Monday, April 24, 2023

Day Two on VIA Rail's The Canadian: Winnipeg bound and leaving Ontario behind

Day two was a Thursday, and my first full day on The Canadian -- VIA Rail's transcontinental train from Toronto to Vancouver.

It was also the morning I woke up from my first night's sleep on the train, and that was an experience in and of itself. I was in a cabin for one, which meant I had a bed and the privacy of a door that locks. That's good, because I'm too old to sleep in a chair and I snore to wake the dead.I had visions of being gently rocked to sleep by the motion of the train, the white noise of the rails lulling me to sleep. The reality was somewhat different.

The good: comfortable mattress, two decent pillows, the darkness of the country. The less good: all the rest.

Even with ear plugs, the rattling was loud -- especially when we got up to speed. Instead of gently rocking, I was bounced around the bed to the point where it felt sometimes like I would fall out -- I can see why there are straps for the upper bunks to prevent this. And it was hard to find a position to get comfortable. The mattress was narrower than the usual single, and it's hard to stretch my arms out when there are walls on either side.

I can't say how much I slept. My Fitbit didn't really register much sleep, but did give me 250+ steps/night for all the bouncing around. But I never felt super tired during the day so I guess I slept enough.

Anyway, I woke up early in Northern Ontario and after making myself presentable, went down the train for breakfast. I opted again for the omelet with lots of ketchup but asked them to make it smaller this time. and add in some bacon.

The morning, and the afternoon for that matter, was spent either in the observation car, the park car or my roomette, watching the scenery go by. It was very snowy in Northern Ontario, which would take is most of day two to cross. At one point, stopped waiting for a freight train, we spotted some tracks in the snow. Maybe a bear? I speculated. Looks like rabbits said another passenger. I posted it could be sasquatch, and this was not denied, so maybe...

Before lunch I got to enjoy my first fresh air stop of the trip, as we stopped to refuel in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Before beginning this trip I checked the weather enroute to see if I could get away with my spring coat. Needless to say, with -20 in Sioux Lookout, I was glad I brought my winter coat. It was cold, and the conductor advised us to walk like penguins on the platform. Was good to get some fresh (cold) air though and stretch the legs.

Lunch was a burger, and the kitchen staff were more than willing to let me go off menu by requesting a slice of cheese. It was a simple and satisfying lunch, as the lunches onboard often were.

Nearing dinner time and the landscape began to flatten out a bit as we entered Manitoba, on track to arrive into Winnipeg a little late which meant it wouldn't conflict with my late dinner sitting. I hung out a bit in the fancy observation car, with all the fancy people at early dinner, and enjoyed some free snacks.

One question I couldn't answer in all my research was the Diet Coke situation. I like my Diet Coke and didn't' want to go cold turkey. Answer was it's free with your meal, and unless you're Prestige outside meal it's a pricy $3/can. I bought two during the trip, and resolved to stock up off train when the opportunity presented. 

For dinner I opted for the Chicken Florentine, and it was the first (and probably only) meal miss of the trip. It needed a sauce. In fact, my mind added a sauce when I read the menu. Sadly, while my inner chef was correct in that it needed a sauce, the menu did not actually promise one. So my one foodie for VIA: sauce it up, please.

We go into Winnipeg after dark, and I walked down the street to The Forks for a nice glass of wine before boarding the train again with a new crew. Straight to bed to wake up in a new province the next day.

The journey continues...

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