For Blgotober today I need to start or continue a blog series. I was going to continue my Bake Along with Bake Off series but I don’t have time to actually bake anything this morning so that idea’s out. Instead I’m going to finally write something else for my Wandering Bean series. I really should write about my travels more. So far I’ve written up to about halfwar around Europe, and a couple of posts about Canada. There’s SO MUCH MORE to write!
The Canadian – a journey through the Rockies
Canada is a place I wanted to visit for a long time. It all started when I got into the habit of watching Due South when I was in college. For those who don’t know, this is a TV show set in Chicago, but the main character is a Canadian Mountie. I loved that guy and everything about that show. In fact I have the box set somewhere, I must get that out soon and reminisce!
My fascination with Benton Fraser, the fictional Mountie from Due South, evolved into a fascination with Canada in general. It’s got all the good stuff about America, but without the bad stuff about America. And all the politeness of the British but without the passive aggression. Not to mention all the beautiful nature! Writing this is making me want to go back so badly!
Anyone who knows about my first time travelling alone will know one thing about me: I do not do things by halves. So for my second time travelling alone it couldn’t just be a holiday to Toronto. Nope. I want to go from one side to the other. Well, I missed out French Canada and started in Toronto, but that’s still a VERY LONG WAY.
At first I looked into getting the train all the way across, but that takes like three days and I wasn’t sure about spending three days of my trip on a train. So I flew halfway across to Edmonton and caught the train there. It still took 26 hours but I got to see some amazing sights of the Rocky Mountains.
Here’s a few things you should know about catching the train across Canada:
It will probably be late
My train was three hours late, and apparently that’s pretty normal. It’s coming a mighty long way, and along the route passenger trains must give way to freight trains, which can cause all kinds of delays. I suppose an awful lot of freight must cross Canada by rail so it’s fair enough.
Do not plan your day of arrival around the train being on time. You will end up sorely disappointed. I planned in a day of just settling into my hostel and exploring Vancouver, which was the best thing to do. Something casual and on your own time is the best plan for your arrival. Or a nap, you will probably be craving some time in a proper bed after being in a seat for 26 hours!
Also bring something to entertain you while you wait. Luckily I made friends at the hostel who were also going on the train, so I hung out and played cards with them while we waited for the train. Via Rail did email us to let us know it was running late, but it kept getting later as we waited, and there was nothing around Edmonton train station to do. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere.
The atmosphere is awesome
The train I went on was packed with young people all doing the same thing as me – travelling Canada. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and going about the train exploring. If you’re sociable, you will definitely make friends on your journey.
There’s a dome car, which has a glass roof so you get a really spectacular view of the scenery. This was the most sociable place in the train and is the place to go if you want to mingle. I popped up there for a bit, but mingling a lot at the hostel I was well up for relaxing into my seat and chilling out. Even so, it was nice to be surrounded by like-minded people having their own adventures.
Much of my journey was night time, but one of the ladies I met in the hostel had travelled a few days earlier from Toronto. She said that during the days people were playing guitars and all getting involved with various games. By the second half of the journey that I was on I think a lot of people were getting tired. It was still really awesome though.
The views are spectacular
This is definitely the number one reason to choose the train. You *could* fly from Edmonton to Vancouver, but then you’d miss out on the incredible Rocky Mountains. The train is designed with the view in mind, so the windows are huge, and you have the dome car if you need EVEN MORE Rockies.
The train only makes one proper stop between Edmonton and Vancouver, which is in a town called Jasper. This town is right in the middle of the Rockies, surrounded by mountains and lakes on all sides. We had an hour or so to wander around the town while the train got all refreshed and it was just lovely.
You can tell Jasper is very popular with tourists and adventurers, with loads of little nick-nack shops along the main street for people just like me, passing through on the train or visiting for a few days. I wish I could have stayed there longer, but the plan was already made to go on to Vancouver. Oh no, now I will have to go back for another trip!
Seriously, if you have the time, take the train instead of the plane. It adds to the adventure and you see so much more, and meet a bunch of other cool people along the way.
I’ll probably write more about this when not under the time constraints of Blogtober, but for now I hope you enjoyed a small taste of how much I loved the train!