When my parents told me that my 13 year old sister was choosing the location of our annual family holiday, I was worried. I had assumed it would be a hotel in a Universal Studios complex or an American villa with a cage around the pool, however she had decided her heart was set on the Canadian Rockies. Despite various friends demonstrating their enthusiasm about the idea of traveling around Canada, I had my doubts. Firstly I could not recall the last time I spent more than an hour with my parents, brother and sister, and secondly I had a strange pre-conception of the country. For some reason I felt that it would be dull and lifeless, too spread apart and that I would regret going. How wrong was I.
Once setting foot on the waterfront of Vancouver I was shocked that I had never been here before, it was beautiful. The mountain range backdrop past the lake that overlooks the futuristic “downtown” city centre is spectacular. It embodies both the buzz of London and the chilled out coffee culture of Cape Town, where everyone meets outside before, during and after work to exercise and socialise. I almost had second thoughts about studying in Barcelona.
After a few days in the city we embarked the 20 hour night train to the Rockies, and despite the metal bunk bed set up I would not call it a “sleeper” train. It was a bumpy and slow journey, however the observation deck that overlooked the vast mountain ranges, rivers, waterfalls and stars was worthy of sacrificing a nights sleep. It became clear that the train was a hotspot for single pensioner parties, looking to travel with all their disposable cash. I met a lovely woman called Norma, who told me she once was the tour guide of this trip, “waay back when I was younger, I was only 80 then.” I was suddenly so grateful that she thought 80 was “young,” meaning I have another 58 years of being young to travel.
We rented a car to travel through Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, and Calgary and although driving on the right side of the road proved almost impossible at times I finally realised why everyone raves about the Rockies. Hot springs, glaciers, gondolas, mountain biking, rafting, lodges, bears and elks, this was way better than a Mark Warner poolside holiday in Kos. Despite failing to see a real bear and struggling on the down hill mountain bike, I have never been so content and happy on a family holiday and I was genuinely sad to leave Canada. I can assure you it wont be the last time.
So next time your parents so kindly invite you along on a family holiday, definitely take them up on the offer. Not only is it free, its now socially legal to drink with them and dare I say it, have a good time. Forget the days of sitting in your room with Netflix on, they are just as keen to hit the hotel bar as you are.