Heading West (by Rail)


As I type this, the nighttime countryside is slipping past the window at the foot of my bed. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to sleep on a moving train, though it’s long been on my list of things to do.

As our fortieth birthdays were approaching, Erin suggested that, since we can only turn forty once (individually, that is), we should celebrate with something special, like a cross-country train trip on VIA Rail from Toronto to Vancouver. Despite my love of all things train-related, I’ve never done this, and the prices we were seeing for the trip were putting me off. Fortunately, however, VIA does offer a number of special deals which worked out to two-thirds off the ticket price for a cabin for two. Deciding we couldn’t pass up the opportunity, we jumped at the chance.

Grandma Rosemarie was brought up this Saturday and is now watching the kids. We are extremely grateful for her help. My parents are also ready to step in as needed, but Erin and I are both pretty nervous, as this is the first really long time away from the kids (we did have that trip to Vancouver this past September, but it was shorter, and more business related). But the kids are troopers and are in good hands, so we’re going to enjoy this.

We took the bus from Kitchener to Toronto, which emphasized the romance of the rails, let me tell you. Greyhound’s customer service appears to have suffered, recently, with a route supervisor chewing out a line-up of several dozen people waiting for the bus, all because we weren’t lining up properly. The bus was late (not much they could do with that, as it was the height of rush hour), and crowded, and delayed getting into Toronto (again, traffic). But we did have enough time to check in and head out to a dinner in the Underground City (we selected a Swiss-themed restaurant called “La Marche”, thanks to Twitter recommendations, and it proved to be a good meal).

VIA’s Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver is popular. There were crowds of people waiting at the newly renovated Panorama Lounge. The train is long, with fifteen cars between us and the back end. The cabin is small, but very efficiently designed. The bunk beds are comfortable, and private.

Tomorrow (or, rather, later this morning), the sun should be dawning over Sudbury, and we’ll spend the day travelling across northern Ontario. I’ll be sure to check out the amenities of the rest of the rain, and Erin and I both hope to write.

Pictures of our first day on the train can be found here

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