Tbilisi, Georgia – Day 1 of 3

On January 1st 2023 I embarked on a trip to explore more of Eastern Europe. My trip will bring me to the cities of Tbilisi (Georgia), Baku (Azerbaijan), Dubai (UAE), and Yerevan (Armenia).

I had to take a bit of a milk run to get to Tbilisi due to it being so far East. My first flight was on an Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Calgary to Frankfurt. I was originally booked in Premium Economy, however I was upgraded to Air Canada’s Signature Class for a couple hundred dollars. After arriving in Frankfurt I was prepared for the usual chaos of having to clear security, then passport control, and then security, however they appeared to have changed things since I last visited. You now just have to clear passport control, which was a breeze. Despite only having 1.25 hours to connect to my next flight to Warsaw, I had ample time.

The next flight to Warsaw was on a 28 year old Lufthansa A321. I was upgraded to the front area (for free), which has significantly more leg room. The 1.25 hour flight was a bit turbulent at the beginning, however smoothed out afterwards.

In Warsaw I had a nearly 9 hour layover, so I checked into the Courtyard by Marriot at the airport. The room was only $70, which is quite the bargain, however we have to consider that Poland is still fairly poor compared to Canada, so the prices are reflective of this. I slept for about 6 hours, which felt amazing.

It was then time to walk across the street back into the airport. There was no lineup at security so I probably could have slept for another hour, however I didn’t know what I would be in store for and didn’t want to chance it. I found a quiet spot in the airport and did some work until it was time to board my last flight to Tbilisi, Georgia on a LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8. The flight was about 3.5 hours and was one of the smoothest flights I had been on in years. It was really neat to fly over the Black Sea and see Russia on one side of the plane, and Turkey on the other side of the plane.

When I arrived in Tbilisi I picked up my rental car, a fairly old Renault Duster with nearly 200,000km on it. Apparently, this is quite common in Georgia to have older rental cars. When we were filling out the paperwork for the car the Alamo rental car agent ran out of room to mark up all the scratches and dents on the car. I would soon find out why this was the case, as the vast majority of roads don’t have line markings and people are fairly crazy drivers.

Before we dive into my adventures in Georgia, let’s take a brief look at the history of Georgia, and then at the history of Tbilisi.

The Kingdom of Georgia was very unified as a kingdom under the Bagrationi Dynasty by King Bagrat III in the early 11th century, after a number of predecessor states of the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia. The Kingdom of Georgia grew an immense amount under the ruling of King David IV and Queen Tamar The Great the Builder between the 10th and 12th centuries. By 1490, Georgia was split up into many small kingdoms and principalities, which struggled to maintain their autonomy against the Ottoman and Iranian empires, until they were finally annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. After a brief independence with the Democratic Republic of Georgia between 1918 and 1921, Georgia was part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic between 1922 and 1936, and was then formed into the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The current republic of Georgia has maintained it’s independence since 1991.

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, was the starting point of my second Eastern Europe trip. The name Tbilisi is derived from the word “tpili”, which means warm. The city was given its name because of the areas surrounding sulfuric hot springs. The city was originally named Tiflis until 1946, when it was ordered by the Soviet leadership to use official Russian names that closely match the local language, in which it was renamed T’pilisi, or Tbilisi in English. The capital city was founded in 455 AD, and is home to 1.2 million people.

After picking up the car I drove to my first stop; the Chronicle of Georgia. The Chronicle of Georgia is a historical monument located near the Tbilisi Sea, which is not actually a real sea, but rather a man-made artificial lake. It was created by Zurab Tsereteli in 1985, however was never officially finished. The monument sits at the top of a large set of stairs and contains 16 pillars that are 30-35 metres tall, with the top half featuring kings, queens, and heroes, and the bottom half depicting stories from the life of Christ. There is also a chapel, and a cross of St. Nino. The reason why the monument was never finished was likely due to the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The views from the top were breathtaking.

