I love taking the train. I would choose the train over the highway anytime. Of course, my preferred method of travel is a plane, to take me over the ocean and far away. That doesn’t happen as often as I like, given that I am knee-deep in child-rearing, business-building, and volunteer work.
These days, most of my travel is within Ontario and Quebec, and I love taking the train. Though VIA Rail is all quite modern (who needs tickets? My boarding pass is scanned from my iPhone) there is still an air of romance about train travel. Perhaps it is the beauty of the stone carvings in the soaring atrium of the main stations in downtown Montreal and Toronto. Perhaps it is the influence of watching movies like Some Like it Hot and From Russia with Love when I was a child. Perhaps it is the memories of a very charming voyage I experienced in Zimbabwe many years ago, taking an overnight train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. The carriages were old, with wood paneling, porcelain sinks, and brass fittings. I nestled in a bedroll in my berth and was lulled to sleep by the clickety clack of the rails, while watching setting sun cast its glow against baobab trees.
Sleeping is just one of the reasons I love riding VIA Rail. These are the reasons I love taking the train:
1. Business Class
From the cosy lounge with free bottles of water, to skimming by the people standing in line, then the lovely meal (with wine!) business class is the way to go. Without question.
Sadly VIA does have limits on its bandwidth, so don’t expect to watch Netflix or YouTube. However, it does allow for basic internet research and email, so time on the train can be spend productively.
Between listening to iTunes and typing away, the laptop battery drains faster than the train travels. Happily there are power plugs right next to the seat. At least, there is in business class.
No phone ringing. No child to wake me up. No snoring husband. Just the sweetness of a short uninterrupted nap.
As an introvert, I appreciate that on the train people tend to sit in little self contained bubbles. There is no expectation to socialize. Interaction is limited to friendly waves and greetings. The train is a lovely moving island of calm.
Yes, food. The food is actually pretty good. Not top shelf chef caliber, but not fast food either. There is always an interesting vegetarian option. And no dishes to clean up.
Taking the train is less stressful and more productive than driving anywhere along the 401. It still has charm, even without the wood panelling and brass fittings.