I have returned home to Orlando after a wonderful trip. Although I was a little hesitant about traveling across Canada this time of year, I am very happy that I was convinced by several AU members that winter in Canada is wonderful.
Whoever mentioned that Winnipeg is called Winterpeg is absolutely correct. Everyone on the train referred to Winnipeg as such. I also learned that there is an intersection in downtown Winnipeg (Portage and Main – I think) that is considered the coldest/windiest place in Canada. I started walking toward that intersection, but did not get that far in -6F temperatures. However, going outside in that temperature, even for 5 minutes, was one of the highlights of my trip. Having lived in Florida all my life, below zero temperatures was something that I had never experienced. I enjoyed seeing lots and lots of snow, even though when I first saw snow out the window of the Maple Leaf in upstate New York, I thought it was sand!
(as with making wrong turns, I do not think Dave will let me live that one down)
I want to thank all of you that helped me make the decision to take this trip and helped me plan this trip. Rail Freak did a similar trip in November (from Florida also) and I was the beneficiary of his experiences. I think I read every trip report about Canada and every thread in the VIA forum, plus I PM’d a few people with additional questions. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
An extra bonus was meeting up with AlanB, Shanghai and Jis in New York and almost literally running into Anthony in Washington Union Station.
I took 8 different trains on this trip, and a lot could have gone wrong. There was a freight train derailment in Canada, there were coal trains in Iowa, there were bad signals in Pennsylvania, there was a broken axle on a sleeper car on the Silver Meteor, which was discovered in WAS – but I did not miss any connections (or any meals). I know that several AU members have had “trips from hell.” I would characterize my trip as a “trip from heaven.”
Here are a few comments about some of the trains:
The Canadian was fabulous – the food was great, the Park car was wonderful, the attendants were all professional and it was obvious that they enjoyed their jobs and were good at their jobs, the rooms were very clean, hearing the announcements in French (in addition to English) made the experience a bit more exotic, the passengers were friendly, etc. Because I traveled in the “winter,” the passenger load was less, there was more room in the Park Car, shorter walking distances from the dining car to the Park Car, passengers received more attention from the crew, and last but certainly not least, the fare was discounted to a point where I would call it inexpensive. It was strange walking between cars and seeing snow on the floor of the vestibules. Although, the temperature on the train was very comfortable, it was quite chilly in the vestibules.
The Amtrak trains were also comfortable temperature wise, except the last day in the lounge on the CZ, it was so cold that I wore three layers, a hat and gloves. Speaking of the CZ, my sleeping car attendant, Pete was the best I have had on any train.
Another positive – I thought I would gain 5 pounds on this trip (many desserts, not much exercise
) – I only gained 4 pounds, which I hope to take off in a month.