Tag Archives: Canada

Vancouver, Canada

As with most great rail journeys such as The Canadian, all good things must come to an end as they say. We’re all just soaking up the final moments of the elegant but imposing landscape before heading fast into beautiful Vancouver for a short stay.

Upon arrival at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, BC the railway station is at the western terminus of Via Rail’s cross-country The Canadian to Toronto with signage clearly showing the way.

From the main station, connections are easy to the Waterfront which is undoubtedly the most popular area for visitors to experience – being right at the harbour with a plethora of attractions, cafes and stores.

At the Waterfront Station, the Canada Line delivers you directly to SeaBus and West Coast Express Commuter Rail services. A trip from YVR Airport to Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver takes only 25 minutes!

View over Coal Harbour – used to designate the relatively new official neighbourhood of the City of Vancouver bounded by roughly Burrard Street and Pender of the Financial District to West Georgia Street near the West End in the south to Stanley Park in the north. From here you can catch public transport to most other places as it’s quite central.

FlyOver Canada uses state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. You will hang suspended, feet dangling before a 20-metre spherical screen while the film whisks you away on an exhilarating 8-minute journey across Canada – from east to west. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents combine with the ride’s motion to create the real thing.

Many attractions are in close proximity and it’s worthwhile visiting the Vancouver Tourism site to gain the some excellent ideas of what to see and do if you’re short on time.

See  http://www.tourismvancouver.com

Like me, the Gastown Steam Clock is perhaps one of the first places you’ll visit if you enjoy checking out the city’s history and a seemingly lively atmosphere. Gastown found new life as the centre of the city’s wholesale produce distribution until the Great Depression in the 1930s. It was also the centre of the city’s drinking life: there were 300 licensed establishments the twelve-block area of the former glory days of Granville.

Jump in quick as it’s probably one of the most photographed clocks in the world.

Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown location and is named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. The town soon prospered as the site of Hastings Mill and seaport which quickly became a general centre of trade and commerce on Burrard Inlet as well as a rough-and-rowdy resort for off-work loggers and fishermen.

The Spaghetti Factory is nearby and a quick lunch at $11.00 (including tax) is a treat with all those calories adding to another excuse for further walking in the afternoon.

And yes, there are taxes to be added onto most goods and services in Canada.

Stanley Park alive and well with plenty of locals making themselves at home whilst foraging with a water-front view over the city’s buzzing metropolis.

Designated a national  historic site of Canada, the park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the heavily built urban landscape. You can explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest and enjoy scenic views of water, mountains and majestic trees along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall. There’s kilometres of trails, local wildlife and great eateries while enjoying natural and historical landmarks.

Granville Island Public Market is an indoor market featuring a fascinating assortment of colourful food and produce stores. You’ll have to struggle with the desire to take some home and promise yourself more walking the next day!

A vast array of produce including fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and some other unique findings. From plants, flowers to micro-breweries, wineries and cideries, you’ll be met with a range of products when you come to check out what the vendors have to offer each day.

Take a reusable carry bag as it won’t go home empty …

Easy to ‘get around’ and very straight forward in planning your way around.

Sky Trains are fast, clean and the most efficient way to the city. Vancouver (YVR) is the second busiest airport in Canada and located on Sea Island in Richmond, about 12 km (7.5 miles) from Downtown Vancouver. Look for The Canada Line which is $9.10 from the airport to downtown, and $4.10 from downtown to the airport. It links the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) directly with downtown Vancouver and Richmond. Whether you’re connecting to a downtown hotel, BC Ferries or an awaiting Cruise Ship, it’s easy to travel between YVR Airport and major city stations using the public transit system.

Certain Canada Line stations offer airport check-in kiosks. Skip the lines at the airport and check-in for your flight at any of the following stations: YVR–Airport, Templeton, Bridgeport, Marine Drive, Broadway–City Hall, Olympic Village, Vancouver City Centre and Richmond–Brighouse. See below for a trip planner.


A fitting statue to commemorate the memory of those who built the Canadian Pacific Railway and made it possible to traverse the sometimes impossible-looking terrain. However, as before, it’s been a magnificent journey and as usual too short on time in a great city of which Australians (and many others) are thoroughly fond of for its friendliness and characteristic mateship.

