10 Day Jasper and Banff Itinerary

ash bo lake louise

Everyone has asked me how we enjoyed our 10-day Canadian vacation and I immediately say that it was the best trip we’ve taken together. When you’ve been together for 13 years, that is a pretty strong statement. It is no exaggeration though as this area of the world was magical and every turn in the road and hike left us in awe.  I am going to do a thorough, detailed recap of our trip but I want to balance the number of travel posts I do with my regular content. Since there are a few readers who have emailed me requesting our itinerary in preparation for Labor Day and September vacations, here is a brief itinerary of our trip. As always, I am available to answer questions via email, comments or social media. There are a few things to keep in mind when reviewing our itinerary:

  • We did not book this trip until early June which meant that many of the smaller bed and breakfast or inns were fully booked and most of our hotels only had availability for one to two nights, hence the frequent change of location.
  • Since the smaller inns were booked, in some cases the Fairmont was the only option available which in the end, worked far better than expected. We were able to leverage Expedia and/or American Express points to reduce the cost and the level of service we experienced from their staff was incredible!
  • We enjoy active vacations.
  • We always allowed time when traveling between two towns for stops and explorations. If Google Maps predicted it would take two hours, we gave ourselves three hours because sometimes randoms stops at roadside waterfalls or streams ended up being the most fun part of the day.
  • We were very lucky with the weather as it only rained twice during the trip and the average morning temperature was 40 degrees and the afternoon high was around 70 degrees.
  • While I did reach out to a few of the tour groups we used in advance, we did not receive any compensation or discounts from companies. This is not a sponsored post.

Day 1 – Travel Day – We booked the Newark – Minneapolis – Calgary flight on Delta and were very pleased with the itinerary as it left mid-afternoon on Friday and landed in Calgary at 9:30pm. We stayed at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary as it is a quick, 20-minute drive from the airport and we knew we’d be too exhausted to drive further. We chose this hotel on Expedia due to their inexpensive weekend rate as well as the opportunity to use Expedia points towards the cost.

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Day 2 – After grabbing breakfast and coffee at Philosafy Coffee in Calgary, we spent the entire day driving from Calgary to Jasper, enjoying a few stops along the Icefields Parkway including a 2-hour hike.  We stayed at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and dined the first night at the Moose’s Nook Chophouse which was one of our favorite meals of the trip! Even if you don’t stay at the Jasper Park Lodge, come over to enjoy the sunset along the lake and dine there afterwards!

Day 3 –  We spent this day enjoying two hikes – Edge of the World Hike and Maligne CanyonAt Maligne Canyon we enjoyed exploring different trails and ended up hiking more than 7 miles by the time we rejoined the original trail. We stayed at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge again that night and enjoyed s’mores along the lake while watching the sunset after a delicious, relaxed dinner on their terrace.

Day 4 – We enjoyed a sunrise walk and leisurely breakfast before checking out of our hotel and heading towards Canmore.  Along Icefields Parkway we stopped at the Athabasca Glacier where we spent three hours hiking the massive glacier. We booked the Ice Cubed tour in advance and highly recommend it! It is informative and far more enjoyable than merely experiencing the glacier from a large bus!  The tour is offered three times per day but this mid-day tour option worked well for us as it allowed us time to have a leisurely morning and still get to our Airbnb in Canmore early enough to relax and shower before our dinner at Crazyweed

Day 5 – Since the meteorologists were forecasting rain for the remainder of the week, we updated our itinerary to do our longest hike of the trip at Lake Louise, on the prettiest day. We picked up breakfast and a sandwich to go from The Summit Cafe before heading to Lake Louise to embark on a day of hiking.  We did the Tea House Challenge which combines two popular hikes – Six Glaciers and Big Beehive hikes to create one, 6 hour hike which included two tea houses, a lunch stop and scrambling rocks. It was an incredible hike which covered more than 14 miles.

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Day 6 – We relaxed the next day, exhausted from the previous day’s hike. After checking out of our Airbnb we enjoyed breakfast in Banff at Wild Flour Cafe. Their frittata egg sandwich may be my new favorite breakfast sandwich, especially when paired with their large cappuccino. We leisurely explored the town of Banff and did some shopping at the Farmer’s Market which is in the middle of town every Wednesday. We headed towards are hotel, Fairmont Cheateau Lake Louise at 1pm in time for a late lunch along the lake.  After lunch we returned to the trail for a relaxed, 5k along the lake before spending an hour canoeing on the cerulean lake, as this was included in our room rate.  Based on the concierge’s recommendation, we headed down the road to Moraine Lake for our own little lakeside happy hour complete with wine, cheese and dried meats we picked up at store in Canmore. This is also when we had our bear sighting, which he predicted as he said the traffic is stopped at least once along that road for bears or other wildlife.

