After spending a couple of days in Vancouver, we flew to Calgary, Alberta. My aunt, uncle and cousin live there and it was so good to see them again. We're quite close to most of our large extended family, but with a lot of us physically far apart and spread out across the globe, catching up with each other is sporadic, often years apart, and usually only in The Philippines. Our time in Calgary and Banff was made all the more special because we got to reconnect, spending a week living with them and celebrating the New Year together as 2015 became 2016. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of that week.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of our entire trip to Canada was our visit to Lake Louise and Banff National Park. We left at around 7am, but the sun wouldn't rise for a couple more hours (meanwhile in Brisbane, the sun still rises before 8:30am even during the winter months). It would have been lovely to see Lake Louise just as the sun rose, but that would have involved waking up at 5am and leaving for The Rockies at 6am, and let's face it—sleep during a Canadian winter is valuable.
We knew Alberta would be colder than British Columbia, but nobody, not even my “Canadian” family who have lived there for years, was prepared for it to be -25ºC at Lake Louise that day. It's one thing to know you'll be cold, and another thing to actually be it. The moment I stepped out of the car all feeling left my extremities (despite wearing gloves, two socks, snow boots and the like), I felt my nose hairs start to stick together, and even blinking felt weird as the tears my eyes produced for me froze when they met the winter air.
Naturally, we were pretty excited to see the snow. Every single Christmas song we'd ever heard all of a sudden felt so right, instead of being met with an internal groan. Every drop of coffee, tea or hot chocolate was savoured. I even grew to love the somewhat tiresome motion of putting layers of clothes on, only to remove them and put them back on when you went in and out of buildings (small price to pay for feeling snuggly, I feel). There's something about snow that is so magical—I'm sure, had I grown up around it, I wouldn't have cared as much, but the novelty of the entire experience made it that much more memorable for us. I found myself mesmerised by everything, soaking in every little detail because I wanted to remember the newness of everything forever. It was easy to smile, despite every muscle in our faces aching from the cold.