Via Rail’s The Canadian Train Journey, Canada – Part One.

All aboard! Two very happy young blokes from Switzerland embarking early and looking excited as we’re all about to board for a memorable rail journey.

Staff checking passes for the correct carriage and our imminent departure of four nights and three days had been bookmarked for months in advance, and now it’s a reality. Doesn’t matter where you’ve travelled from in the world this is a train trip, which for me, is a case of serendipity. A photographer’s dream – traversing Canada travelling east from Toronto to Vancouver this time around in mid November.

Cabin for two set up for the daytime. It’s comfortable and private with armchairs plus a large window for maximum views of the upcoming stunning scenery.

Cabin for two night time; retractable stacked upper and lower single beds with a vanity and an ensuite toilet. The old adage of ‘unpack once’ rings true here on the train as well.

On our way trundling off with snow covered tracks – it’s a sign of what’s ahead. More snow. And if like me, you’re from a country such as Australia (which is mostly desert), you’ll love this aspect as it’s not often I experience a blanket of pure white snowflakes sprinkled and sifted over this picturesque terrain.

Lakes and ponds are just starting to ice over. With the ever-changing moving postcards flashing before your eyes (not unlike this photo), you won’t want to take your eyes from the window.

Canada’s winter wonderland is in the making undoubtedly as the carriages rock and roll along to the beat of a train on a mission. 2017 marks a significant moment in the History of Canada as 150 years ago, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – united to create the Canadian Confederation.

The Dining car is very much the centre piece for qualifying guests to mingle and make new friends and acquaintances over a three-course luncheon and dinner settings.

Breakfast is served early with two settings on this occasion and for late risers it’s a treat not to have to rush.

Spectacular views all along the way. Take off those blinkers in the morning and check the outlook for the day? Yep more snow …

A frozen waterfall of ice. Brrr glad I’m in bed looking at this.

Homes along the way look cosy enough, but not sure about clearing off icy cars to head off to work for the day … However, that’s the day-to-day life of a Canadian during winter.

View from one of the dome cars on The Canadian. Seating here is on a first-come basis and my advice is go early as it’s one of the most sought after areas on the train.

A stop allows passengers to hop off and stretch their legs. Although at night, it’s still a way of admiring our train taking a breather and readying itself for the half-way point of Winnipeg which is not too far away now.

Sioux Lookout is our stop before reaching Winnipeg whereby, there’s a number of fishing camps in the area that allow access to an extensive lake system fed by the English River.

Here at Sioux Lookout, we’re able to walk around and a heavily laden snowy landscape is revealed. Crunching below your feet you can feel the depth of the fall from the overnight trip and very happy to say my cabin was nice and snug by comparison!

Upon closer inspection of Via Rail’s The Canadian, it shows a mighty and powerful work horse blowing off some steam before taking us to our next stop along this magnificent rail journey of 4,466 kilometres (in total).

Icy fields show off Manitoba which is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west. Its landscape of lakes and rivers, mountains, forests and prairies stretches from northern Arctic tundra to the Hudson Bay. We’re crossing through the southern farmlands now on our approach to the capital city of Winnipeg.

The lakes and waterways are now freezing over and temperatures will continue to drop as winter truly sets in before the month of December. As opposed to some coastal areas, it’s much colder here inland with farm animals being housed and fed, while the wildlife is retreating for hibernation.

Would love to drop by, but maybe some other time for a cuppa! Just a little busy being cosy and warm on board with a coffee and cake thanks.

VIA operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre network. Their mandate is to provide safe, efficient and reliable passenger transportation, with service in the country’s two official languages.

For further booking and information check the website http://www.viarail.ca

Next blog post we continue onto Vancouver from Winnipeg as Part Two.

Calgary, Canada – Part Eight

Calgary is far more artistic and cosmopolitan than I expected. It’s not just the annual Calgary Stampede which turns the city into an inflated cowboy town; it’s really an easy-walking city with a definite vibe and eccentricity all its own.

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It’s also a city full of high-rise buildings, restaurants, parks and fabulous hotels and bars.

Hotel of choice, the stunning up-market Le Germain – smart, contemporary and central to everything.