Day 7 – We woke up at 5:30 for the sunrise canoe trip we booked in advance of the trip. Unfortunately they didn’t allow cancellations for overcast weather, so we spent an hour laughing and talking on the water together even though the clouds made the experience far less picturesque than expected. By 9:30 we were at Mt. Norquay Ski Area, near Banff, for a 4-hour Via Ferrata adventure. Via Ferrata is an assisted climbing adventure which allows you to climb ladders, suspension bridges, and cliffs while seeing Banff from a whole different perspective. The entire experience was thrilling and safely put me outside of my comfort zone!  We checked into our next hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs before spending an afternoon at the spa since afternoon thunderstorms derailed our hike. Their spa, Willow Stream receives high accolades each year, including top spa in Canada, so this was the perfect place for us to rest and rejuvenate after a busy few days. If you don’t want to have a spa treatment but want to enjoy their mineral baths, pools, saunas and indoor and outdoor hot tubs you can pay an entrance fee to enjoy it for the entire day. We took advantage of their complimentary tennis lessons that evening, spending two hours going through drills and matches in the evening sunshine with five other guests.

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Day 8 – We headed to the Kicking Horse River for a morning of white water rafting with Hydra RaftingThe 20 kilometer rafting trip was 2-hours and began calmly before taking us through lots of class IV rapids! We had a blast and really liked the group as well as the delicious burgers they served for lunch following the rafting trip. We returned to our hotel just in time to enjoy high tea overlooking the river and enjoying dinner at 1888 Chop House – one of our favorite meals of the trip.

Day 9 – We slept in quite late on our final day of vacation before enjoying a hike around Banff and the nearby waterfalls as well as one last leisurely breakfast. We headed back to Calgary and stayed at Hotel Le Germain where we snagged a room for less than $90 USD! Their concierge recommended a nearby sushi restaurant, Ki Modern, where we were able to eat outside and enjoy the Tragically Hip concert which was being broadcast at every nearby bar as well as on two shutdown streets. (Don’t know who Tragically Hip is? Neither did we until we read this Rolling Stone article.)

Day 10 – Travel Day  – I recommend booking an early flight as it minimizes the delay potentials and allows you to have some time at home on Sunday to prepare for the week.

Your turn: Any specific questions you have? Otherwise, the next post will be dedicated to what we packed and wore during the ten day trip! 

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IMAXShift Brooklyn

imaxshift studio image

This blog post could also be titled, the time I took a spin class in a movie theater or that time I left a class utterly confused and disappointed.

IMAXShift, which opened in May, is located near the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo. The first new studio to open in this area, they will soon have lots of company since Shadow Box and Row House are opening next month. Due to the convenient location and our love of spin classes, Bo and I hoped that we would quickly fall in love with this unique workout. We signed up for their 7:00 AM ride via ClassPass, excited to have discovered another great Brooklyn workout option. With average reviews of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it had to be a good experience, right? Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Ride Beyond ImaxShift Brooklyn

ImaxShift Spin Studio

Since the studio highlights the IMAXShift difference multiple times throughout their website and studio, I thought I would use these aspects to provide my review as they are correct, these things do differentiate the experience and studio from other NYC spin studios.

