Published on August 6th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor
The Rocky Mountaineer Offers an Incredible Version of Western Canada
Today’s post comes to us from Evelyn Hannon, CEO of Journeywoman, the largest online travel resource for women. Her free tip newsletter currently circulates to over 70,000 women in 240 countries! Read more from Evelyn at http://www.journeywoman.com.
I assume that every traveler has a bucket list of things they long to experience in this great big world. I can tell you that my own list is a yard long and after 30 years of solo travel many of my dream trips have already been ticked off.
However, there is something unique about train travel that I can’t get enough of. It’s not the simple fact that you are being transported from Point A to Point B. Rather, the heart of the experience is embedded in the journey itself. Maybe it’s the mesmerizing clickety-clack of the train wheels and the constantly changing scene that somehow opens your mind and allows you to relax completely and dream big dreams.
So, when I received an invitation to ride aboard the epic Rocky Mountaineer and sample a portion of their routes and famed GoldLeaf service, I didn’t just jump, I leapt at the chance. The Rocky Mountaineer is no ordinary train. In fact, The Society of American Travel writers dubbed this ride, ‘The Best Train Experience in the World.’ 2015 will mark Rocky Mountaineer’s 25th Anniversary of introducing guests to Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies in pure pampering style.
If I had to choose just one word to describe the Rocky Mountaineer experience I would choose, ‘elegance.’ You sense it immediately as the train rolls into the station. It’s absolutely spotless, navy blue with the gold, iconic ‘Rocky Mountaineer’ emblazoned on each car. A celebratory red carpet is laid out to welcome all passengers and everybody boards like VIPs (Very Important Passengers). Of course, there is absolutely no lugging of bags. Those were picked up earlier in your hotel room and sent ahead to your next stop.
Once inside, assigned seats are large and comfortable with plenty of legroom to stretch out in. Aisles are spacious enough to allow passengers to stand beside any seat and visit as they wish. At one point in the journey I counted six women, each from different cities, all exchanging travel ideas with one another.
Two Rocky Mountaineer hosts are assigned to each car and based on my time aboard I can’t praise them enough. They are constantly at your service, each and every task carried out with a smile. Whether it’s handing out warm towels for passengers to freshen up with, serving complimentary drinks and snacks at your seat or simply pointing out sights along the way these young employees do everything to make your trip the best it can be. I won’t soon forget their ongoing yarn about Billie Miner, the bandit who committed the first train robbery in Canada or listening to the lively Log Driver’s Waltz that they played as we travelled alongside the Fraser River’s logging communities.
I imagined that I would kick back with a glass of wine and read one of the mysteries I brought along. In fact, I was much too occupied doing other things to open a single book. Just looking out the oversized windows in our domed car, daydreaming and enjoying panoramic picture postcard scenes was something I could do for hours. Or, with camera in hand I would make my way downstairs to the open vestibule where there was nothing between me and the gorgeous landscape I was keen to capture. Whether upstairs or down, inevitably lively conversations with other passengers began, connections made, and email addresses exchanged with folks from all over the world.
Like all kids living in Canada, I learned about our history, national wildlife, and geography in grade school. However, no classroom lessons can compare with the Rocky Mountaineer hosts actually pointing out the famous rivers and rugged mountain peaks along our route. We were shown the differences between an eagle and an osprey as they soared above the train. I now know where the salmon spawn in British Columbia, and where the Continental Divide is located. We watched the landscape gradually change from the lush farmland of the Fraser Valley to the arid regions around Kamloops where temperatures soared to 40c during the summer months. And, it was great fun when the train slowed down enough for us to photograph the sign at Craigellachie where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven in. Then, by going through the ‘spiral tunnels’ cut into the massive Rockies we learned what an incredible feat building our national railroad really was.
I gained two pounds aboard the Rocky Mountaineer and enjoyed every minute of the process. Forget the standard fare that is offered on standard trains. We were treated to gourmet breakfasts and lunches served in the lower level of our domed coach. There were always four menu choices to ponder (items with names like Gold Rush Scramble, Pacific Northwest Parfait or Last Spike’d Beef Short Ribs). When we couldn’t make up our minds our server laughed and gifted us with an extra choice for the table to share. Complimentary Canadian wine and beer flowed at lunch and everybody lingered over coffee and dessert, deep in lively conversation.
I likened the kitchen and dining room employees to your favorite grandmother who shows her affection and caring by showering you with food. As our Rocky Mountaineer adventure was drawing to a close and we were saying our last goodbyes, a staff member suddenly appeared with a plate of freshly baked oatmeal cookies for us to enjoy on the road. I thought it was a perfect touch and a wonderful way to end a ‘train experience’ that will definitely be almost impossible to beat.
If you’re seriously considering a trip out west, why not take advantage of Rocky Mountaineer’s best offer ever? Qualifying 2015 Rocky Mountaineer holidays booked with CAA Travel before August 31, 2014 come with $2,500* per couple in added value! Travellers can choose from a number of luxurious add-on options including free hotel upgrades, free meals, and free hotel nights. PLUS, CAA Members receive an exclusive benefit of up to $100 CAD** in Onboard Souvenir Credit!
For CAA Members, perks like those are pretty common. You’ll often qualify for exclusive Member benefits which can include upgrades, early cruise ship boarding, bonuses, savings and much more. Your CAA Travel Consultant can also take care of travel basics like car rentals, flights, accommodations, and travel insurance.
Know before you go:
What most people don’t know is that there are no sleeping compartments aboard the train. The Rocky Mountaineer experience is just part of an extended holiday in Western Canada. You choose the cities on their route that you want to stop in and for how long. You decide the hotels and the level of service you’d like and create an itinerary to suit your needs and budget. Some travelers even break up their journey with a cruise to Alaska.
- Comfortable casual clothes and low shoes are recommended. Keep a sweater with you in case you are cool.
- There is no WIFI aboard the train so don’t count on it.
- The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. You will take far more photos than you can imagine. Be sure to charge your batteries every evening.
- Dietary restrictions are catered to and gluten free choices are included at every meal.
- Passengers with mobility issues are helped to board the train and domed cars have elevators for those who cannot walk stairs easily.
- Along with Rocky Mountaineer’s great success comes expansion this year — the addition of a U.S. component that stretches from Seattle to the city of Vancouver – making a total of five main routes and nine different destinations for travellers to choose from.
Book a qualifying 2015 Rocky Mountaineer package by August 31, 2014, and receive up to $2,500 per couple in added value. Choose from a number of luxurious add-on options including free hotel upgrades, free meals, and free hotel nights! For details, click here.
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