Saturday, June 24, 2023

Riding the Rails

The next part of this Canadian adventure is a trip on VIA Rain’s Canadian from Vancouver to Sioux Lookout. 

Our 'cozy' cabin

After using the train systems in Spain, Portugal and France we wanted to experience our Canadian rail service, so we decided to take the train back from Vancouver rather than flying so we purchased tickets on VIA Rail’s Canadian, which is a “Full” service train providing sleeping and meals. The other option was the famous “Rocky Mountaineer” but it does not provide sleeping accommodations just meals, and it is much more luxurious (and expensive). The Canadian is transportation where the Mountaineer is more ‘tourist tour’, so they stop overnight so you do not miss the scenery in the mountains. We wanted the full “Train” experience so chose the Canadian. 

We boarded the train right on time and found our way to our “Comfy” berth, Cabin F in train 211. The cabin features two movable chairs, a little sink and a bathroom. The two chairs are ‘moveable’ because you have to fold them up to pull down the two sleeping compartments. The train also has fancy “Elite” class accommodations with full sized beds and an on-suite with a shower, but we were unable to book one of these. The other options are tiny rooms with two seats opposite each other where the entire room becomes a bunk bed, or a simple seat that can be folded down to sleep in. For the four day trip we opted for the actual cabin with folding beds and a bathroom. 

The Observation Car

After experiencing the modern European trains (many of which are built by the Canadian company Bombardier), the VIA Rail cars were a little long in the tooth; everything worked fine, but they had a very 1960’s feel and the looked a little worn. A fellow passenger from Switzerland said to me “The trains are VERY old here!”. The tracks are old as well, still running on wooden ties rather than the concrete and rubber ones that most of the European rail systems have moved to. The result is that compared to the smooth high speed rail travel we experienced in Europe, the ride here through the rockies is rough with the train swaying and bouncing along on old rail beds. 

The ride did not bother us and it actually rocked us to sleep last night and we have developed our “train-Legs” and we are managing moving around the train quite well. The food is delicious and the views through the mountains have been spectacular. 

Hell's Gate

Early Morning Misty View