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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 299 > The great outdoors

The great outdoors

Jurriaan Teulings takes a train journey through Canada’s rugged countryside and gay-friendly cities
CYCLE OF LIFE: The stunning Banff

Vancouver is regularly voted one of the best cities in the world in which to live.

Invariably, this is because of its solid infrastructure, the relatively mild climate, the smart urban planning and good educational options – none of which are particularly sexy.

And, ironically, one of the other reasons it scores so highly is the fact that you can get away from the city with relative ease.

The centre, with its glass residential towers, is surrounded by the ocean and mountains; just a short distance from the heart of the city, a walking route through nature is never more than 30 minutes away. The same can be said for practically all Canadian cities: the wilderness is nearly always close at hand – it’s the nearest city, on the other hand, that is usually quite a distance away.

With a population of a mere 36 million, it’s a relatively small country with a very large back garden, and the only one way to fully appreciate all of that vastness is to travel across it by train.

That’s what my best pal Haroon and I decided to do, following the route of the legendary Canadian; starting at Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station. If we were to do it all in one go, we’d have to spend four days on the train just to get from here to Toronto, but, of course, we will get on and off a few times along the way. Our first stop is Jasper, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, 19 hours from Vancouver.

The train is a steel monster comprising 25 carriages; it’s so long that the rolling stock requires two platforms at the station to accommodate it.

My single compartment is entirely occupied by the bed alongside the window.

That might seem extremely tight, but it’s ingeniously configured, using low-tech design. Everything is within reach, from all manner of light and ventilation switches, to a small washbasin with a separate tap for drinking water.

When I fold back the bed, I’m surprised to see a toilet concealed underneath.

The train leaves at around sunset and a few hours later the cadence of the tracks has rocked me to sleep.

When I wake up at dawn, we are stationary, and positioned next to a silkily smooth lake surrounded by rock formations, which are lit up in an orange hue by the morning sunlight.

It is a prelude to the spectacle to come, as we begin our ascent of the Rocky Mountains around midday.

I spend the next few hours before Jasper in the so-called panoramic dome car – an extra level on top of the train that is surrounded by windows – where we witness the white snowcovered giants slowly loom out of the horizon until we are entirely surrounded by the high mountains. The fact that the train is running two hours late is now something of a bonus in these environs, instead of the annoyance rail tardiness usually evokes.

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About Attitude

On the cover: Mamma Mia! star Dominic Cooper and model Zander Hodgson Plus: meet the winners of the Attitude Pride Awards 2018, celebrate Madonna's 60th birthday with her most iconic moments, and Team GB's first karate world champion Jordan Thomas