30 May

My journey across the US/Canadian border for a brief stopover in Vancouver, British Columbia required a short and uneventful journey on the “Cascades” train service which connects the city of Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia. The stretch from Seattle to Vancouver ist barely 4 hours, almost two thirds of which the train is on US territory. 

Just be careful when booking that you do not accidentally book a trip from Seattle to Vancouver, Washington as there is a city with the same name just a couple of miles south of the Emerald City.

The stops between Seattle and the border are all small town affairs and the train spends no more than 5 minutes on each one, just enough to let existing passengers off and new passengers on. Then the challenge is to find a good seat. Since this journey is so short, there is no sleeping accommodation, however there is either coach or business class seating with a small cafe in the last carriage for anyone to buy snacks or beverages.

Once it reaches the town of Bellingham, Washington, Amtrak personnel come round and hand you a declaration card to fill in. This must then be handed to Canadian Border Patrol officers when you arrive in Vancouver”s Pacific Station. The officer will ask you to state the reason for your visit, where you are staying and for how long you will be remaining in Canada, after which you get a stamp in your passport and let go on your way.

Vancouver is massive and the Amtrak terminal is some way away from Downtown, Chinatown or Gastown (more about that in the main blog on Vancouver). You should have no issues getting a taxi cab however, not even if the train is delayed and the arrival is past midnight. The driver I spoke to told me that this is rare for the Cascades service and when it does happen, the drivers ensure that there are enough of them to be able to ferry any late arrivals to their hotels.

For the next couple of days, I recommend either using the GrayLine Hop-On/Hop-Off bus service which covers the main part of the core city scape of Vancouver. At east it will get you to the major attractions. In my case, it was the R5 bus route which was used the most to get me from the hotel in the Eastern part of town to ChinaTown / GasTown and DownTown / Granville Island and Stanley Park in the West.

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