Category Archives: Canada

Vancouver, Canada

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As with most great rail journeys such as The Canadian, all good things must come to an end as they say. We’re all just soaking up the final moments of the elegant but imposing landscape before heading fast into beautiful Vancouver for a short stay.


Upon arrival at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, BC the railway station is at the western terminus of Via Rail’s cross-country The Canadian to Toronto with signage clearly showing the way.


From the main station, connections are easy to the Waterfront which is undoubtedly the most popular area for visitors to experience – being right at the harbour with a plethora of attractions, cafes and stores.

At the Waterfront Station, the Canada Line delivers you directly to SeaBus and West Coast Express Commuter Rail services. A trip from YVR Airport to Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver takes only 25 minutes!


View over Coal Harbour – used to designate the relatively new official neighbourhood of the City of Vancouver bounded by roughly Burrard Street and Pender of the Financial District to West Georgia Street near the West End in the south to Stanley Park in the north. From here you can catch public transport to most other places as it’s quite central.


FlyOver Canada uses state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. You will hang suspended, feet dangling before a 20-metre spherical screen while the film whisks you away on an exhilarating 8-minute journey across Canada – from east to west. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents combine with the ride’s motion to create the real thing.

Many attractions are in close proximity and it’s worthwhile visiting the Vancouver Tourism site to gain the some excellent ideas of what to see and do if you’re short on time.

See  http://www.tourismvancouver.com


Like me, the Gastown Steam Clock is perhaps one of the first places you’ll visit if you enjoy checking out the city’s history and a seemingly lively atmosphere. Gastown found new life as the centre of the city’s wholesale produce distribution until the Great Depression in the 1930s. It was also the centre of the city’s drinking life: there were 300 licensed establishments the twelve-block area of the former glory days of Granville.

Jump in quick as it’s probably one of the most photographed clocks in the world.


Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown location and is named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. The town soon prospered as the site of Hastings Mill and seaport which quickly became a general centre of trade and commerce on Burrard Inlet as well as a rough-and-rowdy resort for off-work loggers and fishermen.


The Spaghetti Factory is nearby and a quick lunch at $11.00 (including tax) is a treat with all those calories adding to another excuse for further walking in the afternoon.

And yes, there are taxes to be added onto most goods and services in Canada.


Stanley Park alive and well with plenty of locals making themselves at home whilst foraging with a water-front view over the city’s buzzing metropolis.

Designated a national  historic site of Canada, the park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the heavily built urban landscape. You can explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest and enjoy scenic views of water, mountains and majestic trees along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall. There’s kilometres of trails, local wildlife and great eateries while enjoying natural and historical landmarks.


Granville Island Public Market is an indoor market featuring a fascinating assortment of colourful food and produce stores. You’ll have to struggle with the desire to take some home and promise yourself more walking the next day!


A vast array of produce including fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and some other unique findings. From plants, flowers to micro-breweries, wineries and cideries, you’ll be met with a range of products when you come to check out what the vendors have to offer each day.

Take a reusable carry bag as it won’t go home empty …


Easy to ‘get around’ and very straight forward in planning your way around.


Sky Trains are fast, clean and the most efficient way to the city. Vancouver (YVR) is the second busiest airport in Canada and located on Sea Island in Richmond, about 12 km (7.5 miles) from Downtown Vancouver. Look for The Canada Line which is $9.10 from the airport to downtown, and $4.10 from downtown to the airport. It links the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) directly with downtown Vancouver and Richmond. Whether you’re connecting to a downtown hotel, BC Ferries or an awaiting Cruise Ship, it’s easy to travel between YVR Airport and major city stations using the public transit system.

Certain Canada Line stations offer airport check-in kiosks. Skip the lines at the airport and check-in for your flight at any of the following stations: YVR–Airport, Templeton, Bridgeport, Marine Drive, Broadway–City Hall, Olympic Village, Vancouver City Centre and Richmond–Brighouse. See below for a trip planner.

https://tripplanning.translink.ca/


A fitting statue to commemorate the memory of those who built the Canadian Pacific Railway and made it possible to traverse the sometimes impossible-looking terrain. However, as before, it’s been a magnificent journey and as usual too short on time in a great city of which Australians (and many others) are thoroughly fond of for its friendliness and characteristic mateship.

Via Rail’s The Canadian Train Journey, Canada – Part Two.