Next stop was the Former Archaeology Museum, which is a fantastic example of Soviet architecture. The museum was established in 1988 by Georgian archeologist Rostom Abramishvili. The museum houses monuments that were discovered by archeological excavations in Tbilisi. Sadly, the museum hasn’t been operational since at least 2017, and it’s hard to find information online as to when it shut down. There was about a dozen stray dogs here that were barking a fair amount and approaching me, so I didn’t stay too long.

It was then time to leave the city for a bit to explore some Monastery’s and a Cathedral. The first monastery was Jvari Monastery. Jvari Monastery is a sixth-century Georgian Orthodox monastery located near the historic town of Mtskheta, Georgia. It is a recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. Jvari is a rare example of the Early Medieval Georgian style that survives to this day, relatively unchanged. It was built atop of Jvari Mountain, which stands 656 metres above sea level overlooking the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, and the town of Mtskheta. In the 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist erected a large wooden cross on the tie of a pagan temple. The cross reportedly was able to work miracles on the locals and drew people from all over the area. A small church was eventually erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in 545 AD during the ruling of Guaram I, and named the Small Church of Jvari. The small church wasn’t able to satisfy the needs of the huge influx of Pilgrims, so the present building, known as the Greg Church of Jvari, was built between 590 and 605 AD by Guarum’s son Erismtavari Stepanoz I. In 914 the church was set alight by the Arabs, and was able to survive with only minor repairs. The importance of the complex increased over the time, and was fortified many times, especially during the Middle Ages, with the introduction of a stone wall and gate, many of which still survive.

Georgia is home to a very unique scenario where the White Aragvi and the Black Aragvi rivers meet, however don’t technically combine. You can see this from the top of Jvari Monastery. The rivers both have their unique colours, and don’t really truly mix or combine. I can only think of one other confluence like this, which is the Rio Negro and the Amazon River meeting in Brazil.

Also, from the top of Jvari Monastery you can see my next stop, which was Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which was about a 15 minute drive away. Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is an Orthodox Christian cathedral located in the historic town of Mtskheta, Georgia. The cathedral is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. The cathedral dates back to the 4th century, and is currently the second largest church in Georgia, after the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Throughout the centuries the cathedral served as the burial place for kings. The current structure on site was completed between 1010 and 1029 AD by the medieval Georgian architect Konstantine Arsukisdze.

The final monastery for the day was Shiomgvime Monastery, a medieval monastic complex near the town of Mtskheta. It is located in a narrow limestone canyon on the northern bank of the Kura River, which also flows through Tbilisi. The history of the monastery dates back to about the 6th century when Monk Shio setup the monastery. The earliest building, the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, dates back to 560-580 AD. The church has an octagonal dome covered with a conic floor. The monastery underwent many changes throughout the 11th and 18th centuries, however it has largely maintained its original structure. An archaeological expedition revealed in 1937 a 2 km (1.2 mile) long aqueduct supplying the monastic communities of the nearby village of Skhaltba. The aqueduct was constructed by Bishop Anton of Chkondidi in 1202.

I noticed early on after leaving the airport that my phone wasn’t getting any data signals, which was making it hard to navigate, so I decided that it was best to get a local sim card. I stopped at a Beeline location and picked up a 2GB sim card for $4. I had to wait about 40 minutes in line, and submit my passport, but it was worth it being back on the grid.

I then ventured out again about an hours drive away from Tbilisi to Didgori Battle Memorial and Memorial Estate Statue. Wow, what a drive that was going through the mountains. It’s extremely beautiful in the Georgian mountains. The Didgori Battle Memorial is dedicated to one of the most famous battles in Georgian History, the Battle of Didgori. IN 1121, the king David the Builder won the great victory in the Battle of Didgori against numerous Turkish-Seljuk armies.

Close by is St. George Church, although I couldn’t find much information on the church. It is a small domed church that looks to be built relatively recently.

Continuing along my drive I completed a loop back into Tbilisi from the South side. The decent back into Tbilisi provided incredible views of the city below. I stopped to enjoy the view, and also saw an interesting old bus that was setup on the side of the road as a display piece.

I dropped off the vehicle and settled into my hotel; Hotel Myriam-R. The hotel looked nicer online that it did in person, but provided a clean and comfortable bed. After checking into the hotel I walked around Old Tbilisi for a while, but I won’t go into detail of the buildings I saw until tomorrow when I cover them in more detail.

It was eventually time for dinner. I ended up having Khachapuri, also known as Gerogian Cheese Bread, at a restaurant called Kebab House. Khachapuri is a warm boat-shaped yeast bread stuffed with multiple kinds of cheese and features a runny egg in the center. It was delicious!

It was about 8:30pm by the time I got back to my hotel room. I was barely able to keep my eyes open so I went to bed. I was woken up fairly regularly throughout the night with the noise of fire crackers going off, however it settled down around 3:00am. This is apparently a common issue in Tbilisi and they’re trying to crack down on it. I find it extremely inconsiderate, however I’m becoming a grumpy old man that doesn’t like noise.

Eastern Europe Trip – Day 1 – Travel Day & Zagreb, Croatia

Today I embarked on a 3-week trip to Eastern Europe to complete an Eastern European journey across 8 countries. The countries that I will be visiting are Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Vienna, Estonia, and Finland. During my trip I’ll go into a brief history of each country I visit, as well as go into more detail about specific places in each country that I visit.

My journey started in Calgary with a 9 hour flight on an Air Canada Boeing 787-9 to Frankfurt, with a quick layover before flying on a Lufthansa Airbus A320NEO to Zagreb, Croatia. I booked the outgoing flights in Premium Economy, however was upgraded to business class, which was nice. On the Air Canada flight I had Smoked Duck Breast as an appetizer, Chicken thighs with lemon mustard sauce and sautéed gnocchi for the main course, and cheese and crackers with Port for dinner. Breakfast was fruit, oatmeal, and cheese, however I skipped eating the oatmeal.

Upon arrival in Zagreb I picked up my rental car from Budget; a Skoda Kamiq, a mini SUV, which I only paid $65 CDN for two days.

After picking up the rental car I drove to downtown Zagreb. Before we dive into my adventure out let’s talk about Croatia’s history.

Croatia’s History

Croatia’s history dates back to roughly 5000 BC. After 390 BC the Greeks settled in colonies along the coast line. After 229 BC the Romans gradually took control of Croatia, and ended up ruling the entire country by 12 AD. The Romans divided up the area into provinces of Dalmatia (the coast), Noricum (which included part of Austria), and Pannonia (which included part of Hungary). The Roman control of Croatia came to an end in the 5th Century when the Roman Empire collapsed.

In the early 7th Century Slavic people, known as Croats, migrated to the area. They first settled in Dalmatia, expanding further northwards and inland in the 8th Century. During the Middle Ages trade flourished in Croatia, which allowed many towns to grow significantly. In 1202 of Venetian Crusaders took the town of Zadar to repay a debt that the Croatians owed them. In 1205 the Venetians also captured Dubrovnik and Istria.

In 1358 the Hungarian-Croatian king defeated the Venetians and took back control of Dalmatia, however this didn’t last long because in 1409 after a war the king of Hungary-Croatia sold Dalmatia (except Dubrovnik) to the Venetians. The reason why Dubrovnik wasn’t included was in 1382 Dubrovnik became independent and remained so until 1808.

In 1493 the Ottomans defeated the Croatians during the battle of Krovsko Poje. Peace in the area remained short lived with another war occurring in 1526, when the Hungarians were invaded by the Turks during the battle of Mohacs. The king of the Hungary-Croatian empire was killed and the kingdom was based to Austrian, Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg, however the Turks continued to control most of Croatia until 1716 when they were defeated during the battle of Petervaradino.

In 1797 Venice was forced to return its Croatian territory to Austria. In 1809 Napoleon formed the territory into a new stated called the Illyrian Provinces, but this was short lived because in 1815 Napoleon was defeated. Austria took back the territory, including Dubrovnik.

