That’s right, this is Peonies to Palm Trees’ very first real honeymoon from the Great White North! This week’s real honeymooners had a great time driving all around the Canadian Rockies, and it just goes to show that you don’t need to fly halfway around the world and spend a small fortune to to enjoy an awesome honeymoon. Read all about their fun Canadian honeymoon below, eh?:
When and where did you honeymoon?
We travelled to the Rockies in southern Alberta, right after our wedding in July 2013.
We flew into Calgary, and spent a few days in Banff, followed by two nights in Calgary (for the Calgary Stampede). We then did a day trip northeast to Drumheller (dinosaurs!), then went back to the Rockies, staying in Canmore for another two nights (where mostly townies and winter athletes live), and then Jasper (after driving through the Columbia Icefields). Finally, we finished the trip with two days in Lake Louise.
The itinerary wasn’t ideal geographically, but we did it this way to catch the Calgary Stampede (which ended in the middle of our honeymoon); plus, it was only about 4 hours of out-of-the-way driving.
How long was your trip?
Ten days, although we’d already been away for a week just prior for our wedding in the Maritimes.
How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?
Our criteria were: 1. Somewhere we’d never been before; 2. Take advantage of summer in the Northern Hemisphere (i.e. we’d rather save a Caribbean beach vacation for February when we need a reprieve from Michigan winters); and 3. Not super far away.
This essentially left North America, north of 45 degrees or so, and Western Europe. Since we’d both been to various parts of Europe relatively recently, North America it was. Banff just came up as a pretty place that met all our criteria.
The best part about our honeymoon was…
A tie between endless gorgeous mountains views, and watching the rodeo at the Calgary Stampede (which the Canadian one between us wanted to do since seeing it on TV as a kid). We had some ambivalence about cowboys riding bucking horses and roping calves, but it was still a fun cultural experience to have once.
If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…
We would have probably come back a day or two earlier, both to save on cost and to have more time to settle back in at home after being away for three weeks. (So much laundry to wash and presents to unpack and garden to weed!)
We knew Banff was a tourist town, but we were still blown away by how expensive everything was. We wish we’d spent a bit less time there, and more time in the more chill and less yuppie Canmore, which was still pretty and had a cute, walkable downtown.
We also should have looked at the fuel gauge more often. Luckily we found a gas station in the lovely, very small town of Carbon, only 11km off the “main” road on our way to Drumheller (dinosaurs!). No pushing a neutral car required, although it was a tense ride, with as much coasting on the downhills as possible.
How much planning did you do in advance?
Several months in advance, we bought our flights and a rental car. A month or so in advance, we laid out a general itinerary, and booked hotels for the beginning and the end of the trip. The remaining few nights we booked last-minute, while we were there. Luckily, even though we didn’t get rodeo tickets in advance (they sold out), we found some on kijiji, the Canadian equivalent of Craigslist, and picked them up from the seller the day before the event.
As a side note, we were surprised that none of the places we visited were visibly affected by the catastrophic flooding in Southern Alberta just a few weeks earlier. By the time we got there, all the highways were clear, and most (but not all) of residents were back in their homes.
What was your biggest honeymoon splurge?
In general, we traveled a lot more poshly than either of us is used to (e.g. no hostels, only two nights crashing with friends, most meals in restaurants/pubs, left the camping gear at home for simplicity…). So the whole trip was more than what we’d normally spend.
At the end of our trip, we stayed in the lovely Post Hotel at the bottom of Lake Louise. We were grateful we splurged there instead of the iconic Chateau Lake Louise, which is crawling with tourists, and you’re essentially paying for the name (we heard even some pricey rooms were small and didn’t have a view). The Post Hotel was laid-back, away from tourists, and they took good care of us.
Where do you want to go on your next big trip?
Besides the many weddings and holidays already on the slate, we’re thinking of Germany to visit our immediate and extended families.