Banff – Expensive, tacky and beautiful

When we arrived in Banff last night, we found out that the hostel is about 50% more than on the coast (around £40 for a family room, compared to £20 in Vancouver). On a budget of $120 (Canadian Dollars) a day, spending $95 on accommodation would blow away the daytime options. But fortunately, although we’re paying for our own accommodation and most of our food, the BBC, working with the local tourist boards, are organising all of the daytime activities. It means that yesterday we saved $100 on the Icefield trip. (If we’d been doing it ourselves, we may have done the coach trip, but its more likely that we would have walked onto the glacier from the car park at the foot of it. But we’d have missed the commentary, which did tell us a lot about what we were seeing).Minnewanka Lake

This morning we went to Minniwanka Lake, and took a boat trip between the mountains. Again, another tourist moment, with a commentary from the onboard guide. Although it was obvious that Dillon the Guide had done it 20 times a day for the whole season, it was still informative and told us things we wouldn’t have known without the trip. This is a lesson we’d learnt in India a long time ago, that the guides tell you things that help to bring what you are seeing alive in your mind. Unfortunately we haven’t yet found a guide who really excites Charlotte and Emily, but we’ll keep looking!banffboat

The bit that did get the girls laughing and giggling was when Mat blew them kisses from his boat. We had the opportunity to sit and relax, and admire the view, while Mat whizzed all around us in his speedboat, taking film of the boat, the views, and the girls pulling funny faces at him. I think he was disappointed that the BBC budget wouldn’t run to a helicopter for him, but he had fun in the speedboat!

In the afternoon we filmed inside the hostel, which takes ages (a couple of hours, for probably a minute’s worth of film), with Sarah explaining about our accommodation, and Charlotte showing Mat how she does her Maths lessons on the Tablet PC. And then we all went of to Banff Upper Springs, which was like a swimming pool, but at bath temperature (40 degrees). This was probably the moment we’ll have plenty of time to regret! They hired 1920’s swimming costumes, and when in Rome….

So there I am in a 1920’s swimming costume, walking out of the changing room, to find that nobody else was wearing them. And then the lifeguard makes an announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a BBC film crew at the pool today, who are going to be filming. If you don’t want to be filmed please move to the other end of the pool…” And there I am, standing there in a stoopid costume, with 150 pairs of eyes all watching me, as Mat made me walk out of the door half a dozen times. God, I’ve got no chance of ever getting another serious job if my prospective employer sees that!

Banff SpringsBy the time the girls had changed, the excitement had died down a bit, so Sarah was able to walk out semi-inconspicuously. And then we had the typical ‘hot tub interview’ bit, but then Mat finished and went back to his hotel, and we could relax and pretend to be normal (except that we were still the only people in the pool wearing 1920’s swimming costumes). You will have noticed that this paragraph doesn’t have a photograph alongside it. Well, now you’ve read it, you know why!