For my 25th birthday, we traveled up to Calgary, Canada, to visit some of my favorite Spanish friends. We met Mariajo and Dani while we lived in Madrid, and now, once again, we are both residing on the same continent. They’ve lived in Calgary teaching Spanish for years now, and we finally found the perfect opportunity (and the time) to pay them a visit.
We spent a couple of days in Calgary while they finished out the school week. Once the weekend hit, we trekked up to Banff National Park—there was no time to be wasted!
The Calgary area is peculiarly flat, which caused me to wonder about those Rocky Mountains, but they quickly came into view and my ears began to pop as we rose with the altitude. After a few hours, we parked the car and we were instructed to keep our eyes closed. Mariajo and Dani weren’t joking around! I had to peek a few times as we stumbled over some rocks to our vista, and even then I was scolded! “Que esta pasando?!” Spence and I giggled multiple times. Finally, they told us to stand still, they maneuvered our shoulders to face the correct direction and, at last, we were given permission to open our eyes.
Now it’s no secret that Banff is home to some of the most pristine scenery in the world, but no amount of wanderlust-inducing photos on blogs or Instagram could prepare me for what we would discover.
“Welcome to Moraine Lake,” they said as we opened our eyes. In front of me, surrounded by trees and mountains, was the most gorgeous turquoise lake I’d ever seen. (Or so I thought…)
We spent the rest of our long weekend hiking around the park, searching for bears, and drooling over the resplendent shades of blue we unearthed with each new lake. We hiked and hiked and hiked until we couldn’t possibly go any further. We watched glaciers. We ate homemade wraps for every lunch, and danced up the railroad tracks to restaurants for dinner. It was so hard to comprehend that this is Mariajo and Dani’s weekend norm. A paradise they can (and do very often) explore whenever time permits. Que suerte! They know each lake like the back of their own hand, and I don’t think they ever grew tired of watching our dumbstruck expressions as they introduced us to all of their favorites.
The first lake we had the pleasure of meeting, also pictured above. She set the bar pretty, pretty high.
One of Banff’s most well-known lakes. I specifically remember rolling my eyes at an episode of the Bachelor when all the girls did a polar bear challenge and ran into the lake with their swimsuits on and nearly froze to death. However, I also remember thinking I HAVE to go there. Unfortunately every other tourist has that same mentality, but you can weed them out as you hike further away from Fairmont Chateaux. We hiked up to the Little Beehive, nearly 11 miles in total, to be sure we found Lake Louise’s best angle. Turns out, that was all of them.
Emerald Lake, actually part of Yoho National Park in British Columbia, seemed to be a bit lesser known, but equally as stunning. It’s one of Mariajo’s favorites!
Peyto Lake quickly registered as my favorite. That vibrant icy blue left me especially speechless, and of course I loved its curious dog shape.
We stayed a night in Canmore, right outside of Banff city, but still in the national park. Here we found, you guessed it, more lakes to drool over. I particularly enjoyed this area because there were so many pups out and about for refreshing summer swims. Although Olive can’t swim, I’m sure she’d eagerly learn if we had this in our backyard.
Miscellaneous shades of blue
We are so grateful for Mariajo and Dani who absolutely spoiled us rotten on this adventure, one I think back upon often. Once again, they proved my theory that there’s nothing like traveling through a place with the locals who love it.
Many of the photos pictured here are available for purchase as prints in my Etsy shop. CLICK HERE to find them.