Canadian Maritimes via the VIA Rail

26 Jun

Seeing all the Provinces in Canada is was on my grandmother’s “I’m not going to kick the bucket” list. All that was left was Newfoundland and Labrador. So she handed me her credit card and told me to book it! Absolutely grandma, no problem.

So I planned a trip for grandma, mother, the Husband, and myself that left from Buffalo, NY and headed as far northeast as Red Bay, Labrador. The Husband and I flew home to Buffalo, then we left the next day for Canada. A friend drove us to Toronto, to get on the VIA Rail.

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Downtown Buffalo and Coca-Cola Field, where the Buffalo Bisons play (my great-grandfather played for them!)

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Foggy drive over the Peace Bridge.

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Border crossing in to Canada. For some reason, you always feel like a criminal going through. Like they may unearth some hidden secret about yourself that you don’t even know!

We all passed inspection in to Canada (thank god, because the trip was nonrefundable!) and headed to Union Station in Toronto.

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Toronto and the landmark CN Tower.

We knew ahead of time that there was construction, but oh my goodness, what a mess. No signs where to unload, no signs where to park. We finally pulled over, but on our flashers, and hauled all of our stuff out on to the curb.

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Inside the lovely, currently being renovated, Union Station.

So we dragged grandma for what seemed like miles, and finally arrived at the VIA Rail terminal. We checked our bags and headed to the lovely business class lounge.

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The business class lounge has TVs, a coffee machine, juice and soft drinks, and newspapers. A nice comfy place to leave the old ladies (just kidding!) so the Husband and I could explore.

The Husband and I headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is very close to Union Station.

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The Husband and the Stanley Cup. This may have been his favorite part of the trip (and it hadn’t even started!)

We finally boarded our first train. We had four business class seats together, so VIA Rail turned the seats around and made a table for us.

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The Husband and me at out table. You can tell I woke up at 4 am…

As soon as the train departs the station the lovely and very polite staff offers you a drink from their beverage cart. Except this time, because there was a mudslide in Kingston that not only blocked the tracks, but caused a train traffic jam. So we sat. And waited.

Sounds like a bad joke: How do you know you’re in Canada? You call a mudslide a traffic jam! HAHAHAHA.  Anyways…

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They left the beverage cart next to us. Not their smartest idea….

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Cheers!

No, I’m kidding. The lovely staff served us drinks while we waited for the mudslide traffic jam to clear.

Two hours later we finally left Toronto and lunch service began.

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Food service begins with a nice warm, scented towel for your hands. As a hypochondriac germaphobe, I really appreciate this.

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Appetizer with sushi and wine. It was actually pretty good, but I needed some wasabi.

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At least she keeps trying sushi, even if she never really likes it.

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Main course of Asian shrimp and veggies.

After lunch , we enjoyed the five hour ride to Montreal, where we had to change trains and get on our sleeper car train. But that darn mudslide traffic jam delayed our arrival in to Montreal until an hour AFTER our connecting train was scheduled to leave. Luckily, there were 60 people on the train that were scheduled to transfer to our next train, so they actually held the train for us! When we arrived in Montreal all we had to do was cross the platform and get on our next train!

Our next train took us from Montreal to Moncton, New Brunswick. The Husband and I had a sleeper room and mother and grandma had another room right next door.

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Our sleeper room and bathroom. Not a lot of space but it worked.

Grandma isn’t comfortable walking on the train while its moving so the porter assigned to our car actually delivered dinner to us!

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Seafood chowder (the first of many bowls on the trip!) and a sandwich. Surprisingly good. AND a wine juice box!!!

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WINE JUICE BOX! (I was later told I was supposed to pour it in a plastic glass, but that’s not nearly as fun!)

After dinner the Husband and I went exploring on the train. We went to the snack car so his picky taste buds could have some dinner.

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Snack car. Old but comfortable. The little tables were just big enough for two people to play War.

The last cars of the train had a domed observation car and an area with live music (yes, live music on the train!).

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Dome car after everyone else had gone to bed.

We returned to our room and got ready the room ready for bed.

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The seat folds down for the bottom bunk and the upper bunk folds down from the wall. 

So let me tell you about sleeping on the train: make sure you have a wine juice box (or ten!) before you go to bed. It’s pretty claustrophobic on both bunks and the train jerks around a lot. The bed wasn’t horrible and the top bunk has a little spot for your phone or whatever else you want nearby. I found the ladder to be annoying, so I actually put it away and jumped up and down.

The served breakfast in the morning, and we just happen to be ready while the train was stopped, so grandma headed down with us. The continental breakfast was pretty healthy and actually quite filling.

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Breakfast on the train.

It was definitely a different experience sleeping on the train. My biggest complaint was the lack of wifi. The snack car on the way back had wifi, but that was it. Luckily I can entertain myself all day just looking out the window, but I imagine it can get pretty boring for some people.

We are taking the VIA Rail northwest  (no, not Kim Kardashian’s daughter) in September, to Churchill, Manitoba then out to Vancouver. I’ll be sure to pack a very small overnight bag for the train, since luggage is not an option is a sleeper room. I’ll also make sure to buy the Husband a few seasons of his favorite shows, so he has something to do on the train for all those days.

I wonder if grandma should do some core exercises to prepare for 10 days of walking on the train….

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2 Responses to “Canadian Maritimes via the VIA Rail”

  1. darlene basler June 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    thanks loads, love all the pix!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tips for Train Travel | Will Work for Travel - January 12, 2014

    […] Canada, mostly by train.  I took a train from Toronto to Moncton, New Brunswick, on a trip to the Maritimes, which was the first time I slept on a train. I took a train from Buffalo, NY, north to the tundra […]

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