What seems like many moons ago I won the Topdeck monthly Instagram photo challenge. I had £600 to put towards any trip. It was by far one of the hardest things going. So many options, so many places and I really had no idea where and what I was going to do. I did however have two things to think about.
1) I was moving to Canada in the next couple months.
2) I wanted to do a complete trip and not a part of one.
Price wise, and really trying to stick to a budget of not really spending any of my own money. That turned out to be pretty much impossible so putting the 2 factors together I opted for ‘The Great White North’ A nine day tour from Vancouver to Banff focussing on skiing and other winter Activities costing me the total of £240 of my own money.
Completely honest review Part 1
This was actually my fourth time in the snow lovers paradise. Its safe to say that I am not the biggest fan of it. Can’t quite put my finger on why but I think it’s something to do with the cost of everything and the attitude of everyone up there.
Upon arriving we had some free time to grab some lunch and then to generally sort ourselves out. Ie. Rental and lift passes. ( not inc, and in line with the rest of Whistler, expensive) . I did think at this point that really we should have had a little more help with this. I mean.. we were all adults, but a tour is a tour and its for sorting things like this which make things unique.
ANOTHER THING. Our accommodation was 40 minutes away from Whistler Village and we had to take the public shuttle bus. Whilst I understand that our own coach couldn’t be expected to pick up and or collect at each of our own wishes I do think that the coach should have been available to co inside with the ski day/ and or when activities in the evening where commencing, events we were all going to. ( unfortunately this was a recurrent theme )
For dinner we enjoyed an included dinner at the Longhorn Saloon and bar and thankfully the coach was there to take us back to our hostel later on that evening.
Day 2 – Actual Skiing
On our first full day in the village I decided to hit the slopes for the first time in 9 years. Luckily there were a few others who weren’t so steady on their feet and we were happy to take on to some of the more basic slopes together. Man, I had forgotten how horrible ski boots really are. Lunch was a simple but delish grilled cheese. After feeding a couple of us decided to try out some greens. ( pretty sure in Europe these would be classified as blues or even reds) Needless to say i’m writing this so I did survive.
Later that night the majority of us started our night back at the Longhorn before heading out for a bar crawl. I can’t remember the price exactly, but I feel like it was pretty worth it as it covered all entry costs, a free drink in each bar as well as a slice of pizza at the end. ( obviously, I needed more than one slice)
Day 3- Zip lining
I had been wanting to do this zip line for ages, ever since I’d visited around 10 months ago. Couple things you should know.
1) The Eagle Tour ( which was recommended) contains 5 zip lines and lasts for about 3 hours
2) The first drop is from an elevation of 1000m from Whistler’s Olympic Station.
3) One of the lines contains a 30 storey drop.
4) It is absolutely freezing walking in between the lines. One guy didn’t have gloves and trust me I could really feel his pain
5) The price for this tour was $149 CA ( 129 off peak)
After near freezing to death, there was only one thing I wanted. My absolute favourite. Poutine. A couple of us headed back to the hostel.
I proceeded that evening not to have dinner because of the bus situation/ it was incredibly hard to get hold of anyone as not many had a Canadian sim. There was nothing in the hostel/ anywhere surrounding. ( I know this sounds a little pathetic, I should have and could have gone back into the village) For the purposes of this I am just pointing out how inaccessible the hostel made the Whistler experience .
On to Kelowna and quite possibly the longest drive of my life ( not really )
We ventured out of Whistler and made our way back down to Vancouver to head across on the 5 hour drive to Kelowna. It just so happens that on that day there was an absolute white out of a snow storm and even though we left at around 9am we only got into Kelowna at around 9pm. We had an included dinner that night at Boston Pizza and thankfully we were still able to make our reservation. We stayed at the Samesun Kelowna ( which, can i just say is a darn sight better than the absolute hole of a Samesun in Vancouver )
Skiing at Big White
I LOVED Big White. It was an absolute blue bird of a day and although my skis seemed unnaturally long and made it harder to turn corners the views and even the moguls were more than worth it! As well as better weather I was also happier that the rental and lift pass was completed for us. ( not being lazy or a whine… but really at this point wondering what I had paid for on this tour). Unfortunately however, a few in the group had a big problem with the bindings on their skis and apparently the rental would not help change them? After hanging out for a bit and grabbing a hot chocolate I actually headed off on my own as not wanting to waste my money. It was a hard day but like mentioned above the views absolutely worth it.
That evening we all headed to a Kelowna Rockets Ice Hockey game. Having only been to seen the Cannucks in Vancouver before I found the size of the stadium a little novel but everyone had a good night enjoying the play and the fights.
Day 6 – Big White
Back up at the resort again but didn’t ski.. to be honest not exactly sure what I did apart from snoop around and take a few photos, having coffees and getting lunch.
Upon returning down to Kelowna we were all getting excited to celebrate New Years Eve.. which actually wasn’t all bad. Kelowna isn’t the biggest place in the world but does have a couple of clubs. We all managed to get into one of them for $4 and I believe the drinks were only around $3 each… which isn’t to shabby for whats known as one of the most expensive nights of the year.
I’m gonna end this here because I feel like this is going on a bit.
I will be writing a post about Banff which is semi tour related so look out for that in the next couple days.
I will however sum up the tour here.
I am really not sure why this tour was so expensive when really it included very little. I googled the costs of the hostels ( not even hotels) that we stayed in in Whistler and Kelowna and they were not expensive by any means)
Also the coach was rarely available and I know the cost of getting places by transit / greyhound isn’t thaaat expensive.
We had to pay extra for lift pass and rental & to be frank I am not sure how this tour can be marked up as £840.
In saying this.. This was the second ever running of the tour and I hope by this winter season Topdeck really do make some improvements to the logistics or cut their prices.
Stay tuned for Banff!
to follow my journey: