Historic Rocky Mountaineer
But this is the end of our trip and it is the journey to get to Vancouver that is truly remarkable… travelling on the historic Rocky Mountaineer train from Banff.
This iconic train is unique because, over the heads of passengers, are dome shaped glass roofs to optimise viewing. SilverLeaf Service single-level dome coaches give you panoramic views through oversized windows, while GoldLeaf Service features fully doomed bi-level coaches. These really come into their own as you travel through deep gorges and pass by towering peaks. The bi-level coaches also have a dining area below and passenger level above.
Landscapes, wild animals, glaciers, mountains, lakes and tiny towns all whizz by on this journey to the ocean. The Rocky Mountaineer Mile Post magazine, along with the hosts on board, broadcast information about the scenery we travel through and it is riveting stuff.
We pass Hell’s Gate Canyon, which was first seen by 19th Century explorer Simon Fraser. We learn about the last spike of the railway, which is an iron nail as opposed to the gold ones which were historically used, as we see the marker for the Continental Divide not far from Lake Louise.
The beginning of the tour is also remarkable as I have never been to Quebec. Visiting French-speaking Canada is something I have been looking forward to with anticipation. Sadly, Montreal is in the grip of a cold snap when we arrive and so isn’t showing us her best side, except the Basilica of Notre Dame which is staggeringly beautiful.
But nothing can dampen the trip the following day to Quebec City. The walled city is truly a surprise, particularly as it is the only fortress to survive intact in North America.
Early on, during a short tour, we hear about the battle of the Plains of Abraham – interesting as it sealed the fate of French Canada – and we also learn about the 150th anniversary of the confederacy.
But what I enjoy the most about Quebec and Quebec City is hearing French being spoken and enjoying the French sense of style that has infiltrated this part of the world. I even try a dish called Poutine. But discover that as it is cheesy chips with gravy, it is more a British dish with a French moniker.
A truly remarkable journey."