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Old 4 Mar 18, 11:31 AM  
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jocat
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The Rockies Tour, with a rocky run up.

Well itís pre-trippie time, and Iíve actually broken my usual habit of remembering to write and post it the night before we fly! This time Iím almost 5 months earlier, but thereís a reason for that Ė Iím hoping lots of lovely Dibbers will contribute to my planning.

Itís just the two of us again as our children prefer to holiday without us now that they are 24. Can't blame them really - they both have partners and we're no longer paying!

Letís get the introductions over with Ė Iím Jo and DH is Martin. Here we are on last yearís holiday.



Well this holiday to Canada was actually first considered two years ago, with the aim of visiting in Summer 2017. However, in September 2016 I spotted a post on the Dibb about cheap flights to California, so our plans quickly changed at the mere term 'bargain'. Little did we know how expensive hotels were, so the 'bargain' holiday would turn out not to be quite that. We're only here once though, so we had no regrets. Instead we postponed our planned trip to Vancouver and the Rockies by a year.

We first visited Canada in May 2015, taking in Toronto and Niagara Falls. We had a fabulous time, but it was only a short break. It really whetted our appetite to see more of the country though.

I was hoping to find similarly cheap Flydrive prices in the BA sale to those weíd found to California, but we werenít quite as lucky. There will be more on that in a later postÖ

We researched different airports to fly into and out of and quickly came up with a very short list comprising of Calgary and Vancouver. This would avoid us having to do a loop, but which to do first?

Last yearís road trip actually helped us decide. Weíd visited San Francisco at the end of our trip, immediately following a stay in Yosemite, and although I enjoyed the city, nothing could live up the beauty of Yosemite for me. For that reason I felt that the Rockies would be better to visit at the end of our trip and therefore we should fly into Vancouver and home from Calgary.

With the help of a post on the Dibb asking for ideas, a very tentative itinerary was formed and we looked at potential dates to travel. We then had an anxious wait while Martin tried to get his holiday dates confirmed and hoping that the BA sale would still be on by the time that happened.

The intial itinerary was formed as follows:

22/07/18 Fly to Vancouver for 4 nights
Vancouver Island - 3 nights
An overnight stay somewhere to break up a long drive
Jasper Ė 3 nights
Banff - 5 nights to include visiting Lake Louise
Calgary Ė 2 nights


Part 2 to follow later.

Edited at 12:27 PM.
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Old 4 Mar 18, 02:00 PM  
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Booking Flights

DH got the go ahead for his holiday dates in early November, but we didnít book flights immediately. This was in part because of the afternoon shift he was on that week meaning we didnít see each other, and partly because Iíd learnt from last year and decided to price up some average hotel costs for potential places we might base ourselves first.

However, excitement took over and within two days of his holiday dates being agreed, the flights were booked. But letís backtrack a bit, because thereís a story hereÖ

In September, weíd made our last mortgage payment, so knew weíd have extra cash every month now that we were mortgage free. Why not go mad and spoil ourselves a bit? (Admittedly that was just me thinking that and not both of us! )

Weíd previously travelled in Premium Economy on our anniversary trip in 2014, and Iíd also travelled in PE last October when I went on a girls only birthday trip to Vegas where we were spoilt rotten by the Cabin Crew. They even gave us this little stash to take off the plane to have a drink on them in Vegas.





I donít normally like flying very much, but for some reason I had a completely different experience on that flight. This was enough to convince me that if the price wasnít hugely different, my plan for future long haul trips involved travelling in a bit more comfort.

My powers of persuasion started with the dropping of a few little hints. Iím very lucky that DH is easily persuaded.

We decided weíd travel in World Traveller Plus, which is BAís version of Premium Economy, although I was worried Iíd be a little disappointed with BA having only experienced PE with Virgin Ė reviews Iíve read on the Dibb seem to indicate itís a poor comparison.

We werenít able to book online as we wanted to travel in and out of different airports, so I had to ring BA. We discovered that we werenít able to book it as BA Flydrive holiday and only pay a deposit either, as we didnít want the car for the entire duration. I did tell them that hadnít been a problem last year and that weíd dropped the car off upon arrival in San Francisco, but either things have changed or it was made more difficult because we didnít want the car at the beginning of this holiday. Never mind, we had the funds to pay for the flights up front, so it didnít really matter, or so we thought. If only we knew then what we knew now! More about that later.

