The bucket list item. The travel wishlist. The Pinterest images I had stared at for so long formed the basis of this trip. And today I was going to put a big tick in the done column. But we had practically another full day in Vancouver to enjoy first, so we do a rudimentary chucking of things in suitcases before heading out to say our Vancouver goodbyes.
This time we head left on the seawall near our apartment, past B.C. Arena and Plaza of Nations, and past the giant golf ball of Science World. We scope out potential pre train drink locations and spy a Tap and Barrel at Olympic Village. We carry on our walk around False Creek Seawall; it’s a great way to kill a morning whilst getting great views across the creek to the Vancouver skyline.
We grab a hot beverage from JJ Beans at the Granville Island Public Market and listen to the pan pipes entertainment for a while, before continuing our stroll all the way to Kitsilano Point. We grab the False Creek Ferry back as far as Granville Island. It’s not as busy on a Tuesday lunchtime at Granville Island Brewing Company and we’re seated quickly. We opt for pulled pork tacos and wings to share, and a flight of four beers each.
It’s a wrench to pull ourselves away but pull ourselves away we must. It’s a final ferry trip back to Yaletown, and then we’re finalizing our overnight bag and trying to stuff everything else into our suitcases. We’ve considered our options, and decide to catch the Skytrain to Waterfront and then on to Main Street, via dropping the keys off at our local 7-11.
We finally reach Pacific Central, where we drop off our checked baggage – next to be seen in Jasper. We have chance for a last visit to the patio of Tap and Barrel before passing the time in the Via Rail “lounge” with an A&W burger.
We begin boarding at 7:30. Our sleeper car 212 seems to be miles down the platform; we begin to get a sense of how long the train is. 26 carriages to be exact. We’re greeted by our attendant Melanie, who will look after us for the next 18 hours. Trying to offset the costs of sticking a big expensive train ride in the middle of our trip we opted for an upper and lower berth rather than a cabin; the berths are in groups of three and we are lucky in berth No 3 that we have no-one directly opposite us, giving us a certain degree of privacy.
We slowly get moving through the Vancouver suburbs, and we’re invited to a “Bon Voyage” party; our first chance to wander around our section of the train, and for Melanie to transform our seats into bunk beds. The party is not much of a party to be fair; a dribble of sparkling wine and a single hors d’oeuvres (each) so we show our faces for an ample duration before heading back to 212.
Mr Fletche kindly lets me have the lower bunk, which means that I don’t have to wrestle with the ladder in the middle of the night, and given my tendency to sleep walk means I’m unlikely to do myself – or others – any harm. Not as though I’d be able to escape from the thick, prestudded curtain in any hurry. Having the lower bunk also means I get the window. Which provides my entertainment in the wee small hours of the morning, when I should be sleeping but prefer not to miss any of the lightening sky outside. It’s surprisingly soothing, being rocked to sleep with the gentle rumbling of the train underneath me.
We’re both awake and ready for first breakfast service at 6:30am. My expectations were low after last night’s wine and single canape debacle but I’m pleased to confirm that they pull out all the stops for breakfast. Mr Fletche has the omelette of the day and a seemingly endless supply of coffee; I have pancakes with stewed apple and granola. And a proper pot of tea.
Being early birds we get a much coveted seat in the Dome car, with panoramic views. We don’t leave these seats until our designated 12:30 lunchtime, much to the chagrin of those that hopefully pop their head up the stairs. We get to watch the changing landscape, and we begin to see many more lakes and mountains even before we hit the Rockies themselves. Lunch is a three course affair, and we’re seated with a semi-retired Danish-Canadian couple who are travelling all the way to Nova Scotia on the east coast. We bid them a farewell after lunch and they invite us to stop in at their place if we get the chance on our way from Whistler to Vancouver next week.
It’s another couple of hours before we get into Jasper, enough time to digest lunch and prepare for the next part of our journey…exploring the Canadian Rockies by foot and by car!
Please note that the train journey with Via Rail – and all other elements of this trip – were paid for ourselves. If this sounds like a sponsored blog, it’s just ‘cos we loved it so much!