Jasper to Toronto

Tuesday, 20th September 2016
Wednesday, 21st September 2016
Thursday, 22nd September 2016
Friday, 23rd September 2016
Saturday, 24th September 2016

Tuesday 20th September, 2016

Leaving Jasper photograph
Leaving Jasper

Drop Cap ot a bad night last night although the bed was very firm but not as bad as on the Indian Pacific. Mac and Geoff got up for an early continental style breakfast but I stayed in bed for a little longer. Today we will not get lunch per se as we will be stopped at Winnipeg over a meal time and the power will be turned off while they refuel the train and change the crew. So they offered a substantial brunch between 0930 and noon, then nothing till a late dinner. OK by me. The Park/Dome car at the end of the train has a comfy lounge and constant tea/coffee, muffins, biscuits, croissants etc, so we will not go hungry and Geoff can get his afternoon snack etc.

Flat Farmland photograph
Flat Wheatbelt from the Train

Drop Cap he terrain outside the windows has changed dramatically overnight from the lovely mountains to the endless wheatbelt plains. People have been warning that it is likely to be pretty boring, but, hey! we have crossed the Nullarbor three times and have not been bored.

Red Barn photograph
Iconic Red Barn

Drop Cap t is quite interesting, nevertheless, dotted with small towns, farms with stereotypical red barns, silos, small lakes and rivers, quite a lot of water, really, may be floodwater, looks like there has been plenty of rain lately.

The fields are stubble, harvest is over, and any trees are starting to change colour. Lots of bright yellow aspen and alders, not much red yet.

Aspens from train photograph
Aspen Trees from the Dome Car of the Canadian

Drop Cap e had a good dinner before Winnipeg, then Geoff and I asked the young cabin steward for a video stick to plug into our TV. I started to watch "Singing in the Rain" but at Winnipeg the power went off so I gave up on it. We lost Geoff for a while when he went over to the Station to see if he could get WiFi to send emails, but he came back before we got too concerned.

We have changed our crew here so no more familiar faces. The train has been whizzing along, trying to make up time, I guess. We went to bed and slept reasonably well.

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Wednesday, 21st September 2016

The Woods outsidephotograph
Travelling through the Woods

Drop Cap hen we awoke this morning we found the terrain had changed dramatically once again; from the endless plains we were back among forests and lakes, very pretty. Not as in your face awesome as in the Rockies, but gentler and very picturesque.

More Lakes photograph
We Passed by more Lakes

Drop Cap e have lost another hour, as I found out when they called the first lunch sitting at 1030 by my watch. This is the third time adjustment so far. Geoff still has not had morning tea. We must have been quite late for breakfast, all unbeknownst. Lunch was quite good, Mac had a bison burger, Geoff had salmon in three ways and I had turkey and bacon wrap with salad. And black cherry ice cream to finish. The forest and lakes continue, a mixed forest of dark pines, yellow aspen and tall slim white trunked birches, I assume. Very pretty.

Tracks and Freightphotograph
Tracks Unrolling

Drop Cap e spent some time in the Dome Car lounge which is right at the back of the train. The tracks unrolled behind us, sometimes with freight cars waiting for an engine, sometimes through picturesque country.

Tracks through the Woods photograph
Tracking through the Woods

Drop Cap his Prestige Class is pretty swish. We have hot and cold running concierges and attendants, they bring us afternoon snacks, among other things. Yesterday's was salami, cheese, olives and crackers, today's was crisps, devilled nuts,dried apricots and dates and a dark chocolate bar, very nice too.

Prestige Dome Car Outside photograph
Prestige Dome Car Outside

Drop Cap nother thing about Prestige Class. We were given a train credit card so that all drinks, snacks etc are charged, but are free for us. I had a gin and tonic before dinner and Geoff has had lots of snacky things, for Prestige Class it's all free. Drinks, wine at dinner, free for us but not for the 1st Class sleeper passengers who share the dining car. I don't really know what the cost is for this class, we were never given an itemised account, but it's worth it, whatever it is!

