My Thirtieth Birthday on the Train

15 Sep

We arrived at the Toronto train station just about right on time, which gave us two hours to get our tickets printed, check our baggage, and get on the train.  Our next leg of the trip was the beginning of the Trans Canada trip across the Rockies. We were taking the VIA Rail Canadian 1 to Winnipeg, where we would get off, stay the night, and leave on the VIA Rail to Churchill the next day.

So we checked our baggage, sent grandma to the business class lounge to wait, and I headed over to get our tickets printed. It took forever for the man to print our tickets because we were supposed to get a partial refund from our last trip. When we went to Newfoundland and Labrador, our train was delayed because of a mudslide. So we were told, multiple times, that a refund would be applied to this trip. The guy at the wicket, as they call it in Canada, told me I did not qualify for a refund, because my final destination was less than two hours late. Ugh. I was so not in the mood to argue with the guy at the ticket window. But the refund was almost $300, so I had no choice. Finally, he gave me the refund. By this point I was sure VIA Rail hated me, and I really wanted to hop on the next flight to Tampa.

But grandma really wanted this trip and I couldn’t let her down.  So I put on my happy face and headed in to the lounge to meet the family. We sat around with all the other people that were in the sleeper cars, waiting to board. Finally, they called our train. We headed to the platform to board the train. Once on, we were greeted by our porter Naomi. She was super nice, but seemed a little confused when we were short one person and told her to put the top bunk away in my room.

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Part of the train. This train was soooooooo long.

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Our room.

As we departed the station, they had free champagne and dessert in the dome car. We headed down and had some champagne and talked to the bartender. After an hour or so we were all tired, so we headed to bed. Here I was, about to turn 30 in a few minutes, and I was all alone in my room on a train, playing stupid Candy Crush on my iPad.

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Champagne. Well, sparkling wine.

The next morning we headed to breakfast in the dining car. It’s a nice car with linens and real silverware and they serve you like a restaurant, with a menu and a chef and everything. Normally I would have found it to be quite pleasant, but not today. I was thirty, which pissed me off, and I had no idea where the Husband was. We were in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service and no WiFi. I literally had no idea where the Husband was. But I tried to enjoy my yummy breakfast then went and explored part of the train. The train was so long and it had so many cars on it that I’m not sure I could even go to all the cars. So I headed to the dome car by our sleeper car and sat for a while, enjoying the scenery. But the dome cars are always cold, and since I have Florida blood now, I can’t stand being cold. So I went and pouted in my room a little more, then decided to stop being lame and be awesome instead. So I joined the family in the snack care and we tried to play Canadian Trivia. Good lord, we know NOTHING about our nearest neighbor. After about an hour and only three right answers we called it quits. So we bought three different Canadian beers and decided to have our own beer tasting before dinner. It was all really good. Then we finally heard our call for dinner (we had been assigned last dinner). So we sat down and had a nice dinner. And everyone sang me happy birthday, and it was nice, even if the Husband was in another country.

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Breakfast table. The food is actually pretty good.

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Kokanee was my favorite.

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Birthday brulee.

The next morning we woke up in Winnipeg. Finally, cell service and WiFi!!! I learned that the Husband had called a lawyer, who apologized on behalf of Canada for the agent’s attitude, and told him to drive to the border. So his father drove him to the border, where they not only let him in, but gave him temporary citizenship, so no one else would see he was recently deported and give him any trouble. Just like that, the Husband was in Canada, a temporary resident even,  and about to board a flight from Toronto to Winnipeg to meet up with us!

The rest of us checked in to our hotel in Winnipeg, the Place Louis Riel Hotel. We had a nice large two bedroom suite with full kitchen. They let us check in nice and early too, and we were super happy to use a bathroom that wasn’t moving!

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Place Louis Riel Hotel.

(Un)fortunately, grandma’s suitcase from 1960 broke on the train ride, so we headed to the City Place mall to find her a new suitcase. I was super happy (sorry grandma!) because her old suitcase didn’t have wheels and it was heavy.  But I have to give Samsonite credit for the suitcase lasting so long.

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RIP 1960’s Samsonite.

I walked down the street a few blocks to the Manyfest that was going on. They had lots of stands selling crafts and homemade jam, and some things for the kids to do. But the jackpot was at the end of the festival. A beer and wine tasting! And food trucks! So I walked around, tried some local beers, talked to a few Winnipegians, and then headed back to the hotel to meet the Husband! Finally!

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Manyfest beer and wine tasting.

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The Husband made it! All together and ready to go see polar bears!

The next day all FIVE of us boarded the train and started our two day journey to Churchill in the tundra to see the polar bears!

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