23/05/2013 - 26/05/2013
On the morning of May 23rd, we got the Megabus from Montreal to Toronto. It seemed like we were always ending up back in Toronto, but this was our final visit (at least on this trip!). We then walked from the bus station to the train station and killed a bit of time before we could check in for our train. This wasn't going to be an ordinary train journey though; this was going to be a two and a half day train journey! Canada's a tad bigger than the UK. We'd paid for berths, which are seats during the day and then transform into bunk beds over night. We briefly considered going for the cheapest seats, which are literally just seats, but for 3 nights onboard that seemed like madness. The berths aren't cheap, but we bought them during a sale, plus you get all your meals included too, so it was definitely worth it. You can also pay more than that and get an actual room, but they looked pretty cramped and not really better than the births, so I was happy with our choice.
After checking in, we got to go and wait in the special lounge where there were free soft drinks, plus coffee and tea and some cheese cubes. Then we boarded the train and got told there was a free champagne reception in the activities car. Ace. Glasses of champagne (that got topped up a couple of times), plus hors d'oeuvres, was a good start to a long journey.
The journey in general was pretty good fun really. There were various activities they'd put on, including beer and wine tastings, which of course we partook in. Then there were the 3 meals a day, where you'd get sat with other people on a table of 4. Generally we'd be sat with another couple, so it was like an odd blind double-date, but it was nice to get to chat to a variety of people and find out where they were travelling to and why. There was quite a large proportion of more elderly travellers - not that that's a bad thing - though a few of us younger ones sort of naturally grouped together and ended up hanging out quite a bit and staying up late, mostly talking nonsense. There were also dome cars where you could sit up higher and get a more panoramic view of the scenery. Oh and the food was good too - particularly the lamb I had on the last night, that was really nice. So yeah, those were all the good aspects. The only real negative aspects were the lack of electrical sockets and the lack of wi-fi. I'm assuming it's a deliberate thing as they want to promote a relaxed atmosphere and for people to enjoy the scenery and each others' company and to maybe just read a book or something, which is totally admirable and it was quite nice in a way, but it was also a bit frustrating at times. It was particularly frustrating as we'd not been aware of that in advance, so most of the entertainment we had with us was electronic and based around having wi-fi. I'd actually put off writing my blog for Montreal as figured I'd have loads of time to do it on the train! I suppose I could have typed it and just not posted it, but the lack of plug sockets made that difficult. So there were times we did get quite bored, unsurprisingly. We didn't have books with us to read, so we played cards quite a bit.
Sleeping on the train was a mixed bag as well. The beds were a lot bigger and more comfortable than we'd been expecting, so that was nice, but the train went remarkably fast during the night and it was pretty shaky as well, which made sleeping quite difficult. I really struggled to sleep on the first night, plus when I did I kept having dreams that I was on a train, so it was like I was still awake! Stupid subconscious. On the second night I slept a lot better, though I did keep getting the sensation that I was on a plane with really bad turbulance, just because it was so shaky, so that freaked me out a little. However, on that second night, we arrived in Winnipeg at breakfast time and stayed there for 4 hours. So after having breakfast we went back to bed and made the most of the train being still and got a few more hours sleep. The third night was back to being bad again though - mostly because we arrived in to Edmonton at about 6:30am, so needed to get up and ready before that - ugh.
Still, overall an enjoyable experience I'd say. Here's the train itself: