A Stinky Pool in Paradise

Banff’s sulphur hot springs stink. There’s no getting away from it, the smell of sulphur is everywhere and it reeks.

As soon as we pulled up in the car park, the smell invaded everything and it smelt like rotten eggs. Still, we’d never visited hot springs before, and as the saying goes, try everything at least once!

We’d been up Sulphur Mountain the day before and marvelled at the amazing scenery. The basin below is home to the historical site of the first National Park, an information centre and the grotto which housed the sulphur spring.

The grotto was fairly small but the pool within was like something out of a movie.

Surrounded by rock, the green glow of the water reflected all around us. The smell of the sulphur was almost overpowering at times but it was really interesting to see the source of the ‘healing waters’ that people had once flocked to bathe in.

Outside of the cave, a small visitor’s centre provided information on the history of the site. Around the outside of the site, the pool deck provided a walkway around the edge of the pool. Standing up on the higher walls gave a great overview of the site and really highlighted how deep the pools were.

Living in the caves and basin are a species of endangered snail. Although we could get close to the pool edge, we were warned not to put our hands in to avoid upsetting their delicate eco-balance.

We spent the rest of our visit checking out the visitor’s centre and learning more about the basin site before heading up to the hot springs themselves. If you do decide to visit the baths, be warned, they are the hottest waters I have ever been in, and I like my shower set to scalding!

Although the centre only really has enough to keep you entertained for a short visit, it’s well worth a stop, especially if you look out for the red chairs – a great place to sit and take in the view.

Learn more about Banff’s cave and basin here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ab/caveandbasin

$4 for adults, children go free.

Happiness Only Real When Shared: Reflections From The Top of Sulphur Mountain, Banff.

We look back at our favourite image from 2017

As we hurtle towards the end of the year, we thought that we would look back on the year until now. 2017 saw the launch of this blog and it’s great to have been able to share some of our adventures with you!

Helpfully, the daily post’s photo challenge this week was on the topic of favourite photos from this year. With this in mind, me and Wandering Beeb went digging through our photos to see what we would class as our favourites.

Some of the stand out ones from this year were our ‘walking the glacier‘ set – just because the experience was so surreal and so different to our usual trips.

The photos on Sulphur Mountain in Banff grabbed us and made sense for us to share on this theme, although probably not for the reasons you would think!

Sulphur Mountain was impressive, with stunning views on a near 360 degree viewing platform. We were lucky in that the haze from the forest fires had cleared a little, moving the view of the mountains from a fuzzy outline in the distance to 3D relief, affording us some stunning vistas. We made the short trundle from the observation deck to the now defunct Cosmic Ray Station, heading up inclines made manageable for most visitors by structured steps and under-foot decking. So much so that a small child was walking confidently the length of the observation deck, loudly proclaiming ‘Eeek’ to the surrounding mountains, blissfully unconcerned with the breath-taking drop below. Looking back at the photos, the views are clearly stunning, but this wasn’t the reason for singling them out.

One of the best things about travelling is speaking to other people from different cultures, countries and perspectives – even when it’s only briefly. Those snippets of conversation are what add flavour to the otherwise routine trawl through the sightseeing gambit and it was the connections we made on this part of the trip that we were reminded of by these photos.

Whizzing along on the upward gondola trip, we found ourselves sharing the four person gondola with two guys who were catching up on a trip out to Banff. They explained that they had been neighbours 10 years earlier, with one of the pair only being a kid at the time. Learning about two people and their stories in an 8 minute ride up the mountain can only give you a flavour of their history, but we had the sense that they were two really cool guys, enjoying their time catching up. There was an easy-going banter between the two of them which helped to reduce my anxiety at being suspended above the ground by a single cable.

The way down saw us sharing the space with a couple from Sweden who were clearly as freaked out by the height as I was (you can read more about my terrible relationship with gondolas here).

Despite the anxiety, we talked about their trip, starting with Reykjavik, heading on to Quebec and learning about their observations on Toronto (a smaller version of NYC). We shared our views on Vancouver (to which they were heading soon). They took a couple of snaps and asked us about our football preferences back home in the UK (Zatan was a favourite topic of conversation). As soon as people find out we are from Manchester, the first question is always ‘are you a red or a blue?’ By the time the gondola had reached the bottom and we wished each other happy travels, we had shared travel tips, made new acquaintances and had some ideas for our future travels. It’s those memories that have made these photos some of our favourites. 

This is our favourite part of travelling and regardless of beautiful scenery and amazing experiences, it’s the people and the connections that makes the journey worthwhile.