Tag Archives: Trains

So many slogans…

I was trying to think of a title for this post, so I asked Bo and her family if Winnipeg had a slogan.  Much debate and Googling ensued.  Winnipeg does have a slogan, which apparently no one knows without looking up – it changed seven years ago.  I’d tell you what it is, but I’ve already forgotten.

As you may have guessed, I’m in Winnipeg now.  On Wednesday we left Halifax on ViaRail.

Leaving Halifax

Leaving Halifax

We were SO excited, because this time we were allowed to check our bags through to Toronto (we found out later that they could have gone all the way to Winnipeg, but this worked out just fine).  I don’t remember if I wrote about the Ocean route in a previous post (Montreal to Halifax), but at that time we were not permitted to check our bags – we ended up in a tiny cabin with two good size suitcases, two carry-on size duffel bags, and two purses.  Oh, and also two of us.  It was cramped, to say the least.

Trains are filling up… it’s that time of year, I guess.  We did “claim” a corner of the Park car – the last car on the train.

Train on a bridge

Train on a bridge

Bo talked knitting with a woman from Chicago, and we were entertained by Steve, the Activities Coordinator – he’s a man who loves his job!  The train was an hour late getting into Toronto, and those of us catching the commuter train almost didn’t make it.  We were walking down the platform at a fairly good clip, and caught site of the commuter train – the attendants were lifting up the mats that covered the gap between platform and train and closing the doors.  We had to run.  It wasn’t pretty, but we made it.  Then the train stayed in the station for about 15 more minutes.  I think they were loading our luggage 😉.

It was a smooth, um, train.  You can say it was a “smooth flight” for a plane, what do you say for a train journey?  They plied us with food and drink, and it was very comfortable.

The Toronto station (Union Station) is very comfortable, which is a good thing, as we had a very long (over five hours) layover.  Rather than go out for dinner, we hunkered down in a comfy corner and took turns going for a Toronto wander. On my wander I picked up an extension cord.  Bo and I have been fighting (okay, fighting is a little too extreme of a word!) for electric outlet use – there are only ever two plugs to use, and between us we have up to six devices that need charging.  We made good use of our layover:

Charging devices

Charging devices

The waiting area got full… so very very full.  Guess what?  The train was also very very full.  It was a totally different experience, and we spent a bit more time in our cabin.

Winnipeg is very pleasing.  Mosquitoes are not.  We’re staying with one of Bo’s brothers and her sister-in-law.  They’re lovely and make me laugh.  We’ve been out wandering around Winnipeg during the Aboriginal Day(s) celebration, to the Museum for Human Rights, and to several extremely amusing family events.

In addition to mosquitoes, I have another complaint about Winnipeg.  Cats fear us.  We keep trying to pet the cats that we see… calling “hey kitty kitty” on the boulevard outside the house where they apparently congregate… carefully approaching cats that are under cars or crossing streets (at least they’re crossing the streets after seeing us!)… making kissy noises into someone’s yard… etc.  They all keep running away.  Sigh.  We’re nice people, honest… just a little starved for some cat -brand affection…

Ah well… Never give up, never surrender!


Filed under Random

On the train again…

Not that I’m obsessing or anything, but it’s so nice to have WiFi access again… and I’m even on a train!  More on this later!

Yesterday was Toronto day, although we didn’t really take advantage of being in the “big city”.   After resting, we headed out to meet Carol (from the Canadian Garden Council) for dinner.  She’s the person who first informed me that I had won the prize, and she’s been my contact for everything and anything… she’s fabulous!  We laughed a lot and she shared some of the funniest stories I’ve heard in a while.  I’m so glad we were able to get together.  I found out that the prize I won isn’t going to be offered again – the new one is a more scaled down version.  Yay 2014 prize!!

Carol and I

Carol and I

We wandered back to the hotel after dinner, and that’s about the extent of our Toronto experience.


The Flatiron Building – across from restaurant. I love this building!

This morning we were up bright and early-ish for the next leg of the journey.

Outside Union Station

Outside Union Station

What can I say about the Toronto to Montreal leg?  They wanted to feed us… constantly.  We had snacks, meals, constant beverages, and then they brought out either individual cheese plates or ham/cheese sandwiches – we said a resounding “no!” at that point.  The staff was, as has consistently been the case, amazing.  Such good service, and always so friendly and respectful.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to travel if it’s not first class anymore… I like it!

I remember the word for "flour" from school

I remember the word for “flour” from school

After that journey, we started on the next leg – Montreal to Halifax.  This is another sleeper car journey.  Remember how I said the previous sleeper car was tiny?  Nope… it was palatial.  This one is still like playing house in a dollhouse, but now we’re in the doll’s dollhouse!  This is a newer train – bought from Europe.  These cars were originally going to be used as Chunnel cars, but for some reason they weren’t, and Canada got a good deal on the purchase of them.  At dinner we sat with two men who work for ViaRail and we learned an awful lot – it was educational and entertaining!

Moving around the bunks when they were set up was… um… entertaining – yeah, I’ll go with entertaining.  Peals of laughter (some of it slightly hysterical) could be heard from our cabin as we attempted to get comfortable.  The laughter was a little subdued this morning as space frustration set in.  We are, however, in overall good spirits – we just have the addition of a few new bruises and bumps on the head.

We’ll be arriving in Halifax this evening.  In my head I had it wrong and thought we were on this train for two nights.  Even though we slept well, a full size room is going to be heaven!  Helen, one the senior gardeners from the Halifax Garden is going to come pick us up from the train station.  People have been so nice!  We do the tour of the garden tomorrow (Tuesday). Looking forward to it!

