A Travellerspoint blog

Toronto: Day Three

Last day in Canada

sunny 16 °C
View Canada/US 2016 on MissWalker's travel map.

14 October 2016

Another bright and sunny day so we decided to go for a walk. Judith drove to the Mount Nemo Conservation Area. We paid the fee ($6.75 each), parked and started walking the trail to the lookout, then following the 2.3km South Loop Trail. We walked for nearly two hours but a lot of that time was taken up exploring and taking photos of the vegetation and rock formations along the cliff edge. The view from the cliff top was beautiful ... looking down on the tops of the colourful trees while in the distance I could just see Toronto (and the CN Tower) and Lake Ontario. Mount Nemo is a really lovely location for a walk.

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Other than repacking my bag I had a lazy afternoon. I needed to make the most of some free time before I start anther hectic tour.

Posted by MissWalker 05:01 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Toronto: Day Two

Taking the subway to the city

sunny 14 °C
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13 October 2016

Rain was forecast for today but it didn't eventuate, however the temperature had cooled, only reaching a top of 14C. Judith explained the subway system to me and dropped me at the station. The system was easy and I caught the train into the city and changed trains to the Royal Ontario Museum. I arrived at 10.00am and spent about an hour and a half wandering through the exhibitions. I had to limit my time there otherwise it would take all day to cover it all.

From the museum I walked through Queen's Park, enticing the squirrels with some peanuts, and followed University Avenue right down to Union Station. I could see CN Tower but it took a while to work out how to get to it. I paid and went up 114 stories in the fast lift. The lift has glass doors and you can see straight out of the side of the tower, and there are glass panels in the floor so you can see the long cables operating the lift. On the viewing floors there are some glass panels you can walk on - I didn't walk on the glass, it was frightening enough just looking down and taking some photos.

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After the CN Tower I went next door to Ripley's Aquarium ... the highlight of my day. This is an amazing aquarium! I really enjoyed the beautiful tanks filled with incredible underwater living things. I'll try and choose a few pics from the hundreds I took.

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After a good day out in the city I even managed to get back on the subway and find my way back to the right station.

Posted by MissWalker 18:19 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Toronto: Day One

A day of sunshine and ice

sunny 25 °C
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12 October 2016

After a lazy start to the day I went out for a walk for a couple of hours. The sunny 25C day was too good to waste. Judith walked part way with me (to make sure I wouldn't get lost), then I followed a track along the Etobicoke Creek. I really enjoyed walking along the peaceful track surrounded by magnificent autumn foliage. The reflections on the water made it look like the water was on fire.

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In the evening I had a new experience - I went along to watch Judith play curling. I didn't quite understand it all but it looked like a lot of fun - except for the slippery ice! There were a few spills on the ice and it looked painful. This was the first game of a new curling season and Judith's team won the game. After we went out to dinner at a sports bar with some other players.

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Posted by MissWalker 13:05 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Canadian train journey: Part Two

The slow journey ends in Toronto

sunny 25 °C
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9 October 2016

Again I found it difficult to sleep. We must have stopped at Edmonton very early in the morning (around 1.30am) but I don’t remember it. However, I was awake around 4.15am - we were stopped somewhere with lights and signs of civilisation and the train moved backwards and forwards several times, shuddering and making a lot of noise.

I finally went back to sleep and woke up around 7.00am. It was dark but I could still see that everything was coated in snow. When I first went up to the dome car there was ice on the outside of the glass. We had moved away from the mountains and were travelling through more level farming country with sparse spindly trees.

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Another morning of watching the scenery go by! We arrived at Saskatoon at 1.30 for a twenty minute refuelling stop, which turned into a forty minute stop. I didn’t get out because it was raining and looked really cold. After Saskatoon the snow covering became patches of snow and eventually no snow (we are heading south).

During the afternoon there was an announcement that we are now running six hours behind schedule … six hours! We seem to spend more time stopped for freight trains than actually travelling. And the freight trains are huge. A passenger said that there could be more freight trains on the rails today because tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving and with less traffic tomorrow we should be able to make up some time … I hope he was right.

I was talking to a couple at dinner and they had taken the same train from Toronto to Vancouver and now they were going back … I couldn’t handle doing this trip twice. On the first trip they had seen the Northern Lights late at night over the open plains where we are now. Although the weather has cleared I’m not hopeful but I’ll be watching for the green tinge in the sky tonight.

10 October 2016

I kept checking through the window but no green tinge of the Northern Lights. Another night of disturbed sleep and I’m starting to feel very tired. We arrived in Winnipeg sometime between 3.00 and 4.00am and stopped there for over an hour as there was a changeover of staff. Winnipeg looked to be quite a large modern city with a lot of high-rise buildings.

After breakfast and a shower (quite an experience on a train) I got back to watching the world go by. We had left the open plains behind, then we were surround by lakes in Northern Ontario, with huge expanses of water. The train made a short refuelling stop at Sioux Lookout. The train didn’t make up any time last night and after lunch was seven hours behind schedule.

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Today was Canadian Thanksgiving and for dinner I had turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce with mashed potato and broccoli. I thought I’d better try the pumpkin pie for desert … I didn’t particularly like it but at least I’ve tried it now.