All aboard after a rest at Sioux Lookout, Mr Bill Loomis is ready to go again even whilst celebrating his birthday on this particular day. He’s been on The Canadian train twelve times and a stalwart without doubt. We were happy to hear his stories and his travelling mate John left their respective families and homes to once again take to the tracks and traverse Canada.


Whilst others were departing and some new passengers were joining us, all luggage is taken care of; generally larger cases are stored in the undercarriage in a separate baggage car near the head of the train. Smaller carry on is sufficient, just ensure you take any medications and necessary items as well.

Next at the half-way point of Winnipeg, we have a change of crew for the next couple of nights of the journey.


More snow and ice about throughout Manitoba with sweeping views of the countryside which is a vast difference to that of the upcoming Rocky Mountains.


Bales of fodder being made ready for livestock and a much colder winter yet ahead for many farmers.


Time to eat again? No problem about that! Food menus changed daily with vegetarian choices also available – but needs to be prebooked ahead along with any other dietary requirements.


Some good-old fashioned entertainment, best to enjoy without all the gadgets to distract us from an everyday conversation with others onboard. Most appealing if you’re wanting to make some new friends and acquaintances.


Refuelling and the last overnight on The Canadian with my final look at the snow-covered terrain of the midlands of Canada … well,  until next time.


Eggs Benedict is always a decent reason to hop out of bed and enjoy a new day’s viewing. With copious cups of coffee, I’m ready for another hard day of moseying around and relishing the atmosphere of a train on a mission which allow its passengers the opportunity to appreciate its beautiful countryside.

I’d better enjoy and savour this brekky as there won’t be any further delightful service like this for my  breakfast orders after the end of my trip …


My lovely model for this day is Lynn from Virginia USA showing us how easy it is to make yourself comfortable in the Dome carriage.


And Lynn’s daughter Jillian had joined her parents on the journey to catch up and spend some valuable time together as they live on opposite sides of the United States. Anyway, there’s no escaping each other, the train is very intimate and great to see families reconnecting as more and more multigenerational groups are making plans to have a much needed holiday together.


We’re fast heading out of snow country and moving closer to British Colombia (BC) whereby the landscape is now changing quite dramatically.


A scene not unlike Australia’s inland farming regions. Am I homesick? Not yet!


Along this route we’re seeing more sensational exposed mountainous panoramas which are hanging around waiting for winter to set in and be covered once again in white. It was great to see what these huge mammoths are actually shaped like before being cloaked in the big freeze.


Take your cuppa up to the Dome car as the Rocky Mountains are about to perform before your eyes with magical and breathtaking views overlooking the canyons.


Going through some short-covered tunnels ensure falling rocks don’t become passengers!


A bird’s eye peek of many more tunnels and bridges to follow on.


According to our resident train spotter Bill, there were two transcontinental Canadian railroads.  One was the Canadian Pacific, which completed it’s line in 1885.  The other was the Canadian Northern, which completed its line to Vancouver 30 years later.  The CP came west through Calgary and Banff while the Canadian Northern came west through Edmonton and Jasper.  The two lines came within miles of each other at Kamloops, British Columbia.  From there west to Vancouver they followed the waterways, Kamloops Lake, Thompson River and Fraser River to Vancouver..  Because the CP was first, they chose the easiest (not easy) side of the waterways, crossing over several times to stay with the better route.  The Canadian Northern, building nearly 30 years later, was left with the side the CP had not chosen.


Snaking around the waterways and highlands makes you wonder how this engineering marvel was constructed all those years ago without today’s technology.


No shortage of passageways either … And, at times trains only have access to the tracks one at a time due to the narrow escapements.


Considerable number of bridges along the way and when you see the depth of the gullies and watercourses over which they were built; it’s truly an engineering marvel.


We managed a daylight passage through the Thompson (which flows into the Fraser at Lytton) and Fraser River Canyons.


Heading fast into Vancouver and the near end of another fantastic rail journey with Via Rail’s The Canadian, I know I won’t beat Bill at twelve trips but I’ll keep trying.

For more information check the website http://www.viarail.ca

Via Rail’s The Canadian Train Journey, Canada – Part One.


All aboard! Two very happy young blokes from Switzerland embarking early and looking excited as we’re all about to board for a memorable rail journey.

