Monday, May 26, 2008

Report From The Road (Part 7) - RailMall

This train I'm currently on, The Rocky Mountaineer, is a total tourist train. It's privately operated and is like a land cruise on rails. The publicly funded Canadian Via Rail (much like Amtrak in the U.S.) people do a fantastic job with service - very impressive given it's government supported. BUT, this tourist train is nothing short of amazing. They serve appetizers and wine before lunch, the cars are first class all the way and they even slow down so you can get pictures of sights along the way. Normally when I travel, I avoid anything that even hints at blatant tourism, but my train-geekiness overrode that instinct this time. And this is one fun experience. Every so often, someone from a car way in front radios back something like "bear on the right" and everyone grabs cameras and presses against the right hand dome-windows to try and get a shot.

At first I wondered how in the heck these people are making money on this endevour. The secret turned up right in front of me in the seat pocket. It's the train version of SkyMall. In this catalog, you can buy all sorts of souveniers, delivered right to your train seat when you board the next morning. While there's no whimsical statue of a bear that holds a bottle of wine, there's a few oddball pieces available amongst the usual decks of playing cards and wine goblets emblazoned with the Rocky Mountaineer logo. It really reminds me of my favourite song by Jonathan Coulton - SkyMall. This song really sums up my perspective on these catalogs just about right.

A lucky shot from the train thanks to someone who shouted the "bear on the right" mantra:

Bear On The Right!