[If you missed any of the previous or subsequent articles in this series, there’s a list of all the articles with hyperlinks here at the end of Day Ten.]

Day three is starting on a very rainy note, and it doesn’t appear that it’s going to get any better as I go north to Ottawa.

I spent the night last night at Canadiana Backpackers Inn – just a short ride from the Toronto train station.  They were voted best hostel in North America some years ago, so I was eager to see what it was all about.


Canadiana Backpackers Inn

The staff was super friendly and helpful, and everyone there seemed to be having a great time. Spoke to a girl named Sue, who had just gotten back from the hostel sponsored trip to Niagara Falls the day before. They went to the falls and three or four other sites, including a stop at a winery for ice wine tasting and it was only $55 for the entire day, including transportation.

Met some other recent college grads from Ireland that were taking a few months to see the world before getting into that drag called a career.  Looked like they were going to pick up some part-time work while they are here to enable them to lengthen their stay.

Back on the train

Caught the #54  VIA Rail bike train  (1-888-VIA-RAIL)  to Ottawa. It’s  just slightly less than a  five hour trip. Fortunately, I was in one of their Renaissance cars for this leg, in business class, so I had a great big fold down tabletop to pull my computer on.  With their free WI-Fi, I was able to check emails and crank out some more stories, not losing a moment’s time.

If you can arrange it, business class is the way to go.  Instead of having to purchase your meals or snacks, your meals are included…and mighty tasty. No, its not the Ritz, but you do get nice white linen napkins and a choice of three entrees, two wines and mixed drinks. The servers are really great, and somehow keep track of who’s coming and going at each stop.

One of the other big advantages of going business class is the privilege of using the VIA Rail Panorama lounge while waiting for your train.  In each of the larger stations, you find really comfortable seating and liquid refreshments, just help yourself. Train departures are announced over the PA so you don’t need to keep checking the boards.


Panorama Lounge at Toronto Union Station

Panorama Lounge at Toronto Union Station (courtesy of VIA Rail)

In the Toronto Station, the club was a former fine dining restaurant, so it’s really quite upscale and spacious. It was just opened on May 24th, 2012 at a renovation cost of $4.2 million.  That’s just the first part of an ambitious $640 million project to revitalize Union Station in Toronto.

Arriving in Ottawa

I had arranged to do a 20 km bike loop around the western part of the city when I arrived today, but the weather really was lousy.  Despite all the work I got done on the train, there were still other stories to crank out, so I opted to stay in the hotel and pray for drier weather the next day.

I’m staying at the relatively new Marriott Courtyard Ottawa East (1-855-333-6896) tonight, just about 1,000 meters from the train station – if you were a bird. Unfortunately a highway separates the two, so it’s really about 3 kms. in real travel distance.  This is a wonderfully bike friendly hotel attached to a convention center.


The newly opened Courtyard Ottawa East

Courtyard allows you to take bikes to your room and the elevators are conveniently large enough so you don’t need to stand your bike up on its back wheel to get the door closed.

The rooms are also quite spacious, so having a bike in your room doesn’t make you feel cramped.  Add fast wi-fi or wired Internet in your room and this is somewhere I’d gladly come back to .

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I attend the big Capital VeloFest  on the front lawn of Ottawa City Hall. This is a very bike friendly town. With over 300 kms. of bikepaths, you can travel almost anywhere and find one.

Continue on to Day Four

Also published on Medium.