Staff checking passes for the correct carriage and our imminent departure of four nights and three days had been bookmarked for months in advance, and now it’s a reality. Doesn’t matter where you’ve travelled from in the world this is a train trip, which for me, is a case of serendipity. A photographer’s dream – traversing Canada travelling east from Toronto to Vancouver this time around in mid November.


Cabin for two set up for the daytime. It’s comfortable and private with armchairs plus a large window for maximum views of the upcoming stunning scenery.


Cabin for two night time; retractable stacked upper and lower single beds with a vanity and an ensuite toilet. The old adage of ‘unpack once’ rings true here on the train as well.


On our way trundling off with snow covered tracks – it’s a sign of what’s ahead. More snow. And if like me, you’re from a country such as Australia (which is mostly desert), you’ll love this aspect as it’s not often I experience a blanket of pure white snowflakes sprinkled and sifted over this picturesque terrain.


Lakes and ponds are just starting to ice over. With the ever-changing moving postcards flashing before your eyes (not unlike this photo), you won’t want to take your eyes from the window.


Canada’s winter wonderland is in the making undoubtedly as the carriages rock and roll along to the beat of a train on a mission. 2017 marks a significant moment in the History of Canada as 150 years ago, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – united to create the Canadian Confederation.


The Dining car is very much the centre piece for qualifying guests to mingle and make new friends and acquaintances over a three-course luncheon and dinner settings.

Breakfast is served early with two settings on this occasion and for late risers it’s a treat not to have to rush.


Spectacular views all along the way. Take off those blinkers in the morning and check the outlook for the day? Yep more snow …


A frozen waterfall of ice. Brrr glad I’m in bed looking at this.


Homes along the way look cosy enough, but not sure about clearing off icy cars to head off to work for the day … However, that’s the day-to-day life of a Canadian during winter.


View from one of the dome cars on The Canadian. Seating here is on a first-come basis and my advice is go early as it’s one of the most sought after areas on the train.


A stop allows passengers to hop off and stretch their legs. Although at night, it’s still a way of admiring our train taking a breather and readying itself for the half-way point of Winnipeg which is not too far away now.


Sioux Lookout is our stop before reaching Winnipeg whereby, there’s a number of fishing camps in the area that allow access to an extensive lake system fed by the English River.


Here at Sioux Lookout, we’re able to walk around and a heavily laden snowy landscape is revealed. Crunching below your feet you can feel the depth of the fall from the overnight trip and very happy to say my cabin was nice and snug by comparison!


Upon closer inspection of Via Rail’s The Canadian, it shows a mighty and powerful work horse blowing off some steam before taking us to our next stop along this magnificent rail journey of 4,466 kilometres (in total).


Icy fields show off Manitoba which is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west. Its landscape of lakes and rivers, mountains, forests and prairies stretches from northern Arctic tundra to the Hudson Bay. We’re crossing through the southern farmlands now on our approach to the capital city of Winnipeg.


The lakes and waterways are now freezing over and temperatures will continue to drop as winter truly sets in before the month of December. As opposed to some coastal areas, it’s much colder here inland with farm animals being housed and fed, while the wildlife is retreating for hibernation.


Would love to drop by, but maybe some other time for a cuppa! Just a little busy being cosy and warm on board with a coffee and cake thanks.


VIA operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre network. Their mandate is to provide safe, efficient and reliable passenger transportation, with service in the country’s two official languages.

For further booking and information check the website http://www.viarail.ca

Next blog post we continue onto Vancouver from Winnipeg as Part Two.

From Quebec, Canada onto New York City, USA

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You know it’s time to go when the phone rings  with that dreaded wake-up call … So it’s off I go to Montreal to fly onto New York City(NYC). Seems like yesterday I arrived and now it’s time to head off again. My best advice if you’re considering a visit stay in Quebec, allow for at least a minimum of three days as there’s so much more to see and do, as well as relaxing in a truly unique city which has a European feel whilst still in North America.

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I’m going to miss my breakfast delivered and hung at the door each morning by Hotel des Coutellier staff. Fresh croissants, still warm and so fresh, along with a good strong coffee made with the machine  in your room.

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So it’s back at the exquisite Gare du Palais railway station with Via Rail for the last leg of my journey within Canada. It’s a trip towards Montreal for a quick flight into NYC. I understand the rail/road journey from Montreal to NYC is also one of the most beautiful, but that’ll have to be next time.

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This trip was taken early October and the leaves are just starting to turn to their obligatory autumn colours. An array of beautiful foliage capturing a spectrum of blush is seen everywhere now.

