Vancouver/Kamloops 16th May 2016
Today, we took another train ride. No ordinary train, though. We rode the ‘Rocky Mountaineer’ up to Banff, and I don’t think we’ve ever had such VIP treatment on any form of service anywhere. From the moment the coach came to pick us up at the hotel, the level of care we received from the Rocky Mountaineer people was almost embarrassing.
We were met at the station with orange juice and coffee, and led on board the train by a piper in Highland dress. Breakfast was quickly served at our seats with an efficiency the airlines might do well to look at, as was a delicious lunch later.
We were riding in the ‘Silver Leaf’ class. That’s one step down from ‘Gold Leaf’, which is a double-decker carriage, with a dining room downstairs. In ‘Silver Leaf’, your meals are brought to you in your seat … but there is a substantial fold-down table there. Both these classes have ‘wrap around’ windows, which give an excellent view. ‘Red Leaf’ passengers have to make do with an ordinary, flat window. But, even that’s bigger than the ones in a ‘normal’ train. And, there’s an open ‘viewing platform’ at the end of each carriage.
I did wonder if the ‘Gold Leaf’ passengers ever missed out on anything when they went downstairs for their meals?
Most of the time the hosts gave an informative commentary. We saw eagles, ospreys and mountain sheep. No bears yet, but we aren’t quite in bear country. In fact, the best part of the ride will be when we get into the Rockies tomorrow.
We’re staying the night in Kamloops, because there aren’t any sleepers on the train; it’s thought there’s too much to see that would be missed it was moving while passengers slept.
Kamloops is a pleasant town, but rather ordinary and slightly disappointing; the name, which simply means ’two rivers’ suggested somewhere with a more ‘frontier’ atmosphere.