Banff: 18th May, 2016
At Banff, we left the train. The ‘original’ Banff is a fishing port to the north of Aberdeen … and a greater contrast between two places of the same name is difficult to imagine. But, there’s a tiny bit of Scotland here, and a slightly larger slice of Switzerland, dumped in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
Apart from the name, the main Scottish connection is the Banff Springs Hotel, built in the late 19th Century to accommodate passengers on the new railway, in a style they called ‘Scottish Baronial’. But, of course. we weren’t staying there!
We had a whole day to spend before the coach to Calgary, and the flight home. And, what better way to pass it than the gondola up Sulphur Mountain?
The ride on the gondola almost up to the mountain top was included in the package … but we couldn’t find any paper work for it among our stuff. Full marks, however, to the staff at the Caribou Lodge Hotel, who offered to try and call London in order to sort it out. But, what we decided to do was to go on the ride anyway, and try and get a refund when we got home. Full marks, too, to Jetline Cruise, who apologised and paid up right away.
So, we bought a ticket, which, since they operate to time slots, advised what time we should join the line, to ensure the minimum of queuing before we boarded the car. No flies on these folks; you’re now free to browse the souvenir shop, instead of standing in line all the time!
The gondola will take you nearly 7500 feet to the Top Station … which, at the time of our visit, was a bit of a ‘work in progress’ … from where you can walk along a boardwalk along the summit ridge to the very summit of the mountain.
They advertise that you will ‘soar above the clouds’, but there was no cloud on this day. Just a panoramic view of the surrounding Rockies, and the valley below.