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Over the last century, Charny has been influenced socially and economically by the Canadian National Railway which maintains a major national train yard in the town, Joffre Yard. The roundhouse in the yard was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992.

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Will miss Canada and its ever-changing scenic views and landscape. And, not forgetting the people have been incredibly friendly and very helpful at all times.

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The journey with Via Rail to Montreal is just over three hours with Dorval being closer to four hours travelling as it’s just south of Montreal.

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Even during the month of October, I found the weather to be mild and as long as you layer your clothing you’ll be fine. This is a really a desirable time of the year to visit I think – without all the crowds and no rushing about.

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Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (IATA: YUL, ICAO: CYUL) (French: Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal) or Montréal–Trudeau, formerly known as Montréal–Dorval International Airport (Aéroport international Montréal-Dorval), is a Canadian airport located on the Island of Montreal, 20 km (12 miles) from Montreal’s downtown core. The airport terminals are located entirely in the suburb of Dorval, while the Air Canada headquarters complex and one runway is located in the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent. It is an international airport serving Greater Montreal, along with the regions of northern Vermont and New York. The airport is named in honour of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada.

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The airport at Montreal is squeaky clean and easy to make your way around. Although, going through an airport after all this time feels sterile and security is tight. I had to really think about my weight restrictions after travelling by rail for sometime. A stark reminder to off-load some items prior to checking in.

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Flying into New York City is one of my favourite fly overs and a couple of days here before heading onto Europe won’t be taken lying around!

Quebec City and Île d’Orléans, Canada – Part Three

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Over the bridge, onto the outskirts of the city, we’re off to Ile d’Orleans which boasts some of the most beautiful countryside. This is the only bridge which leads you to the island full of farms, quaint shops and gorgeous heritage homes.

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Driving through with Michelle experiencing lovely  villages  and farm stalls along the roadside.

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A pink tractor … Why not?

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Michelle with the owner of Cassis Monna & Filles – Bernard Monna who is a native of Southern France and fourth-generation liquoriste, he is the first to produce black currant wines and Crème de Cassis in Québec.

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Outside for a quick walk around admiring the views before going for lunch.

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Maple syrup is a speciality here for our luncheon,  better known as a Sugar Shack, L’ En-Tailleur  is a family owned business.

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Square dancing is a highlight once you’ve had your sugar fix – lots of fun to burn off the calories to a couple of really up-beat musicians.

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We’re about to have a maple syrup tasting, once it’s cooled on the snow. Yum!

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The name Quebec is derived from an Algonquin word for narrow passage (which can be seen here). It originally referred to the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River near what is now Quebec City. The British named the newly captured colony Quebec in 1763.

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Montmorency Falls is a natural phenomenon – definitely not to be missed. At 83 metres high (30 m higher than Niagara Falls), it can be seen from all the way across the St. Lawrence River in Lévis!

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Mushrooms anyone? I know we picked them as kids for our Mums to cook up with the evening meal, but can’t say I’ve seen anything like these before. Wasn’t game to pick it before returning back to Quebec City as it looked like it should stay … Just in case it wasn’t the type for eating – or anything magical.

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Tartare – cold fish has been ordered and it’s a local, more traditional dish. Here at Restaurant SSS back in the old city of Quebec, I’m trying some more local food made by the excellent chefs on site with their superb presentation.

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Poutine at Restaurant SSS wasn’t a problem to put together as it’s considered more of a takeaway-like meal, but they were kind enough to allow me the opportunity to try it at this very classy little restaurant. It’s a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec, made with french fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce. Typically found across Canada and in some places in the northern United States. I’m told if the cheese doesn’t ‘squeak’ it’s not fresh. Trust me this was squeaking …

Quebec City, Quebec Province Canada – Part Two

 
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First thing on the agenda for the day in Quebec City,  and considering it’s across the road from my hotel, I’m marching across to the Market to investigate what’s on offer.

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Fresh strawberries to start the day – delicious, juicy and great value!

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All kinds of homemade condiments you could imagine. No shortage of quality goods and crafts as well.

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From the market, a fresh walk along the foreshore’s boardwalk leads you to the old city. You can see the ships coming in and out of the harbour – just take a seat and the view is astounding doesn’t matter which way you look. The silos light up at night and can be seen from afar – and my hotel.

