A train has to be one of my favourite modes of travel. Perhaps not battling for breathing space on the tube, but relaxing in comfort on a long distance train is hard to beat in my book.
Travelling across an international border by train takes things to a higher level. It’s quite a few years since I went inter-railing across Europe, when there were still border crossings to navigate, but I still vividly recall the mixture of excitement and apprehension at reaching a far-flung border patrol in Eastern Europe at the dead of night.
And so I booked us onto Train 510, leaving Seattle King Street Station for Vancouver, at 7.45am on a bright Tuesday morning in July.
Four tickets cost us $126, which I thought seemed pretty reasonable, especially as it meant we didn’t need to spend another few hours waiting in airports.
There was, however, a pretty strange system to board the train. Rather than being allocated seats in advance, so that you can simply walk onto the train at 7.45am, we had to arrive at the station an hour before departure to check-in our luggage and receive a seat allocation. This was straight-forward enough to do, but it meant waking the kids slightly before their natural rising time, which is always a risk before a long journey.
Our wait in Seattle station was livened up by a very talkative Kiwi, who was making his way home to Vancouver Island. We chatted about New Zealand, which we hadn’t long departed, and inevitably drifted onto the subject of Rugby, which you are almost bound to do whenever meeting a true Kiwi. I couldn’t help but feel a tad envious of somebody lucky enough to have a New Zealand passport and a Canadian visa.
We boarded the Amtrak service and left Seattle on time, camera at the ready to capture the passing scenery as we journeyed north to the Canadian border. In between taking the kids on journeys to the buffet car, I spent most of the journey trying to master taking photos while moving at high-speed.
I just about managed to get a picture of a golden eagle, perched on the shore, but you might need to look quite hard to see it.
Otherwise the journey was one long masterpiece, and it was only a shame that we couldn’t have spent longer exploring this stretch of coastline.
Border control was at Vancouver station, which caused a slight delay getting off the train, but it still felt incredible to be walking onto Canadian soil at just after lunchtime, having spent the morning in America.
Are you going to Vancouver Island? My favourite place.
Unfortunately not this time, but I’d really love to go next time we’re in Canada. Where would you recommend heading on Vancouver Island for a family adventure?
I liked Ucluelet, but the whole island has everything.
Once in Vancouver BC how do you get around without a car?
The simple answer is I think it would be quite tricky. We hired a car from downtown to get around, which was necessary because of where we were staying. Having said that, if you sleeping in a central hotel I think you could manage quite easily on public transport.
This sounds great! I’m planning on either going from Vancouver to Seattle or vice versa in the summer so it’s encouraging to know it isn’t too expensive! Great read (and photos) 🙂
I’d definitely recommend taking the train so that you don’t miss out on the views. Plus Seattle and Vancouver are both beautiful places to explore, so I can’t wait to get back here and hope you have a great trip!
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Thank you! I’m a little further in the planning and I think we’ll be driving up to Vancouver from Washington but it should still be great to explore 🙂
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