Having just returned from my big fat week-long Canadian holiday, my room looked like a retail store on the eve of their annual sale. Clothes tumbled out of unpacked bags, souvenirs lay scattered on my bed, while chocolates were stacked in a corner I’d picked up from Mumbai Duty Free.
Visiting the Canadian Rockies had been on my bucket list for as long as I could remember. Unfortunately, in a bid to save big bucks, my great getaway had taken a backseat. It was only when I stumbled upon this exclusive international flights offer on a Saturday on my Citi Card , did I decide it was time to gift myself a trip.
Given the last minute bookings, I was apprehensive of the surges in price. But to my delight, I received 10% cashback on MakeMyTrip with my Citi Card. And a month later, I had arrived at my destination at the Calgary International Airport in Canada’s Alberta province.
Skyscrapers stand tall in Calgary’s Alberta province in Canada. Photo by: Michael Wheatley/All Canada Photos/Getty Images
I’d booked a self-drive car rental for the course of my stay and had accessed the permits necessary to gain entry to the national parks. The first thing I did after exiting the airport was to pick the car. Car rental offers under Citi World Privileges had covered all my grounds.
With a newfound zest for adventure, I was headed west of Calgary on Trans-Canada Highway to visit the Banff National Park. As far as my eyes could see, lodgepole pine trees dotted the sides of roads that stretched to a distance. Cool air brushed against my skin as I rolled down the windows. Having driven past the entry station after an hour of driving, I found myself at Canada’s oldest national park. Placid lakes reflected the blue sky. Signboards at regular intervals guided me through the pit stops I made along the way. Castle Mountain stood tall, boasting historic tales of the internment camp that housed several hundred prisoners during World War I.
The national park was an hour’s drive from the hotel I stayed at, which was situated in close proximity to downtown Calgary. The place was cosy and my room overlooked the city’s skyline. With a host of places to choose from, I am glad I booked this one on MMT with my Citi Card. The cherry on the cake was 30% cashback.
Scenic views of the Castle Mountain. Photo by: Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images/ Moment/Getty Images
I was transfixed by the unarguably scenic routes that induced a sigh at every bend. Wildlife here is found in abundance. Grizzly bears and mountain lions didn’t shy away from making a cameo. Every once in a while on encountering a moose, I’d bring my car to a halt. Standing impressively taller than most vehicles, the animal stood amiably in middle of the highway. I didn’t mind the halts, for the postcard-perfect nature more than made up for it in all its glory. A drive down this route is an experience I’d highly recommend.
I reached the majestic Lake Louise later in the afternoon. At an elevation of 5740 feet, the turquoise water stretched 2.5 km in length and 295 feet in depth. The hanging Victoria Glacier and a coliseum of undulating peaks provided a lofty backdrop to the lake. Soon enough my tummy rumbled in protest to the hunger pangs that had set in. I made my way to the Lakeview Lounge at the palatial Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The charming interiors were welcoming and I found myself a seat overlooking the awe-inspiring Lake Louise.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise overlooks the lake in Banff National Park. Photo by: John Elk III/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
The menu was an impressive mix of Canadian cuisines and signature cocktails. I wolfed down the tenderly cooked braised lamb shank, which was paired perfectly with a glass of Merlot with some help from the sommelier. Crème brûlée with raspberry chambord sorbet was bursting with flavours. I treated myself to a hearty meal using my Citi credit card, which is accepted almost everywhere.
Crème brûlée. Photo by: Banu Patel/FOAP/ foap/Getty Images
Over the next four days, I navigated my route through three more of the five national parks located within the Canadian Rockies. The frequent stops I made at restaurants, souvenir stores and gas stations to stock up on supplies were carried out with utmost ease owing to my Citi credit card. I was enraptured by the legendary outdoor wonderlands of Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho national parks. The regret of missing out on Waterton Lakes National Park albeit its far placed geographical proximity urges me to promise a return to the site someday in the future.
Don’t hold back and take time off to build memories that will stay with you forever….. When are you taking off to your dream holiday destination?
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