[If you missed any of the previous days’ stories, you’ll find links to all the other articles at the end of this article.]
This adventure started ten days ago in Windsor, Ontario and I was looking forward to a week and a half of riding the rails and trails, utilizing my two most favorite “green” modes of transportation – trains and bikes.
The journey was fantastic. I certainly got to enjoy the beautiful scenery that covers the eastern side of Canada and I enjoyed passing the major miles (kilometers) on the train. Whether in business class or coach, every large window enjoys the identical scenery.
I want to thank VIA Rail for their help making this trip a reality. Their bike trains are a tremendous asset to their system. If you are vacationing anywhere in their Ontario to Quebec corridor, you should give them some serious consideration. There’s nothing better than getting off the train, jumping on your bike and passing those people waiting for a rental car or a taxi.
This was the best of both worlds for me. I got to bike around the cities I wanted and let VIA Rail cover the hundreds of kilometers in between. On every train ride, I had 110v power and great Wi-Fi connectivity (everywhere except Jonquiere) for my laptop; so I remained constantly in the groove writing articles and editing photos.
Waiting for the train, the stations also have Wi-Fi. Luckily they use the same network names for the trains and for the stations, so once you’ve logged in to one or the other, your computer should automatically log into all the rest. Genius.
I also really enjoyed the comfort of the Panorama lounges for those trips where I was traveling in business class. The brand new lounge in Toronto is just superb; but all the others were quite comfortable as well. For business travelers, it’s the very best way to stay productive during your wait.
Thanks to the SSA’s (Senior Service Assistant’s) who took such good care of the passengers, keeping us informed and fed while we traveled. They are similar to the flight attendants on an airline, and they do a great job.
And finally to the baggage handlers, thanks for taking care of my bike. With derailleurs, fenders and gears that could get knocked out of alignment, it never was a problem. My bike obviously enjoyed the same comfort on each trip that I did.
To the people of Canada – you were the best. From those patient people in Quebec who had to deal with my seriously flawed French to everyone else who I asked for directions, I really appreciated your help. You know, there’s something really friendly about hearing a quick, uplifting “Bonjour!” from just about everyone you meet.
Special thanks also go to the tourist bureaus of Quebec and Ottawa. On very short notice, they helped me secure accommodations near the train stations and helped with suggestions for bike routes and attractions to see. These organizations really have a handle on the needs of travelers and both maintain dynamite websites. If you are traveling in Quebec, check out www.bonjourquebec.com. In Ottawa, look for www.ottawatourism.ca.
For both the Tour of Montreal and the Mondial Beer Fest, who extended invitations to join them, thanks so much. Both were a blast.
So what did I learn?
On the negative side, I learned that I still pack too much for my own good. Using the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” can be, and in my case, was taking things too far. Too much heavy computer gear, too much photo gear, and too many bike repair tools. I could and should have taken 1/3 as much. Unfortunately I’ll probably never learn this lesson.
On the positive side, I learned that there are five cities in Canada that I have to come back to. From quaint neighborhoods, to fantastic bike paths, to historic sites, to great food; there’s no shortage of things to enjoy in each city. A week in each wouldn’t have been too much.
Thanks to you, my readers
If you’ve been following along this long, a big “thank you” to you. It’s been a fun journey, and I truly enjoyed sharing it with you. Now it’s time to wrap it up and head back home.
If you’ve done any rail and riding tours, please share with our other readers in the comments section below. We’d love to hear about your experiences.
Did you miss any of the other days of this Canadian VIA Rail bike adventure? The links are here if you did…