Wednesday, 19 July 2017

We Are The North

We Are The North
Across Canada Roadtrippin'



Preface.

I don't know if you've heard but it's kind of a huge year for Canadians, it being our 150th Birthday and all. And we Canadians appreciate any excuse there is to party it up, so you can just imagine the excitement and festivities that were already underway leading up towards big day, let alone the carnage that ensued on Canada Day itself. Basically, this year is just a giant party in Canada and because of this, many Canadian travel companies and even the Canadian government has teamed up to offer some great deals so that everyone can share in the beauty that is our home and native land (or rather our home on native land, but that's a whole other story).

Now, I know I am not the only Canadian who has lived in this beautiful country for the majority of my life and have only seen a ridiculously small fraction of it. At least for me, this is mainly because I've always decided to travel to places farther away instead of exploring the land around me. I guess when you travel farther away from your homeland, things just seem more exciting and exotic, so you don't really think of indulging in the hidden gems that exist right under your nose. Well this year is different. This year all the Canadian National Parks are free for visitors (all you need to do is go online to This Website and order your pass free of charge) so it's no excuse for travellers and locals alike to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.


Air Canada and Air Transat also got in on all the festivities offering cheap(ish) domestic flights around Canada but one particularly amazing travel offer that occurred was Via Rail's 150 Rail Pass. For a limited time, Via Rail offered 1867 Canadians (ages 12-25) an opportunity to purchase a special rail pass that allowed unlimited travel around Canada for the entire month of July...all for only $150!! When I first read the details it seemed a little too good to be true as a one way ticket from Toronto to Vancouver is $526 for a youth at best, so a rail pass that allowed you make that trip and many more for a fraction of that price? Where do I sign up?!

The Struggle was Real.

I knew right away that an offer like this was going to go viral because things like these don't last too long before everyone finds out about them, so I went immediately on the website to book my ticket. And while the link was correct in their details for the offer, Via Rail Canada wasn't expecting the sheer volume of people trying to purchase these tickets, so their site actually went down.

Okay, I'm sorry but are they stupid? I mean how could they have not possibly anticipated this? Travelling around Canada is pretty frickin' expensive so I don't know how they could not have been prepared for a large number of people to be interested in purchasing the pass....but maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I called their phone line seeing if purchasing the tickets over the phone was an option but the lady informed me that their system had also crashed making the sale of tickets not possible for them as well. She also told me that there should be no issue in me acquiring tickets when the issue was resolved because at this point they hadn't put a cap to the number of rail passes they were going to sell. At first I was relieved even though it didn't sound completely realistic, but when the lady told me that the passes weren't just for Canadian residents but open to the entire world?!! Well I just knew that it was only a short time until a cap was agreed upon. I mean, there are only so many seats on a train!

And sure enough at 6pm (after constant refreshing on my part) another detail was added to the event informing everyone that only 1867 passes would be sold...because that's the year Canada became a country (they are just so clever aren't they). But only 1867 tickets for the ENTIRE WORLD?! Ffs, safe to say any hope of getting these tickets went from 100 to 0 real quick and yet, I was still determined to get a ticket. I mean it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, I would be a fool to not at least try to acquire one of these Willy Wonka Golden Tickets.


And by some miracle act of the gods, I did. After 16 hours of constant refreshing, 300 phone calls and 2 hours on hold, I finally managed to snag one of the last ones at 3:28am before they completely sold out. I even had my mate Becca trying to get me a ticket on her end, this is how dedicated we were. Unfortunately we weren't able to get Becca or her boyfriend Sam their tickets as well since getting two was 99% more difficult than just getting one, but the fact that I was able to get one at all goes to show that stubbornness and perseverance will be rewarded!

An Idea was Born.

Now a few months prior, my friend Chanel (whom I had backpacked with in Portugal) had mentioned that she was coming to Canada for 2 months to travel around BC and Alberta. Becca and I had talked about doing a Cross Canada road trip for a few years now without actually making any concrete plans, so with Chanel coming over for the summer and the free access to national parks, I felt that it would be a perfect opportunity to make a real trip out of this. After discussing the idea of a road trip with Chanel and Becca I easily got them both onboard with Becca's boyfriend Sam and Chanel's friend Lucy keen on joining as well. Two Canadians, Two Brits and an Aussie...these are where the best stories are born and so, The Eh Team was assembled and another slightly spontaneous/kinda planned epic detour began.

The plan was to meet in Vancouver before August 4 (as this is when our Campervan was booked) and road trip around BC/Alberta for 31 days. Seeing as I had now acquired a Via Rail pass, my travel from Toronto to Vancouver was covered meaning that I had one less thing to worry about and one more thing to look forward to.

We had a few setbacks as per usual since Becca and Sam could only commit to half of the trip (as Becca had already made a prior commitment to attend a friend's wedding) and also the campervan company we chose had some false advertising on their website and unhelpful staff, which resulted in us having to pay more for a much larger campervan than we needed. But alas, we managed to sort everything else and book the campervan with now only the waiting game to worry about....oh yeah and bears because apparently their a bit of a problem when you go exploring the wilderness around Canada...who knew?



So now the countdown begins... T minus 6 days until I leave on my train journey aboard The Canadian and T minus 16 days until the epic detour. Get your seatbelts fastened kids because this is going to be one wild ride, I can assure you! Pun absolutely intended.


Stay Tuned.

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