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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Saturday, 31 May 2003
Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia --> on The Ocean train westbound

Wade and Jean had joined in a community fair and they were running out of time this morning. After I woke up I had a quick breakfast with a bowl of cereal and got all my freshly cleaned clothing in my pack.


For on my upcoming trip Jean made some chicken sandwiches and put them in the bag with all the other provisions. What will people think about that guy with all that food, drinks and snacks!

I hugged Jean goodbye. She was really sad that I was going to leave Nova Scotia today. And then, around 10 am Wade drove me to the bus stop on Cobequid Road. He gave me a few dollars of change to get on bus 80 to Spring Garden road in Halifax, a few blocks away from the train station. I thanked him for his help, even though our meeting-up felt so short.

For a European it will always be strange to see how this train station is so tucked away in the city. I mean, I had to get off my bus four blocks away from the train station, in my town every possible bus has a stop at the bus station.

But then again I have to see it a different way: The Netherlands doesn't have a population of 1,2 million people, like the province Nova Scotia. And there you also have the reason to take a train for long distances only. There is not much between all these few stations.

At the station I checked in with the code that was emailed to me by the general sales agents at VIA Rail, who proudly sponsors my train transport - all the way from Halifax to Vancouver.

VIA Rail is good! VIA Rail is great! VIA Rail is the best!
Hehehe...

I boarded the train named The Ocean at 12.15 pm. You have to imagine yourself a very long train, because I was in car number 22. And I got myself a single bed room in the Easterly Class on board!

The Easterly Class takes its name from the soft, freshening breeze that blows in from the ocean. My VIA Rail brochure says:

"The Easterly accommodation is a perfect introduction to the warmth and friendliness you can expect all the way, in the cosy ambiance of a Bed & Breakfast."

That was really cool. It had a soft couch next to the window and after a closer look I noticed I had a (covered) toilet right in front of me and a fold-out sink in the wall. A plastic bag contained soap and towels for the shower on the hallway.

At the back of the couch is a handle to fold down the couch and pull down the side wall. A mattress appeared with soft blankets and a comfy pillow. I think I can stretch out all the way on that one!

It was all way too cool! I loved it! This is my room for the night!

However I had to get used to the idea of pulling down my pants and flushing the toilet in the same little place. It's kind of unusual and weird to 'send a message' while blossoming nature is flashing by on the other side of the window.

Now I ask: who is the one that is flashing?

Canadian trains are not built for speedy transport; they are built for the ultimate comfort. And that's probably because of that lack of speed again; the train hardly accelerated to over 60km/hr.

But what do passengers get for that in return? This enormous comfy and well-off train. I had a walk around (or I should say: up and down) and noticed a fancy dining car with people ready to serve me and ended up in the lounge where I walked up the stairs to the Scenic Dome. This is where you can sit above the train and look at 360 degrees of natural surroundings.

I still wondered where all the people were. There was one man watching television in the relaxation room (with free magazines and Harry Potter playing on the TV) and only one woman was enjoying the scenery in the dome. The dining room was announced open for lunch, though nobody was eating there.

I guess they all thought the same thing as I did. Back to my little comfy room. I think people like to be locked up in small compartments in a VIA Rail train.

That brochure even said: "You may wish, for once, that getting there took longer." I don't know about that, I don't want to disappoint that hostess of mine that will await me tomorrow morning!

While Nova Scotia was exchanged for the scenery of New Brunswick I read the National Post, the Globe & Mail, MacLean's magazine, Time, Newsweek and etcetera. I think I just caught up with all the things that are happening in the world.

And I had enough time to work on my laptop and catch up in some previous report writings.

I was amazed on how fast the time was going. Before I knew it was 6 o'clock and then again it was suddenly getting dark outside and becoming 9.30 when the train reached Campbellton, the last town of New Brunswick. It was Bonjour Quebec and I could take one hour of my clocks for a different time zone again.

I had enough to eat with the bananas and oranges and fruit juices that Wade and Jean had provided me with, so I was not going to starve on this train.

After the stop in Campbellton I had another walk through the cars and discovered a lively place in the Moural Lounge, or as they call the television car. Some movie about a master of disguise was playing on the screen and in the back people were playing cards and having fun.

Around midnight I decided to head back to my loft and unfold that bed of mine.

Good night Ocean train!

Ramon