Tuesday 18 June 2013

To Vancouver via VIA

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a lovely place, all log cabins scattered around neatly-kept grounds in amongst the trees, and the girl who's in charge of watering the 750 hanging baskets daily is a star - but it has to be said, the hotel's no match for the beauty of its setting. It's a bit out of town, between two lakes, this one, Beauvert, stunningly clear and colourful (though really it should be Beaubleu) with views across it to a snowy range including the impressive Mt Edith Cavell. We slept well in our huge and comfy bed, but I was woken at dawn by a noise under the window, and peeked through the curtains to see an elk grazing on a bush directly outside, to our mutual surprise.

Sadly, we only had the morning here before catching the train back to Vancouver, but we took a bike ride around the edge of the lake to the golf course, hoping to see the grizzly but instead encountering another elk peacefully grazing beside the road. It looked calm, but there were calving grounds marked nearby and we'd been lectured about how dangerous they can be, so we had to take a bumpy detour around it. Later the concierge, taking us into town, said he'd been charged four times in the last year when he's been out mountain-biking, and that the elk are much more of a danger than the bears. So we didn't feel like complete wusses.

Then at lunchtime we boarded the Via train, which was a chaotic business but found us eventually installed in seats in a dome car, waiting hopefully with jolly fellow-travellers for the rumoured champagne and canapes - which did eventuate, thanks to obliging barman Luko, who was even persuaded later to put on a wine-tasting for us as the mountains and trees and rivers and waterfalls went by. Dinner was delicious, and tucked up into our bunks later, magicked into place by Pierre, we slept like logs. Which was appropriate, I guess.

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