The Great North

While Hyderabad might finally be experiencing some respite from the harsh summer heat, there are some who like to skip ahead of nature’s schedule and begin their vacation in winter wonderland itself. Accompanied by her husband and son, Sushila Bokadia chose to spend her holidays in the luscious and picturesque Canada and Alaska. From gondola and helicopter rides to feeding polar bears and sailing right next to forbidding glaciers, here’s a trip to a place that begs to be repeated time and again.

The first stop on the Bokadia’s getaway was Calgary. “Our connecting Air Canada flight began from Hyderabad, made a pit stop in Newark, and then headed to Calgary,” shared Sushila. Upon their arrival, the family set up base at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre Calgary Airport. After a visit to the Westwinds Village, the Bokadias noticed that although they were thousands of kilometres away from India, they still felt at home thanks to the Royal Paan restaurant where they had lunch. Following their exploration of everyday downtown life, they then set out for Banff by road the next day.

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During their visit to this wild yet beautiful snow-capped city in Alberta, they got to visit the renowned Bow Falls. “The next morning we began our city tour with a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. After a bit of shopping, we learned quite a lot about the city from our tour guide,” said Sushila. Here they also got to visit Lake Louise, the Bow glaciers, and the Emerald Lake.

Next up was Jasper. En route this alpine town the family stopped at Bow Lake, the Colombia Ice Field, and the Athabasca River. Here they stayed at a simple yet spacious place called Lobstick Lodge. “As this was a short visit, we were only able to ride the Jasper Skytram, which is the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada,” shared Sushila. After the family drove back to Calgary the next day, they set out for Victoria bright and early the next morning.

“In Victoria, we visited the Butchart Gardens first, and then it was time for perhaps one of the most breath-taking experiences of the trip – whale watching!” she said. After exploring Beacon Hill Park and other sights in Victoria, the family took a ferry to Vancouver. “Here we got to experience the Fly Over Canada which is the ultimate tourist experience, followed by a trip to the gorgeous Stanley Park, and the rest of the city tour,” remembered Sushila. The following day the family took the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to explore the mountain ranges in Whistler, British Columbia.

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Making the most of their time in North America, they then took a three-hour drive to the city of Seattle in the U.S. Here they boarded the MS Oosterdam, a cruise ship of the Holland America line. After some well-deserved rest, they were ready to take in the glory of the ship at its fullest the next day. “We were definitely pampered here, thanks to the scrumptious food and top-notch amenities. It did make for some gorgeous pictures, too!” said Sushila. The subsequent day the ship docked in the capital of Alaska, Juneau.

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“The dogs ledding and helicopter ride definitely felt like something out of a movie,” she reminisced. During this time they also got to gaze at enough glaciers to last a lifetime. Feeding the polar bears was surreal experience, she recalled. The rest of the family’s time on the cruise was filled with even more shopping and plenty of sightseeing at the various ports of call. These included Sitka and Ketchikan, where the Bokadias were treated to an Alaskan lumberjack show.

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After this jam-packed exploration they finally made their way back to Victoria. This time around, they experienced the lovely city at ease. And before they knew it, it was also time to make the much longer journey back home, which included yet another set of connecting flights: from Seattle to Frankfurt to New Delhi, and then finally on to Hyderabad. They returned home tired yet happy, knowing that one day they’d repeat their trip to the Great White North.     – Roshni