Prestige Lounge photograph

The Canadian Prestige Class Lounge

Prestige Dome Car Photograph
Prestige Lounge and Dome Car

Drop Cap ast supper tonight, salad, veal chop with rice and veg, choc/caramel cake and coffee. The train has been running two hours late today due to long waits for the incredibly long freight trains to pass. It suited us to be late rather than arriving in Toronto at 0930. However, they say they are making it up, pity.

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Thursday, 22nd September 2016

Union Station Photograph
Toronto Union Station, Under re-construction

Drop Cap e arrived at Toronto Union Station at about 1000 and retrieved our luggage without problems. Union Station is huge and historic but is being seriously refurbished so there is construction with guys in hard hats everywhere. However, the signage was good and there were staff members dotted about to help.

Toronto Hotel Room Photograph
Our Room, Toronto Intercontinental Hotel

Drop Cap e found that we were correct in that the Intercontinental Hotel where we are staying, was only a couple of blocks along the same street as the station, easy walking, even with the luggage, and joy of joys, our rooms were ready! This is the second time we have been able to check in early. We have adjoining rooms, king size bed, lovely bathroom, on the fifteenth floor with a spectacular view over the CN Tower and the marshalling yards of the station. Mac is happy with the view!

Toronto ArchitecturePhotograph
Quirky Architecture among Skyscrapers, Toronto

Drop Cap he bathroom of our room contains a set of scales! We have both gained about four kilos in two weeks!!! So we had lunch at a local Starbucks, Mac had a rice salad and I had a grilled chicken salad with quinoa, the first and probably the last time I have eaten quinoa. But we are going to have to cut down on food and wine.

Geoff confirmed the Niagara Falls tour for tomorrow and then we collected the dirty clothes and walked for two kilometres to find a laundry. The little Asian lady was only too happy to do it and deliver it back to the hotel tonight! So that's good too. It was under fifty dollars for two quite large loads, good value.

 at CN Tower Photograph
Mac and Geoff Dwarf CN Tower

Drop Cap fter we got rid of the laundry we walked back and decided on the iconic attraction of Toronto, the CN Tower. The guide book describes this as a huge concrete hypodermic syringe and it is not far wrong. It was an expensive ride to the second highest level and would have cost more to go to the top, so we didn't bother. But we had our photo taken at the entrance, like in New Zealand, and bought the result at the end.

Toronto Architecture from Tower Photograph
Downtown Toronto from CN Tower

Drop Cap he view was naturally panoramic over Lake Ontario and the whole of Downtown Toronto. There were some very interesting buildings. Toronto is very modern and rather monumental. Not as attractive as Vancouver in my opinion. We did a little souvenir shopping, had coffee and Geoff had afternoon tea, then we slogged home again. My pedometer shows 12,148 steps, 7.28 kilometres today. May help to offset the food. Better try to walk more from now on!


Drop Cap e had a good dinner at Canyon Creek Chophouse, just down the block. Geoff had ravioli with prawns which he said was delicious, Mac had beef and mushroom stew with lovely little squares of puff pastry on top. He said it was great. I had coffee crusted steak - unusual but very good. Had a stroll around the block and came back to crash. Niagara Falls tomorrow!

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Friday, 23rd September 2016

Wine College Photograph
Tasting Room, Niagara Wine College

Drop Cap ince today was our excursion to Niagara Falls it dawned, of course, grey and damp with a chill wind. Our pickup was a bit late but eventually arrived. It was quite full, and two of the passengers were Pete and Paula who we met on our Icefields Parkway tour to Jasper and then on the train. They are also going to Montreal on Sunday, so we may see them there as well.

On the way to Niagara our first stop was at a wine making college just out of St. Catherines, which was billed as The Garden City and of course as the birthplace of Chris Spikesman's father. We tasted some of their wine and tried ice wine, which is very concentrated like a fortified wine, port or sherry, very sweet.

Niagara Falls Photograph
Dramatic Niagara Falls

Drop Cap hen we got to Niagara and went straight to look at the Canadian Falls. It was truly awe-inspiring, the roaring immensity of water leaving mist and permanent dampness over all. Unfortunately, like all natural wonders, man has not been kind and the land is cluttered with casinos, ferris wheels, fast food joints, fairground attractions and souvenir shops.

