Trans Canadian Rail Odyssey
This is a wonderful way to experience Canada, travelling several thousand miles across the Canadian Rockies by train and coach. You can drive the route along the trans-Canadian Highway, but this means the driver will invariably miss out on spectacular scenery along the way. For us, the organised tour means you get to hear all the extra snippets of information (especially from local coach drivers who were very entertaining) and the background to how/why towns along the route developed as they did.
Our Titan rep worked so hard to make sure the group was able to get the most out of the trip, and organisation throughout was exceptional. Toronto was vibrant and Niagara Falls as magical as you could wish for. The sleeper train, The Canadian, was an experience, and the Rocky Mountaineer is a superb way to travel. All hotels we stayed in were at least 4*, with friendly helpful staff who really cared about whether we were happy or not. You do need to have some mobility, as there is a lot of climbing on and off coaches and trains, although many of the tourist attractions can accommodate wheelchair users. Note it would definitely be difficult if you are a smoker as there are few opportunities to smoke while on the trains and most of the towns are smoke-free.
Pre booking the trip was so easy, with every part of the journey taken care of, especially the door-to-door pick-up. It was particularly helpful to know beforehand that tipping is expected everywhere and the guidance in the Titan pre-tour information set it out clearly. I worked out what this represented for the activities over the 14 days and allocated around 250 Canadian $ as tips in a separate wallet, plus extras for meals out. This worked really well in the end and we mostly had cash with us as spending money plus £1000 worth of $ on a prepaid credit card as we could convert what was left on the card to other currency when we got home.
Is there anything we would change? There should be at least breakfast included at every hotel stop. As one of the group said, they found it very difficult to go searching for food, especially for breakfast, although all the hotels had or were near to restaurants or cafes.
Personally, we would like a couple of days free time here and there as we like to explore – we enjoyed the free day in Vancouver although that meant we missed out on the visit to Vancouver Island. In hindsight, we would consider booking an extension of a few days in Vancouver at the end of the trip before travelling home.
Several of the group agreed they would be happy with two nights on The Canadian rather than three, but that would need other transport from Toronto to, say, Winnipeg. And, of course, we all agreed that more than two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer would be wonderful! September is a perfect time to visit with a range of temperatures across such a distance and different timelines.
We really enjoyed this trip that we had been planning for several years (apart from my unexpected reaction to pressure and very dry atmosphere in Banff) and would recommend it as an ideal way to see Canada, the fantastic natural environment and its diverse history and culture. We will remember the Rocky Mountaineer – clearly the best way to travel over a long distance – the staff and the wonderful food. And, of course, I will remember the ‘secret’ handshake of the prestigious Order of the Salmon, an honour received for my poem (a loose term I might add) about this memorable journey along the Fraser Valley and across the Rockies. It truly was our holiday of a lifetime.
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Silver Travel Advisor recommends Titan Travel – Escorted Tours.