ImaxShift spin shoes

imaxshift difference

  • Screen: When I heard the name of the studio and read the description, I thought the screen was going to make me fall in love with the experience. I envisioned simulated rides through the Alps or Pyrenees – following Tour de France rides or other globally known bike courses. Another option I envisioned was riding to my favorite, inspiring movie scenes. Instead, the 40 x 24 foot screen played everything from Justin Bieber music videos to nature images which reminded me of the Disney ride Soaring. Evidently each trainer has the freedom to design their own visuals and soundtrack so that no two rides are the same.  The teacher pointed out multiple times that we weren’t staring at a mirror or competing against anyone. While I love the no judgement mentality, I also don’t understand the mirror comparison when it comes to spin classes. While the ever-popular Soul Cycle has a mirror in the front of it’s classes, the classes are so dimly lit and sweaty that I’ve never even noticed the mirror as it’s often too dark or fogged from the sweat. 
  • Sound: While the music is Imax theatre quality, the louder than necessary music caused the instructor to literally scream at us during the class. In addition, for the entire class the music was off timing with the music videos which drove me a bit insane.
  • Studio: This is by far the largest spin studio I have ever seen! Since it is in the IMAX theater it is literally the size of a large movie theater and houses more than 50 bikes, only 5 of which were occupied this morning. The studio was so large that it left me feeling alone, especially during this morning’s class.
  • Stats: The Schwinn bike’s console, which reminded me of bikes at Equionx, allow you to see your stats at all times including time, distance and RPMs. However this class is more about keeping the beat than tracking your distance. I felt that it fell in between the bike dancing of Soul Cycle and the focus on the torque style of Flywheel.
  • Scene: The studio is the largest studio I’ve visited in New York City with plenty of space to relax before or after class, get ready in the spotless locker rooms. It is very similar to Peloton in that they encourage you to lounge and enjoy the space though unlike Peloton, there is no food or coffee bar to enjoy.

Would I go again? Most likely. I would be willing to try another class as long as it is during a more popular time and with a different teacher.  When I spoke with the front desk staff, they said that Bree’s classes are their most popular as she was just named NYC’s Hottest Trainer.

Cost: IMAXShift classes cost $34 or you can use one of you can take up to 3 classes per month via ClassPass.  They do have a first time rider special which is 2 rides for $34.

Address: The studio is located in DUMBO in Brooklyn at 127 Plymouth Street, conveniently located near the F train.

What to wear: I recommend wearing bike shorts or crops paired with a sports bra and tank top since the studio was warm this morning. Since they include spin shoes and towels in the price of class, you just need to remember socks!

Your turn: What would you want to watch if you were taking a spin class in an IMAX theater? 

Some images via New York Post.

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Training for the Rock’n’Roll Montreal 10k

Montreal Pic from Trip Advisor

Happy Monday friends!

Now that our Canada vacation is over, it’s back to the real world which includes digging my way through work and blog emails, catching up, and reviewing what our calendar has for the rest of August and September. In case you missed it, I shared our first recap from the trip last week. I am going to dedicate two posts per week over the next three weeks to recapping our Canadian trip details. But today, as part of my return from vacation, it’s time to talk about another fun topic – racing!

During the flight, I realized that in just five weeks we return to Canada to run the Rock’n’Roll Montreal 10k as part of my Rock’n’Blog Ambassador partnership with the Rock’n’Roll race series. While Bo has been to Montreal twice before, this will be my first time visiting the city!  It seems like there are a number of great  bike tours of the city which will allow us an opportunity to get to know the city together while not exhausting our legs.  Since we are both traveling a lot during August and September this is a shorter, two night trip. We are flying in first thing Saturday morning and leaving early Monday morning, following Sunday’s race.

Montreal 10k

I am thankful that Bo and I decided to drop down to the 10k from the half marathon as the 6.2 mile distance is the perfect way to ease back into training and running after a few months of less focused training. I am excited to start tracking the pace, distance and feel of my runs while preparing for this race. While I could definitely run the 10k distance today, it will be far more enjoyable to feel strong and prepared going into the September 25th race!  Since the race is relatively flat, I am going to focus my limited training on speed and building my mileage versus having a specific hill workout. Since some of my longer runs will be in Prospect Park or include bridges, I will definitely still log a few hilly miles over the course of the next few weeks.

Rock'n'Roll Montreal 10k elevation map10k Training Plan

  • Runs: 3x a week (1 speed, 1 mid-distance run and 1 longer run at goal 10k pace per week)
  • Yoga: At least 1x a week
  • Cross Training: At least 2x a week

Goals

  • Enjoy the race.
  • Run a strong race.
  • Possibly run a PR (57:17 or 9:19 pace per mile) depending on weather and training

This plan will help me get back on track with the regular workouts and running that I crave, while also ensuring that I am still able to enjoy the flexibility. This plan will allow me plenty of opportunities to workout with friends as well as ensure I do not put too much pressure on myself.  Based on how the first few weeks of 10k training go, I will assess my goals for the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon which is two weeks after this race.   If the first two weeks go well and I can easily hit my pace goals during my long runs, then I will increase the long runs in preparation for the half marathon and 10k versus limiting them to 6 or 7 miles.

Your turn: Are you heading to Montreal for this race or the half marathon? If you’ve been to Montreal, any restaurant, museum or other recommendations? 

All images are from the official Rock’n’Roll Montreal Website

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