Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Haselünne, Germany.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Dulmen, Germany.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

VIA Rail Part 2

When we left you in yesterday's post, it was Sunday night and we were on the VIA Rail train somewhere between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Montreal, Quebec and we were just going to sleep. The beds were comfortable enough and we both agreed that the pillows were really good.

But it's still tough to get a really good nights sleep. I actually did not too badly, I woke up several times but managed to dose off again. Ruth said she didn't sleep well at all. We both decided to get up at around 6:10am, but we had been through a one hour time change overnight so it felt like 7:10am. Not bad, but not great.

We had stopped in a little town at some point and we figured out from the schedule that we had made up some time overnight. When we had gone to bed we figured we were about a half hour behind schedule, but now it looked like it was only ten minutes or so.

Breakfast is served in the dining car between 6:00am and 8:30am. So we headed over there around 7:30am. Choice between fruit waffles ($10) or a continental ($8) or a egg and meat plate ($10). We both chose the egg and meat and I had Ruth's toast and gave her my bacon in exchange for her sausages. It was not bad, and I left the breakfast table pretty much stuffed. Included all you could drink coffee and tea.

Breakfast. Not great, but certainly not bad. We left with full stomachs.

Scenery along the way.

After breakfast we went back to our room to find the beds all folded up and put back in the seating position. Our attendant Joanne sure was efficient! Turns out that Joanne has been working for VIA Rail for 35 years. I hope she gets a lifetime pass to ride the rails when she retires!

Not long after breakfast we began to go through built up areas as we entered the outskirts of Montreal. Turns out that we were almost back on schedule! Soon, we had our first view of the downtown area.

The Montreal VIA Rail station is right in downtown Montreal.

I snapped this pic as soon as we got off the train. We were scheduled to arrive at 9:05am and this pic was taken at 9:13am.

Considering our train ride was over 20 hours long, I think it's amazing that we arrived pretty much right on schedule! We got off the train and first thing we had to do was find some internet so that we could post yesterday's blog. Turns out that VIA Rail has complimentary internet access in the Montreal station, right by the baggage pickup area. They have seats and even tables with electric plug ins. And, the wi-fi was consistent and fast. Wish they would do that for their customers in Halifax. Doesn't seem quite right that some major stations are complimentary, and others cost $7.50 an hour.

By the time we finished with the internet it was almost 10:30am. We checked our bags for our train to Ottawa and headed out to explore downtown Montreal. We purposely planned a stopover for the day and we'll tell you about our four hour tour in another post!

So, let me summarize our trip from Halifax to Montreal aboard "The Ocean". From a cost perspective, VIA Rail currently has a 50% off special that ends October 18. If you can book at this price, it's a great deal. 

At these prices, booking a sleeper cabin for two costs $199 per person plus tax. If you have the time and don't need to be somewhere right away, this is more fun than flying and approximately the same money. We thought it was a great experience but probably isn't something we would do all the time. You can book economy class for $115 plus tax which is a fantastic price but of course you still have to have meals and it wouldn't be as comfortable. 

At 3:15pm we arrived back at the station to get ready for our 4:00pm trip from Montreal to Ottawa. It's only about 200 kms (120 miles) between the two cities so only a scheduled ride of around two hours. We boarded right on time and the train departed at exactly 4:00pm. There's free wi-fi on the train and it worked perfectly for the whole journey.

We were in Business Class so we had upgraded seating and a meal was included. Turns out it also includes bar service, so that was a pleasant surprise and we enjoyed a beer and a glass of wine. Also had wine with dinner! Nice.

Nice comfy seats with lots of legroom and a table for doing some computer work. Also have electrical outlet located between the seats.

Having a beer and checking out VIA Rail's website.


Main course.

They don't have a dining car on this route, so you are served your meal at your seat just like an airplane. And it is more "airline style" food as you can see from the pictures. But, it's still a meal and when you're on the 4pm to 6pm train it's a good time to be putting something in your stomach so that you don't have to worry about dinner when you arrive. 

Inside Ottawa station.

We were scheduled to arrive at 6:01pm and the above picture was taken at 6:05pm. Right on schedule! For short haul routes like Ottawa to Montreal or Ottawa to Toronto, this is definitely the way to travel. I would easily choose this over flying. By the time you get to and from the airport, and actually pay for the flights this has got to be way cheaper than flying as well. In fact, with this 50% off deal they have right now, business class is only $66 per person plus tax and that includes your meal and a couple of drinks. We thought this was a fantastic deal!

Funny, but the 2 hour journey simply flew by. What with having wi-fi and meal service there was always something going on. We loved this part of our journey!

Ruth's nephew Matthew was there to pick us up and now we are up at Ruth's father's place for the week. Today, we're going out to pick up our little blue car that's been in storage for over a year. Gonna put the battery in it, turn the key, and hope it fires up!


  1. I'm sure you did it, but here's hoping you put some fuel stabilizer in the tank!
    The brakes might be a little grabby at first, but fingers crossed that it starts and runs OK.
    I'd wager that you'll get a check engine light. If you don't, I'd be quite surprised. Sitting = Sensors corroding up.

    1. Car started up great, only problem was one very low tire and yes brakes were a little grabby at first.

  2. Great deal for $66.00. I agree way better than flying and much more comfortable.

    1. Such a great deal our son just booked himself a seat Ottawa to Montreal next month.

  3. Another great adventure, thanks for sharing again.

  4. For kicks I checked Amtrak. A similar trip, San Antonio, Tx to St. Louis, Mo. runs $232 round trip per person. Add a room, $415 and the total round trip is $879. So I guess one way would be about the same. On the Amtrak, with the sleeper, the meals are included. I didn't look for any discounts or promotions.

    1. I think if you went with Via's Sleeper Plus where meals are included at their regualr price then Amtrak sounds like the better deal, but with Via's 50% off deal then Via sounds like the better deal.

  5. Looks like a great way to travel around Canada - glad you enjoyed it - I know I did!!!

    1. If you are making the train trip as part of your vacation then taking the train arcoss Cananda is a beautiful and comfortable way to do it!

  6. Sounds like an excellent rail service. Good luck for the next part of your journey, hope you can keep ahead of the snow and get to see some stunning autumn foliage.

    1. Thank you Glen, we are hoping to stay ahead of the snow. Actually it is suppose to get up to 18C (65F) tomorrow, so hopefully will get some outdoor work done on my Dad's garden.


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