VIA Rail's Halifax station.
No point in them hanging around with us, so we said goodbye to Lindsey, Justin, and Cameron. We really enjoyed visiting with them and Cameron is such a good little guy. Lindsey and Justin sure are good parents and they’re doing a great job with him. Not sure when we’ll see them again, but it will probably be at least a year. Good thing for internet video calling!
Inside the Halifax station.
They said they would start boarding at 11:45, so we only had about 45 minutes to wait. I had read on the VIA Rail website that all major stations have wi-fi internet so I got Ruth’s little laptop out figuring I would update all our facebook fans. Well they have wi-fi internet all right, at $7.50 an hour. So I quickly closed up the laptop! Turns out that they do have free wi-fi on the trains and in the stations on the Quebec City to Windsor corridor, but not on the long distance trains or the stations outside of that.
Ruth, getting ready to board "The Ocean".
Sure enough, we started boarding at 11:45. We made it to our assigned car and found our cabin. Now, I haven’t been on a long distance rail journey in
since I was four years old. I had gone with my father from Ottawa
to British Columbia
back in 1966! And Ruth had done a journey from Quebec City
to British Columbia
back in 1980 when she was eighteen. So we didn’t really know what to expect. We
had a private sleeper cabin. Well it is a pretty small space, but it
comes with it’s own tiny private bathroom and a nice big window so that you can
sit and watch the world go by.
Our own private "facilities".
Our cabin attendant Joanne came by and explained how everything works in the cabin and asked if we wanted a wake up call and what time we wanted her to come by and make up our beds. I thought this was all pretty neat because I hadn’t expected the personalized service! She stood and talked to us for a while and then said just to ask if there’s anything we need.
Our attendant Joanne. She was always smiling and helpful. Thanks Joanne!
Well the only problem with our cabin was that the seats are facing backwards. I don’t have a problem with this, but Ruth occasionally gets a queasy stomach so I asked if there were any available cabins that faced forwards. There are 10 cabins in each car and each one is opposite to the next. So we had a 50% chance of getting one facing forward to begin with. Joanne went and checked things out and came back smiling and saying that we had to change cars but that we were welcome to move to another cabin. Perfect!
Ruth, watching the world go by.
So then we sat and watched the world go by for a while. Lots of bright red fall colors in the forests along the way. Eventually, we decided to go for a walk and check out the rest of the train. There’s a snack car with a lounge, a dining car, another snack car and lounge and then cars where the economy seats are. Oh, and another car that’s just kind of empty.
Going for a walk down the narrow hallways of the railcars.
We wandered up to the economy section. The seats looked pretty comfy actually.
Here's one of the lounge cars. With newspaper if you like.
And here's that big empty car right at the end. Not sure what that was all about, and I forgot to ask Joanne. I'm thinking they should put a bowling alley in here! Too funny.
We had booked ourselves for the third sitting of dinner, so we had some time to waste. There’s an electrical outlet in our cabin, and I had some movies on the laptop so we watched some shows for a while. I guess in the old days people just read books or watched the world go by! I thought about having a nap, but figured I would be better off if I was as tired as possible when it came time to sleep.
At one point, we came to a standstill and it wasn’t long before they came on the intercom and explained that the train going in the opposite direction was late and we had to wait for it to go by before we could carry on. This put us about a half hour behind schedule. Up until this point, everything had been happening right on time.
We were called for dinner at about 7:50pm. This was a little later than we expected, but we did want the latest seating, so no worries. There were two choices for appetizer, three choices for main course, and a dessert. All inclusive with a non alcoholic drink, for $19.00. That’s not bad really. We both ordered the salad and the beef with caramelized onion. Our waiter came back to say they only had enough beef for one, so Ruth said she didn’t mind having the salmon instead. That’s one thing to keep in mind, that if you go to the earlier seating they are more likely to have all selections available.
Sat down for dinner.
Salad and roll.
My beef dinner.
Ruth's salmon dinner.
Dessert. Ruth was NOT happy that she couldn't have any because of her gluten allergy. They were nice though and brought her a fruit cup.
Dinner was surprisingly great! When you consider that these meals are no longer cooked fresh on board this train route, we didn’t have really high expectations so we were pleasantly surprised. Ruth’s carrots were still raw, really only just warmed up. But that was our only complaint. My carrots were nicely cooked so not sure what happened there. My beef was cooked just right and it was nice and tender. The third option was chicken.
We didn’t have anything else to drink since they want $6 for a beer and $7 to $8 for a glass of wine. I figure at those prices they just don’t want people drinking. So we didn’t! So our total bill was $38 and we left a $4 tip. Now, we’re not big on tipping to begin with and maybe I’m wrong, but I have it figured that this wait staff is being paid far better than your typical waiter to begin with.
Came back to find out beds all made up.
And then we went back to our cabin and opened the door to find that our beds had been made up while we were gone for dinner. So that was a nice surprise. I set up the laptop again and we watched a James Bond movie. With both of us lying in the bottom bunk. It was a little tight, so good thing we love each other! Finally decided to head to sleep around 10:30pm. We have an hour time change to go through overnight so we gain an hour.
Part two in the next update!