need advise on Vancouver area

Old May 18th, 2007, 09:36 AM
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need advise on Vancouver area

My daughter and I are flying to Vancouver on September 29. I am tentatively planning for us to take the train to Jasper and spend two days there then return to Vancouver and take the ferry over to Victoria and spend a night there. We have 9 days and I don't want to spend it scurrying around.

What advice can you great folks provide?
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Old May 18th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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To my rather lazy mind, what you propose to do in nine days does sound like quite a bit of scurrying round. Taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria (assuming that you travel by bus to the ferry and then by bus from the ferry to Victoria) can take at least five hours, with the same trip in reverse the following day. I'd be inclined to save Victoria for another trip. But I'll be interested to hear what other posters say.

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Old May 18th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Agree with Vorkuta. Your idea would make "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium" look leisurely by comparison.

I suggest you look at the sample itineraries on my website to get an idea of what is feasible in a given length of time:

http://tinyurl.com/35jzr8

I think that catching the train is a dubious idea. I don't know how old your daughter is. If she is a child or an active young adult, she may find sitting on a train for two days to be too confining. Driving gives you more freedom to stop and get out where you like, to do little detours, to choose routes along which the train does not go, etc.

Even if you do catch the train to Vancouver, be aware that the two train companies that cover the route from Vancouver to the Rockies (namely, Rocky Mountaineer and VIA Rail) each has only three trains per week. So you need to figure out how the train's departure date would tie in with your arrival in Vancouver and how you would use the time between your arrival in Vancouver and your departure on the train. Vancouver is in a beautiful setting, and it's not a problem using up time in Vancouver. I'm just pointing out that this is something you need to consider.

Then there's the matter of returning to the coast if you've taken the train to Jasper. How are you going to accomplish that? Go back on the train again, drive, or fly from Edmonton or Calgary?

If you fly from Edmonton or Calgary, how are you going to get from the Rockies to the airport? Shuttle bus or rental car?

If you catch the train and fly, how are you going to go sight seeing in the Rockies? Although the mountain resort towns are quite pretty, seeing them is not the point of visiting the Rockies. The scenic lookout points are quite far from the towns, and ideally you should have a car to visit them. (But if you don't have a car, the next best thing is to use SunDog Tours for day tours out of Jasper and Discover Banff Tours for day tours out of Banff.)

If you drive in one direction from the Rockies to Vancouver, you may incur a one-way drop off fee on your rental car. If you're going to incur that fee anyway, you may as well fly into Calgary and Edmonton, do the trip in one direction only, and fly out of Vancouver.

In fact, if you really do have only 9 days at your disposal, it would make way more sense to do the trip in only one direction. I suggest you start in the Rockies and work your way out to the coast. Some side roads in the Rockies (like the ones to Moraine Lake, Takakkaw Falls and Mount Edith Cavell) can start closing from the beginning of October onwards. Some other attractions, like the tram up Whistlers Mountain just outside of Jasper and the Ice Explorer at the Columbia Icefields) stop right after Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in October). Besides that, the weather cools off sooner in the mountains than at the coast.

Another option to consider is to bite off a smaller chunk of territory. Either visit the Canadian Rockies (flying in and out of Calgary and/or Edmonton) or visit the coast. If you choose the coast option, you could do Vancouver, Whistler, Tofino and Victoria in that period.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 11:56 AM
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My daughter is 38. I thought it would be exciting to take the train into part of the Rockies. Wrong? Oh great wise ones, tell me what to do.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 11:56 AM
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Hi Judy,

Just wanted to compliment you again on your excellent answers. You devote such a lot of thought to each question. We're lucky to have you posting on this forum.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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Judy, I've wanted (for years) to go through part of the Rockies on a dome train. I read you suggestion about flying into Banff, then driving to Vancouver. If I rent a car in Banff, won't I be charged an exorbitant fee to drop it off in Vancouver?
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Old May 18th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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Many thanks, Vorkuta.

Back to you, bchalk.

>>>>>>My daughter is 38. I thought it would be exciting to take the train into part of the Rockies.<<<<<<

If your daughter is 38, the train probably will be fine.

>>>>>>I've wanted (for years) to go through part of the Rockies on a dome train.<<<<<<

Fair enough.

>>>>>>I read you suggestion about flying into Banff, then driving to Vancouver. If I rent a car in Banff, won't I be charged an exorbitant fee to drop it off in Vancouver?<<<<<<

Bchalk, we seem to be talking at cross purposes. You cannot fly into Banff. You can only fly into Calgary (or Edmonton). But leaving that detail aside, it's true that if you pick up a car in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff or Jasper and drop it off in Vancouver you probably will pay a hefty one-way drop off fee.

But, if you catch a train from Vancouver to the Rockies and then return to Vancouver again, as your initial plan stated, you would incur costs in getting back to Vancouver.

There are 4 ways that you can get from the Rockies back to Vancouver:

(1) Drive or catch a shuttle bus to Calgary Airport or Edmonton Airport and fly to Vancouver.

(2) Rent a vehicle and drive from the Rockies to Vancouver.

(3) Catch a bus, such as Greyhound, from the Rockies to Vancouver.

(4) Catch a train from the Rockies to Vancouver. If your mountain departure point is Jasper, you have the option of catching the Rocky Mountaineer or VIA Rail. If your mountain departure point is Banff, your only option is the Rocky Mountaineer.

The cheapest of these options is Greyhound, but it is the most time consuming, the least comfortable and, in certain respects, the least flexible.

The option that is most cost-effective and efficient is flying from Calgary or Edmonton to Vancouver.

Driving one way is expensive because of the drop off fee, but it gives you the most flexibility.

Catching the train in both directions would be enormously expensive. Have you actually checked the train fares?

Also, would you want to go to and from the Rockies by the same train route, or would you rather cover different routes? If you switch train routes, how will you travel between Jasper and Banff? The route between Jasper and Banff is not served by train.

The most flexible option would be to drive between Jasper and Banff. But even then there would be a one-way drop off fee. If you don't want to drive, you need to check which bus company would be covering the route. SunDog does it in winter, and Brewster does it in summer. Since you want to travel at a transitional time, you need to research who will be doing what on which date.

It may help you to know that, to my taste, the crown jewels of the Canadian Rockies are the turquoise lakes. Again to my taste, the four most beautiful lakes are the ones that are within half an hour's driving distance of Lake Louise. They are Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, Emerald Lake and Lake Louise itself.

Much as I love Jasper, it does not quite come up to Lake Louise's standards in the lake department, as far as I am concerned. The ideal trip to the Canadian Rockies would encompass Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. However, if shortage of time forces you to choose either Banff/Lake Louise or Jasper, I would vote in favour of Banff/LL.

Bchalk, have you actually looked at the sample itineraries on my website to get an idea of what realistically can be achieved in a given length of time? Have you used the Map Quest website ( www.mapquest.com ) to find out distances between places? Are you aware that it takes approximately 4 hours to get from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria?
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