With my two Chicago friends, Judy and Dee, the ‘Golden Girls’ decided to do this train trip across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto. We booked the Trans-Canada Rail Odyssey with Vantage World Travel and had great expectations for the trip; I had traveled with Vantage before and had been favorably impressed with their hotels and service. This trip, however, turned into a not-so-wonderful experience.

  The hotels in Vancouver and Toronto were top-of-the-line historic old buildings with all the modern facilities and well-located, but things started to go downhill when we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer train. This train company does several tourist itineraries in British Columbia and uses bright, comfortable coaches with several ‘attendants’, big windows, and hot airplane-type meals served at one’s seat. We had been hearing rumors of an itinerary change and after the night in a hotel in Kamloops, BC, we learned that the next day’s travel to Banff and the two nights at a mountain lodge there were being eliminated and instead, we’d be going to Jasper and then by bus to Edmonton for the two nights. So we missed the highlights of the trip: touring the Rocky Mountain National Park, lunch at Lake Louise, and riding an ice buggy on the glaciers. Granted, the deviation was caused by an act of God: severe flooding around Calgary, washed-out train lines and roads, and the use of Banff for refugees from other flooded towns, and our tour leader worked very hard to make the necessary arrangements for the group but we were all greatly disappointed and turned very cranky. I’m sure Edmonton is a nice place for its residents, but it has very little of interest to tourists and the 4-hour ride there was miserable due to non-functional air conditioning and toilet on the bus—crankiness increased by an order of magnitude. Boarding The Canadian train run by the national Canadian rail system, we found the sleeping compartments to be extremely tiny and the coaches in general to be circa 1980’s decor. At least the meals in the dining car were quite good. The scenery through the flat provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba got monotonous very quickly, we were regularly shunted off onto sidings to allow endless freight trains to pass by, and we reached Winnipeg about 9 pm–just as all the shops closed at the tourist market. The few other stops were at one-horse towns in the middle of nowhere where swarms of mosquitoes had gathered to await new victims. Finally arriving at Toronto, we were very happy to find ourselves in another beautiful old hotel; the city proved to be a large and lively place with interesting markets and street life. The tour included a day trip to Niagara Falls which I skipped in order to see some museums and more of Toronto.

  All in all, the three of us enjoyed just being together again, but the trip itself suffered from the change in the itinerary. Vantage gave all the tour passengers a $300 refund but that wasn’t even close to compensating us for the places and activities we missed. I guess I’ll just have to go back to Banff someday...

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19 June ’13....Chicago O’Hare  ORD — Vancouver Int’l Airport, British Columbia, Canada  YVR

