was Saturday. I never got a chance to walk around the airport. Once I was out of the plane I looked for my luggage and find a cab that will drive me to Crown Plaza hotel where I stayed for my first five nights.

When I got myself out of the airport, I was excited because I was curious what Edmonton looks like. Along the way, I saw some snow at the side of the road which indicates that winter season just recently over. I saw some oil company buildings and structures and I learned from the cab driver that Edmonton has a lot of it. I also noticed that Edmonton is somewhat a flat place, no mountain or even hills. I also thought that the airport is just near in the city center but it’s not. My excitement decreased when I see nothing for a while aside from a flat land. Few minutes passed again, I saw houses and small buildings which was a sign of community. I was more thrilled when I saw buildings and towers which was a sign of being a city.

I knew to myself that one day was not enough to experience this whole city. I took all my time to go around the whole Edmonton which became an interesting place to discover.

Here are the highlights of Edmonton City that I found while staying here for almost two months.