In 1848 the Hungarians and Croats had a falling out and went to war, but the Austrian monarchy was still able to maintain power until 1867, which the Austrian Empire was split into two halves; Austria and Hungary. The Austrian monarch remained king of both independent halves. Croatia was eventually split; Dalmatia was ruled by Austria, while most of Croatia was ruled by Hungary.

In October 1918 the Austro-Hungarian empire broke up and Croatia declared its independence. On December 1 1918 the Croats agreed to join with the Slovenes and Serbs to form a new state called the kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The Croats soon became upset, as they wanted the new state to become a unitary state. In 1929 King Alexander suspended parliament and introduced a royal dictatorship, and named the state Yugoslavia.

There were two extremist parties in Croatia during the 1930’s; the Communists and the Fascist Ustase. In 1939 the Yugoslavian government gave into the demands for Croatian autonomy and created an autonomous region called the Banovina.

During the beginning of World War 2 Yugoslavia had a neutral stance, but in March 1941 a coup was held by pro-British officers, and as a result the Germans invaded Yugoslavia on April 6 1941. The Germans set up shop in Croatia with the fascist Ustase in charge, but the Croatians were able to liberate them by 1945.

During the 1960’s nationalism re-emerged and more people were demanding autonomy. In 1971 Tito, the Communist leader put a stop to it, but he ended up dying in 1980. Communism collapsed in most of Eastern Europe in 1989, during the same time frame that many non-Communist organizations were being setup. In May 1990 elections were held, with the Croatians seeking to leave Yugoslavia, but with a substantial number of Serbians living in Croatia this created issues. In May 1991 the Croatians voted for independence, but The Yugoslavian army invaded to protect the Serbians living within the Croatian borders. This was the beginning of a long war, which didn’t end until 1995 with the signing of the Erdut Agreement. Croatian independence was recognized by the European Union on January 15 1992, even before the war was over. Eastern Slavonia was ran by the United Nations until 1998, when it was handed over to Croatia.

Exploring Zagreb

Zagreb’s history dates back to the Roman times, and was founded in 1134. Today Zagreb is home to 1.1 million people, housing about 25% of Croatia’s population. I spent the late afternoon exploring the old city including Lotrščak Tower, Ban Josip Jelačić Square, Zagreb 360°, Museum of Broken Relationships, St. Mark’s Church, and Atelijer Meštrović Museum.

As I drove into Zagreb I saw how beautiful the streets were. They reminded me quite a bit of the Czech Republic.A notable building was the circular Croatian Society of Fine Artists. I parked my car in the downtown area and explored for a bit before having to take my COVID test @ 430pm.

Lotrščak Tower is a fortified tower that was built sometime in the 13th century to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall. Gradec is an old part of Zagreb known as Upper Town. The name is derived from the Latin saying “Campana Latrunculorum”, meaning thieves bell, making reference to a bell that was hung in the tower in 1946 to signal the closing of the town gates. The tower had a cannon placed on the fourth floor, and since January 1 1877 the cannon is fired from the tower to mark midday so that bell-ringers of the city churches know when it is noon.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square is Zagreb’s central square. The square has existed since the 17th century, and was first named Harmica. It was renamed to its present name in 1848 after Count Josip Jelačić, who was in office from 1848 to 1859. In 1946 the square was renamed Republic Square and Josip Jelačić’s statue was removed the following year as the new Communist government of Yugoslavia denounced him as a “servant of foreign interests”. After the breakup of Yugoslavia Josip Jelačić’s historic role was again considered positive and the statue was returned to the square, but in a different location on the north side, facing south. Today the square is a common meeting place for the people in Zagreb and is a pedestrian only zone, as well as the main hub for the ZET tram lines. The square is adorned by a variety of architectural styles ranging from classicism, secession, and modernism.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a museum in a baroque palace displaying personal objects from former lovers along with brief synopses.

