WARNING: LONG POST REGARDING BEST HONEYMOON EVER
Planning our honeymoon was an adventure. It took us a long time to figure out where to go as we (well, more like I) had our hearts set on Europe. We initially had planned out our itinerary for 4 days in Portugal, and the main attraction there was Fatima, then we'd stop over in Rome and see a good friend who is studying in seminary there, and then do a week in Ireland driving all around. I worked so hard to make this work, I planned out every day, where we would stay, how to get the best rates on travel...and duh, it was like 5x more than we could afford. When we finally came to the realization that this honeymoon was not going to happen, we actually felt a lot of peace. Mainly because we admitted we were trying to make it a pilgrimage. It would have been an awesome pilgrimage, and one we'd like to take one day, but maybe our honeymoon was not the right time.
We love Canada - we'd been to Montreal on a pilgrimage together after 6 months of dating. My parents had honeymooned in Canada, and my brother was about to as well. And for some reason, maybe God's will, it felt so right. All the pieces came together (a lot of it has to do with my parent's generosity), and we were ready to go! Let me take you on a tour of the best honeymoon of all time (I'm a bit biased)..
Part One: Whistler, BC (two days)
Whistler is essentially a small, luxurious, resort town north of Vancouver. And it was perfect. We stayed in my parent's timeshare, Club Intrawest, and what an amazing experience. The hotel was beautiful, just what we wanted. It was a short walk to the main village. The town was close to empty. We had our pick of walks and trails and restaurants. I would recommend this place to anybody looking for a nice getaway. Since it was early June, not everything was open, but it didn't make much of a difference for us. The beauty alone (combined with perfect 60-70 degree weather) sufficed.
Part Two: Vancouver, BC (three days)
What an interesting part of the honeymoon. Kevin's not much of a city person, and although I can certainly enjoy wandering around cities and finding cute coffee shops, this was unique. The evening we got in, the front desk lady at the hotel suggested we take a stroll down this one street leading to the harbor. Well, we did. And I don’t want to offend anyone, but it…umm, it wasn't our scene to put it simply. So our initial impression of Vancouver was...not the best.
We were determined to make the best of it, though, and the next day was actually pretty good! A nice city market can really do a lot for me (it was my favorite part about living in London besides the pubs), and we spent most of the day on Granville Island. There was lots to see and the market was huge. It had so much to offer, and turned the inspiration wheels for Kevin. Afterwards we went to the Cathedral for confession and mass - really beautiful! And then off to the pier to see FlyCanada - a 20 minute imax experience showcasing the beauty of Canada. I did get a bit sick, but it was stunning, nonetheless.
That was definitley the highlight of Vancouver as the next day turned out to be a really big fail. Everything we tried to do got thwarted somehow or cost exhuberant amounts of money. We joke that Vancouver is the place where they take your money. When we asked two separate concierges for cheap eateries, both sent us to restaurants with entrees no less than $20 (whattttttt?!). Overall, we had an enjoyable time. Would we go back? Probably on our way to Whistler.
Part Three: Lake Louise, AB (one day)
GO HERE GO HERE GO HERE. First, let me say how spoiled we were. We totally splurged and stayed at the Fairmont Lake Louise AND they upgraded us to a suite. Speechless were we. Amazing service. Amazing view. Amazing lake. We could just sit on that lake for hours staring, and time would not have been wasted. We tried hiking a trail, but there was lots of snow getting higher up, and...bears. We didn't see any, but the area was on grizzley watch. We did, however, get up in the morning to watch the sunrise over the lake. We didn't see a super clear sunrise due to the mountains, but it was still stunning.
Part Four: Banff, AB (4 days)
Once again, spoiled. Through the generosity of my parents, we stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Banff Springs. Talk about the life of luxury. That place is a castle, and in this most romantic way. You could spend a day just exploring the hotel itself. The view outside our window was Bow River and the Rocky Mountains. There's so much to say about this part of our trip. One thing you should know is that apparently in early-mid June in this part of Alberta, you have daylight from 4:45am to past 10pm. So that's one of the reasons we have so much to say - it felt like we did about 4 different activities per day!
