We were up at 5:15 am to start our epic train journey. Once again, we needed three taxis to take us to our destination, which was a blessedly short ride. Any doubts about being at the wrong station were quickly erased by the giant “Rocky Mountaineer” sign over the door. The superior service started before we even exited the taxi – people came with luggage carts and swiftly loaded our baggage, then escorted us to the check-in line. We wouldn’t have to touch our bags again until we arrived at our hotel in Banff.
We boarded the train with an appropriate amount of pomp and circumstance, including a bagpipe performance. The main level of the car housed the dining room, bathrooms and an outside viewing platform. The seats were on the upper level, with a glass roof for maximum viewing opportunities. We were happy to find that our seats were at the end of the car, behind the staircase. So no one would walk by us and, more importantly, I could stow my camera backpack at the end of the aisle and not under my feet. Score!
The dining area wasn’t large enough to hold everyone, so there were two seatings for each meal. We were in the second breakfast group, so they served us warm scones and coffee while the first group had their meal. I quickly discovered that there were way too many trees bordering the tracks. I have many, many images of blurry trees. And not the good kind. Nola opted for her iPad over the scenery for much of the day. I alternated between shooting out the window and running downstairs to the viewing platform.
The day started with rain in Vancouver, then we went through a long period of heavy overcast. It finally brightened up later in the afternoon. The food and the service was impeccable. When we weren’t actually eating a meal, they were bringing us snacks and drinks. We made it to Kamloops in record time, arriving around 5:15. They handed out the hotel key cards while we were still on the train and assigned us bus numbers to take us to the hotel.
The hotel was very nice with a pool and indoor garden area. The only downside was its location far from the center of Kamloops. Given the length of the day, we weren’t really up to wandering around anyway. Our bags were waiting in our room, so we changed into comfy clothes and headed to the pool area to watch Nola splash around (of course). We ended up eating at the bar of the hotel restaurant, due to its proximity and the promise of 2 for 1 margaritas. The food was good, but the service was unbearably slow. They seemed completely unprepared for the onslaught of train passengers. I have never been so happy to crawl into a hotel bed at the end of a day.