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Published: January 3rd 2020
Today is our Train to Denali. We had a very good breakfast. It was the usual hot breakfast with eggs, oatmeal, fruits and yogurt. We called Uber to the train station. It was predicted to rain 100%.It was drizzling as expected. We left the hotel around 8 am for the 9:15 am train. We had packed luggage in a way that we would keep 3 suitcases in the cloak room in the hotel itself. Since we are staying in the same Fairfield after our return from Denali in Anchorage, we could pick them up at that time. It was a very easy check in process. We showed our tickets and dropped off our luggage except for the backpack. We waited in the depot for 20 minutes before they bused us to the train platform. It was a short 5 minute bus ride. Train depot is close to downtown. The area looked nice with a park nearby. As soon as we got off the bus, we were able to see huge glass domed train cars waiting. It is 180 degree glass view top and on both sides. There are totally 4 seats in each row, 2 on either side, There should be about 50 rows in each car. You are typically seated upstairs, while the dining area, bathroom and open area to view outside (deck) are downstairs. There is a bar upfront in every car, There 2 members of the crew in each car with you - tour guide and a bartender. Our tour guide and conductor was very knowledgeable. He provides lot of background about Alaskan history, geography of the area, flora, fauna, animals, train services etc. He also makes it entertaining. We got few drink specials from the bartender. We also signed up for lunch downstairs. Choices for Vegetarians are limited. They did serve veggie sandwich for about $12. The scenery outside was spectacular. There were lot of rivers and water all around as it has been raining in this area for the past few weeks. Water streaks on the side of the glass windows were causing bit of an issue for spotting any animals. It rained most of the way to Denali. We stopped in Talkeetna for 20 minutes. We also stop for oncoming train to cross our train. It reminded me of Chennai - Madurai trips! Interesting to see that goods and sometimes even passengers between north and south bound trains. We reached Denali by 5 pm. This train station is small and is at the entrance of the park. From there, we were shuttled to our hotel - Grand Denali. This hotel is on top of a hill. A winding road (with funny road signs along the way) takes you up to the entrance of the hotel. The location is fabulous. It had amazing views of the Denali area and the valley. You could see the Nenana river running at the bottom. We checked into our rooms, freshened up and went to the front desk to see if we can sign up for any activity. Since it was already evening, there were only few open. Kids signed up for "husky homestead", a show about huskies. You can even pet them in this program! Kids were back around 9 pm. We had our dinner right at the hotel. By this time, the temperatures had come down to 45 or so. It was windy as well. Next day was our trip into Denali park. So we wanted to prepare for the next day and hit the sack early. Alarm was set for 4:30 am as we need to leave the hotel for the bus depot by 5:30 am.
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