On this page I'll provide updates on our planning of the trip to Canada. We are intending to visit friends in Kitchener/Waterloo, visit Toronto, take the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver and to finish, ride the Canadian Rockies on a bike.

The train journey is one of those long-standing dream journeys as is a trip into the Canadian Rockies. Still remember looking at maps of Canada at school and being intrigued by Banff, Jasper, Dawson Creek, Prince George. So, another trip of a lifetime beckons.

Update Notes:

At the moment things are all in flux. We do know that we will be using HC Travel in Overton again. We found them very good for the Route 66 trip. Although I do like to plan every detail and stop for a road trip myself, as I did for the Mid-West trip of 2008, having someone create the itinery and book the hotels and bike rental for an all-in price does make life easier. Will miss researching and booking the hotels myself though.

Unlike the Route 66 trip we do want to go by ourselves. Although the use of a guide on something like Route 66 is necessary otherwise you mis too much, we do prefer not to be tied to much by where we stop and how long we stop for. So this will be just the two of us.

Note on flights:

Looking at the flights again we see that the VA to Toronto has a stop in the US. That would mean getting ESTA set-up again as you can't just transit through the US you have to fully arrive through customs and immigration and fully depart. Dependent on how close the connections are can make a rush to the boarding ramp. I almost missed a flight from Miami to London a few years ago that departed from the gate next to the gate my connection from Colombia arrived at. Took 90 minutes to arrive and depart for a transit flight. Will be looking at purely non-stop flights to Canada I think.

Note on bike hire:

I've noticed that there are other companies offereing bike tours in Canada so will have a quick look for comparison, however, a Vancouver start is pretty much a given and HC Travel have the prime position at the moment. Would love to do longer than the 11 days and see more of the Rockies, but time and budgetry constraints to press.

As an aside, being a contractor, I do not tend to take much time off so these two-yearly trips tend to be larger than most people take but then, for this year, I've had two days riding through the Dales and North York Moors as my holiday. And that's probably all I'll have. Not even your two weeks in Tenerife.

Contract extension is looking good so able to start more detailed planning for the trip. Rough estimates at the moment:

  • Flights on BA and Virgin looking similar price-wise for London-Toronto outbound and Vancouver-London inbound at about £2200 for us both in premium economy.
  • The train between Toronto and Vancouver will be ~C$3000 ot ~£2000 for us both in a 2-berth sleeper cabin which also includes all meals.
  • Bike hire and hotels for Peak Performance tour from HC Travel £3000 for us both.

Need to firm up dates and itinery with the friend we're visiting in Kitchener/Waterloo and we're then about ready to book.

Love the look of the 'Canadian' part travelling from Toronto to Vancouver over 5 days (3 1/2 days on the train). I'll post to the itinery page the details. Suffice it to say that the landscape after Calgary looks stunning and all meals are included when you take the sleeper service.

The Canadian has a baggage car (where the body is always hid in the movies) so we can store unwanted bags. The bike rental place also has a left luggage. That's very useful as travelling over three weeks we'll need to take more than we can usefully carry on the bike or need on the train. And this time we will not be checking the helmets in for the flights.

Had an interesting thought regarding an addition for the trip. Wife and daughter are going to go to New York just after Christmas for a girl's-only trip. Got me thinking. If for the Canadian trip Wifey and me fly into New York we could catch a train to Toronto. We can then say we've travelled acros North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts.

Doing some research I find that Amtrak run a train between New York and Toronto. It is called the Maple Leaf. It takes twelve and a half hours and costs $218 for us both standard or $280 business. It doesn't have a baggage car, but hey, we can watch the bags.

We'd have to fly out a day earlier, but that's a day more for the trip. I love travelling. The act of travelling rather than the getting there. Just like to be moving so another 12 hours on a train has no fear. Journey is during the day and so we'd see a lot of New York State. Chance to good.

We'd also have to stay in New York overnight. Flown through New York but never visited. Never really wanted to, but for one night I'll do it.