The Ocean Train – From Montreal to Halifax.

There was 836 miles of breathtaking scenery. That much I’m sure of. The 836 miles begins at Montreal, travels through Saint Lawrence, through the Matapedia Valley, across New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia. Each cabin has a leaflet with information on the stops we would be making and interesting features of each town or area. Although in all fairness it was just a joy to stare out the window and watch the world go by.

My brother and I shared a sleeper cabin, with shower and meals included. This was a very good idea. I don’t think I could have hacked 800 odd miles sitting upright in a train seat. The cabin is small but comfortable. The seats fold down into two bunk beds and I had a surprisingly relaxed nights sleep. I don’t know if it was the gentle rocking motion of the train or the two vodka’s on board (or the three pints of beer beforehand) but something worked a treat. The meals on board are delicious. I was expecting plane food, in tiny foil packages that had been microwaved and flung at you. What we got were three course meals that would put any restaurant to shame.

Showering in the tiny bathroom was a comical experience. The shower head was micro thin and had to be twisted to point at the opposite wall, otherwise the water trickled pathetically down the wall. Keeping it twisted in the right position was difficult and it kept slipping back. All in all though it was easier than I thought to have a shower and I managed not to slip and do myself an injury.

The staff on board are friendly and welcoming, slipping in and out of French and English at ease. There are also talks on wildlife and the history of Acadia and a wine tasting. Free champagne when you first get on board and complimentary tea and coffee during the day in the viewing cart was also a huge bonus.

The fact that the train did not have wifi was, at first, a shock to my system. I spend huge amounts of time each day plugged in and switched on to the virtual world around me. However it turned out to be a blessing. This enforced period of connecting to reality, talking to other travellers onboard, staring out the window looking at the scenery was the best thing. It was the most relaxed I’ve been in such a long time.

I thoroughly enjoyed the train as a way to travel. Sure it takes a long time, sure it is expensive but I feel it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences. This is Canada’s longest running train. It’s been in operation since 1904. This is one unique way to see the country. This is one of those once in a lifetime journeys that people talk about. This is one of those experiences that I should be able to draw on in the future. It’s a journey that leads to wondering. Some of those stretches of land must have remained pretty much the same since the trains first journey. I wondered had they ever been stepped on. I wondered about the lives of the people in the little towns that we passed though. What worries are they experiencing? How is the recession affecting them? Is there a recession over here at all? What is it like to live your whole life in a tiny house or farm beside the railway track? In fact I feel like I should be writing some sort of a lost in the wilderness type novella whilst on this journey. A Kerouac “On The Road” for my generation. Better get on it then.

www.viarail.ca/ocean

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