No sooner had I said that the problems at airports had eased, then we had a computer failure at NATS (National Air Traffic Service) which caused delays for most flights, particularly within Europe! Well, this month I am going to play it safe and talk about some of the iconic rail journeys of which there are now many.

I’ve travelled on the Blue Train from Johannesburg to Cape Town, and from London to Venice on the Orient Express, both of which were great experiences but the one that I have not, and is on my list, is The Rocky Mountaineer going through the Rockies to Vancouver as I have always been in that area in winter when it does not run. So that I could provide a first-hand account of the trip, I asked a relation of mine, Christine Warwick, to write her report on her recent journey on board.

The pioneering engineers who built the railway through the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific in the 1880s could never have envisaged the type of service which would traverse their tracks in the 21st. century.

Even by modern standards, a trip on the western-most section of what was originally Canada’s first transcontinental passenger train line is luxurious, and the Rocky Mountaineer is a purpose-built tourist service that can truly be described as a journey of a lifetime.

I spent two days travelling the Rocky Mountaineer’s ‘First Passage to the West’ flagship route of some 600 miles from Banff, Alberta to the city of Vancouver. The scenery is spectacular, from the towering snow-capped mountains which dominate the early part of the trip to the river valleys, lakes and varied landscape which later prevail.

If your budget permits, it makes sense to opt for the ‘Gold Leaf’ service which means that you travel in an extremely comfortable, elevated carriage with a glass-domed roof and broad windows, maximising the views of the scenery. There is also an exterior viewing platform. Your carriage ‘host’ provides a running commentary on the journey’s highlights as well as a steady supply of whatever tipple, beverage or snack that takes your fancy. Meals are served in a separate dining car. You don’t miss any of the scenery, as part of the fare includes overnight accommodation at Kamloops, the midway stage of this fantastic trip.

So, the end of her story which is a good example of a different type of holiday, but in fact there are now a huge number of different types available today, whether it is cruising on board a square-rigged sailing vessel or joining expedition journey to the Antarctic so perhaps it may be something different to try next year?

Martin Wellings