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The figurehead rising up out of the pavement bears food from all around the world in her arms, recalling both Québec’s heyday as a port and the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which was founded in the city in 1945. She can be found at Place de la FAO in the Old Port.

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Yes it’s that time of the year … Here at the Place Royale (Petit-Champlain District), one of the most popular areas to visit with boutique specialty shops, along with galleries and cafes.

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Friend Michelle having a chat with one of the local buskers.

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One of the first Frescoes painted is Fresque des Quebecois, which show some 30 characters linked to maritime commerce which are depicted of the area’s major events; such as fires, rock slides and bombings, as well as the people who built, commercialized, developed and lived in this district.

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Sculpture of a different kind, remember when you found those plastic parts in the cereal boxes and tried to put them together?

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Yummy locally-made chocolates shapes of all kinds of different things.

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Feeling hungry and L’ ECHAUDE  Restaurant was selected for its wonderful creations using traditional and favourite produce of the region.

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For starters, a Tasting Plate  of  ‘Tartare de Saumon‘ which is a cold, savoury fish offering. And, if the presentation and flavours are anything to go by with this one, I can assure you  the main dish was delectable as well!

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Time to put on our ‘skates’ and explore some more of the old-town centre. Designated a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO, Old Québec is the only walled city north of Mexico.

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Sitting on top of the hill at Dufferin Terrace is the gorgeous  Château Frontenac offering spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and surrounds.

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And the way to go up there –  the Funicular of course is handy – or there’s passages you can walk up as well if you need some exercise to rid all that incredible food’s ability to miraculously creep on  the kilos.

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Step off the Funicular and it’s another eye-catching scene, a favourite for locals and tourists  – just-a myriad of charming eateries, bars and shopping outlets to explore. Leave some time to visit the more established sites and monuments in this area.

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Beginning to feel the night air coming on, but wait there’s much more we can fit in today.

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Food and Wine tasting at the end of the day – and just what I need, more food and wine!

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With Phil from my foodie tour and he likes to be known as ‘The Professional Tea Drinker’ (and he’s a writer too see www.philhopkins.co.uk) having a coffee with me?
Indeed, there’s no loyalty these days …

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I told you the silos on the waterfront would light up in the evening and aiming to please, it does just that.

Travelling to Quebec City, Quebec Province Canada – Part One

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Onwards to Quebec City with Via Rail. Why bother flying, the train is so much faster and within a few hours you’re already there wheeling the luggage off and checking into your hotel.

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Business Class seating may be a configuration of two seats on the left and single on the right. The tricky part is trying to figure out which side will give the best views while speeding along.

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I’m ready for checking out the province of Quebec which has been on my radar for sometime, and if like Ottawa it won’t disappoint.

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It really doesn’t matter which side of the train you sit on, the views are stunning on both.

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Love the way some people can actually find a way to express themselves! And, it doesn’t matter where they do it …

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Once over the Alexander Bridge and the Ottawa River, we’re now in the province of Quebec.

There is also the undeniable fact that Canadian-French speakers have lived alongside and amongst English speakers for two and a half centuries ever since the beginning of British administration in 1763.

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Most native French speakers in Canada live in Quebec City, where French is the majority and sole official language. However, there wasn’t any problem with English being spoken and I admire the tenacity of the residents who can easily switch from one language to the other without any difficulty. Wish I had the ability to do so.

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Beautiful farming properties can be seen on either side of the train.

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Lunch is served at your seat, delicious and well presented with the staff only to happy to assist wherever possible whilst onboard.

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Arriving at Quebec’s main railway station is the Gare de Palais, which is situated towards the Old Port on the edge of Downtown and at the bottom of the hill from the Old City and easy walking distance of either.

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This is one of those railway stations which harks back to the golden age of rail travel having been built by Canadian Pacific in a complementary style to the iconic Chateau Frontenac hotel. The centre piece within the station is a magnificent brick vaulted ceiling with a stained glass top.

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What better way to greet me at the front of my hotel? An art installation of pigeons trying to fathom a can of Campbell’s Soup…

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Hotel of choice is the boutique and elegant Hotel des Coutellier. Great location in the heart of old Quebec City. The markets are straight across the road which is where I’ll be heading over to in the morning.

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Stylish and smart with a fantastic view towards the port. Rooms are quaint with a sofa which offers relaxation and space which is always greatly appreciated. Fast wifi and lovely amenities given.

Ottawa, Ontario Canada’s Capital.