St. Mark’s Church was built in the 13th century and was radically reconstructed in the second half of the 14th century to a Gothic architecture style. Massive round columns support heavy ribbed vaults cut in stone and an air of peace and sublimity characterizes the church interior in its simplicity. Outside, on the northwest wall of the church lies the oldest coat of arms of Zagreb with the year 1499 engraved in it. On the roof, tiles are laid so that they represent the coat of arms of Zagreb. There was police tape all around the building so I wasn’t able to enter. I couldn’t figure out why there was police tape all around.

The Atelijer Meštrović Museum is dedicated to the artwork of Ivan Meštrović, a renowned Yugoslavian and Croatian sculptor, architect and writer of the 20th century. He lived from 1883 to 1962, where he died at an age of 78 in South Bend, Indiana, USA.

During my walks I also saw a vineyard in the middle of town.

For dinner I had a Truffle Strukli from La Štruk. Štrukli’s are a popular Croatian dish made of pasty, cottage cheese, eggs, sour cream, and salt. All I can say is WOW this dish is delicious!

I explored the night life walking the streets back to my car before driving back to my hotel called Hotel & Hostel Zagreb; a basic accommodation for about $40 CDN. I finished my blog, had a shower, did some work, and went to bed.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I travel from Zagreb, Croatia to visit the Uprising Monument, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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Spring Update – Hiking, Yurt Camping, a New Puppy, and a Wedding

It’s been a while since I last posted here so I figured it was time to give an update as to what I’ve been up to.

Maligne Canyon Hike

Julie and I took a trip up to Jasper at the end of January to hike along the bottom of Maligne Canyon. This has been a bucket list item for me for many year, and I’m glad that I finally got to do it. The hike is only 15 minutes outside of Jasper and starts at the parking lot that you access the “Fifth Bridge”. From there you cross the bridge, follow the trail east, until you see a gate in the fence beside “Bridal Veil” waterfall. The waterfall is stunning to view, and a fun fact is that it never freezes, even in the middle of winter, as the temperature of the water never drops below 0°C. After viewing the beautiful waterfall you have two choices; you can either walk along the riverbed, and go up the little rock slide, or you can continue on the path and enter 200 metres further along the path. We chose to enter the difficult way, up the slide. From there you continue walking along the frozen riverbed and take in the amazing views.

During that weekend we also drove up to Pyramid Lake during the evenings in hope of trying to view the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights were unfortunately not active, however I was able to take some beautiful long-exposure pictures.

On the way back we also stopped at Abraham Lake, a place we visited for the first time last year. This year was much better, as there were even more trapped methane bubbles!

Work

In February and March I had to take two trips up to Red Deer for work to do some photography, which was fun. Our company was involved in the detailed design of a pharmaceutical grade ethanol production facility, and I went up to take pictures and video of the installation of the large distillation towers.

A New Puppy

In February we picked up a new dog named Ruby. She’s the same breed as our previous dog Grady; a wheaten terrier / poodle cross. She’s been an incredible delight to have in my life, despite being a terrorist at times. She recently just turned 6 months old.

Inner City Walks

In the spring we ended up going on quite a few inner-city walks with my dad, and occasionally Julie on the weekends.

Radius Yurts – Radium, British Columbia

At the end of March we drove out to Radium and stayed at the Radius Yurts for the weekend. That was incredibly fun, and I’d definitely do it again. I’ve always wanted to stay in a yurt, and this was a lot more convenient that going all the way to Mongolia to stay in one. One thing we learned was to travel substantially light than we did, because it was quite the walk to our yurt. While we were there we went on a nice long hike around the property, which lasted about 3 hours. There was some incredible views of the Bugaboo’s at the top of the property.

Hiking – Tunnel Mountain Hoodoo’s Trail, Chester Lake, Blackshale Suspension Bridge

At the end of April my father and I did a father-son trip out to Canmore for the weekend. We completed three hikes during the weekend; Tunnel Mountain Hoodoo’s Trail, Chester Lake, and Blackshale Suspension Bridge.

Tunnel Mountain Hoodoo’s Trail is a 7.7 kilometer trail located just outside of Banff, which provides beautiful views of the mountains, and a waterfall, however dad nor I saw the waterfall.

Chester Lake in the winter is simply stunning! This is my third time completing Chester Lake in the last 12 months, and it is significantly different in winter than in the spring, summer, or fall. The trail used in winter is quite a bit steeper than the one used during the other three seasons and is in a more forested area.

Blackshale Suspension Bridge is located high above Blackshale Creek, located along the Smith-Dorrien Trail. The hike takes just over 15 minutes to reach the bridge.

Sara & Tom’s Wedding

On May 1st I got to see my close friend Sara get married to her partner Tom. It was such an incredible experience to be able to photograph their wedding, which was held at Brentview Baptist Church.

Following the wedding we drove out to Banff to take photos at the Banff View Point located on the windy Mt. Norquay Scenic Road. We lucked out with our arrival, as the weather on the drive was extremely rainy, however when we arrived we had a 5-10 minute window of beautiful weather, before it started to snow again. After taking some pictures at the view point we drove down to Cascade Ponds, and again lucked out with the weather, before it started raining.

After taking photos we checked into our hotel, Canalta Lodge, which was graciously provided to us by Sara. The hotel was absolutely stunning, and I really appreciated the rustic feel of the lodging. The beds were super comfortable, the room was spacious, and the decor was cute. For dinner we picked up some burgers from Eddie Burger, and we watched a movie called Without Remorse on Amazon Prime.

The next day we went on a small hike on Canmore’s Hoodoo Trail, before heading home.

Baby Robin’s

At the beginning of May we also had the pleasant surprise of baby Robin’s being born on our balcony.

What’s Next?

What’s in store for me next? Besides a quick trip to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this weekend I’m not entirely sure as COVID-19’s third wave is here. I’ll still be out hiking, but I don’t see any significant travel plans in the horizon at this point in time.

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Taylor Lake Hike

Last weekend I hiked to Taylor Lake in Banff National Park before picking up Julie for a long-weekend trip to Jasper and Wells Gray Provincial Park!

I completed the 14 km return hike, 924 metre of elevation gain, in just under 3 hours. The hike honestly isn’t too strenuous as the elevation gain is fairly consistent throughout the hike. Most of the hike takes place within a forest before emerging in a sub-alpine meadow, which leads to the beautiful Taylor Lake. This was an easy to moderate hike with beautiful views!

2020-08-01 Taylor Lake

Be sure to check back tomorrow on my blog post for our wonderful weekend getaway to Jasper and Wells Gray Provincial Park.

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Bragg Creek Getaway & Black Prince Cirque Hike

It’s been quite some time since both of us have taken a vacation so last weekend Julie & I decided to getaway from the city. Julie found a beautiful place to stay on Airbnb located near Bragg Creek. Our lovely hosts Lise and Alex were waiting for us on their large wrap-around balcony that included a large firepit. Lise, is an construction lawyer, and Alex is a retired tour guide who used to live in Ontario.

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Located at the top of their home is a massive penthouse suite, which is where we were staying, but more on that later.  Lise and Alex showed us around the house before showing us to our penthouse suite. The house is adorned in lovely artwork, as well as beautiful antique and modern wood and leather furniture. I’m a huge fan of mid-century modern and modern, and the house was a beautiful mix of mid-century modern and modern. The main centerpiece in the house is the fireplace, which was constructed from over 8500 hand laid bricks that came from an old warehouse in Chicago.

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Inside the suite was a comfortable king-sized bed, a large deep soaker tub, a rainfall shower, his-and-hers sinks, a minibar fridge, and a French press to make tea or coffee. Inside the mini-bar fridge were some drinks, some fresh fruit, yoghurt, and a lovely bottle of champagne, which was a wonderful surprise. The suite gives a 270 degree view of the luscious trees below. Close to the penthouse suite, down just a few steps, is a large balcony with a table and two chairs, where we spent the evenings watching the beautiful sunsets.

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After getting settled in Julie made us a beautiful Charcuterie board with a bunch of cheese, meats, crackers, fruits, and vegetables. We sat on the balcony and ate it while enjoying the beautiful view.

