When the first Rocky Mountaineer train of the season pulls out of the station on an early Vancouver morning, it is an exciting affair. It had been anticipated by our staff for months, as we arranged an assortment of family and friends to be on board with us.

So, it is all the more special that a huge group of Rocky Mountaineer staff came to wave us goodbye. None of us had ever seen a group of this size (even Martin who has been doing this for a long time).

Even the “liquid sunshine” (an optimistic take on the persistent Vancouver rain) cleared up just in time for us to take in the blue sky as we travelled through the city, down toward the southern border of British Columbia.

Travelling in Canada during April can sometimes mean that you encounter some cooler temperatures, a little bit of snow or a partially frozen lake or two. But on this morning, it just meant that the air is fresh and the backdrop to our journey through the Fraser Valley was a vibrant green.

Our group was the second seating for breakfast that day, which means that we had coffee and a delicious apple pastry brought to our seats by our hosts. We enjoyed the newest feature of the GoldLeaf cars, which was the addition of the heated seats and browsed the cocktail menu in preparation for the afternoon. To our delight, Rocky Mountaineer has added cocktails to the menu including a peach and orange vodka mixed with San Pellegrino, a “Mountainrita” and a “Dark and Rocky” which of course is a take on the “Dark and Stormy”

We were called down for breakfast later that morning, which started off with a small glass of juice stuffed with fruit, warm croissants and stunning views of the Coast Mountains. The most popular choices that day were the eggs benedict and the salmon scramble.

We had been travelling alongside the Fraser River for most of the day thus far, and it wasn’t long after breakfast that we were passing by Hell’s Gate, a point of interest where the Fraser River narrows to a width of only 35 meters.

The landscape changed from lush, temperate rainforest greenery to a more valley-like setting later in the afternoon.

All of our staff are based in Calgary, so it can be easy for us to take the beautiful landscape of Western Canada for granted. However, as we passed by mountains, wide-open fields and crystal-clear waters we were reminded of why Canada is a bucket list location for so many people. Of course, these sights are best enjoyed with a delicious drink in hand so we sampled our way through the cocktail menu as we relaxed in our seats, taking trips down to the outdoor vestibule occasionally.

As you can imagine, enjoying cocktails on a train as gorgeous views pass you by is quite taxing, so we were quite excited to be called down for lunch. We had a lot of options to choose from, like salmon fillet, chicken and steak to name a few. The appetizer was a delicious mix of Candied salmon, hummus and pita bread and the dessert was cheesecake and coffee.

Things became drier and more arid as we approached Kamloops. There were a few rail traffic delays, one of which allowed us to get an excellent view of a hawk soaring above a river and herds of big horn sheep.

We made it into Kamloops in the evening and we were quickly transported to our hotel. We were tired and had an early start the next morning, so for just about everyone it was straight to bed in order to get up in time for the next day.

The next day we were downstairs bright and early in order to board the bus to the train station. Eyes barely open, this time our group were the first ones called down for breakfast. We were downstairs ordering as we pulled out of Kamloops, this time with a tiny berry smoothie and croissants as an appetizer.

Travelling through the Shuswap region, we were surrounded by evergreen trees to our right and stunning lake views on our left The train is closer than you would expect to the lake, so when you are on the outdoor vestibule you really feel like you could reach out and touch it (although this isn’t advisable).

Things were starting to cool off as we pulled further towards Alberta and the Rocky Mountains and we could see snow along the ground.

The biggest attractions of this day are of course Craigellachie, the sight where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was hammered into place, the engineering marvel that is the Spiral Tunnels and the Rocky Mountains —especially Castle Mountain.

The lunch menu had some repeats on it from the day before (which is nice if you were trying hard to decide between two options the day before) and a few new items including a risotto and a tender piece of beef short rib. Dessert was ice cream and apple pie.

The closer we got to Banff the more of a winter wonderland it became (although it was of course, early spring) the snow peaked mountains had a thin layer of mist overtop of them and snow surrounded us on either side. Those coming in from the outdoor air vestibule commented on its frosty temperatures and the heated seats definitely came in handy.

We had some elk sightings (not uncommon for the Banff area) and pulled into the station in the early evening and were quickly transferred to our hotel. Although we were sad that our time on the train had come to a conclusion, we were thrilled to be spending the night in the lively, albeit small town of Banff.