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Ringo Boitano: Template

Rocky Mountaineer train passing through the Canadian Rockies
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Train Travel
Through the Canadian Rockies

By Ringo Boitano

he Rocky Mountaineer train journey is one of the best ways to experience the sweeping beauty and ever-changing landscape of western Canada. The historic train route was created over a century ago, linking the country and introducing the world to a new and rugged land of towering mountain peaks, glacial lakes, roaring waterfalls, abundant wildlife -- bear, elk, deer, moose, bald eagles, osprey, mountain goats, bighorn sheep -- and pristine vegetation. With departures from Vancouver, B.C., the two-day journey -- 280 miles each day -- climbs from sea level to over 5,000 feet through the Canadian Rockies and Continental Divide to Banff or Jasper, with station transfers to Calgary for your departure cities. All travel is done in daylight – there are no sleeper cars -- with overnight accommodations in the hillside town of Kamloops. It’s a popular excursion with none other than Bill Gates and family once renting an entire coach.

train entering a tunnel in the Canadian Rockies
Photo courtesy of Deb Roskamp

To witness the wonders of such beauty truly enhances the soul, and to do so in the comforts of a luxurious rail coach only makes it better. Travelers enjoy plush seats in glass-enclosed coaches, along with attentive stewards who offer passionate and insightful narration throughout the journey. Rocky Mountaineer’s all-inclusive packages include trips to the white linen-clad tables of the dining room, where award-winning chefs prepare three-course meals using regional ingredients from British Columbia and Alberta. Dishes like baked wild salmon; slow roasted Alberta bison; wild British Columbia mushroom chowder; and pickerel, a white, sweet tasting fish, should not be missed. Also, try a Caesar, Canada’s answer to the Bloody Mary.

Banff and Lake Louise
After your railway journey, it is essential that you spend quality time in the Rocky Mountain communities of Banff and Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada's first and foremost National Park. The park is a year-round protected wilderness area offering a remote alpine beauty that one must see to believe. There is an endless array of vacation possibilities available, including a dip in the world-famous hot springs.

the Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park
Photo courtesy of Gary Avrech

Where to Stay
The Fairmont Banff Springs Modeled after a Scottish baronial castle, the opulent Fairmont Banff Springs is like its own bustling village, hidden in the mountains. An adult Disneyland comes to mind with its army of impeccably uniformed staff, mammoth ballrooms, elegant restaurants, stately lounges, designer shops and recently renovated European-style spa. If it’s activities you want, this world-class resort is the hub. Make sure you start your day with the phenomenal breakfast buffet at the Bow Valley Grill.

The Backstory
"If we can't export the scenery, we will import the tourists" was the selffulfilling prophesy of William Van Horne, General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who recognized the tourist potential of the hot springs near the railway station at Banff, Alberta. His vision was to design a luxury hotel amidst the stunning mountain scenery of the Canadian Rockies above the confluence of the Bow and the Spray Rivers overlooking the beautiful Bow Valley -- and the only way to get there in 1886 would be via a railway. The hotel officially opened on June 1, 1888, and was declared a historical site by the Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1992.

If Walls Could Talk
In 1956, Marilyn Monroe was staying at the hotel while filming River of No Return, directed by Otto Preminger. During the filming, she sprained her ankle and was on doctor's orders to be transported in a wheelchair. Needless to say, fierce arguments broke out among the bellmen as to who would get to push Ms. Monroe around the hotel. The dilemma was handled in the only civilized way – each morning the young men drew straws.

the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise on the shores of Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Photo courtesy of Deb Roskamp

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise approximately a 20-minute car drive from Banff, the Fairmont Chateau rests on its namesake lake, which itself is set against the backdrop of Victoria Glacier. Perhaps the most photographed scene in the Canadian Rockies, this is one time where man really got it right. The location lends itself to the tranquility and stillness of the outdoors, a good place for a walk in the woods or a stroll around the lake, which is frozen in the winter. You can enjoy the property’s world-class amenities or simple things like a good book in front of a cozy fireplace.



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Feedback for Ringo

I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic? And then there was the Heups in Bismark.

It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.

Brent, Seattle, WA

It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.

Sandee, Seattle, WA

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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!

Ramon, Kansas City, MO

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Ha ha ha ha ha...love your "schtick" Ringo!!

Dolly, Las Vegas, NV

Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best wishes.

Elsa Magdalena Berno-Boitano, Laussane, Switzerland

My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it? Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks for blazing the trail!

Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA

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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.

Key Logger, New York

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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest bar.

Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Jeff–

Thanks for taking the time for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.

- Ringo

Ringo,

I thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.

To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then. The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda" been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this to yourself all these many years.

Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hey, Ringo –

Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos, too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.

Mick, Greenbay, WI

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Mick –

Now that football season is over --- I’ve often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off season ---- it’s great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy. Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products, and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations --- you know, what’s a city, which one is a town, ect – so better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to argue about any subject.

- Ringo


Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)

sunset at Galway Bay

The Palladian Traveler soars above the crowd with a gal named Lima, cruises across a lake dotted with hundreds of islands, and feasts like a king in a regal dining room.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!) People!

Emirates Airbus A-380
As she came around the corner we could not believe how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful – almost elegant in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as quiet as a church mouse – or "as quiet as dreaming trees."

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing as the Man who Lived There

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from the president during Black History Month – Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job... – it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC – surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself – would be a good place to start.

Go There

Greg Aragon's travel blog/review
Hanging Out in Huntington Beach, California

Greg at Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is legendary around the world as one of the best surfing spots. Its waves and beaches are so great, it is also officially known as "Surf City." But as I learned on a recent getaway, the town is more than just tasty swells and beautiful white sand; it also boasts gourmet restaurants, luxury, ocean-front hotels, great shopping, and tons of California coastal charm.

Go There

Bev Cohn's travel blog
Richard Gere and Joseph Cedar Discuss "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer"

a scene from the documentary 'My Hero Brother'

Richard Gere is one of America's acting treasures. He has an uncanny knack for selecting scripts with the most interesting characters. Included in some of his vast body of films are "American Gigolo, "An Officer and a Gentleman," "The Cotton Club," "Internal Affairs," "Pretty Woman," "Primal Fear," "Unfaithful," and "Chicago." Joseph Cedar, writer and director of the critically acclaimed "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer," was born in New York City but when he was five, his family moved to Israel where he was raised.

Go There

Deb Roskamp's travel photo blog
Tahiti and Her Islands

Tahiti

Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks, tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that single purpose.

go there

Raoul Pascual's travel blog
Leviticus 20:13
Sent by Tom of Pasadena, CA

It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana was legalized in the last election. Leviticus 20:13 states
"If a man lays with another man, he should be stoned..." We've been interpreting it wrong all these years!

go there


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