While Iíd been browsing prices online, Iíd noticed some great prices to upgrade even further on the flight out to Vancouver. I decided to get some quotes Ė what could hurt? I wasnít going to book as DH was at work, but I could talk to him about the different quotes when he rang me.

I chanced my arm and also got a quote for return flights in Club, but the return flight prices from Calgary made it extortionate, so that idea was quickly dropped. However there were really good prices to upgrade one way on the outbound flight.

Iíll condense this a bit and let you know that I ended up getting a quote for a bargain upgrade to First Class. Iím not sure if it was a glitch or not, but the price for a First Class ticket to Vancouver was a fifth of the price of a First Class ticket from Calgary to London. Letís just say I was rather excited.



It was nearing 8pm by this time, and the BA phone lines were about to close. I told the lady Iíd been talking to that I couldnít book there and then as I would need to confirm with DH first, so she gave me a her name and told me to call back the next day.

When DH rang me an hour later during his break, I could barely contain myself. The difference in price between WTP and First was the equivalent of two monthís mortgage payments that we were no longer paying. We agreed that we both work hard, we would never get the chance to fly First Class again, so decided to just go for it. After losing some family members suddenly over the past few years, our philosophy towards life has changed somewhat. Before this, we always had a very cautious attitude, but we try not to put things off anymore.

It was a long 21 hours until we could ring again and then it all went a bit wrong.

I couldnít get put through to the lady Iíd spoken to yesterday, so ended up going through it all again. The total price had almost tripled! I was gutted. We tried changing the dates by a couple of days, but it didnít make a difference. I gave him both quotes Iíd been given the day before and he said heíd try to reset the system to yesterdayís date, to see if he could get the same prices. There were no guarantees but heíd give it a go and call me back.

I managed to ring DH and tell him, so we were resigned to being back to the drawing board, but less than an hour later they called me back with the same prices as my original quotes.

Ten minutes later, the flights were all booked and paid for! The car hire was then put through as a separate booking, to be paid for upon collection.



It had been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions for a couple of hours, but we could now relax and start looking at hotels.

Edited at 02:03 PM.
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Old 4 Mar 18, 02:14 PM  
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First class - how fabulous! Not jealous at all

Will come back and try to give some ideas once you get to the relevant bits that I can help with (Vancouver, VI and Banfff!)
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Old 4 Mar 18, 02:36 PM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
First class - how fabulous! Not jealous at all

Will come back and try to give some ideas once you get to the relevant bits that I can help with (Vancouver, VI and Banfff!)
Hi Mel. Hope you've made it home safely.

I know, even though it's only one way! Coming home in WTP will feel such a let down.

Is it sad that I'm most excited about the champagne and the pyjamas though?
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Old 4 Mar 18, 02:39 PM  
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Originally Posted by jocat View Post
Hi Mel. Hope you've made it home safely.

I know, even though it's only one way! Coming home in WTP will feel such a let down.

Is it sad that I'm most excited about the champagne and the pyjamas though?
At least being a day flight you get to use the amenities to the max!

Currently sitting at Brussels airport - the nice Air Canada agent found me a seat on the direct flight that gets me home 5 hours earlier with no side visit to Germany And even upgraded me! Well as much as you can be upgraded on a European flight
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Old 4 Mar 18, 02:42 PM  
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Accommodation

Well within a few days we had the following hotels booked:

Vancouver Island for 3 nights Ė we booked a suite at the Waters Edge Resort, which Mel had recommended.





Kamloops for 1 night - we booked the Doubletree Hilton.



Jasper for 3 nights - we had a problem here finding accommodation, as most were showing as sold out with 90+ % of accommodation booked there. Several people had posted recommendations in my previous thread, but although Iíd emailed several smaller places, they werenít going to reply for a while due to being closed for vacation in the winter months. I panic booked the Crimson Jasper on a cancellable rate, with the aim of looking into this area further for lodges or B&Bs that arenít on the usual booking sites. We thought that we'd probably end up staying elsewhere, but to date we havenít found a suitable alternative, so the Crimson it is.





