Fun and Travel with our British Friends Pt. 2

I left you at the Rimrock Hotel in Banff. Now the amazing thing about this place is that it is ranked very high on many travel sites online, and travel magazines like Travelers Condé Nast. We really did not like it, and found it below par. So how then do we trust these rankings? Or is it just that the hotels, restaurants, travel agents etc. write to their clients and ask them to vote. Well I know that has something to do with it, because I have been asked to rate many properties. However, I only vote for the places that I believe in, but do most people? Are these reviews honest?

After visiting our less than stellar rooms. I checked out the website and note they don’t show the bathrooms except in the grand suite. I did post pictures of this in my last blog : https://suddenly70.ca/2018/12/08/fun-and-travel-with-our-british-friends/ and talked about the great view, but basic room. At any rate we met in the lobby for a drink, before dinner in the much-touted Eden restaurant that I had to reserve with a credit card before our arrival, even though we were booked at the hotel. We listened to the singer in the lounge. Actually we really didn’t have a choice, as her mike was turned up way too loud, and worst of all she wasn’t very good.

bedroom and bath in 5 star Rimrock Resort 

I love music as you know; all kinds of genres from opera to jazz to rock n roll, even country. I am not a music snob except when it comes to quality and volume. Our pre-dinner drinks were over powered by her vocals. Okay. So we went in for dinner and were seated at a decent table and presented with the prix fixe menu. It was quite appealing and we were told we could choose from each section as part of our three or four course menu. I just checked their recent posting of the menu and it certainly looks different from our choices, and included wines. Our waiter told us we could choose whatever we wanted, however, the wines at the time we were there were not included, or we missed that, or it was September, and busier than now in the winter.

One of the wines, a very ordinary sauvignon blanc was three times more expensive than the price in the bar, and we were told we could not have the one from the bar. One of the options that Stewart chose included a hidden extra tariff of $25.00. Our final bill was outrageously expensive, although they did present one course with a lot of dry ice. To be fair, some of the dishes were very good, but who are they targeting with this meal? ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ from the movie? We have done a great deal of travelling as a foursome, and had some exquisite and expensive meals, but this was memorable for its lack of value for price paid. We promised each other we would stop talking about the Ripoff Rimrock Resort and will someday.

fancy extra dish and wow dry ice says it all

We woke early in order to get to the famed Rocky Mountaineer train and check in, which I think was around 7:30am. There was a red carpet greeting for us at the small terminal and a lovely young woman serenaded us with her harp. We had juice and coffee or tea, and a muffin, and waited to board. The train was divided into either Silverleaf or Goldleaf classes and we were in gold. We got a great rate through Stewart so it was doable. The morning was misty, but already we could see the mountains peaking out from behind the clouds, and really we came for the view, and the passage to Vancouver.

the red carpet greeting for the train with harp serenade

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clouds lifting over the mountains

You can look on the their website, for professional pictures, see link above, but the train was gorgeous and comfortable. We had our own seats for the duration in the upper-level glass-dome coach where we sat for most of the journey with the exception of our meals, breakfast and lunch. The two days that we were aboard we travelled during the day for obvious reasons; the best time to see the incredible views. The primary difference between the two services, the amazing glass dome upstairs and a separate dining room. Silverleaf also has a dome, but the meals are served at the seats already plated. No sooner had we sat in the luxurious, reclining seats we were offered champagne. The dining car had a capacity for about half of us at a time, so they alternated the groupings.

many gorgeous views from the train
Barb perusing the menu and some offerings

The servers were charming, efficient and knowledgeable about more than just the scenery. The breakfast menu offered a choice of the usual types of breakfasts. All were good as was the decaf coffee, which I drink. Mostly decaf is so watered down tasting that it is not worth it, but this was excellent. There was music playing discreetly. Everything was relaxed and wonderful. The toilets that were pristine and compact and cleaned regularly particularly impressed me. When you are sharing that is important.

more views

The lunches usually started with an aperitif at our seats, then menu choices that included a vegetarian option, a fish, and meat. All were tasty. Wine was liberally served, and the last meal we encouraged the stewards to find cognac, they managed a brandy, which more than sufficed. Desserts were good as was the cheese. All eaten while moving briskly through mountain ranges, forests, tundra, desert like landscapes, waterfalls and  tunnels.

Riki outside in a tunnel and all of us at our seats

The skies lifted as we started our travels and passed through some of the most awe-inspiring views, as you can see in my pictures. There was a little area outside at the bottom of the stairs where one could stand and feel the breeze, and be closer to nature. We were advised that the temperature of the train might not be to everyone’s liking, and to bring a shawl. It proved to be perfect.

desert like scenery, in the tunnel, and a nap time

Mid afternoon we were offered drinks and canapés, in fact you could order whatever you wanted when you wanted in the drinks department. We joked with our friends, met a few others, but mostly just looked out the windows as we sped merrily along to our night’s destination in Kamloops. This small town in central British Columbia is not beautiful. We were housed in the best available hotel, the 540, which was clean, large, had a better bathroom than the 5 star Rimrock, and a bar that served some small plates of food. We had eaten a large lunch, but were just a bit peckish. We had a chance to see some locals, and the sleep was fine.