20 June     ..........Vancouver

21 June     ..........Rocky Mountaineer Train to Kamloops, British Columbia

22 June     ..........Rocky Mountaineer Train to Jasper, Alberta

23 June     ..........Edmonton, Alberta

24 June     ..........Edmonton, Alberta; board The Canadian Train

25 June     ..........On board The Canadian through Saskatchewan...Saskatoon; Winnipeg

26 June     ..........On board The Canadian through Manitoba and Ontario

27 June     ..........Toronto, Ontario

28 June     ..........Toronto, Ontario

29 June     ..........Toronto Pearson Int’l Airport  YYZ — Chicago O’Hare  ORD

VANCOUVER–view of the city with Fraser River and Pacific Ocean
VANCOUVER–view of the city with Fraser River and Pacific Ocean
VANCOUVER–marinas on the river
VANCOUVER–marinas on the river
VANCOUVER–skyline of downtown Vancouver
VANCOUVER–skyline of downtown Vancouver
VANCOUVER–the sail-like roofline is Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal
VANCOUVER–the sail-like roofline is Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal
VANCOUVER–a sculpture inspired by Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid on the riverside
VANCOUVER–a sculpture inspired by Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid on the riverside
VANCOUVER—a street corner in the rainy city
VANCOUVER—a street corner in the rainy city
VANCOUVER–a boardwalk on Granville Island leads to...
VANCOUVER–a boardwalk on Granville Island leads to...
...the Granville Public Market and shopping area. A great resource!
...the Granville Public Market and shopping area. A great resource!
VANCOUVER–berries galore!
VANCOUVER–berries galore!
VANCOUVER–with nearly 30% of the population, Chinatown is extensive and striking
VANCOUVER–with nearly 30% of the population, Chinatown is extensive and striking
VANCOUVER–gargoyles on the historic Hotel Vancouver Fairmont ponder the modern architecture
VANCOUVER–gargoyles on the historic Hotel Vancouver Fairmont ponder the modern architecture
VANCOUVER–small lighthouse on one point of Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–small lighthouse on one point of Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–view of the bay from Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–view of the bay from Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–Native American totem poles in Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–Native American totem poles in Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–creek and bridge in Stanley Park
VANCOUVER–creek and bridge in Stanley Park
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–Dee boards the train
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–Dee boards the train
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–comfortable modern coach
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–comfortable modern coach
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–lunch
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–lunch
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–the train winds through the landscape
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER–the train winds through the landscape
BRITISH COLUMBIA–farmland near the coast
BRITISH COLUMBIA–farmland near the coast
BRITISH COLUMBIA–forests start soon along the Fraser River
BRITISH COLUMBIA–forests start soon along the Fraser River
BRITISH COLUMBIA–wetlands
BRITISH COLUMBIA–wetlands
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a stream in the forest
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a stream in the forest
BRITISH COLUMBIA–the muddy, turbulent river has few bridges
BRITISH COLUMBIA–the muddy, turbulent river has few bridges
BRITISH COLUMBIA–at times, the river is at the bottom of a gorge
BRITISH COLUMBIA–at times, the river is at the bottom of a gorge
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a placid lake along the route
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a placid lake along the route
BRITISH COLUMBIA–mountains of the Coastal Range start to appear after a few hours of travel
BRITISH COLUMBIA–mountains of the Coastal Range start to appear after a few hours of travel
BRITISH COLUMBIA–in June the mountaintops are still capped with snow
BRITISH COLUMBIA–in June the mountaintops are still capped with snow
BRITISH COLUMBIA–dramatic evidence of a landslide
BRITISH COLUMBIA–dramatic evidence of a landslide
BRITISH COLUMBIA–eagle’s nest built on a railway bridge...
BRITISH COLUMBIA–eagle’s nest built on a railway bridge...
...and a bald eagle scans the landscape.
...and a bald eagle scans the landscape.
BRITISH COLUMBIA–bighorn sheep graze the slopes
BRITISH COLUMBIA–bighorn sheep graze the slopes
KAMLOOPS–the Thompson River flows through the city
KAMLOOPS–the Thompson River flows through the city
KAMLOOPS, B.C.–the ‘Golden Girls’ on the riverside
KAMLOOPS, B.C.–the ‘Golden Girls’ on the riverside
BRITISH COLUMBIA–glimpses of rural life
BRITISH COLUMBIA–glimpses of rural life
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a lonely place to spend eternity
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a lonely place to spend eternity
BRITISH COLUMBIA–deer hunter’s yard
BRITISH COLUMBIA–deer hunter’s yard
BRITISH COLUMBIA–the route follows the Thompson River upstream
BRITISH COLUMBIA–the route follows the Thompson River upstream
BRITISH COLUMBIA–into the misty Rocky Mountains
BRITISH COLUMBIA–into the misty Rocky Mountains
BRITISH COLUMBIA–most of the land is uninhabited forest
BRITISH COLUMBIA–most of the land is uninhabited forest
