By Tori Keating
I have a slightly mad obsession I’m about to share with you- I’m a train nut. A genuine certified train nut. I’ve ridden several across Australia, the train over the bridge on the River Kwai (got locked in the toilet on that one- super fun), an overnight train from Agra to Varanasi in India (NOT for the feint hearted), the superfast Shinakansen bullet train in Japan, the glass encased Vistadome train to Machu Picchu and I’ve crisscrossed Europe on the Eurail network. It has to be said though that by far one of my greatest train experiences has been travelling through the Rocky Mountains in Canada. And nobody does this better than the Rocky Mountaineer.
The Rocky Mountaineer appears on many travellers bucket lists for good reason- it’s so much more than a train experience. For starters, unlike other journeys you don’t sleep on the train overnight. Instead you soak up pure luxury and comfort by staying in some of Canada’s finest and most iconic hotels and chateaus at night and travel by train when it counts- during the day when you can see the soaring peaks above you and giant glaciers clinging to the side of mountains, and when the bears wake up and the moose graze on the slopes by the tracks.
The Rocky Mountaineer offers four different routes for guests to choose from. Their iconic granddaddy journey is the First Passage to the West, departing from Vancouver and travelling through the train’s namesake- the Rockys- visiting the pretty tourist towns of Lake Louise and Banff. The Coastal Passage begins in Seattle, traverses through Vancouver and also then heads east to the Rocky Mountains. There’s also the Journey through the Clouds which travels into beautiful tranquil Jasper (this is a great option to pair up with a drive around the Rockies through to Banff and Lake Louise), and for something a little different there’s also the Rainforest to Gold Rush experience which heads north into Canada’s lush rainforest and travels through its famous gold rush area. And of course to top of you Rocky Mountainner adventure any of these can be paired with an Alaskan cruise through the stunning Inside Passage.
Whichever journey you choose you won’t be disappointed. The trains are built to impress with large panoramic windows to allow excellent viewing in their Silverleaf class of travel, and outstanding roof top windows in Gold class which bring the mountains right into the train with you. As such do be aware you may get a crick in your neck- you’ll spend much of your time gazing skyward towards these soaring peaks.
The food on board is some of the very best you’ll sample. The menus have been carefully handcrafted by renowned chefs Jean Pierre Guerin and Frederic Couton- both highly respected with several national and international awards under their chef hats. Sample breakfasts include Canadian Cheddar soufflé and Sir Sanford Fleming Eggs Benedict- poached eggs and Montreal style smoked beef stacked on an English muffin and topped with a tarragon scented hollandaise. At lunch you’ll enjoy delights such as Seared Albacore tuna, Alberta beef short ribs braised in a local Okanagan Valley merlot or a slow roasted pork loin, all accompanied by a selection of delicious complimentary beverages.
And after you’ve had your fill you can return to your neck craning position to be truly awed by the very best of Canada on show.
Rocky Mountaineer never discount their product as this would undervalue the fine service that they provide. However they do offer value add options. At the moment they have some amazing value options.