In my humble opinion – Alberta, Canada is the most beautiful place in the world. Granted, I haven’t won the lottery (yet!) and gotten the chance to visit all 194 countries our wee Earth has to offer; but from my other travels, extensive Instagram stalking and google images ‘research’, that is the conclusion I have came to.
I mean, in 20 years time you could ask me – “where is the most beautiful place you’ve visited?” – and my answer may well be completely different; but right now in my 22nd year of life my answer is Alberta, Canada and that’s that.
You know in all those super awkward ice breakers you have to do in school or at the start of a new job, well my “interesting fact” was always “omg I’m like so totally half – Canadian eh!”, I just wanted to sound cool and cultured even though I’ve never actually lived there I just piggyback on my Mom’s nationality. So because my Mom was born there she made it a tradition in our house to visit her family in Canada as much as possible and I’ve carried this tradition into my adult life as well.
When I visited at a young age it was all about maple syrup, big malls and ice hockey games; but as I got older my cousins who grew up there started to take me on hikes and mountain trails with them. I mean I know Ireland is basically a big green hill but walking up the Rockies is completely different territory.
To the right is a photo of me at stunning Lake Louise which is about a 3 hour drive from Calgary, the most populous city in Alberta. This is me at the start of a 4 hour hike – I had just gotten a spray tan the day before (#justholidaythings) and it’s safe to say after walking up mountains in the blazing sun for 4 hours my lovely white top was NOT white anymore.
As hard as the hikes are, everything is worth it once you get to your destination. I’m sure everyone has seen that Instagram caption – “The best view comes after the hardest climb” – I’m certain whoever came up with it must have been making their way up the Rockies.
This is a photo from the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff which is a town situated in the middle of the Rockies in Alberta. I took this picture in July of 2019. The only real way to describe the view if you haven’t seen it in person, is that it literally looks like your staring at the worlds biggest postcard.
When I visited in summer 2018, I stayed with my family in Calgary, it was then that my cousin introduced me to the concept of “sunrise hikes’’. In my head this sounded magical and exciting when in reality it was a very grumpy and sleep deprived me being dragged out of bed at 3am to go look at the stupid sun rise. My mood quickly changed however when we arrived at Moraine Lake to watch that “stupid” sun rise.
I took these photos moments apart when we reached the top of Moraine Lake’s viewpoint at about 5am. Again there are no words to describe the view, watching the sky change from pink to blue and yellow in a matter of seconds is something I will never forget. I know you can watch the sunrise from anywhere in the world but watching it in a place like Moraine Lake with the Rockies as a backdrop; it really makes you appreciate the natural beauty the world has to offer.
This is another picture from an attempted sunrise hike at Peyto Lake, which is an hour from Moraine Lake. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the sunrise because it was a super cloudy morning but we didn’t mind because we got to spend our time wandering about with our heads literally in the clouds.
I could share plenty more photos of mountains, lakes and skylines but the views aren’t the only things that make Alberta beautiful. It is definitely a stereotype that Canadian people are “the nicest people in the world”, but in my experience they actually are. When you walk into a shop it’s not hard to imagine the clerk or even another customer getting down on one knee and pulling out a Tiffany’s box they are that happy to see you and there’s no difference between stepping into a Walmart, a 5 star hotel or just walking down the street, Canadians genuinely are happy to see you.
It’s funny I was talking to someone recently about Canadians and they asked me “but aren’t they too nice?” and it just stuck with me; because in the world that we live in today I don’t know how anyone could be too nice, kindness is something we can actually control and why wouldn’t you want to be as kind as possible and put a smile on someone’s face in the midst of all this uncertainty.
So I urge anyone reading this that is planning a holiday soon, put Alberta on your bucket list! It’s an amazing place filled with spectacular scenery, kind and generous people that LOVE anyone Irish and a welcoming nature that feels like you’ve never left home.
I’ve included a video below of Moraine Lake during the sunrise, just in case the photos haven’t twisted your arms!
Gareth Donnelly is a Final Year BSc Communications Management and Public Relations student at University of Ulster. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/gareth-donnelly-1a6161196 , Twitter – @GarethDonnelly4 and Instagram – @garethd__