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a scenic waterfall
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a scenic waterfall
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a great view of a river and the upper Rocky Mountains
BRITISH COLUMBIA–a great view of a river and the upper Rocky Mountains
BRITISH COLUMBIA–forest and peaks of the Rockies
BRITISH COLUMBIA–forest and peaks of the Rockies
BRITISH COLUMBIA—peaks of the Rockies
BRITISH COLUMBIA—peaks of the Rockies
BRITISH COLUMBIA–Mt. Robson, at nearly 13,000 feet, is the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies
BRITISH COLUMBIA–Mt. Robson, at nearly 13,000 feet, is the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies
ALBERTA—coming down the mountains on the east side
ALBERTA—coming down the mountains on the east side
ALBERTA–erosion reveals layers of sand
ALBERTA–erosion reveals layers of sand
EDMONTON–on the North Saskatchewan River, is the capital of Alberta
EDMONTON–on the North Saskatchewan River, is the capital of Alberta
EDMONTON–the city still has many old neighborhoods
EDMONTON–the city still has many old neighborhoods
EDMONTON–gateway to Chinatown
EDMONTON–gateway to Chinatown
EDMONTON-a roundabout in Chinatown
EDMONTON-a roundabout in Chinatown
EDMONTON–Dee poses in a playground near our hotel
EDMONTON–Dee poses in a playground near our hotel
EDMONTON–Judy tries to hide behind a lovely flowering shrub
EDMONTON–Judy tries to hide behind a lovely flowering shrub
EDMONTON–the Hotel Macdonald, built in 1912 in ‘Railway Chateau’ style
EDMONTON–the Hotel Macdonald, built in 1912 in ‘Railway Chateau’ style
EDMONTON–the hotel was fully restored in 1991, with the Empire Ballroom as its centerpiece
EDMONTON–the hotel was fully restored in 1991, with the Empire Ballroom as its centerpiece
EDMONTON–the Queen Elizabeth II Suite was named in honor of its most famous resident
EDMONTON–the Queen Elizabeth II Suite was named in honor of its most famous resident
EDMONTON–the West Edmonton Mall is the largest in North America and boasts a waterpark...
EDMONTON–the West Edmonton Mall is the largest in North America and boasts a waterpark...
...and amusement park in addition to 800 stores and services
...and amusement park in addition to 800 stores and services
THE CANADIAN–is a transcontinental train run by Via Rail
THE CANADIAN–is a transcontinental train run by Via Rail
THE CANADIAN–my single compartment was about 4x8 feet square and outdated
THE CANADIAN–my single compartment was about 4x8 feet square and outdated
THE CANADIAN–the dining car was surprisingly comfortable and the food pretty good
THE CANADIAN–the dining car was surprisingly comfortable and the food pretty good
SASKATCHEWAN–and Manitoba are flat as a pancake and look like an endless Kansas
SASKATCHEWAN–and Manitoba are flat as a pancake and look like an endless Kansas
SASKATCHEWAN–wetlands...
SASKATCHEWAN–wetlands...
...and farmlands as far as the eye can see.
...and farmlands as far as the eye can see.
WINNIPEG–the Assiniboine River regularly overflows its bank as evidenced by the mud
WINNIPEG–the Assiniboine River regularly overflows its bank as evidenced by the mud
WINNIPEG–the Forks Market was remodeled from two stables
WINNIPEG–the Forks Market was remodeled from two stables
WINNIPEG–a steel armature pointing to a star constellation at Oodena Ceremonial Circle
WINNIPEG–a steel armature pointing to a star constellation at Oodena Ceremonial Circle
ONTARIO–more forests and rivers in the heavily-touristed province
ONTARIO–more forests and rivers in the heavily-touristed province
ONTARIO–home on the lake
ONTARIO–home on the lake
ONTARIO–nice view of river and forest
ONTARIO–nice view of river and forest
TORONTO–the largest city in Canada
TORONTO–the largest city in Canada
TORONTO–and capital of Ontario Province
TORONTO–and capital of Ontario Province
TORONTO–lots of gardens and green spaces
TORONTO–lots of gardens and green spaces
TORONTO–this market was named world’s best market by National Geographic in 2012
TORONTO–this market was named world’s best market by National Geographic in 2012
TORONTO–two floors of fresh food and eateries appeal to all ethnic flavors
TORONTO–two floors of fresh food and eateries appeal to all ethnic flavors
TORONTO–the Allen Lambert Galleria connects several buildings in Brookfield Place
TORONTO–the Allen Lambert Galleria connects several buildings in Brookfield Place
TORONTO–the Old City Hall, finished 1899, sports a two-tone sandstone construction
TORONTO–the Old City Hall, finished 1899, sports a two-tone sandstone construction
TORONTO–grotesque faces and other carvings adorn the facade
TORONTO–grotesque faces and other carvings adorn the facade
TORONTO–a dragon serves as the support for a wrought iron railing
TORONTO–a dragon serves as the support for a wrought iron railing
TORONTO–the city has not one, but two, Chinatown neighborhoods
TORONTO–the city has not one, but two, Chinatown neighborhoods
TORONTO–the contemporary art scene is also well-evidenced
TORONTO–the contemporary art scene is also well-evidenced
TORONTO–street scene
TORONTO–street scene
TORONTO–the Royal Ontario Museum, opened 1914, is the fourth largest in North America
TORONTO–the Royal Ontario Museum, opened 1914, is the fourth largest in North America
TORONTO–the Gardiner Museum has a world-class collection of ceramic art
TORONTO–the Gardiner Museum has a world-class collection of ceramic art
SUNSET on the plains of Canada
SUNSET on the plains of Canada

85  PHOTOS

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