Banff Alberta, More Than A Cute Town

By: Norm Goldman

Lake Minnewanka- painting by Lily Azerad-Goldman

Banff Alberta -More Than A Cute Tourist Town

A Stay In Not Just An Ordinary B&B In Banff Alberta

-Article by: Norm Goldman
-Paintings by: Lily Azerad-Goldman

As Canadians, my wife and I are somewhat embarrassed to admit that although we have traveled around the world for the past thirty- five years, we never once visited Banff Alberta. Perhaps, we believe in the old mistaken belief - "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence."

This year after some reflection coupled with our crying over the Canadian dollar taking a beating in the USA, we decided that it would not be a bad idea to check out Banff and surroundings.

There are no photos, movies or videos that could do justice or could have adequately prepared us for the mind- blowing and overwhelming peaks of the Canadian Rockies. At times they even felt somewhat intimidating, and in fact my wife confessed to me that she felt a little claustrophobic walking around the Town of Banff looking up at these towering mountain summits.

When we mentioned to a visitor from France that a short drive from our hometown of Montreal there are the Laurentian Mountains, she laughed at us saying these are hills compared to the Rockies. We didn't feel insulted-she was right on!

In 1883 the Town of Banff was created as a result of the trans-continental railway having been built through the Bow River Valley.

The town is perched along the Bow River within the that has been classified as a . From almost everywhere you can view the , , , and Mountains.

It was only in 1990 did it officially become an incorporated town, however, with one very important difference from other Alberta towns- Parks Canada controls environmental protection within the town. You can well imagine the" red tape" a homeowner has to endure before any kind of renovation or modification is approved.

We were also informed that a cap has been placed on any future development of the town.

Thea's House

Thea's House, More Than Just A B&B

There are over 4.8 million visitors converging into the Banff area every year. Imagine trying to make a reservation in an inn, B&B or hotel during the peak seasons!

Consider yourself fortunate if you succeed in securing a room in one of the most extra-ordinary romantic B&Bs in the area called , located five minutes from Main Street Banff.

According to owners, Jami and Greg Christou, it is not unusual that reservations for their four guest- rooms can fill up six months in advance.

You are probably wondering what the name "Thea" stands for and what is so special about this B&B?

Jami informed us that the name "Thea" means aunt in Greek. Apparently, the B&B was named after Greg's grand- aunt, Georgia, who originally owned the house. Her last wish was to have the house kept within the Christou family.

Aunt Georgia was a very gregarious person, and although she never operated a B&B, her home was always open to anyone who wished to drop in and savor her great cooking and warm hospitality.

The present B&B owners wishing to carry on Aunt Georgia's traditions provide their guests with the finest in hospitality and amenities. It is little wonder that it has become a favorite among honeymoon couples.

Jami's attention to detail and her boundless energy is evident everywhere. Because this B&B only has four guest rooms, it is easy to offer individualized service. When Jami says Thea's House differs from other B&B's in Banff trust me, she is not exaggerating!

We stayed in the Rundle Room, or the honeymoon suite, with its petit balcony that had a fantastic view of the mountains. This room, as well as the other three, is completely separate from the owner's living quarters, thus providing the utmost in privacy. All rooms are spacious, uncluttered and filled with those extra sought after romantic touches - the finest linens, best down duvets and down pillows, fluffy towels and bathrobes, gas fireplaces, tv, vcr, telephones, kingside beds in three of the rooms while the fourth has two double beds, entertainment units, fresh flowers, and chocolates placed on the pillows.

Luxurious, also, was our suite with its large Jacuzzi tub for two and steam shower, where I had the ultimate pleasure to steam myself and then loll back and let the magic of the locally made bath salts work on my tired bones, especially after our grueling day of hiking.

To be noted is that the three other rooms have standard size jetted bathtubs with showers.

Breakfast you can bet will be something out of the ordinary. Jami believes that before hiking or skiing you need sufficient fuel. You are sure to be served fruit salads, breads, cereals, jams, homemade yogurts, tea, coffee, and one of the daily hot breakfasts, which varies from day to day. Jami is also very attentive to her guest's dietary needs as evidenced by her purchase of special pancake mix and bread for my wife, who is lactose intolerant.

If you are looking to fall in love or just the spark for romance, this is the place to stay, and we have to concur with the couple who wrote in our room's guest book, "we came here to relax and fall in love. Thank you for making it easy. This place is the most beautiful we have ever seen."

Activities In And Around Banff

If just hanging around Thea's House or walking up and down Banff Avenue checking out the souvenir shops is not your cup of tea, you don't need to go very far to find something exciting to do.

Lake Minnewanka beach- painting by Lily Azerad-Goldman

Just a short drive away is . It is the only hot springs in the Banff area open to

public bathing. The water may be hot but as we discovered it was heaven, particularly if you suffer from arthritis.

How about taking a boat ride or fishing on in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park.

You can also sign up for the tours offered by . We enjoyed the evening wildlife safari adventure that lasted about 2 ? hours during the early evening hours and where we had the opportunity to observe animals in their natural environment.

As for cultural activities, you have to check out the famous , where you are sure to find something going on in the way of a theatre or musical performance.

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