This is unofficially my year of the train. After travelling up the west coast from San Francisco to Portland to Seattle to Vancouver with Amtrak, then taking VIA Rail’s Canadian from Vancouver to Winnipeg to Ottawa, I’ve found that train travel is awesome as long as you have some time to spare. Or perhaps you view the travel time from point A to point B as part of the adventure, in which case the train is fabulous; the scenery is much more interesting by train than by plane.
We took the train from Ottawa to Quebec City via Montreal, which is about 6 hours in total of travel time. For comparison, it would take a comparable amount of time to drive (when driving at the speed limit) and the plane would take less than two hours of travel time (but let’s not forget the hours required to get to the airport, go through security, wait to board and take-off, etc.). There was a transfer at Montreal station, which is located in the heart of downtown. The station is the nicest one I’ve been in so far and I saw my fair share this past year. There is also an extensive food court with a fair amount of variety in offerings and seems to be frequented by folks working downtown.
The trains between Ottawa and Montreal and Montreal and Quebec city are quite comfortable, even in Economy class. I actually thought we were accidentally walking into the business class car because the seats looked so nice and there was so much leg space but nope, we were reassured that this is Economy. Makes me wonder what Business class is like.
Gare du Palais (train station) in Quebec city is beautiful and resembles a chateau, much like the nearby Chateau Frontenac.
The inside of the station is fairly small and although it has some charm to it, it is fairly dark inside.
This is the last train trip for this year but after travelling well over 5000km in Canada by train, not to mention a good portion of the US west coast, I have to say I am now a fan of North American train travel. I still have to ride The Ocean, which is the VIA Rail train that travels between Montreal and Halifax, to complete my transcontinental train ride…perhaps next year!