Rocky Rails and Fishy Tails part 1

Karen Dormady on 02 July 2019

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A trip of a lifetime to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary

With family across two continents, not knowing where the party should be, the grey skies of the UK or the sun scorched African plains. I spoke to my sister and she said “just ask mum” so that I did! The decision was Canada and Alaska!

Organising Mum and Dad - easy, getting my sister and family from Zambia to Alaska - a little more effort!

A special trip deserves some iconic moments so what better way to start a holiday of a life-time than landing in Vancouver and spending the first night in the Pan Pacific hotel near to the Vancouver Lookout which gives fabulous views over the city and out into the Pacific Ocean. We then embarked on the Rocky Mountaineer - one of the oldest and most scenic rail journeys in the world. Travelling in Gold Leaf class in the glass roofed carriages as a special treat, from Vancouver through glacial feed canyons to gold rush towns like Whistler, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Kamloops. For mum, it was about the scenery and wildlife. For Dad, the history and engineering, knowing how they managed to get around or through the awesome mountains.

We stayed at some of British Columbia’s best hotels, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Château Lake Louise and Fairmont Vancouver. Château Lake Louise being a special moment as this was where Mum and Dad could finally see where I got married even if the snow and ice had melted!

Phase one completed, relaxed and ready for the rest of the party to arrive. Excited messages going back and forward and following an extra-long haul flight for my sister and her family (Lusaka-Heathrow–Vancouver), we all met up in the hotel lobby in Vancouver where the joy on Mum and Dad’s faces was a memory that will last a lifetime, the whole family together celebrating this special occasion. Although the boys were quick to find the bar and catch the last moments of the match, which unfortunately the Lionesses lost to the USA 2-1.

There is so much to see and do in Vancouver, the hop on hop off bus is a great way to see what the city has to offer and as the ticket lasts 24 hours, we were able to do the full tour the first afternoon and then over dinner, decide which stops best suited the whole family for the next day. The aquarium, Gas town, China town, Stanley Park or just stay on and enjoy the commentary. One great thing to do is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, either a quick drop off and walk around or stay longer and enjoy the tours, music and tree top walkway.

Another benefit of starting in Vancouver is that it’s only a stone’s throw (76 miles) to Victoria on Vancouver Island. The 90-minute ferry journey is a trip in itself, travelling through the islands watching bald eagles, seals, sea lions. Dolphins have also been known to ride the bow wave of the ferry. A quick stop on the island gives you time to experience island time. If you thought Canada was laid back, then the Island is another level. Life is good, many locals have migrated from the Canadian east coast for the warmer climate of the Island. This warmer climate is great for the flora and fauna and a must see is The Butchart Gardens, just 25 mins from downtown Victoria.

There’s street entertainment, excellent restaurants, museums and not to forget the wildlife. Whether it’s by boat or bike, plane or train there’s plenty to see, even if there’s rain! The Island certainly needs more time to explore.

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