Niagara Falls Photograph

Hornblower Cruiser in the grip of the Current

Niagara Falls Photograph

On board the Hornblower Cruise

Drop Cap e had lunch, included in the tour, at a restaurant overlooking the falls, then went off for our boat ride to the foot of the falls. Donning thin red plastic ponchos we piled on to the Hornblower Cruiser - not as crowded as I expected, but we got very wet in the places not covered by the poncho. It was an amazing sight, but not especially scary, as I thought it might be.

Niagara Falls Photograph
Niagara Falls from the Hornblower Cruiser

Drop Cap t was rather a pity that the weather wasn't good because it was difficult to make out the falls against the misty coloured sky and I don't think the photos will be very good.

We bought the odd souvenir, then went on to the lovely little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a really pretty place, well removed from the somewhat sleazy commercialism of the falls proper.

Niagara Whirlpool Photograph
Niagara Whirlpool

Drop Cap n the way we stopped for a photo op at the Niagara River Whirlpool, which I believe is where the current from the Falls backs up into the flow of the river and forms a whitewater maelstrom. There is a cable car spanning the river here and several inflatable whitewater rafts were enjoying the experience.

Niagara on the Lake Photograph

Niagara on the Lake

Niagara on the Lake Photograph

Niagara on the Lake

Drop Cap iagara-on-the-Lake is small and cute and knows it is a honeypot so does not allow tour buses even to stop to drop off people in town. They all have to park outside in a specially organised carpark but the town provides a free shuttle continuously running to get you to and from the village. We had coffee and strolled around the picture-perfect streets.

Niagara on the Lake Photograph

Niagara on the Lake

Drop Cap hen we all got back on the bus and snoozed all the way back to Toronto. We then went out and had a very pleasant Italian meal locally. Geoff had pasta, Mac and I shared a delicious and very light pizza and a salad. Very good.

We have a free day tomorrow - must see what we can do with it. Then it's back on the train for Montreal.

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Saturday, 24th September 2016

Drop Cap much better night's sleep last night, didn't wake until 0730. We had a light breakfast at a little coffee shop called Second Cup (it's a chain, they're everywhere) Mac and I shared a fresh fruit cup, then had coffee and a blueberry scone.

Ontario Islands photograph

Lake Ontario Islands

Drop Cap hen we went off to see if Geoff could find a Virgin Store because the sim on his I-Pad has not worked since Vancouver. So he googled it and we found one, a couple of kilometres from here. It was in a major shopping mall and the girl there seemed to get it working, so that's OK. The mall was at the start of the Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus route so we decided to buy tickets and got on the ex-London Routemaster double decker. Although there was a commentary the PA was very crackly and the guide spoke too quickly, so we didn't get a lot of info. We got about three quarters of the way around, then arrived at the Harbourfront, where the bus ticket included a forty five minute cruise around Toronto's offshore islands. We had a very long-winded lunch (service very slow) in a bar on the harbour, then got on the boat.

Toronto from Boat photograph

Toronto's Skyline from the Boat

Drop Cap his was a really lovely trip, it has been a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. I do hope though that the weather gets colder soon, so the leaves will at least be changing colour by Prince Edward Island. There were some great views of the Toronto skyline, punctuated of course, by the CN Tower. There is a small, but very busy airport on one of the islands and small domestic type planes flew past remarkably often. The other islands we saw were mostly occupied by holiday homes for which there is great demand but are only available by ballot, not even by inheritance. They are very picturesque, quite a contrast to the skyscrapers of Toronto. Lake Ontario, although the smallest of the Great Lakes, is enormous, stretching on like a sea. It makes a lovely site for the city.

Ontario Islands photograph

Lake Ontario Islands

Footnote on Toronto:

Drop Cap don't know quite what is causing it but there is a slight but pervasive smell of sewerage in the streets. There are grates in the pavements which we imagine are vents. Perhaps the major building and rebuilding going on has disturbed something.

Tomorrow to Montreal

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