1000 bottles of beer on the wall
If you’re getting on a train for an 11 hour ride, and plan to do the same thing the next day, it seems only right to start singing 1000 bottles of beer on the wall. Gail was not amused, but I liked it.
(This post should be illustrated by a dozen gorgeous photographs, each perfectly composed and processed. The hotel in which we are residing has very poor internet, and I’m not succeeding in uploading them. Use your imaginations.)
The train left Vancouver this morning at 7:30, following a rousing send off including a bagpiper. There are over 500 passengers, and a vast horde of staff to keep us all happy and well fed.
The well fed part is important, because it is obvious that they have figured out the best way to pass the long, long day of doing nothing is to feed us early and often. We are in the “gold” class, which means we get to sit in the top of one of those domed railcars, while the lower level is the dining area and kitchen.
There are 72 seats in our coach. Half the people went down for the early seating for breakfast, while they fed us fresh scones and tea/coffee to keep us happy. When it was our turn, we struggled down the incredibly steep, tiny, spiral staircase for an excellent breakfast of croissants, fruit, eggs and smoked salmon, potatoes, juice and more tea.
Back upstairs, we watched the Canadian countryside go by. Noticed how people love to wave at the train, and made sure to wave back. Shopped in the catalog of souvenir goods. Nodded off. Waited for the front half to go down to lunch, then waited for them to come back.
Lunch was tomato soup or salad. Ross had the risotto and bravely ate the mushrooms. Hope he lives. I had the “untraditional fish and chips”. You don’t really want to have a deep fryer on a moving train, so they rolled the fish in crushed potato chips and baked it, then served it with spaghetti squash and roasted spuds. Very, very untraditional, but good and inventive. Then a warm brownie with chocolate sauce and ice cream. Got to keep the customers strength up for all that strenuous sitting and watching.
Somewhere we passed through Hells Gate, the narrowest part of the Fraser River. The train slowed to 2 or 3 kilometers an hour so we could take photos. Imagine a great photo here.
We kept riding. I’m down to 563 bottles of beer on the wall. The train pulled into Kamloops, a not very modern city waaaay out in the boondocks where we will spend the night.
The train people have this down to a science. The train stops and there are busses right next to each car designated to take people to their proper hotels–some of us are staying fancier places than others. Except than in Kamloops, there are no fancy hotels. We are in the Hotel Five540Forty. Whatever graphic designer came up with that should be shot. Hotel 540 is NOT 90 times better than the Motel 6. This should perhaps be called the Hotel 9.5, that would be closer.
But it doesn’t really matter. We got in at 6 pm and we have to be back on the bus at 6:15 am. Enough time to go out to dinner, sleep a bit, stagger out of bed and we’re gone.
Dinner worked out well, though. We were just going to a Mexican place for something small, because we ate so much on the train. But it’s hotter than hell here, about 95, and the Mexican place had no air conditioning. I kept looking and found Terra, reputedly the best place in town. There was discussion on the train today that people had requested the train concierge to get reservations at Terra and he had been unable. Nonetheless, I walked in the door, felt the cool air, fell to my knees and begged the hostess for a table and it worked.
Gail wanted a crab salad that the chef was unwilling to provide, so she had the Caesar and loved it. I had the duck, which was very good, and Ross had the halibut, which he thought tasted like soap. They offered a maple bourbon ice cream sandwich for dessert which I could not resist, but should have. Not enough bourbon. The garnish was a tiny strip of bacon, which was interesting and made an excellent photo. You’ll have to imagine it, too.
The sun set about 10:15. Tomorrow we go even further north and end up in Lake Louise. I’m sure they will feed us impressively on the train, and then the Fairmont Lake Louise, that huge stone pile that Canadian Pacific Rail built at the turn of the century to give people a reason to ride the trains, will beckon with an excellent room and fabulous dinner. If their internet is as good, I’ll be posting photos, too. I should have finished my song by then. I may have a beer to celebrate.