Snazzy and opulent, Le Germain is plush without any regard for its competitors with many endearing attributes – noticeably a nespresso coffee machine which makes a great espresso! Other inclusions are as follows:

  • Rainfall shower
  • Bamboo and cotton towels
  • Le Germain 100% cotton bathrobes
  • Molton Brown toiletries
  • Magnifying mirror
  • Hair dryer
  • Iron and ironing board


Looks great and I’d be happy to have a nap, but we’ve not hit the town yet …

Great view from the gym, however won’t be needing this as we’ve our running shoes on to see other parts of Calgary with only a short time here.

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Straight across the street from the hotel is the Calgary Tower and at 1,228 metres above sea level, it’s home to the highest 360° observation deck in the world with a restaurant at the top.

Standing on a glass floor and looking down, but not too long for me – yikes.

Spectacular views from every angle.

No shortage of parks and gardens whichever part of the city you visit.

Within a short walk of virtually anywhere, you can find an array of eateries/bars for all budgets and taste buds – especially in Stephen Avenue.

This sculpture cries out “climb me” … Only it’s not permitted. Lot of disappointed kids!

Calgary to me is best known for The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth each July, with the Calgary Stampede featuring a vast array of arts and agricultural exhibits, musical performances, intriguing cuisine, along with shopping, rides and games.

Lucky enough to watch some classy barrel racing. I’ve not done this since Pony Club days.

And on the other side of the city, there’s burgeoning areas with art deco buildings being preserved.

Heritage Park is worthy of a visit with lots of interesting exhibitions of a by-gone era.

Remember the days when there was customer service at the bowser …

At Fort Calgary, the exhibits give an insight to the North West Mounted Police, who built their fort at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers in 1875 and the foundations for the city were laid with many other impressive artefacts which can be found here.

Head down to the Calgary Zoo with your kids, family and friends to see over 1.5 million lights twisting around trees, tracing animal and dinosaur shapes and flashing to music. Zoolights is only on offer towards the latter part of the year.

The train stop is not at all far from the Zoo entrance and costs about $3.55 per adult. Calgary Transit offers bus or C-Train (LRT) service to virtually anywhere in the city. The C-Train is free downtown – simply hop on at any stop along 7 Ave. As long as you hop off the train before leaving downtown, no fare is required.

Awww … Had to check out the kangaroos at the end of the day!

Vancouver to Kamloops, Canada with Rocky Mountaineer – Part Four

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Early motorcoach transfer from our Vancouver hotel whereby all luggage is taken care of and loaded onto the train.

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As the Rocky Mountaineer Station is separate to the Pacific Central Station where we arrived at from Seattle, this is the train’s departure point from Vancouver.

Light refreshments are served with a pianist playing a number of favourites for the passengers whilst waiting to board at 7:30 am.

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This would have to be one of the most photographed and well-documented luxury trains in the world.

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A Scottish Bagpiper gives us a hearty welcome.

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The face of lovely Enzina tells us she’s ready for the whistle to blow and let’s be on our way.

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Here with Steve Farrelly, our National Sales Manager for Rocky Mountaineer. This is the second day of our Coastal Passage journey and it’s definitely worth the long-haul trip from Australia.

Just a starter for breakfast …

Bye Vancouver, was fantastic and enjoyed every minute of being there, but we’ve some more sightseeing to do and a train ride to enjoy.

Still early in the day and the scenery is stunning.

As there is a vestibule at the end of the Gold Leaf carriage, photographs are uninterrupted with a clear outlook and no glass reflections to worry about.

At Cisco Crossing, CP and CN tracks swap sides of the river. The CN line crosses first on an distinctive arched orange-painted girder bridge, the CP tracks then crossing in the opposite direction on a squared-off black steel bridge lower down on the right.

Sit back and enjoy the views.

We’re starting to climb now and before our eyes, the landscape is changing dramatically.

We’ll also follow a number of rivers over the duration of the day.

We’re not even in the last carriage for us to be able to watch the front engine going through a myriad of tunnels.


On the other side of the river, often seen are freight trains and it feels like we’re in a race!


This legendary route along the Canadian Pacific track is famous for uniting the country and connecting British Columbia to Canada over 125 years ago.

We’re just on the outskirts of Kamloops now where we’ll have an overnight stay.

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Buses are already waiting to take all passengers to their respective hotels with rooms already pre-assigned and keys given prior to check in.