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Ottawa’s Parliament buildings are just a short two-minute walk from The Lord Elgin Hotel. And, as the city is the Capital of Canada, it’s not unlike Australia’s Capital Canberra, whereby the first thing which comes to mind; government buildings, bureaucracy and red tape. However, a deeper look at Ottawa reveals a truly remarkable and very likeable city with so much to see and do.

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Bruce Garner’s bronze statue, called “Territorial Prerogative”, was commissioned and donated in 1990 to the Sparks Street Mall and placed it near the intersection of Elgin Street. At this point, you can book a number day tours which have their stands right in front of where this bear is situated.

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So my suggestion; if you don’t have a car, then do a sightseeing Hop-On Hop Off Grayline tour of the city as you’ll cover a lot of ground to some of the sites which are located just on the outskirts of downtown with a fantastic commentary.

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This impressive curved building is located across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Québec. Visit the Canadian Museum of History which is home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles and unique artwork.

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“Never Give UP!” – Maurice Richard Monument. Dedicated sculpture to one of the greats.

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Overlooking the waterways.

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This canal is really unique in the world as thousands of skaters appear when the historic waterway freezes over during the winter. Gliding 7.8km (4.8 miles) along the Rideau Canal Skateway.
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What a way to go to work!

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism.

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On the grounds of the National Gallery of Canada, a giant bronze spider named Maman was erected during May, 2005. The spider sculpture is the artwork of Louise Bourgeois which stands at a height of 30 feet.
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Spiders are fine by me, just not snakes …

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Geoffrey Farmer’s perception of reality comes to light with an exhibition “Leaves of Grass”, theatrically illustrated five decades of Times’ magazines dating from 1935 – 1985. Cut outs have been carefully pieced together – unlike any other collage I’ve ever seen.

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See National Gallery of Canada for the World’s largest Canadian Art Collection. Undoubtedly the best.

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And across the road, is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Ottawa. Had to be quick as one wedding finished and another was lined up ready for their nuptials.

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Spectacular to say the least once inside …

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A short walk from the Basilica there’s ByWard Market for some great bargains and no shortage of food stands.

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Beaver Tails were ‘born’ in Ottawa and here there’s no shortage of people wanting one or two. There’s outlets across Canada and other countries around the world.

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They’re predominately sweet. As a savoury eater I tried the cheese and garlic and yes I know it’s heart-attack food, but had to try just one … Yummo!

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Don’t you just love this!

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Rideau Canal which consists of a series of beautiful lakes and rivers connected by canals. It stretches from Kingston at the foot of Lake Ontario to the city.

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I’m back where I started from and across the road from The Lord Elgin. The park is really lovely and need to have a sit for a while – really you need at least three days to enjoy Ottawa properly – so much more to see and do here.

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Anyway once you’ve recharged, take an Ottawa Jail Tour. Originally it was the “Carleton County Jail” and opened in 1862 then closed in 1972 at which point it was converted into a hostel.

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Bit spooked, but you’re given a sense of what it might have been like. Happy to call it a day.

From Toronto and onto Ottawa, Ontario Canada with Via Rail – Part Three

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A quick run around in Toronto reveals the city has changed somewhat since I last visited. However, the CN Tower hasn’t moved of course and still a drawcard.

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The new extended metro system is an easy and convenient way to make your way around.(Incidentally is still being extended.)  Bike lanes are open as well for those wishing to make use of it.

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Toronto’s grown up into a cosmopolitan metropolis – it’s the largest city in Canada and fourth largest in North America.

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I’m on my way to Ottawa, Canada’s capital city in the province of Ontario. The passengers are asked to wait inside at the designated gate at Union Station and called forward to board in the same way you might at an airport. It’s orderly and staff are available on the platform once through to assist with directions and reserved seating.

The main difference between flying and using Via Rail is of course, the train departs Toronto from the centre of the city and arrives just outside Ottawa with a short bus or taxi ride into the downtown area. Regular services  depart throughout the day. Business class passengers may use the lounge facilities before boarding whereby you can make use of some light refreshments, read the paper of use the free wifi.

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Yes it’s early and we’re simply enjoying the views, just waiting for our breakfast and business class is definitely worth the difference in price from economy. Book early …
breakfast (2)

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Relaxing and finding the  big comfy seats are spacious with plenty of leg room which I’m really happy about! Oh did I tell you I’m quite tall? Makes a huge difference to me.

