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All Aboard! Calgary to Vancouver by Rail

vancouver.jpgTHE WHISTLE BLOWS, coffees are hurriedly finished off and bags picked up as we walk onto the platform ready to board The Rocky Mountaineer.

Canada has some stunning scenery and having flown from Toronto to Calgary we decided see some more of it by doing the next leg of our trip westwards by rail.

The first of our two day journey was a day of snow-capped peaks, lush grasslands, lavish forests and shining blue glacier-fed rivers and lakes.

Each carriage has its own attendant and ours was the fantastic Sophie, a cheerful, professional highly knowledgeable guide who told us about the panorama and places as we passed through and soon encouraged us to start spotting wildlife. We saw plenty – bald eagles, coyotes, long-horned sheep and grizzly bear to name just a few.

The train was comfortable with drinks and snacks served all day long. Forget cramped seating and staggering back and forth to the buffet car. It has to be said, though, that the meals were not great - never been so relieved to see McDonalds at the end of the day!

After an overnight stay in Kamloops, our train next morning was coupled up with the train from Jasper. Day two was canyons and gorges.
We had one delay – in White Canyon, otherwise known (alarmingly!) as Avalanche Alley, where the only way the engineers could reach the place was also by rail. All part of the experience and something The Rocky Mountaineer does plan for.

Kilometre-long freight trains thundering past are a reminder of what an important role the rail played in the building of Canada as a nation. Without it, the west of this vast, wild country might easily have become part of the US.

The train has its own terminal in Vancouver and journey’s end sees the welcoming parties ready to greet maybe a thousand passengers disembarking and see them on to their next destination.

Rocky Mountaineer has added new routes recently, and you can travel up to Jasper or Whistler as well. We travelled Red Leaf (standard class), but if you want to splash out, Gold Leaf is a premium service with purpose-built glass domed carriageways and gourmet food.

Have a look at their website to get a taste of some of the views and check out what they offer www.RockyMountaineer.com.


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