Having already traversed the northern United States via Amtrak, Portland, Oregon to New York City, a few years ago, we decided to try the Canadian Railway system this year. It is touted to be much better than Amtrak and different scenery, especially as it goes further north in the mountains. It is also more expensive, though with the great exchange rate on the Canadian dollar, not so bad. We boarded the train in Vancouver, British Columbia and were headed to Toronto.
The train station in Vancouver is like many…an old building that has been used for years and houses the bus station too. This one was charming and sufficient in what it had to offer.
So let’s get started. We booked a sleeping car, as the trip is over four nights. Comparatively, the car we had was smaller and bigger than our Amtrak trip. (We had to change trains in Chicago before and changed room types…thus the and) It is like an RV…use of every space. This cabin had bunk beds, which fold down, and then two chairs during the day. Funny truth, we slept in one bed all but one night…tried the bunks and the room felt so cramped…plus, we used to sleep in his mom’s twin bed, so we could do this! We also had a toilet and a sink/vanity. The shower was shared and a few steps down the hall.
The train seemed to rock and roll more than I remembered, but we refrained from putting that old note on the door, “If this train is rockin’, then don’t be knockin’!” It would have been on every door!
On the first night, there was no real food service, as we departed about 8:30 PM. They did offer nice h’ors doeurves and champagne in the lounge car, so we could toast the beginning of the trip.
Otherwise, we settled in and got adjusted to our new digs…and remembered how to sleep in a twin bed!
The food is included when you get a sleeping car. Three full meals a day and snacks/beverages all day and night in the lounge car. The food was quite good…better than Amtrak. And don’t worry, one never leaves hungry from these four-course meals. Also, given that there is little exercise to be found, other than the walk from the dining car to the lounge car or your room, you don’t really need that much food!
I didn’t get pictures of all the menus, but different every day and an effort was made to include local dishes. Riding the rails and having good food with new friends and beautiful scenery was certainly not bad!
After meals, we would hang out in the lounge car with some really nice people…British, Canadian, Aussie, and US…quite interesting and engaging!
I will leave the trip post at this point and continue in part 2.
Note: Except for the map, all images © Valorie Webster