Tag Archives: Toronto

The Train Journey To End All Train Journeys

*Backdated to early August, 2012*

This is the story of 90 hours on a train. That’s 5,400 minutes, or 324,000 seconds. On a train.

After three months travelling east to west across Canada, I thought it would be a novel idea to take the four day train trip from Vancouver back home to Toronto as I’d flown from Montreal to Calgary on the way across. (If that string of cities made no geographical sense to you, see map below.)

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I was also short on coin and VIA Rail was offering 70% off selected trips (these Express Deals run year-round, a good option if you’re flexible with travel dates). I booked economy (no bed, no meals) from Vancouver to Winnipeg, and a sleeper car from Winnipeg to Toronto (four nights sleeping in a seat is too much!). This normally would have cost an exorbitant $1000, but I managed to get it for around $300. Steal!

I was really looking forward to the trip – taking in all the scenery, reflecting on a summer travelling, and catching up on a whole heap of emailing, blogging and Weeds (I’d just started watching it and had six seasons to get through).

But half an hour after boarding, disaster struck.

Me: “Excuse me, I can’t seem to connect to the internet.”

Staff member: “That’s because there is none.”

Me (slightly panicked): “For the whole trip?”

Staff member: “For the whole trip. The only WIFI we offer is between Toronto and Montreal.” (Which I’d known about and hence assumed all services had it. If you’re reading this VIA Rail, whyyyyyyyy??!!!!!)

Things went downhill over the next 24 hours:

1) Boarded at 8pm, ate all food supplies by 10pm

2) 11pm, finished the only book I’d brought (Angela’s Ashes, already 3/4 read)

3) Had worst night’s sleep trying to get comfortable lying across four seats, and trying to drown out the constant snoring and farting of other passengers

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4) Woke at 6am convinced that we were in Alberta already as all I could see out the window was farmland. Turns out, we were only in Kamloops, BC. In 10 hours  we had travelled the equivalent of a 3.5 hour drive! It was then I realised this was going to be a looooooooooong trip.

But later that day, a shining beacon of light arrived in the form of the Rockies. This stunning scenery kept me entertained for hours as I alternated between my seat and the glass-roofed dome cart.

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After two days and nights in economy, even nice scenery isn’t enough to make you feel human. I had turned into a grotesque version of myself: smelly, covered in mozzie bites that I’d scratched the crap out of through boredom, left eye all puffy and closing up (to this day, I still can’t explain that), leggings falling apart (I’d refused to throw them out until I got home)…my only consolation was that I only had another 12 hours until I was out of economy.

In the meantime, there was Saskatchewan and Manitoba. That is, flat plain after flat plain.

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When I finally changed to a sleeper car in Winnipeg, I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me – bed, shower, three meals a day! I still didn’t have anything to do (I’d already resorted to plucking my eyebrows and editing all my photos) but at least I could sleep.

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Things got exciting as we headed into Ontario. Not only was the scenery interesting again but we were in my home province – surely that meant we were on the home stretch?!

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But alas, it was still a whole 24 hours before we would reach Toronto. (I hadn’t actually realised until that moment how big Ontario actually is – check back to the map and see for yourself!)

Ninety hours later, I made it back to Toronto – albeit a little weary, a little stir-crazy, and severely internet-deprived.

…But recovery time was brief, the next day I headed to Montreal for Osheaga 2012.

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Yonge St 10K: The Highs and Lows of Race Day

6.00 am: Alarm goes off. URRRGGHHHH. Hit snooze.

6.10 am: Alarm goes off. URRRGGHHHH. Hit snooze.

6.20 am: Drag myself out of bed but immediately regret my decision. Why did I sign up for this race?!

6.25 am: Weather check. 4 degrees outside, feels like -2. Further debate the merits of  going back to my warm, cozy bed.

6.26 am: Relieved to see that the expected high is 14 degrees, with a little sunshine and no rain. Perfect running weather! Riding on the (slight) high of hitting the weather jackpot, I start to warm up to the idea of doing the race.

7.30 am: Feeling uber-organized after I make it to the College streetcar on time. It’s a sign, I CAN do this!

7.40 am: See other runners as I get off at Yonge and College. Phew, I’m in the right spot for the bus to start line!

7.50 am: Streetcar driver comes past and tells us we’re all waiting in the wrong spot!  Trudge up to Bay St.

8.25 am: Arrive at the start line and mingle among the sea of ugly race shirts (pumpkin orange, really?!)

8.35 am: Random guy comes up to me and says “Good morning, Elissa.” I stare at him in panic, my mind racing to figure out how I must know him. Then I realize…

8.40 am: Hand sanitizer in the portable toilets smells like tequila. Almost vomit.

8.45 am: Get herded into my race corral. Nerves are setting in, I don’t want to do this!!!

9.06 am: Race starts! Crank “Jump Around” on my iPod and set off down Yonge St.

9.12 am:  1 km down and feeling good. I zoom past someone (they’re walking, but it still counts!).

9.15 am: First hill. Still finding my rhythm, it’s a struggle.

9.20 am: 3 km Gatorade stop, alllrriiiiiigghhht.

9.25 am: Side stitch- oouuuucchh!

9.38 am: The morale-boosting halfway point! I keep the spring in my step with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and an easy downhill stretch from Bloor to College.

9.45 am: The spring in my step is now akin to a tangled slinky. I’m fading fast and dying for the next drink stop.

9.48 am: I hit the 7 km drink station. Bolstered by the refreshment, I crank up the “Journey” and settle in for the last 3 km.

9.51 am: See the ACTUAL 7 km road marker – nooooooo! 3 km to go – again!

10.04 am: Where is that [insert expletive] 8km marker?!!! I can’t be running that slow…..can I?!  I can’t bear the thought of still having over 2 km left to run. Frantically search iPod for a song to help me focus. “Eye of the Tiger”- that’ll do it!!

10.07 am: Confirmation that I missed the 8km marker – 9 km sign up ahead!! I pick up the pace, the end is in sight!

10.11 am: I see the finish line, decide to sprint it out.

45 seconds later: AmIThereYet, AmIThereYet, AmIThereYet, AmIThereYet, AmIThereYet, AmIThereYet…

10.12.21 am: CROSS THE FINISH LINE, PAIN OVER!

10.20 am: Meet up with my friend. He did the run in 53 minutes without training. Hate him a little bit. (Matt, if you’re reading this, it lasted 1 minute, tops!).  Our excitement heightens when we spot what we’ve been eagerly waiting for…

10.30 am: Free beer!

10.35am: Free yogurt!

10.40 am: Free bagel!

10.45 am: Talk my way into a second free beer!

11.30 am: Free coffee!

12.00 pm: Eggs Benny

12.00 am: Sleeping like a baby

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