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19 August 2012 / leggypeggy

Spectacular train ride—at a bargain and with a workspace

Poor John peeking down the carriage

Almost everyone we met in Canada raved about The Canadian—the train that connects Toronto and Vancouver. Not one of them had been on it, but they all knew it was a breathtakingly scenic, not-to-be-missed, once-in-a-lifetime journey.

So we booked it. Actually I dragged the chain and we nearly missed out.

Poor John saw a great online deal for a sleeper cabin for two from Vancouver to Toronto. The last-minute bargain price was just under $900 each, with all meals included—the usual fare is $2100-plus per person.

But I couldn’t make up my mind about a departure date. By the time I did, the option was sold out. Oops!

Time to go into recovery mode. What about Toronto to Vancouver instead? I picked a random date and, yes, there were four single cabins left. So I clicked on ‘book now’.

I breezed through the questions, and ticked the box that indicated we were seniors. Bang, the price dropped by almost a third to $581.10 each (including tax). That put a stop to any wavering about the date. I booked immediately and here we are now—sitting on the train.

My chair folds down into a single bed—like a Murphy bed.

We boarded last night about 10, and were soon settled in cabins 4 and 5 in Car 119. The car has four double cabins, three sets of curtained bunks and eight single cabins (with four at floor level and four up a couple of steps). That must be how they manage the pull-out and fold-down beds. Poor John’s cabin is across the aisle from mine and at floor level. Our cabins are just over a metre wide and about an arm span long, plus the bed space.

Long before we boarded, we were asked to choose a meal schedule. Thank goodness we got to the station 90 minutes early because we managed to get the popular middle timeslots—12:20pm and 7:20pm rather than much, much earlier or much, much later.

Breakfast is open slather between 6:30–8:30am. Never expected to see so many people up by 7am. We were pleasantly surprised by the calibre of the meal—tomato, cheese and bacon omelet, with hash browns, toast or muffins, juice and coffee or tea.

Lunch was even more impressive. I had salmon and turbot with salad.

My workspace—the upholstered lid of the in-cabin toilet. Don’t flush while in the station, or when the computer is on top.

They like to keep us busy. I could have taken the napkin-folding course this afternoon, but I’m holding out for the beer tasting. Dinner is in a couple of hours.

Rather doubt that my waistline will survive four days of this.

I hope to post several items about the journey. No idea when they will actually appear. There’s no internet in remote Ontario. Info about the train promised wifi, but apparently that only happens on a single well-travelled and populated route between Quebec City and Windsor.

Never mind. I’ll cope, even if I have to resort to napkin-folding. 🙂

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Leave a Comment
  1. Shannon K / Aug 19 2012 2:37 am

    I spent my early childhood growing up in northern Ontario. It was a beautiful place to be a kid! Enjoy!


    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2012 10:53 pm

      I’m having a great time in Canada as a grown-up! Amazing country.


  2. lmo58 / Aug 19 2012 10:48 am

    Hi Peggy,
    The train trip sounds great even if the cabins are very small. I hope there aren’t any tall people hoping to sleep! Lovely photos and can’t wait to see the rest. Is a Murphy bed a sofa bed? I assume so. Happy travelling!



    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2012 10:51 pm

      The cabins are small, but there are bigger ones for tall people. Mine’s cozy and I like it. Murphy beds fold out of the wall. Back on the train soon. Must run.


  3. Lily / Aug 19 2012 2:06 pm

    Hello Peggy dear…Peek-a-boo Poor John (Games people play on a train journey…hide and seek???)……Have Fun…You sure are taking a scenic route to South America lol x


    • leggypeggy / Aug 19 2012 10:51 pm

      The very scenic route. hahahaha
      And thoroughly enjoying it.


  4. Sy S. / Aug 20 2012 8:05 pm

    Hello Peggy,

    I Googled Toronto and was very surprised to read that it is the biggest city in Canada (& 5th most populated in North America, wow)… I have been there several times and have seen it grow in the past 40 years. Vancouver is one city I would love to visit some day, I tried for a year to get a job there and move, but with no luck. Both cities have a nice size Asian community (Asian markets) and for my love of Chinese cooking that would be a big interest to me.

    Great that you were able to get a real senior citizen bargain on the price of train trip across Canada, from Toronto to Vancouver. Enjoy the beautiful scenery as you go along…. and with some privacy in the small cabins, including a work space, very nice.

    For others, a Murphy bet is one that hangs (or is recessed into the wall and pulled down to open up… my brother has one in his room which he custom made (living in a NYC apartment, every space counts so the bed does not take up much room during the daytime). I in turn have a convertible couch in my bedroom, great during the daytime to sit and it opens up in the nighttime.

    Again, have fun touring Canada… I love trains and traveling (did so in Europe and Asia).


    Sy S.


    • leggypeggy / Aug 21 2012 3:36 am

      Thanks Sy, and thanks too for the stories and explanations. The train ride was excellent and the food was too. I’ll check out Chinatown while I’m in Vancouver. I was surprised by how little I saw in the way of Asian goods and ingredients in Toronto. Guess we were in the wrong market. That said, I’m going to post an item about the market we did visit. Stay tuned.


  5. Sy S. / Aug 21 2012 4:04 am

    Talking 20 years ago, Toronto had a fairly large Asian market area (food and gifts) and a second smaller one across town (If I recall). However, the diversity and quality of the vegetables was not as good as seen in NYC (in summer we get vegetables from New Jersey and in winter from Florida).
    My brother who visited San Francisco twice said when in Chinatown he could never see any Asian markets or restaurants (few) but many gift shops???!! (I have been their 30+ years ago and don’t recall). It would be interesting when you get to Vancouver and what you might discover in their Chinatown..

    Second, glad the train trip went well, hope to see some scenic shots…. happy eating in Vancouver.

    Sy S.


    • leggypeggy / Aug 24 2012 3:17 pm

      Thanks Sy! We’ve been busy tourists in Vancouver and Victoria—even made a trip to Chinatown, although not much Chinese there these days. There’s a wonderful garden in Vancouver’s. I’ll be doing an item on it soon. So much to tell, so little time. 🙂


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