by smmmarti guide
February 27, 2002
The trouble was, once we arrived in Toronto (see Journal: Toronto) to board our train, it looked nothing like what I had imagined. Surely this couldn’t be considered a stand-in for the Orient Express! There appeared to be nothing particular about this train, but hey, it wasn’t at all bad and our service and tiny stateroom with its double bunk arrangement, along with excitement of the journey, was just novel enough to distract us for the first day.
On day two, as we collected long, long hours riding through Canadian prairies (three provinces of prairies!) a bit of discontent started mounting. When the lady in the berth adjacent to ours began smoking all day and coughing all night (her discontent had obviously mounted, too!) we began seriously questioning our choice of transport. By the time we got to Jasper we had had quite enough of the train and were so happy to step off into the pristine mountain air for a few days. (See journals entry: Jasper: Don’t Feed the Bears.)
The food on board was really tasty, better than you’d expect on a train, and it was the main reason that I still hadn’t caught on that I’d been sold a ticket on the wrong line! After all, the three nights on the train including meals (naturally, what are the alternatives here?) was the price of a luxury cruise, which qualifies as comparable to the Orient Express in at least one category -- wildly expensive.
It wasn’t until we arrived in Vancouver (see Journals Vancouver and Victoria) that we actually saw the Royal Canadian on the tracks adjacent to ours and realized my big mistake. Peering inside the windows like kids who’d found the candy store locked up, we spied the lush furnishings; floral arrangements, wood paneling, a grand piano in the club car. I found out for certain, now, having dragged my husband across Canada not on the vintage, restored, "grandeur of yesteryear’s robber baron" luxury berths that I’d sold him on, but rather on the plain, old, tight quartered, smells-from-the-next-room, trickle-of-a-shower confinement for which we had paid an arm and a leg! See www.viarail.ca
Even so, I’m glad we had this experience and would still like to try the real Royal Pacific Canadian Rocky train, but I doubt my husband will be willing to risk it again. I think I’ve already used up my rail travel trump card on him.
From journal Journey Across Canada via Rail