Railroading North America

05/ (to) Matapedia

Montreal to Halifax
VIA Rail Train ‘The Ocean’
Friday, October 24, 2008

I will go to Halifax on the evening train.

The train schedules decided it: Trains to Halifax run every day, both ways — except Tuesday. Spending a third night in Montreal would mean I arrive in Halifax Sunday and leave Noon Monday — or wait until Wednesday. I’m being stingy with my days. I only have 30 of them.

In Montreal

Montreal is freezing. I am perpetually either overdressed or underdressed. Several times I step outside into the freezing cold. It works.

I explore the city using a day pass on the metro. I figure sooner or later the metro will pop up from underground showing sections of the city. I ride nearly the entire route and even on the furthest reaches but it never does.

I find diverse neighborhoods and walk them: Vietnamese, old French architecture, a grocery store with Spanish food, and another stocked with heavily Kosher foods. Red peppers are a staggering $5 Canadian each; bananas are $1.50 a pound.

the-ocean-0140152I want a banana, but I refuse to pay that much. No banana for me. Returning to my hotel I find a banana sitting on my bed with chocolate. I consider placing the banana in the wall safe.

Instead, I eat it.

I find a Wal-Mart. The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper published in Toronto, is devoting an entire page today to how Wal-Mart pummels small communities. It is not especially unfriendly.

This Wal-Mart is cleaner than most, but they only have black and gray briefs. I buy them, but this does not please me until I look in a mirror, turning this way and that.

As for Wal-Mart: I bought Wal-Mart stock after I got mad at them a long time ago. I attended their annual meetings to find out what was up with these guys and ended owning a lot of shares because it split/ split and split. Now it has gone up/up and up. I sure showed them.

The Canadian Looney
On Tuesday I received $60 Canadian for my $50 American greenback — a day later I receive more than $62. The local newspapers are stunned by the collapse of the Canadian dollar (“the looney”) which in recent months was worth $1.20 American and is now down to 80-cents. Canadian companies are being wiped out. Americans have not felt rich abroad since the 20th century.

If this keeps up I can afford Canadian bananas.

VIA Rail Canada’s Salon Panorama Lounge
I plan to spend my afternoon in Montreal exploring the city after dumping my baggage. The VIA Rail baggage suggests I check my stuff through to Halifax so I do. As soon as my bag is gone down the chute, I remember why I had intended to keep that bag with me: my toothbrush, a change of clothing, my Michelin guide to Canada, all gone to Halifax without me.

I spy the VIA Rail “Salon Panorama Lounge” and brighten up.
This looks just like a moocher’s oasis: Free Internet? Free food? Well, no. But …

Soon I am happily curled up in a corner with a latte, and with plugs in the wall for my computer and phone. Moreover, there are televisions everywhere so I can keep up on the news: I am losing my ass in the American stock market again today.

(Photograph, The ‘Salon Panorama Lounge’ in Montreal’s Gare Centrale for First Class VIA Rail Canada passengers).



  1. you went all the way out to Halifax and back???can hardly wait to read more and go there myself ///by train!!!writing in the dark

    Comment by Jeanie...your older sister — November 30, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  2. you went all the way out to Halifax and back???can hardly wait to read more and go there myself ///by train!!!writing in the dark….ooooops ..your b log said I said this twice…maybe clicked before I was finished…

    Comment by Jeanie...your older sister — November 30, 2008 @ 7:56 pm

  3. If this keeps up I can afford Canadian bananas. AAAAHAHhHHAHAHA

    Comment by Edward Betz — April 5, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

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