For our one year wedding anniversary, I knew that I wanted to do something special. I’ve had a long standing goal of going to every province and territory in Canada. I’ve been to. For our one year anniversary, it was time to put another one under my belt. Being from Ontario, I’ve always been captivated by the east and west coast.
We decided to go to Alberta for this adventure, and partner with new airline Swoop! Swoop is a new low cost budget airline that departs from Hamilton. Flights are much more affordable than some other airlines, and the service is just as good.
On the day of our trip, we got up bright and early to catch our 8am flight to Edmonton. The traffic wasn’t too bad, and we arrived in Hamilton in no time. We pulled into the parking lot and walked into the airport. That was it. No parking lot shuttle, no exorbitant parking fees (a very reasonable $7) and we parked a few steps away from the door. Bliss.
The hot pink Swoop gate was easy to find. We checked in to our flight, and after a bit of waiting, we were boarding the plane. Because Swoop is a budget airline, everything beyond your seat costs money. We paid extra to check a suitcase, and to select our seats.
Carry-ons, food and drinks are an additional cost. That didn’t bother me. I packed my own snacks and settled in to watch some of the free in flight entertainment on my phone. I was overjoyed to see that the plane was equipped with USB chargers. The Swoop air attendants were exceptionally perky and friendly, which I liked.
When we landed 4 hours later, it was a beautiful day in Edmonton. We had planned a bit of a road trip, so we picked up our rental car and headed west.
Our first stop was Edmonton! I could not resist stopping at North America’s largest mall. You guessed it…the West Edmonton Mall. This mall was amazing! Not only did it have every store you could ever imagine (Kate Spade, Micheal’s, Urban Outfitters, Mountain Co-op just to name a few) but it also had an amusement park, an Olympic size skating rink, a petting zoo, an arcade, a water park, restaurants, several food courts…I could go on. Even my husband, who notoriously hates mall and shopping, had a good time exploring (and he even bought a jacket!). We checked out downtown Edmonton and had dinner at the highly recommended BBQ restaurant, Meat.
We tried the house made garlic fries (to die for), pulled pork, beef brisket and their andouille sausage. We were stuffed! It was so delicious. Check out the menu.
Before we pulled into Jasper, we made a short detour to visit the hot springs. Radium Springs are some of the hottest hot springs in the Rockies.
The parking lot was full of mountain goats! They were so cute. When we got inside, we were notified that the pool was closed due to lightening storms. We were really disappointed, but decided to wait it out. After an hour, the storm passed and we were able to go into the pool. The hot springs are natural, but must be sanitized and filtered. The natural hot springs water comes from the mountain at 54°C. The water is cooled to a more manageable temperature of 40°C as it enters the hot springs pool.
The hot springs were very relaxing, and we had a nice view of the surrounding forest. I highly recommend this location!
After we were thoroughly relaxed, we arrived at our home for the next couple of days. At Patricia Lake Bungalows, we loved our roomy cabin. Booking this place was pretty old school (You can only book by filling out a form on the website, and then they email you.) but the accommodations and the two nearby lakes were beautiful. The main part of Jasper was very close by, yet the bungalows still felt secluded.
Bright and early the next morning, we headed out to the Jasper Sky Tram. I absolutely love gondolas, so I was excited for this…and prepared to arrive for 8:15am. The Jasper Skytram is the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada! It gets up to 2,277 meters above sea leave, and it takes 7 minutes to reach the top.
The journey is smooth and you are rewarded with a sweeping view of the Canadian Rockies, and the town of Jasper. For those feeling more adventurous, you can take a short hike to the top of the mountain. We hiked a bit, and then tasty breakfast with a view at the Summit Restaurant.
After exploring the town of Jasper, we were back on the road for another adventure. We couldn’t pass up one of the most beautiful drives in Canada, and the chance to walk on a glacier. The Icefields Parkway stretches between Jasper and Lake Louise. The road offers breathtaking views of mountains, adorable baby goats and a view of the Athabasca Glacier.
We were planning on getting much more than a passing view of the glacier- it was our destination.
The Columbia Icefield is the largest body of ice in the Canadian Rockies. It’s 10,000 year old glacier that’s 215 square kilometers with solid ice that goes 1,200 feet down! Taking the massive Ice Explorer up to the glacier was a once in a lifetime experience. It was a bumpy ride (up one of the steepest hills in North America) but once we arrived it was so cool (see what I did there?) to be standing on a glacier! Once we were there, we were able to walk around and even drink some of the ice cold glacier water. I highly recommend this experience.
Lake Moraine in Banff National Park
Getting to Lake Moraine, in Banff National Park, was an adventure. We tried to drive there 3 times, and the parking lot was always full, no matter what time we arrived. The lot was even full at 7:30am! It was very frustrating. We eventually decided to pay for a park bus that would take us directly to the lake.
It was worth it. Lake Moraine was my favourite stop of the entire trip. This glacier-fed lake is a brilliant turquoise. The glacier run off is filled with fine particles of rock, which gives it it’s vibrant colour.
If you’re planning to hike the trails, be aware during bear season. The park has very strict rules, and you must be in a group of 4 to hike in certain areas.
I’m someone who likes to get as much sleep as possible. When I realized that my last night in Edmonton would be spent at the Renaissance Hotel, I was ecstatic. Why? Because it was located right in the Edmonton Airport, steps away from the Swoop gate where I’d be catching my flight back to Hamilton.
To get to the hotel, you walk through a tunnel with epic music and fun lights. Then you’re in the beautiful, modern lobby.
Our room was a spacious suite with a living room and separate bedroom. We could see the planes take off from our window.
The bed was incredibly comfortable, the room was modern and I would hands down stay there again.
The next morning, we woke up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed.
Then, we packed up and walked to the Swoop gate to board our plane. It was that easy.
In no time, we were touching down on #Bob, in Hamilton ready to make our way back home. I partnered with Swoop on this trip, but I genuinely enjoyed the service I received during this trip. The attendants were friendly and got me where I needed to be. Swoop flies to many destinations in Canada, the US and abroad. See where they fly!