Last Easter, after a fabulous week up at Whistler, BC, Canada, it was time to head off on our next adventure, catching our pre-booked coach for the scenic ride back down the mountain to Vancouver.
The coach drop-off location at Burrard train station, directly behind the Hyatt, was convenient for us to catch a train to Main St/Science World station, across the road from Pacific Central station where we could check in our luggage for our 4-night 4,500km train journey across to Toronto. (Relieved that our 1 small suitcase, rather than 2 smaller bags as per the allowance guide, was accepted as cabin baggage.)
Night fell as the train crept out of the city, and we enjoyed a welcome drink and canapes in the bubble-roofed viewing carriage before heading back to our private sleeper cabin (2 movable armchairs by day, and 2 bunk beds by night with basin and separate toilet, and the shared shower literally 5 steps away) and I easily fell asleep to the rocking and rumbling of the train, now travelling at speed.
Excited to see the first views of the morning, we were up early – wandering down to the dining car for an early breakfast at 6.30am (served right through until 9am).
Each meal for the trip, randomly seated with other passengers to enjoy good food and entertaining company along with the ever-changing scenery. All our meals, (though no alcohol – bar the welcome drinks), were included in our fare.
It was lovely to see the train snaking its way around lakes and rivers, mountains, and forests…
spending some of each day in the viewing carriage, or retiring to the privacy of our cabin, taking advantage of a rare chance to relax and read.
Waiting for freight trains to pass is a common occurrence which seriously interferes with keeping to the timetable – and on such a long journey, arrival within 10 hours is still considered “on time”!
Anticipation built before the slow ride past Pyramid Falls.
Spectacular snow-capped mountains and rivers followed – although Mount Robson (the highest mountain in the Rockies) stubbonly hid behind cloud cover.
Leaving British Columbia, we entered Alberta. A 45-minute stop at Jasper (the longest stop of the trip) allowed for a good half hour to explore, and a welcome chance to stretch our legs.
We travelled across the prairies on Day Two…
and were surprised at the amount of snow – we braved only a few minutes out in the freezing air at Melville station, Saskatchewan – and joked about being in a snow dome in the viewing car.
The highlight of the evening was crossing an impressive wooden trestle bridge – you need to be ready (with a steady hand) at the back of the lounge car to capture a photo as the track curves around.
Opening our blind on Day Three, the train was stationary, and we were greeted with a picture-postcard scene of freshly snow-covered trees.
And for the next few hours, the magical beauty of icy lakes and snow-covered forests.
Through Manitoba and then into Ontario (and their time-zone changes), we now travelled through thickly wooded areas…
with the occasional lake or river – some still iced over, yet only patches of snow left on the ground.
We noticed the new cabin crew was not as lively as the first, but the animated and engaging bar staff made up for them!
Our final morning, with the sun shining brightly, the landscape continued to change: from lakes and lake houses to farmland; then from remote unspoilt countryside to signs of “civilisation”.
Our scheduled arrival time was long gone, and from the chatter on the train, not everyone was prepared for such a delay. Snacks were served, then a light lunch, as time continued to march on.
After our stop-start journey, we eventually pulled into Union Station, Toronto, around 3.30pm – a mere 6 hours behind schedule, but all smiles after our cross-Canadian adventure.