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Later on in the evening we watched a hilarious show on Netflix called Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father. It is a travel documentary where Jack Whitehall travels with his father, Michael Whitehall. His father, is a grumpy old British guy, and is always complaining about things, but in a hilarious fashion.

The next day we woke up at around 7am. I made some coffee for us and we enjoyed it in bed while talking until it was time to go downstairs for breakfast. Lise and Alex are amazing cooks and they had prepared us some stuffed tomatoes filled with tiny wild mushrooms, alongside some toast, bacon and seasoned potatoes.

After enjoying our delicious breakfast we drove into Kananaskis to hike Black Prince Cirque, which is a 4.8 km roundtrip hike to the beautiful Warspite Lake with a backdrop of the towering Mount Black Prince and Hermione Peak. The hike has a total of 178 metres of elevation gain and can be done in as little as an hour. We took our time because of Julie’s knee, taking approximately 1.75 hours.

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On the way back we decided to stop at Foothills Creamery in Bragg Creek to get some ice cream. Julie got black licorice and root beer float flavoured ice cream in a cup, while I got a waffle cone filled with tiger flavour. We then drove back to the house to relax for a bit before heading out to dinner at The Italian Farmhouse in Bragg Creek. Julie had gluten free seafood linguine with white wine sauce, served with a glass of red wine. I had spaghetti carbonara, served with a few pints of lager. We also shared so wild boar meatballs.

After dinner we drove back to the house and relaxed in our room for a bit. When Lise and Alex came home we went downstairs to great them and meet their beautiful Weimaraner dogs named Otto and Ester. Otto is a huge flirt and is quick to open up, while Ester is a bit more shy but she eventually opens up.

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We spent the evening watching the sunset before enjoying the relaxing deep soaker tub and watching more of Jack Whitehall show. The next morning we woke up at 8am and enjoyed coffee in bed before venturing downstairs to yet another amazing meal. This time it was smoked salmon and cheese on toast; it was to die for!

After breakfast we played some board games and card games before it was time to checkout. We would both gladly stay here again in a heartbeat and have already recommended this place to family and friends. You can book it on Airbnb here.

After checking out we drove to Elbow Falls, which we both hadn’t been to in probably over ten years. It has changed a lot since the flood of 2013. I’ve enclosed a photo of what it used to look like before the flood.

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Consolation Lakes Hike & Moraine Lake

This weekend I completed the short but sweet hike to Consolation Lakes. Sadly I forgot the memory card for my Canon EOS R at home, so I was stuck with my trusty iPhone XS. Luckily I have an app called ProCam, which allows you take take photos in RAW format, so that you can edit them later on in Adobe Photoshop.

The hike starts from the Moraine Lake parking lot and heads east, over Moraine Creek on a fairly new bridge. Off to the right there is a 300 metre long path up some steps to have  a beautiful view of the lake. I don’t actually ever recall seeing this vantage point in the past, but my parents may have taken me there as a child.

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After viewing the lake. I continued along the 6 kilometre trail towards Consolation Lakes. Near the Tower of Babel I had to cross the river again, but this time there wasn’t a bridge, so I had to hop along the rocks.

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Continuing further towards the lakes there is the fast moving Babel Creek off on the left hand side.

2020-06-26 Morraine Lake & Consolation Lakes Hike 2

The path towards the lakes was very well kept until the last few minutes, where it was a bit muddy. Parks Canada even did a very nice job in the areas that tend to get washed out by building a raised-up pathway area.

2020-06-26 Morraine Lake & Consolation Lakes Hike 32020-06-26 Morraine Lake & Consolation Lakes Hike 4

When I arrived at the lake I was awe struck at the beauty of the lake. There was a few ducks Wood Ducks swimming in the lake, as well as a few Marmots. I wasn’t able to take great pictures of these with my phone. While sitting and admiring the view I could hear and see the glaciers in the background cracking and falling.

2020-06-26 Morraine Lake & Consolation Lakes Hike 6

After taking in the views it was time to head back, as there was a storm about to roll in. The hike took me just over an hour and a half to complete.

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