Saturday, July 08, 2006

Real Romance in the Rockies...

Vancouver in the west to Toronto in the east, and offers its passengers, choice of destination, style and price range to select from.
We alighted onto this spectacular train journey at the town of Jasper and headed west towards Vancouver. This perfectly fit into our itinerary as well…since we had driven along the continental divide from Banff to Jasper anyways…and instead of returning back, decided to drop off the rental car at Jasper, and board the famed train from there.
The experience of getting on-board took us momentarily into the Victorian era…where the ticket collectors dressed in crisp starched navy blue uniforms (with polished buttons, and hats) prepared to take post at the entrance to the passenger cars. The  announcement, over the loudspeakers heralded that the train was now open to boarding. It was too much excitement to handle. The Canadian does have several ‘classes’ to choose from, we booked Coach comfort class…which not only was the most economical, but every bit comfortable and enjoyable. The seats were extremely spacious, with a reclining angle of almost 130 degrees…there is also a foot rest that comes up from under your seat, giving you the luxury to stretch yourself and relax. (Talk about ample leg any class on any airline, for almost or less than what you would have paid for your airline ticket!!). Oh! by the way, did I mention that everyone here is provided a blanket and pillow as well!? 

But what was most impressive, was the large single paned window on either side of the seats…giving you a complete un-interrupted view of the country side as you chug along! The catch phrase is 'chugging-along', as the train moves at a considerably slow pace around the bends and curves of the mountains, giving you and your camera enough time to focus and capture those timeless memories of the mountains, valleys and wildlife!

Observation deck: This ended up being our favorite hang out place! You have one every 2-3 cars…and the experience from sitting here is un-matched. The dome shaped car, has two levels to it, with a spiral staircase leading to the top level. The lower level has plush leather swivel chairs with attached tables to have a hot meal, or to indulge in a game of checkers or cards with fellow passengers. The top level is where all the excitement is! The entire dome is glass-paneled, lending breathtaking panoramic 360 degree views of nature that engulfs you when aboard. These glass domes are built for a reason, the scenery that you come across as you sit in one of these observation decks, is un-paralleled and second to none. 

You cannot resist falling into a trance-like-state just observing the ever changing scenery all around you. Between dinner calls, and depending on the time of day, the crowd thins out, and you get ample seating to enjoy the vistas that you are privy to on this train ride.

The advantage to taking the train in the summer is that there is daylight almost till after 10pm at night, and since majority of the journey from Jasper to Vancouver is during the day, we made the most use of the observation deck. Infact we clocked sunset that evening at 10:33pm!!

The Canadian is definitely VIA rail’s proudest achievements and our number one pick for all of you who thought – “train journeys are expensive”! This trip makes up for the ultimate experience through the Canadian Rockies and is synonymous with comfort, luxury, first class dining experience and overall un-surpassed enjoyment.
It is a dream-journey, one that we are proud to say – CAME TRUE for us!!!

TIP: Seats in comfort coach class are first come first serve, if you are traveling as a family, a four-seater would be offered to you as first picks...take it without question.

If you are a couple traveling without kids, the four-seater wouldn't be offered to you, you might even be forewarned to give up those seats if and when another family boarded at a different station. Take the four-seater offers the best broad-sweeping views, through the large single-paned windows. More than likely you will have it all the way through, and don't have to give it the chances for another family boarding in the dead of the night is very slim to none.

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