I’ll be really pleased to get off the train tomorrow and won’t be in a hurry to take another long distance train journey. It’s been a very long three days. I chose The Canadian train trip because it fitted in with my other plans and I like to try new types of travel, and I thought it might be fun. But I haven’t enjoyed the jolting movement of the train and the tedium of just sitting (eating or watching the scenery). Or the constant waiting for freight trains – at dinner time the train stopped for an hour waiting for a freight train to arrive. On the positive side I got to see snow falling and see the landscape covered in fresh snow … that was incredible.

We were originally scheduled to arrive in Toronto at 9.30am tomorrow, so if we don’t make up any time arrival with be 4.30pm or even later if we lose more time!

11 October 2016

This morning’s revised time of arrival in Toronto is 2.30pm – the train seemed to be travelling quite fast during the night so must have made up a couple of hours.

Today’s scenery was lakes and rivers fringed by trees bearing leaves of vibrant autumn colours. Further north the autumn leaves had already disappeared but we were travelling south and the trees were beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange. And the sun was shining brightly.

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We arrived at Toronto Union Station at 2.30pm – only five hours behind schedule. I travelled with VIARail but the train tracks are owned by Canadian National Railway (CN) and VIARail pay for the use of the tracks but don’t have right of way when there is a single track , which seemed to be a lot of the way.

I made my way to the Union Pearson train (the city - airport train) and my friend Judith was waiting at the airport to take me to her place. After a couple of days on the train it was so nice to be welcomed into a lovely home with a big comfortable bed.

Posted by MissWalker 17:08 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Canadian train journey: Part One

Vancouver and snow in Jasper

7 October 2016

I took my time and checked out of the hotel room and stored my luggage at 10.45am. Now I had to fill the rest of the day until the train leaves.

I walked for nearly four hours … until my legs were aching and I couldn’t walk any more. I walked through the city and some pretty residential streets, down to English Bay and kept walking along the pathway between beaches. Then I headed into Stanley Park for a while … I saw a raccoon and he was so cute (maybe the locals don’t think so).

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I had a late lunch at a food court and went back to sit in the hotel lobby – filled the time with some Sudoku puzzles and had a chat to Dominique (from the tour). I waited until 6.00pm to collect my luggage and take a taxi to the Pacific Central Train Station but I still had some time to fill. I had sorted through my luggage and prepared to check in my duffel bag and board with only hand luggage but was told my bag was small enough to fit under the seat, so I rearranged again.

Finally, around 8.00pm it was time to board. The train was really long and of course my carriage was near the end. I was welcomed on board and shown to my room … my tiny cubby hole.

We departed right on time at 8.30pm and champagne was served in the dome car.

Now back to my room … it has a comfortable seat, a toilet (with a padded cover that can be used as a footrest), a tiny sink with hot and cold water and a separate drinking water tap. It has storage space, power outlets and towels for the shower at the end of the corridor. So it’s quite comfortable.

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The attendant had shown me how to release the latch to pull the bed down from the wall. The bed comes down over the seat and the toilet and tapers at the end so you can still use the sink. At bedtime I pulled the bed down and had to turn myself around in the tiny space and then get changed on the bed, on a moving train. I had to laugh at how absurd it was!

The train is called The Canadian and this 4,424km route is considered one of the world's great train journeys. The original stainless steel cars are from the 1950s and the sleeping cars, lounge and dining cars have been updated and a couple of glass dome cars have been added.

8 October 2016

My little bed was quite comfortable and I was cosy and warm but I didn’t sleep well … not used to the train motion and noise. After breakfast in the dining car there was nothing to do. Absolutely nothing but watch the scenery go by or read a book. There’s no wifi or telephone reception to distract me from taking photos of the scenery. Only problem was that it was raining so no photos either.

The train is very slow and has to stop to allow freight trains to pass. The freight trains are ridiculously long, which means we could be stopped for half an hour or more. After my busy morning of doing nothing it was time to go back to the dining car for lunch. The service and the food are good but I can’t handle three courses for lunch and then again for dinner.

Feeling a bit sleepy I pulled down my bed. Lay down and watched the scenery pass my window – it’s similar to the scenery from the bus window, except for the rain and cloud covering the mountains. Mount Robson, which I had previously seen in sunshine was today completely obscured by cloud. As we travelled along the rain became sleet and then snow. Before long we were travelling through a white landscape with even more snow falling. It was stunning!

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We arrived in Jasper at 6.00pm, nearly two hours late because of all the stoppages. This is not the train to take if you’re in a hurry. Saw some elk as we came into Jasper. We had an hour in Jasper to get out and walk around. This is the first time I’ve ever walked in steady falling snow and it was cold and wet. It was wonderful to see Jasper again, this time transformed with a winter covering of snow.

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The train timetable doesn’t seem to mean much and we were 15 minutes late departing Jasper, only to stop a couple of minutes later to let another freight train pass. Then it was time to go back to the dining car for another big meal. They really need a gym on this train!

Posted by MissWalker 05:21 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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