Part of the reason I had wanted to do a complete cross country journey, was to travel over the Rocky Mountains. What better way to do it, than by train?
We woke up bright and early in our hotel, The Lake Louise Inn, got ourselves up and ready, then simply walked outside the front door and were met by the lovely representatives of the world renowned Rocky Mountaineer (there are limited options for pick ups, so think about this before booking your accommodation), who swiftly labelled our suitcases and put them into the trailer for us.
I have to say, it was nice to not be responsible for that monster of a case after three weeks on the road with it. On this trip, it was jumper and coat weather one day, and short and vest the next day. I had to take clothes for every season in that suitcase, and my god did my arms notice whenever I had to lift it!
Once dropped off at the station, we were presented with our tickets, at which point we realised we were in carriage number 1. Aka right at the front.Great for views as you don’t see any other carriages ahead of you when going round bends, but the people at the back do get a good warning if there is any wildlife to be seen.
We were in ‘silver service’, which is very similar to gold service, aside from a couple of differences such as there not being a separate dining cart and no glass roof to the train. I can’t say I was dying for either of those things!
When the train arrives everyone gets VERY excited. I mean, it’s a very nice train. If I was a trainspotter (as I can only assume many of these people were) I would have been freaking out. Sadly I get a train every day to work, and couldn’t quite find the same amount of excitement as some of the other people (I’ll point out here that most people on the train were of retirement age, and say nothing else about it).
As the train came to a spot, some friendly crew got out and laid out a carpet, and put up steps to aid us (some more than others ((sorry couldn’t help myself)) walking on to the train. It’s a gorgeous train, I will say. Much better than the Northern Line.
Once you’re on the train, you’re on there for a whole day, so roughly 8/9 hours (I can’t quite remember the exact amount). Aside from people shouting that they *thought* they’d seen some wildlife, it’s a very relaxing atmosphere on board. You can sit and look out the window or get up and stand in the area at the back which has open sides where you can feel the breeze on your face or even flowers floating down (my favourite bit), the whole time able to hear the crew telling stories about the history of the area, and pointing out any genuine wildlife sightings such as bears, sheep, birds…
Plus, the two members of crew (similar to cabin crew) go up and down almost constantly with food and drinks, which are pretty damn fancy, I will say. I wouldn’t have said no them bringing a little more alcohol up and down, but I suppose that’s personal preference.
We were on the train for two days, and on this first day, went from Lake Louise to Kamloops. The altitude changes drastically in this time, and as a result, so does the weather. It went from freezing cold mountains and snow, to Canada’s desert where it was boiling hot. Getting off the train was quite confusing for my body, I won’t lie.
The scenery was absolutely stunning – slightly hard to photograph well through a window, but still very nice for the eyes (Yes you can go to the open bit, but it gets busy)! After 4 hours of beautiful scenery, I’ll be honest, it’s not quite as exciting but that’s when its nice to have a fun travel companion. We didn’t have that much in common with the other passengers as we would have liked, but we did have each other. And at times, some liqueur.
Once in Kamloops, another shuttle swiftly took us from the train to the hotel, where our room keys were handed to us so all we had to do was walk up to our room where our bags were waiting.
After laying on the beds for 5 minutes, Mum and I went straight back out to see what Kamloops had to offer (I’d never heard of it before this trip if I’m being truthful). We’re both terrible at map reading, so that was rendered useless almost immediately. Nevertheless we found our way to a supermarket for supplies, to the park and the river, and of course, to pizza. Not that much else was open though, in all honesty – probably because it was a Sunday.
Talking to people in the area, they really said that the Rocky Mountaineer had boosted their economy. We were some of the first people on a trip as it was the start of the season, apparently it gets ridiculously busy sometimes but because the locals are stubborn, they still refuse to keep things open later for the tourists. Interesting!
After we’d had our fill of pizza and local gossip, we hit the hay, ready for the journey to Vancouver the next morning.