Monday, May 21, 2012

Trains, Toronto and Chelsea

I left Buffy’s place at about 7.30pm after a last minute search for my missing padlock, which we eventually found inside one of my other bags. We stopped on the way to the station at the same bar where we had spent Saturday afternoon on the rooftop patio, for dinner. Then it was just a 10 minute walk to the station, where we arrived with an hour spare before the train was due to leave. I have packed really light this time and when I weighed my bag I was really pleasantly surprised to see that it weighed less than 10kg.

I said goodbye to The Buffter and waited to board the train, but the time passed and nothing occurred until one of the staff came by eventually and told us that the train was stuck behind a goods train about 40 miles away and the good train had a fire in one of its containers, which meant that my train would be delayed further still.

The train eventually pulled into the station at about 0045 – about 2 hours and 15 minutes later than it should have actually left. Anyway, we waited another 40 minutes before we were called through to board, but I was awake enough to make sure I got to the train quickly and found a great seat at the end of the carriage, with no seat behind it, so that I could recline it all the way and get my head down to sleep. I lay there for ages before realising that we weren’t actually moving yet!! We actually left Winnipeg at just after 3am – a good 4 and a half hours later that scheduled. I felt sorry for the lady in the seat across the row as she was only travelling an hour away to the next stop, which she eventually arrived at nearly 5 hours late.

I slept ok during what was left of the night as I had two seats together and could put up the footrest and turn around so that my head rested on one of them and this gave me loads of room to spread out. We stopped continuously as we waited for other trains to come the opposite way and seemed to sit still more than actually move. At one point we stopped right beside a lovely little lake that was so clear the reflection on the water was stunning. I didn’t have a clue how late we were, until one of the staff came around and was asked by a passenger – it turns out that we were now only 3 hours behind time, so somewhere we made up over an hour. 

Early morning from the train

My home for two nights


Ugly bugar

Kids playing rounders

It all changed when we arrived at a tiny stop called Red Lake Road. It’s one of those tiny places that you pass through every hour or so over here and you have to actually book with a steward to get the train to stop there, which one passenger had done,. We stopped and waited while he got off and then for some reason we had a delay of about an hour, so we were all allowed to get off the train to stretch our legs. We boarded again and then for the next hour we didn’t seem to get to more than about 15mph, before stopping for a scheduled stop in Sioux Lookout a couple of hours later. We were now inexplicably 7 hours behind time and the 30 minute stop was reduced to 15, which meant that the queue in subway was too long to get served – I grabbed a sandwich back on the train, but as we left, there were shouts out as 3 separate people came sprinting out of subway carrying their lunch and watching helplessly as the train accelerated away. Luckily, this is Canada and the mile long train came to a stop after a few hundred yards and the sweating passengers clambered aboard again to their relief.

The rest of the day was stop-start- slow down for when pelicans, a bear and a bald eagle nest were spotted and generally try to make up as much time as possible.




Yep - a house boat - literally!

On Tornto Islands

I slept really well that night – better than I did when I paid for a bed on the train to Edmonton last month. It’s not bad really – this 2 night trip to Toronto cost me $101. That’s just over £65. Not bad at all. I woke up to another glorious sunny day and a wish that the windows on the train could be opened so that I could stick my head out and enjoy the cool breeze. We had another stop to drop off some passengers at Sudbury Junction, before setting off again. I checked the timetable and saw that we should have been in Sudbury at 1.17am. The time we left was 9.30am, so we are still over 8 hours behind time. No worries for me as I built in a few days rest in Toronto, in case I didn’t get sleep on the train, but some other people on here aren’t happy at all – especially the people who have just got on the train, having waited in a small metal shed for 8 hours for the train to turn up.

I have enjoyed it though – travelling further than the length of UK and passing only a handful of smallish towns – maybe 10,000 people at the largest and not much more. It proves just how big and empty this country mostly is.

On arrival in Toronto I noticed a difference immediately since I was last here. There are people! I was here between Christmas and New Year and it was dead. Shops and cafes closed and with it being freezing cold, nobody was out. Now though, it’s 20 odd degrees, sunny and warm. There are people everywhere I went enjoying the weather and loving every minute of it.

I went out of town first to see High Park – The dice decided and it chose well. It was a nice stroll around a cool park, including a little park zoo with Bison, Reindeer, sheep, llama, wallabies and what appeared to be a very tired, unhappy or dying emu. I also sat for a while watching a little league baseball game, which was fun for a few minutes but the game does tend to lag after a while. But it was a lovely evening sitting in the sunshine watching kids and their families enjoy themselves. I especially enjoyed it when a kid got hit by the baseball and his mum actually asked me if she was allowed to go onto the pitch to help – I don’t know woman!!

Friday was yet another nice day, so I took the ferry across to Toronto Islands – just a kilometre or so across the bay from the city in Lake Ontario. I spent a lovely day exploring the islands with their amusement park (closed – opens in June), lovely beaches (including a ‘clothes optional beach, full of fat old men of course!) and stunning houses. People actually live in the islands, with stunning views across the bay. I want to live there!! There is also a ‘Gibraltar Point’, just like the Gibraltar Point near to Skegness. I also found a haunted lighthouse and private harbour for boats (I managed to purposefully ‘miss’ the private sign and spent a nice hour or so wandering past the cool boats.) It was a beautiful day and a perfect spot to re-do the ‘Jump Toronto’, pics.

One thing I have noticed about myself whilst travelling is that I ALWAYS get asked directions. Three times today I have been asked – Where is the boat office? Is this the way to Wards Island and where is the ferry terminal!? I must have a face that looks at home everywhere or do I just look knowledgeable!? It’s weird. I have been asked by a local in Vietnam, Taxi drivers in Thailand and nearly every nationality in Australia. Maybe I should get a job giving directions to poor tourists!? Hmmm, there’s an idea.  

A really pissed off Emu


Haunted lighthouse at...

...Gibraltar point

How far!?


Saturday in a nutshell – Watched some glassblowing – cool. A bit of fire-eating too – not bad. Get out of the sun to protect my sunburn from yesterday – great idea. Ended up in the Football Factory pub, where the Champions league final was on, surrounded by Chelski and Munich fans – great afternoon. Chelsea won - not so good. (Most of the afternoon was spent in the company of a United fan, A Liverpool fan and an Arsenal fan, taking it in turns to rip the piss out of a strange but funny Chelsea supporter.) Cinema in the evening to see ‘The Dictator’, possibly the silliest and stupidest film ever– But brilliant!! Haahaa. All in all a good day!

Do you wanna live here!?

Glass blowing.

Fire breathing

Chelsea knobheads!!


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