Rocky Mountaineer Part 2 – Splendrous stays
Initially I was disappointed not to sleep in a berth on the train. Well. Give your head a shake. All that scenery wasted while you’re slumbering. And let’s face it, berths are not nearly as romantic as they are made out to be.
My friend Charles and my first check in was at the Fairmont Vancouver, right in the heart of downtown. Our room had an elegant feel of a stately hotel catering to the professional class. It had a comfortable den with a couple of arm chairs and a desk. The television was in the den, discouraging night time TV watching.
The view of ourselves was stunning.
We headed over to Gas Town to tuck into a cheap and cheerful Mediterranean felafel at a sidewalk kiosk. We browsed through the eccentric, crammed MacLeods bookstore off Richards on Pender. I found a book that I’d never heard about called The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie. Charles found obscure crime thrillers that he collects.
That evening we dined at second-storey Salam Bombay, which is kitty corner to the hotel. Better than TV was the scene unfolding on the corner below. A busker playing violin and his dog occupied the corner. Charles and I watched to see who gave money. We noted the dog attracted more donors that the violinist. When we asked the waiter about the busker, he told us that he lived in a fine house, was a retired gentleman and did this to get out of the house and meet people. When we voiced our skepticism, he assured us a friend of his had visited his house.
Back to the luxurious accommodations.
What not to like about disembarking from a day on the tracks, onto a very short red carpet and right into the doors of a waiting air conditioned coach. Now an excited traveller might wonder about her luggage. No need. Rocky Mountaineer has had the luggage shipped by truck ahead of the train and awaits us in our room. Our hosts ensure that all of our needs are cared for.
In Kamloops, we stayed at the Coast Kamloops Hotel, high on a ridge overlooking the most fantastic northern landscape.
We took a long walk and enjoyed the views and the perfect evening temperature. Next to the hotel was the bistro, On the Rocks. It had a really nice patio where we dined on a salad, to clear our palate of the exotic foods of the day.
Many of our companions stayed at a hotel in the downtown from where they enjoyed a blues music concert in the park and strolled along the river walk.
My absolute favourite spot was Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Our rustic cabin (147) faced the lake. We spent as much time as we could lounging on our front deck, reading newspapers, drinking coffee and eating bagels. Evening we would crack a brew and sit out there.
Mostly we spent our almost-two days there walking around the lake, checking out the art gallery in the main lodge, or walking to town to our favorite pizzeria, the Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria.
We also took a canoe for a peaceful paddle on the astounding Lac Beauvert. Such tranquility is only captured on the water.
And we spent hours acquainting ourselves with what we thought were loons. No birders, are we. We discovered our birds were the lake’s family of common mergansers. We watched and followed as they circled the lake, one happy family, mom and her six chicks. We saw the male one evening, but that was the only time. Happy, happy hours with the lake birds.
I couldn’t be more content.