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arriving in Vancouver at sunset

Early morning we were back to the train for breakfast, and the rest of the trip to Vancouver in brilliant sunlight, with more gorgeous views, and our usual laughter. We arrived after 5:00pm, took the Mountaineer bus to our hotel, my very favourite Rosewood, and called the kids to come over. I had texted them from the train when there was coverage and they organized sushi for all of us, and we camped out in our room with a bottle of wine, some beers, and our family. Great to see our little grand daughter, and the Craggs just joined in the festivities as they so often do. Charles had left his kindle on the train and after finding the correct number contacted the train company, and they promised to have it delivered the next day to the hotel. Great service! Our experience on the Rocky Mountaineer was stellar.

the bar at the Rosewood, the west end ferry dock and Granville Island food market

Saturday morning we grabbed a light breakfast, and then headed off to Granville Island to give our own version of a city tour to Stewart and Barbara. We walked a good way to the little ferries that take you from our side of the city to the famed market. No matter how many times I have visited Vancouver or lived there (twice), I still don’t know which is north or south, but I do know how to get places. The False Creek Ferry takes about 7 minutes from the marina where we ended up on our walk, and drops you near the food market. We wandered around showing the Craggs the sites and then decided to catch a hop on hop off bus, which proved to be a mistake. It was awful. The driver kept going round and round the same areas that were unattractive and not worth seeing. The bus was also in poor repair. Vancouver Tourist Bureau needs to work on this travesty.

famous clock, some rowers and colossal cruise ship at Canada Place

Three of us walked back after visiting Canada Place and looking at an enormous vessel called a cruise ship. I am joking of course as we always cruise on smaller ships anywhere from 300-600 passengers. This one looked like it could handle 4,000 and indeed it could. The mind boggles. Stewart wanted a longer walk so we left him. I think he was trying to get rid of some of the poundage from our train trip. At any rate back at the hotel we went to our room for a nap.

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 directions for fave Salvio Volpe, note the volpe/fox enjoying a glass

Dinner was planned for everyone to meet at Salvio Volpe, which is not far from our kid’s home. Charles and I went early to visit our darling grand daughter, Sway, and then after the sitter arrived, we ( Corby, Kate, Charles and I)  walked up to the restaurant. There were 7 of us including our son, Niels, and the Craggs.  The restaurant is lively and noisy, but we ordered the group meal, which you do when your party has more than 6 people, and then the sharing of succulent and inventive dishes begins. Lots of conversation and laughter ensued, and it was a good way for our family to get to know the Craggs a bit better and vice versa.

lunch at Joe Forte just Charles and me, and views at the Maritime Museum

After some drinks in the bar we parted for our own bedrooms, and then the next day the three of them went to visit the Maritime Museum and I waited for our daughter-in-law, Kate, to arrive with Sway, and spend the morning swimming in the gorgeous multi-coloured pool at the hotel. It was pouring as only it can in beautiful Vancouver, and Kate took me to Granville Island to shop for dinner, while she stayed in the car with a sleeping little girl. It is a dream to shop at The Granville Island Market. There are wonderful stalls filled with fruit and vegetables as well as fishmongers and meat purveyors. Lots of choices. I decided that we would have fresh scallops with large porcini mushrooms, Corby was going to cook corn on the cob. I frankly can’t remember if we had fried potatoes and perhaps another veggie. I bought some incredible cheeses, and fruit and we had wine. After a rest at the hotel, Charles and I headed over to the east end to our kid’s place, a small, but charming above ground basement apartment with a huge yard. Dinner turned out to be delicious, a bit of bragging here, but Barbara adored the scallops so much that when we met again in Florida I made them for our first dinner at our place. We had a cozy, lovely evening and more time with our darling Sway. That was Sunday night.

Monday, Corby booked the Craggs for a whale-watching trip on the boat where he is the Captain, Wild Whales. They had a very successful trip and saw Orcas and Humpback. Charles and I have done lots of whale watching in the past, most notably in Newfoundland see: https://suddenly70.ca/2016/08/10/oh-canada/ so we encouraged them to experience this marvel of sighting these gorgeous creatures. At night we headed to one of our favourite seafood restaurants anywhere, The Blue Water Café in Yaletown, and we had a splendid dinner. Everything is so fresh and the service is excellent. Afterwards, we had a final cognac in the lobby bar of the hotel. Charles and I were heading home, while Stewart and Barb were off to see Victoria, then to visit their kids in Houston, and finally to Florida, a big trip. We knew we would meet up again in late October down south.

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beautiful dining room at Blue Water Café

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bye bye to Stewart and Barb

Meanwhile, it is just after Christmas and soon Charles and I are heading to Africa. I wanted to finish this chapter before we leave on New Year’s Eve for London, and a few days of time change catch up, then Kenya, and finally Tanzania. Of course I will tell you about that trip.

I wish you all a Happy New Year for 2019 no matter when you read or listen to this blog.

Don’t forget, I love your feedback.

Riki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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