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Trip Report My Trip on VIA Rail's Ocean from Montreal-Halifax

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For those who enjoy long-distance rail travel, I highly recommend VIA Rail's the Ocean from Montreal to Halifax. The journey takes about 20 hours given no delays, so I'd recommend it to people only who have the time and personality to take it slow and enjoy the scenery.

The views from the Dome Car with its panoramic views were often superb. In the early part of the journey, the view leaving the city of Montreal is always a treat (one I never seem to tire of), and the close-up view of Mont St.-Hilaire was quite pretty. It was good to see people out and about enjoying the pleasant spring evening strolling in Drummondville and roller-bladding along the river in Saint-Hyacinthe.

Unfortunately, I had trouble sleeping on the way there (my excitement coupled with coffee and the lurching of the train made it difficult; I slept much better on the way back). Daylight hit arriving at the stark rolling hills (grass brown, trees not budded and even still some snow on the ground on May 17) in Amqui,QC; quite a sight early in the morning. Once crossed into New Brunswick, the views of la Baie des Chaleurs with the opposite shore of Gaspe in the backdrop made for quite a spectacular hour of journey. While the trip from Bathurst to Miramichi to Moncton was relatively uninteresting scenically, I was glad for the opportunity to see those towns. The terrain really varies dramatically going into NS, from the flats and pastoral setting near Sackville, NB and Amherst to the rolling pristine, uninhabited forests of the region from Amherst and Truro. Spectacular in beauty was the last portion of the trip with the five lakes (almost unspoilt with development) approaching Halifax and the awesome Bedford Basin going into the city.

The dining car on this trip served a delicious fish chowder and salmon/chicken/beef main course. The tablecloths, china and starch-collar/bowtied waiter all made for a surprisingly romantic, elegant ambience.

I wouldn't recommend this trip to everybody, but if you enjoy trains, gorgeous scenery and have the time (and aren't the impatient type), it's one of the most personally-enriching trips I've taken in quite some time. The beds are quite comfortable, a shower is available (towel, shower kit provider), films are shown, complimentary continental breakfast is provided.

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