Yesterday morning I took an unexpected trip to Montreal on the VIA train. My daughter Monica had to go to visit a friend and wanted me to drive with her from Ottawa to Montreal.
In Canada we have a very good passenger train system called VIA Rail and I am certainly a frequent traveller. I have met many interesting people on the train and yesterday was no exception. I was alone in my seat on the Kingston to Ottawa part of the journey and Anne was sitting across the aisle from me. By the time I got to Ottawa Anne and I were sitting side by side and I can honestly say the journey flew by. We had so much in common, both native Nova Scotians, both married for more than 45 years to the same man, both very fond and doting grandmothers, both travelling to visit children and grandchildren all over the country, and both pretty good talkers. : )
I belong to a points program called VIA Preference, which allows free train travel when a certain number of points are accumulated. I now have enough points for at least two or three free trips along the Windsdor/Quebec City corridor.
Occasionally I have treated myself to travel on VIA One, a business class trip. Meals are included in the price and are served on china plates with real silverware. You are given a menu when you first get on the train, are offered a glass of red or white wine, and are given a choice of two dinner times. The meals consist of three courses and are beautifully cooked and served piping hot. I’ve enjoyed salmon, roast beef, and chicken. Mmmmmm!
Once in a while there is a little glitch in a trip. One time in the winter while travelling from Montreal to Toronto, the train whistle got stuck ON, and I can tell you when we got home we were glad to get back to a very quiet house! This past March on a trip from Toronto to Ottawa, the freight train in front of us lost a wheel!!! What do they do in a situation like that? Get a spare wheel out of the caboose, jack the train up, change it, and get on their way??? Well, it took two hours to clear the tracks and we got a discount off our next trip.
One time they ran out of TEA!!!!! How did Maureen make it to Montreal without a cup of tea to sustain her? Well, in this case, tragedy was averted when a fellow-passenger shared his thermos of tea with me! God bless him!
There have been drunk passengers, crying babies, loud teenagers, and even a very loud-snoring young man. But at the same time, I have seen passengers helping an old woman get access to her bags, even carrying them for her. There have been cases of offering to lend a passenger the use of a cell phone, friendly chatter, laughing, and once I even got help with accessing the internet on VIA’s free wifi service, from a nice young man.
I love travelling by train in Canada. I wonder if it is as good in other countries. Anyone know???