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At times the train divides going onto two different destinations. Make sure you’re sitting in the correct carriage or you might find yourself heading somewhere else …

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From Toronto to Ottawa industries range from cultivating crops, mining minerals, manufacturing automobiles, designing software and leading-edge technology are being sourced here.
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Look out, we’re coming through … Trust me this train is on a mission and is faster than fast!

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We’ve arrived at Ottawa and it’s a quick transfer into the centre of the city from here – either by local bus or taxi.

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Hotel of choice … The Lord Elgin Hotel is smack in the thick of Canada’s capital’s must-see attractions. Stylish art-deco hotel with a variety of eateries, bars and amenities at hand.

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Comfortable, clean and spacious rooms. When there’s talk about “location, location”, then this hotel is the one to book. Close to Parliament Hill, Rideau Canal, Town Hall, the Hop On – Hop Off Bus and located a block away from the Information Centre.

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Something I like to see – of course, I’ll trade in housekeeping services for a glass of vino! What Aussie wouldn’t? And yes, I am environmentally friendly wherever possible … Glad to see the hotel has similar views.

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It’s been a great day and all went like clockwork travelling by rail. There’s really no need to fly between the cities of Toronto and Ottawa as the timing is approximately 4 hours one way. And, with Via Rail’s Economy Escape fares which begins at around CAD67.00 (AUD70.00 on today’s exchange rate) they’re excellent value considering the cost of an airfare, with transfers to and from the airport, not to mention check in times and security checks.

Plus, by rail you’re able to see Mother Nature at her finest with a palette full of brilliant colours showing off the change of season to Autumn’s best.

Next up, Ottawa’s attractions and activities. Stay tuned …

‘The Canadian’ Rail Journey with Via Rail – Part Two

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Up early after breakfast we’ve taken a seat to settle in for a full day’s viewing of Canada’s vast and expansive interior.

In Economy Class you have a comfortable reclining seat and access to the Economy Class Skyline car with its coffee shop, lounge and vista dome. Sleeper Plus & Prestige passengers have exclusive access to the Park Car at the very rear of the train.

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Plenty of farms all ready for a day’s work while we just watch.

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We’re having a break and walk around at Saskatoon. Time for ‘The Canadian’ to have a refuel and we’re more than half way now.

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No doubt we’re going to outdo the school bus …

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Speeding up towards Winnipeg whereby we’ll arrive later in the evening for another break.

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At Winnipeg Union Station, some passengers will either depart here and others will embark to continue their journey across to Toronto.

An easy couple of hours spent here whereby we have wifi available to check what’s going on, but really haven’t missed it all whilst onboard? Been too busy watching the world go by …

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The station’s building was designed in a “Beaux-Arts” style by New York’s architectural firm Warren and Wetmore (of New York Grand Central Terminal fame) and constructed from local Tyndall limestone, in which many fossils are still visible.
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Can’t help but look up. Simply stunning!

The station provided terminal facilities for the Canadian Northern Railway, the National Transcontinental Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway systems over the years.

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Breakfast won’t be the same again with the most delightful staff and superior service anyone could wish for.

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Passing Ogaki, Ontario where there’s a multitude of lakes and streams.

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Our final night onboard and everyone’s more than relaxed. Just don’t want the journey to end.

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Very much on the outskirts of Toronto with colours of the landscape changing constantly.

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Superb day to be back in Toronto after so many years. Upon arrival, our baggage which was checked in, is delivered on the platform for identification and collection. If you’re travelling in business class, you can use the Lounge facilities within the Terminal for your onward connection. There’s some light refreshments with the use of wifi and comfortable seating.

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Although, our trip has ended here at Toronto Union Station, there are excellent connections to other destinations, particularly on the Eastern Seaboard if you’re considering going further, particularly to Quebec and Nova Scotia.

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Across the road is the beautiful luxury Fairmont Royal York Hotel which is located in the centre of Downtown Toronto. It’s minutes away from attractions including: The CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, the Eaton Centre and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

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Very stylish rooms with a coffee machine for espresso lovers like me and fast wifi. A number of dining options are available with five restaurants, four lounges and 24-hour In-Room Dining available to suit every traveller’s taste.

VIA Rail offers several unique packages and getaways for visiting Toronto, allowing you to make the most out of your stay in the big city. See www.viarail.com

Next day it’s an onwards journey to Ottawa after a brief visit within the centre of Toronto!