Railroading North America

05/ (to) Matapedia

DAY 5
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.

Wal-Mart
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).

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3 Comments »

  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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