I had never been to Canada before and I love trains, so I was thrilled with the opportunity to see Canada’s beautiful countryside from my comfy chair aboard Rocky Mountaineer! This 7-day trip was jam packed with amazing scenery and thrilling adventures. I flew into Vancouver. I haven’t been to the Vancouver airport before, and I think it might be one of my fav’s! Getting through Customs was a breeze. I found an ATM machine to exchange a little Money (the airport is the easiest and just charges $3 to do the exchange). I found that I really didn’t have to exchange money as everyone takes Credit cards, but it was nice to have a little Canadian money for tips and smaller things I purchased. Pretty much everyone takes American dollars, but you won’t get as good of a deal and the change will be in Canadian.
We stayed at the Beautiful Sheraton Wall Centre in Downtown Vancouver. Our tour started early the following day. We were treated to ‘Fly Over Canada’ (if you like Soaring over California in Disneyland, you will love this), ate lunch in Granville Island, and explored the nearby forest at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Vancouver loves Art and Cultures from all over the world. Everywhere you look, you see evidence of this.
On Monday we boarded Rocky Mountaineer headed east to Kamloops for our 1st night. We enjoyed ‘Gold’ service with 180-degree views. You are assigned a nice (heated) seat and there isn’t a bad seat in the house…but no one sits in their seat for long. You get to know your fellow travelers, and everyone shares seats so you can get the best views of both sides of the train. Downstairs is the dining area; I must say the food was excellent! We enjoyed Breakfast and Lunch at our assigned time. In between we were served snacks and Drinks from an open bar. We had a personal guide in our train car who shared history and stories about the areas we were traveling through. We arrived at our Kamloops hotel around 8:00pm. We had enough time to take a short walk and found an ice cream cone before bed.
The next morning started at 6am. We were on the train and headed out of the station by 6:30. The Rocky Mountaineer folks makes everything fun. The whole train station staff came out and waved goodbye as we rolled out of both stations. This day was amazing. We saw eagles, mountain goats, elk, deer, etc. Everywhere you looked there were rivers, lakes, & adorable villages. There is a lot of History here. Stories (good and bad) were shared about the building of the railroad, Engineering feats (such as the Spiral Tunnels built in the early 1900’s), and Local folklore. This was a long day, but fantastic!
We finally arrived Banff. I’m a huge Yellowstone fan, but these Rocky Mountains put Yellowstone mountains to shame. They reminded me of the Teton peaks on a massive scale. They surround you and seem to go on forever. Just beautiful. The quaint town of Banff is mostly for tourists, but so much fun. Besides shopping, restaurants, & beautiful Hotels, there are trails everywhere. Mountains, rivers, waterfalls, & wildlife, are all within walking distance or a inexpensive bus ride.
For the next 2 days we toured Banff. We visited lake Louise, (a place I have always wanted to go) and had lunch in Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise. We visited other beautiful lakes, and waterfalls (Emerald Lake may be my favorite). The Blue hues of these lakes are amazing. We were lucky enough to watch a cute teenage Bear wander by the side of the road near lake Louise. He didn’t seem to mind that we were close by. On our final day in Banff, we were able to take the gondola to the top of Mt Sulphur. The views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below were amazing. After enjoying lunch here, we set off for Calgary for our final day.
We didn’t get to see a lot of Calgary, but it was a beautiful city and I’m sure there is a lot to do. We did get to visit and enjoy dinner at the Calgary Heritage Park. A great place to immerse yourself in pioneer and cowboy life over a century ago. Dinner was fun in the old Gasoline Ally Museum. The food was great, and the Mayor of Calgary deemed us honorary Calgarians. It was a great trip and one I would recommend to anyone.
Morris Columbus Travel