Banff for 5 nights - again accommodation was limited for a full 5 nights here and we wanted to be fairly close to the centre to walk for dinner in the evenings, so booked the Banff Aspen Lodge (thanks Katie. ) I wasnít quite 100% happy, as Iíd worried about a lack of air con, but have been assured it is unlikely to be an issue. I can always look for other accommodation in the meantime if I wobble about it too much. Itís unlikely weíll change though as I definitely preferred the look of it against other places (with the exception of the Moose Hotel and Suites, but as that is a lot more expensive, it wonít happen!)





Finally our last 2 nights are in Calgary at the Calgary Marriott Downtown. Parking is a bit pricy, but itís probably not worth us dropping the car off early, then having to get a cab to the airport, so will accept it for the convenience for us.



That left Vancouver still to be booked, but we werenít rushing that one. There is plenty of choice and we wanted to be certain about our preferred area to stay, before trying to find some accommodation.
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Old 4 Mar 18, 02:54 PM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
At least being a day flight you get to use the amenities to the max!

Currently sitting at Brussels airport - the nice Air Canada agent found me a seat on the direct flight that gets me home 5 hours earlier with no side visit to Germany And even upgraded me! Well as much as you can be upgraded on a European flight
The outbound flight is at 5:20 pm, so weíll have time to partake in some refreshments in the lounge first, as well as on the flight. That may then help me get some sleep!

Glad theyíve got you on the direct flight home. That must be a relief. Enjoy the upgrade.
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Old 4 Mar 18, 03:23 PM  
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I hope you like the Uclelet hotel - we loved it over there! Are you going to go whale watching? We saw a bear here too on one of our walks to a beach through the forest! A definite highlight.

In Vancouver we stayed in the Blue Hotel which had just opened so we got a very good rate for it. However, it is near the stadium so whilst walkable to the main highlights it wasn't in the middle of the action.
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Old 4 Mar 18, 04:47 PM  
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Vancouver

After several days of research, we decided we liked the look of Yaletown as a base to stay. It seems to be a mix of a residential area with sidewalk cafes, restaurants, cocktail bars, shops and parks - this suits us nicely.



We looked at lots of different accommodation but eventually chose the Opus Hotel in Yaletown.







It gets great reviews on Trip Advisor, and looks to be in a great location for us - within 2 blocks of our hotel, there are plenty of bars and restaurants that we can walk to in the evening, included The Keg restaurant which we missed out on Toronto. I've got my eye on this already.



We booked a room there, and just a few weeks later discovered a sale on, so managed to book a Studio room with balcony for less than the price weíd originally reserved a lower category room. Luckily that was at a cancellable rate.

Now we havenít done a great deal of research here yet, so any suggestions for things to see would be great. Weíre conscious that we donít want to pack our days too fully, as we might be struggling with the time difference to begin with. We wonít have a car until we leave Vancouver, so will need to explore by foot or use public transport. Any tips or words of wisdom for this will be gratefully received.

I need to reread some trip reports to refresh my mind about what there is to see and give me some ideas. Itís just a shame that some trippies have suffered due to the Photobucket fiasco where they stopped 3rd Party hosting. Trip Reports for Vancouver and the Rockies seem to be few and far between, so itís disappointing that I canít see what Iím sure are fabulous photos. I canít talk though, as I havenít yet changed my initial trip reports that used Photobucket either. It's such a daunting task.
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Old 4 Mar 18, 04:51 PM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
I hope you like the Uclelet hotel - we loved it over there! Are you going to go whale watching? We saw a bear here too on one of our walks to a beach through the forest! A definite highlight.

In Vancouver we stayed in the Blue Hotel which had just opened so we got a very good rate for it. However, it is near the stadium so whilst walkable to the main highlights it wasn't in the middle of the action.
We have found a hotel in Vancouver now - have just posted about it.

There have also been some changes to our itinerary and we've made the difficult decision to drop Vancouver Island on this trip unfortunately. Will explain why in my next post.
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