Thursday, November 06, 2003

The train ride through Ontario and Manitoba

Alan seems to notice the strangest things-he is amazed by the fact that pint glasses in Canada are never filled as full as in Scotland (wonder what that says..), that milk comes in plastic bags, that bread packages have plastic tags to keep them closed, that bubble tea exists! He and Jenni found bubble tea quite amusing.

Leaving Toronto proved interesting, as VIA Rail has some creative baggage policies. First off, I asked if there were any restrictions before we left and was told no. Since, we have discovered that you can only have carry on size bags in the carriages, that there is a weight restriction and charges for overweight baggage, and that they have a $2.50/day charge for storage BUT don't actually have storage facilities... We did managed to get our extra bags stored everywhere we stopped but it took some sweet talking. In fact, VIA service pretty much sucks.

The scenery through Ontario was trees, trees, and more trees. Lots of faded autumn colours and small towns. It was interesting being in the north though, as they say, the north is such a part of Canadian consciousness, even though many of us never or seldom are in the north. We passed Lake Simcoe, which made me sad that I hadn't made it out to the cottage before leaving Ontario. The train stops for refueling and you can get off, though we stayed on at Sudbury (as Jenni pointed out, getting off at the acid rain capital of Canada might not result in the most interesting photos!). However, we got off at Campreol and Sioux Lookout and took some exciting photos of us and the train. There are more French speaking people in northern Ontario that I had realized.

By the time we had hit day two on the train, still in Ontario, there was snow outside. None of us expected to see snow so soon. We had a four hour stopover in Winnipeg, where it was freezing!!! And windy. We watched the football (Canadian finals) at a place called Earl's and then got on the Hudson Bay train. The train across to Vancouver is called the Canadian, and it's very touristy. No free blankets and pillows on the Hudson's Bay though, and no nice staff!!! We had our first wildlife sitting, deer running through a field. Our food choices left a lot to be desired, essentially we lived on peanut butter and jam sandwiches and breakfast bars for five days. However, our fellow passengers were entertaining on the 36 hour trip-- one guy told us all about how he believes in vampires. At The Pas, we did a dash to see a church, impressively we can be tourists even with only 20 minutes in a town.

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