Top travel tips
California and Canada
Whilst topping up their professional development hours at the Alliott Group conference in Vancouver last month, Vanessa and Greg also took note of their glorious surrounds to create a travel log with their best tips if you ever find yourself in North America.
Their itinerary took them to the Napa Valley in California for three days, then onto Canada with a night each in Emerald Lake and Calgary, then two nights in Banff and Jasper during the height of summer, August. We hand over to Vanessa and Greg who write:
We spent three days in Napa but could have easily spent a week! We drove from San Francisco – allow two hours to get there, it’s an easy drive with a GPS. Also allow plenty of time to get through customs at San Francisco. Normal processing times are around 2½ hours which can be frustrating for those not prepared for the wait:
- Don’t stay in Napa town; stay in St Helena or Yountville. These towns are closer to vineyards and top restaurants and are only 15 mins apart.
- Don’t miss Domaine Carneros sparkling wine tour (owned by Tattinger), Chateau Montelena (known for the “Bottle Shock” movie) and Opus One which is visually stunning.
- We ate at the Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch and Archetype, all in St Helena and a great farm to table food experience.
- You need to book at a lot of wineries for tasting and some won’t take you without a booking, so plan ahead so you don’t miss out.
Banff and Jasper National Parks, Canada
Fly to Calgary and then it’s just a two-hour drive to Banff. The roads are amazing with 4-6 lane highways all the way:
- You need to buy a pass to travel through Banff and Jasper National Parks, even if you are just stopping in the town for a coffee. These can be obtained just before you enter the parks at a drive-through booth or from visitor’s centres in Banff and Jasper. We were charged per vehicle and it was about CAD$95 for five days.
- A great hotel in central Banff is Moose Hotel and Suites – new, interesting and incredibly well laid out rooms.
- We also stayed at Emerald Lake Lodge which is the only resort on Emerald Lake, a smaller lake with aqua coloured waters that are just stunning.
- Be prepared for crowds at Lake Louise and not being able to park close by. Instead, go early before 9am, stay at the Fairmont Hotel Lake Louise right on the lake or park at overflow parking 5km off the highway and catch the free bus to the lake.
- The drive from Banff to Jasper is stunning so allow three hours. Make sure you stop at Ice Fields Parkway to see the glaciers.
- If you see cars stopped on side of the road it’s normally because there is wildlife ie moose, elk or bears so slow down and you might just get a great picture!
- Prices in Canada don’t include GST or other sales tax so don’t be surprised when the final price you are charged is higher than what is on the price tag.
Oh Canada … you are stunning and, yes, it does rival the South Island of NZ!
(Photos: (left) Dinner in Napa, (inset) Lake Louise, (top) Emerald Lake Canada, (bottom) Domaine Carneros Napa)
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