I’m determined to not leave any gaps when blogging about what we were up to and when. Blogging has opened my eyes to how quickly memory can drain away; every evening my mind is filled with the events of that day, but sleep takes away the finer details that made the day special. I need to be stricter with myself when it comes to blogging, because I’m now writing about these days over a week later and I honestly can’t remember a whole lot about each day.
We were very sorry to leave Halifax, but the train we needed to get only leaves twice a week. We got on the train and settled down for our longest journey yet – 27 hours! The idea of travelling for that long in the UK is unthinkable. You could easily travel the whole width of the country twice in that time, and would be the most sore and irritable person alive once the journey was over. Seeing as Canada could eat the UK and the average UK resident uses a whopping 70.52% less oil in a year than a Canadian, their trains are much better equipped and far more comfortable. First of all, your seat has what we call LEG ROOM (take that as a passive aggressive dig Arrive Trains Wales), and the seats recline back to the point where you’re half-way between a seat and a single bed. It’s not the comfiest sleep in the world, but it is possible to get a few hours of shut eye. Secondly, you can spend your time in a few different carriages, even if you only have an economy ticket, as they have WiFi zone carriages which consist of a basic lounge for you to use your laptop in. If you want to, you can do what me and Dan did and stride through the sleeper carriages as if you belong there and end up in the observation deck, which allows you to see the surroundings your travelling through a glass roof. All of that and the trains themselves look bad-ass, as if no storm or snow fall could slow them down.
It turned out that our longest journey became even longer. About two hours before the end, a lady spoke over the tannoy in a very resigned way, telling us that we may expect a half hour delay due to a technical fault on the train. That half hour came and went, along with another two hours. By the end of it, you could just hear heavy breathing over the speakers before the lady spoke again, apologising profusely for the delay to our day. If ever I felt annoyed during my journey, it was quickly thwarted with an urge to give this woman a hug and tell her it will all be okay.
I’ve experienced a similar delay before in the UK, where elderly people were having to stand due to a lack of seats and refunds only being offered after the delay reached four hours. Here, they started coming round with tea, coffee and snacks after one and waved away any money people offered. We ended up arriving in Toronto about three hours after we should have, making this journey a 30 hour journey, but I still believe Via Rail is a pretty great company.
This bit is going to be a little boring as we didn’t do much. The highlight was meeting the Canadians we met in Iceland again for food. They took us to a place called Rol San, which sold some of the nicest Chinese food I’ve ever had. We had stuff wrapped up in seaweed, stuff in bamboo steamer things, chopsticks – the whole shebang, and it was all delicious! Not to be critical though, but Chinese cuisine does not lend itself to the best desserts. This dessert was black grit, wrapped in something marshmallowish and rolled in poppy seeds. The best bit about this meal, is every table is lined with at least a hundred layers of plastic table cloth. They do this, so that when you are done eating and drinking, a waiter comes over and puts everything into the middle of the table (including glasses full of liquid), wraps them in the top layer of tablecloth and just walks away with it. Efficient right?!
Where we stayed during our third stint in Toronto made me feel homesick. This time the pang was for my old home in Cwmbran. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate living there, I just didn’t love the place either so missing there came as a surprise. The two places we stayed in varied amazingly in terms of quality, as one was incredibly grand and the other was very basic, but they both had a very clinical feel to them, as if we were staying the night at a dentists instead of a home. Something about empty kitchen cabinets depresses me, and these places took it to a new level, with empty, barely-used furniture everywhere. No one really lived in these places and there was no love for anything there.
We made ourselves busy in the days by visiting what was left in the ‘top ten things to see in Toronto’ and spending time in gaming cafes which are everywhere there! I’ve already mentioned Snakes and Lattes, but that place really is an awesome way to kill a few hours, and there’s several arcade gaming bars to go to as well. Needless to say Dan was entertained anyway! We’ve both noticed that we could do with eating a little healthier, so we decided to check out a place called ‘Live Organic Food Bar’. I admire and respect vegans for their food choices, but any time I’ve spoken to a vegan I’ve found that they’re so keen to tell me how amazing vegan food is to the point where I no longer believe them.
I think the general consensus was that we liked it a fair amount. And we did feel better in ourselves for a little while before the beans took affect.
The last place we stayed in (which was actually much nicer than the other two and killed my homesickness) was very near Casa Loma. Situated next to the Spadina family home (pictured right) and built during 1911 and 1914, Casa Loma was the home to one of the most well-known millionaires, Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. It took over 300 workers and $3.5 million to complete, with 98 rooms and an oven large enough to cook an Ox. There’s also a variety of multi function rooms, including secret passageways, bowling alleys and rooms that are used frequently for weddings.
We didn’t see any of that, because of the lack of coat rooms for our bags and the hefty $25+ charge just to enter the building. You were beautiful, but you can also bugger off Casa Loma.
This last one is just a bit of an add on as an extra justification (to myself mainly) as to why we haven’t done the most extra-ordinary things in the last few days. I developed a cyst/boil on my chest which grew to the size of a golf ball pretty quickly. After as many home remedies as the internet could muster, it turned out that the only cure was a $60 trip to the doctor, with a $40 prescription for anti-biotics. We don’t have all the room in the world for these kind of splurges, but a mini op in that area could have escalated to $700, so we’re taking it as a win!
Just to finish this blog off, I did manage to find my favourite spot in Toronto.