Going over a bridge - Montreal

Going over a bridge – Montreal


Filed under Random

WiFi… wherefore art thou?

I’m on a train! It is, however, a train without WiFi… what is a girl to do? Well, perhaps be a little less connected and just enjoy the journey.

As I wrote about in a previous post, I won a trip, thanks to Canada’s Garden Route, the Canadian Garden Council and ViaRail. The trip was booked back in January, and it’s finally happening!

Vancouver Train Station

Vancouver Train Station – picture taken before I realized there was a smudge on the lens)



It’s been a good journey so far… a very quirky PCL bus driver who seemed to enjoy his job (that’s not what made him quirky though), me breaking the bus (it got better… darn armrest was confusing!), really amazing Via Rail staff, and the cutest little cabin ever (emphasis on little!).

The cabin with the bunks down - no room to photograph it more clearly!

The cabin with the bunks down – no room to photograph it more clearly!

Wednesday, June 3rd – Right now I’m in my berth looking out over the rainy rail yard of Kamloops at 6:00am. Although I can usually sleep anywhere, that wasn’t happening last night… I read and watched the shadowy scenery go by and tried to figure out whether the view was water or textured ground. It was usually water… the little whitecaps helped clarify that… no flies on me!

We were lucky enough to have live music at the station – apparently ViaRail has a program where musicians (and others?) can journey across the country playing in exchange for their fare… Sophia Perlman was great – we’ve been to see her play in various train cars, and still have a few more days to go – yay! Bonnie contemplated offering to teach knitting on the train, as it seems others have done that, but she quickly realized that being trapped on a train with her students 24 hours a day might be a little, well, wearying!


Sophia Perlman

This afternoon we’ll be getting into a station with WiFi (yes, I’m/we’re a little fixated) so we’re both madly typing away to make the most of our uploading time in Jasper. My posts will probably end up being a rambling mess of words, typed in spare moments – in between music, talks about trains and other subjects, wine tastings, etc., so please don’t be looking for too much continuity! (Update – couldn’t connect to WiFi in time to upload post… sigh… Apparently this portion of the trip will be summed up in one incredibly long and babbly post… Fingers crossed we find a connection soon so this doesn’t have to happen too often).

I saw a bear! Cutest little thing ever… it was running down a hill near Pyramid Falls – those were also spectacular, but not cute or furry.

Pyramid Falls - not fluffy

Pyramid Falls – not cute or furry

I got to go to a rock, gem and mineral (and fudge and kitchen supply) store in Jasper – very pleasing! Picked up a few pretties, which I haven’t photographed yet.

Jasper Rock and Jade

Jasper Rock & Jade

An entertaining afternoon was spent in the activity/bar car – chatted with some very unique men… Laughed lots, then grew weary by the time dinner was over. Now we’re relaxing in the panorama car waiting for our room to be made up. It was a good day!

Thursday, June 4th – We’re now on the prairies on a train that is still… There have been a lot of delays – freight trains take precedence – so we are five hours behind schedule… Happily, I have no schedule, so all is good.

We have become social butterflies… strange but true! We’re talking to people and tables are shared at all meals. It’s kind of fun! Met an entertaining couple from St. Louis who travel yearly with a group of friends – anywhere from three to fourteen people. Apparently Bo sounds more Canadian than I do… must be a from-the-prairies thing.

We also went to a talk on birds – I learned lots! Did you know there is no such thing as a seagull? It’s true… it’s a word that was made up as a catch-all for the gull family.

TV saves lives. How does it do that, you ask? I have no first aid training, but when someone choked in the nearly empty train car today, excessive TV watching taught me what to do. Yay TV!

Top of the train - photo by Bo. No, she was not walking on the top of it!

Top of the train – photo by Bo. No, she was not walking up there!

Friday, June 5th – Boy, when the track is clear, the train can fly! Somehow they have made up three hours… Very impressive!

It’s been a quiet day so far – getting used to a new crew (complete switchover in Winnipeg) and lazing about. Just finished packing up so that I don’t have to deal with it in the morning, and now reading and looking out over the lovely lakes of Ontario.

Speaking of lakes, I saw a swimming moose this morning – it was very pleasing! The couple we sat with at lunch said that it was quite a young moose, as its antlers weren’t terribly developed. I wish that would have been one of the moments the train had been stopped – I would have loved to get a better look.

We had a brief stop at Hornepayne to let people off/on the train, so we got to go for a walk. It was a brief walk however, cause the black flies were thick in the air. In my own special way I got bitten by a mosquito instead… beastly things! I can hear Winnipeg mosquitos cheering and celebrating my arrival in a couple of weeks… they’re fasting so they’ll be ready for me.

Saturday, June 6 – We skipped breakfast again – train food has been so delicious and plentiful that the odd skipped meal is necessary. While it is odd for me to be skipping a meal with bacon, the other meals are SO tasty and beyond what I would (or could) make, that they stay in the meal queue.

Today we’re arriving (in theory!) in Toronto… I’m not sure how far beyond schedule we are – no announcements have been made yet. We’ll be having dinner with Carol, the woman who first informed me about the prize – she has been so helpful with everything.

And now the first leg of our journey is over.  We’re happily ensconced in a hotel with WiFi – woohoo!

More to follow in later days… Not quite so many words all in one post next time!

Boulevard of Broken Dreams-style photo of our last night on the train... Happily our dreams aren't broken!

Boulevard of Broken Dreams-style photo of our last night on the train… Happily our dreams aren’t broken!

Park Car

Park Car


Filed under Jewellery, Random