Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Vacation -The Glorious Train

Gaius and I have travelled a lot this year; it was nice to have Ian along with us. During the July, VIA rail has been offering free trips for current serving members of the military and veterans and 50% off trips for their families. We had planned to stay put in Dredmonton all summer due to finances but we couldn't pass up the awesome deal. Thank you VIA rail for making an amazing family vacation possible.VIA Rail's current advertising describes the train as "the more human way to travel", I find I must agree with them. The plane is merely efficient and the bus is cheap, the train feels like traveling in style (even if your going coach).

The trip took 28 hours and had to sleep sitting up because the deal was only available for coach (no bed) but we were afforded a family seat (4 seats set up like a pod) so G had a bed of sorts. The scenery was beautiful and we saw wildlife without that rush of panic that comes with seeing wildlife on the highway. The aisles were wide and G could play in them without being too much of a nuisance and the observation car was a welcome distraction every few hours.
Being a health conscious and somewhat frugal foodie I packed a whole bag full of healthy snacks and beverages for us with the plan of eating dinner on the train. I was expecting the food to be expensive given that we were captive on the train with no other choice of where to go. We reserved for the first sitting and found it interesting that since the dining room is so small they stick strangers at tables together.

The menu was small but the most expensive entree was $11.50. We both chose the pot roast, it was flavourful, tender and a good sized portion. The wine selection was a disappointing red or white but the lemon cake for desert made up for it. Since we unexpectedly had a cheap dinner we decided to have breakfast which was, again inexpensive & good. My only breakfast complaint was that maple syrup was advertised on the menu but we were served table syrup.

I am sure the dining car in the Blue and Silver classes is much fancier and I had thought we could choose which dining car we would like to eat in but coach people aren't allowed to go into the Blue and Silver class cars. Being that people from Blue and Silver were welcome to walk through coach, it made me feel a bit second class.

The train was indeed the more human way to travel. The train environment has a comfortable social aspect and the opportunity to stretch out comfortably and read a book. The plane would have gotten us there in 2.5 hours, we could have driven in 12 but we wouldn't have had the same experience meeting people, feeling relaxed and eating good food.

With the hope that VIA will offer the same deal next year we are already thinking of where we would like to go next July. If you have the extra time to take the train I highly recommend it as a travel option. I felt like I was on vacation the moment I was on the train; a nice change.


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