Town of Banff - what a cute place. So quaint. Just walking around this was great; we found our absolute favorite restaurant, Bear Skin Tavern - I think we actually went here 3 times. They have the BEST pizza. They also kept giving us coupons to come back, so we did. There's the town Starbucks, obviously, where I got my wifi on. It's just a super cute place that made our trip even more of an experience.
Johnston Canyon - our first hike in Banff, and it was lovely. You're walking alongside the river (with railings for a large portion of it cause your essentially on the edge of a cliff) for a couple miles? I don't know. But it brings you to this stunning waterfall, and I love waterfalls. A very refreshing hike about 30-40 minutes from town.
Vermillion Lakes - ahhhhhhhh GORGEOUS! It's right on the edge of town, so super close, but you can drive/bike/walk in a loop around them. We stopped one evening there during the golden hour (Kevin's favorite time of day), and it was simply breathtaking. If it weren't for the million mosquitoes (that always seem to favor me over Kevin), we would have sat there forever.
Sulphur Mountain - so worth it despite my hidden (not so hidden anymore) fear of heights. We took a gondola to the top (you can hike, which Kevin did one afternoon during introvert time, but it was evening and we just took a quick trip). The view at the top of Sulphur is wonderful, but you can walk across it to the peak of another mountain and you just keep going higher and higher and higher and the view keeps getting better and better and better. We were super blessed with perfect weather everyday, so needless to say it was phenomenal. Oh my gosh. I kept wanting to stop cause of the height, but Kevin gently pushed me to keep going and I'm glad he did.
Horseback Riding - this one I have to laugh a bit. It was a unique experience, Kevin loooooved it, I just had a super rogue horse. There was a group of eight of us, and we took a two hour trip around some beautiful land and up a smaller mountain. Objectively - awesome. Seriously. But my horse kept wanting to eat everything in sight. And I did not like having to continuously kick my horse and then have him get mad at me and start shaking his head furiously. We did see a coyote on this trail, though, which was cool.
Tunnel Mountain Drive - another one of my favorites. When you stop along here, you feel like you're overseeing all of God's creation (well, not all of it, but a good part). Stunning. We went back twice cause it was just too beautiful. It's a simple drive from Banff, and you just pull off the road at points and take in the beauty.
Lake Minnewanka - a nice spot (very big lake). Not my favorite, but still glad we went. It looks like a great spot for summer water activity, but was pretty empty when we went. One notable thing about this area, though - ALL THE BIG HORNED SHEEP YOU COULD EVER WANT TO SEE. Not joking. They were just chillin' everywhere. Didn't care who they blocked, who took photos of them - they were just doing their thing.
Moraine Lake - this was my top rated spot in the Rockies. We almost didn't go cause it was our last night in Banff and it was about an hour drive away, but we are SO SO SO glad we did. We got there around 9pm and it was almost deserted. The moonrise would happen at about 9:45pm, so we wanted to stay for that. We walked up a bit and just overlooked pure goodness. It's a glaciel lake, so it was still partly frozen just like Lake Louise, but I think that added to the beauty. There was a perfect reflection of the 10 surrounding peaks in the water. We just sat in awe for a while. This was the most worth it drive ever.
The Final Stretch
(We did then go to Calgary, which I won't really mention. Sorry to all the Calgary lovers out there, but umm...didn't do much for us. We watched Harry Potter in our hotel room.) The entire honeymoon was just so refreshing. A perfect way to enter into our marriage. It was perfect too in that we had plenty to do, but it was also relaxing. And I'm so grateful we were able to take two weeks. It really allowed us to enter into it and feel removed from our everyday lives. It marked a distinct start to our marriage and we loved it. I would encourage this trip to anyone! If ever there are questions on how to plan the perfect trip to Canada, we're HAPPY to help!