It’s not morning any more, but it was a good one. The meetings here don’t start till this evening, and even then it’s just registration and a social, so I took the opportunity to explore. First I got Canadian money, and remembered that the one-dollar coins have a loon on the back. They’re called “loonies” (the two-dollar coins are called “toonies”).
On the front side, Queen Elizabeth has aged:
Flush with loonies, I had a late breakfast at Coyote’s Southwestern Cafe: huevos rancheros and coffee. The coffee was excellent, the huevos rancheros (fried egg, salsa, chiles, cheese, black beans, sour cream, and avocado on a blue corn tortilla) were good but overpriced, and service was mediocre. I won’t eat there again.
After breakfast I wandered the streets, checking with the rangers about the endemic thermophilic snails in the hot springs. The springs are temporarily closed, but I may be able to get access by calling the ranger in charge.
To reward myself for due diligence, I bought some ice cream at the highly regarded Cows on Banff Avenue. I had a chocolate cheesecake cone, which was good but expensive ($4.25 for one scoop!). A sign in the window quotes a travel site’s list of the ten best places in the world to get ice cream, and Cows is ranked #1. I strongly disagree. My choice would be Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has the absolute best flavor in the world: burnt sugar. If you’re ever there, try it. (I rank Berthillon in Paris [marron glacée is sublime] and Dr. Mike’s in Bethel, Connecticut as tied for #2, but I’ve never explored the gelatos of Italy.)
On the advice of readers, I took the gondola up Sulphur Mountain, and it was absolutely spectacular. At $31.00 for the round trip, it’s not cheap but it’s well worth it. The cable car goes up to a viewpoint near the peak, and the ride is long and gorgeous. I had an entire gondola to myself:
At the top you’re greeted by a 360-degree view of peaks, lakes, and the town of Banff far below. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Here’s a taste, with Banff at lower left (click to enlarge). The Banff Centre, where I’m staying, is the isolated group of buildings on the small hill in the “centre.”
Oh, and on the walk home I saw this cute bird. Now for a biologist I’m abysmally unable to identify birds. Can an alert reader enlighten me?