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Trip Report The Canadian - Toronto to Vancouver by Train - Part 1

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The Great Canadian Train Trip or Toronto to Vancouver and Back by Train

I finally have the time to organize my thoughts and do a proper trip report
about my journey on The Canadian to Vancouver.

The Beginning:
The Canadian leaves Union Station in Toronto 3 times a week at 10PM.

The Classes of Accommodation:

We were going "Sleeper" class which is definitely the way to go if you are going all the way to Vancouver.

The cheapest class is "dis"comfort or economy class - where you get a seat period.
I don't recommend this unless it really is the only thing you can afford.

Within "Sleeper" class you have a couple of choices.
From the cheapest to the most expensive:

Upper Berth - cheapest of the accommodations with the possibility of getting sleep
Lower Berth - my personal choice IF I was travelling alone. You get a window and probably the most comfortable bed on the train.
The berths are turned into comfortable large seats facing each other during the day. At At night the seats convert into a lower bed and an upper bed. The beds looked pretty comfortable and roomy BUT you do not get your own sink and toilet and have to use one
shared by the other berths. Heavy drapes shield the sleeping berth passenger from the hallway and provide a good degree of privacy.

Single person cabin.
During the day this is a tiny compartment with a comfortable chair and a toilet. It has a door so complete privacy can be achieved. At night it converts to a bed but the bed covers the toilet - so once converted, one cannot get at the toilet except with a good deal of difficulty. Of course at night you can always use the common toilet used by the berth people. Opinion: I liked these the least of all the sleeping accommodations. The idea of sleepiing over a toilet just did not appeal and some of the older ones seemed to have a sewage smell. Personally if I was travelling alone, I would just get a Lower berth. The bed was nicer and no nasty smells.

Two Person Cabin:
This is what we travelled in and it was fine for two people. During the day you had two lounge-type chairs. At night the bunk beds appeared from the wall and ceiling (really pretty amazing) and the chairs were folded and tucked under them. The headroom for
the bunk beds was excellent (MUCH better than on a cruiseship when the upper bunk is deployed). An adult can easily and comfortably sit upright. My husband actually had enough room in the upper bunk to do some yoga exercises. HOWEVER one should be aware that the cabins are small. When the bunk beds are deployed only one person can comfortably move around the cabin. The other must remain out of the way in his/her bunk. The private toilet is in a separate LITTLE room (unlike the single cabin we did NOTnotice any nasty smells). The sink is in the main part of the cabin. The closet is tiny. You can hang about 4-6 things. There is storage for SMALL suitcases above the bathroom cubicle. We had no problems getting a small suitcase and a backpack up there. However a large suitcase would never fit. There are also various hooks, and tiny storage areas in the cabin. Any extra luggage will be transported free-of- charge in the baggage car (You will have NO access to stored luggage - so bring what you cannot do without onto the train with you but bring ONLY what you will need for the trip).

Cabin for 3:
By train standards these are pretty roomy if only used by two people but they are more expensive. We glanced in one and it had two lounge chairs and a couch like seating area. If you are fine with the extra expense for two, this would be the way to go.
I think 3 people unless one of them were a child would find it crowded at night.

Cabin for 4:
Apparently it is also possible to open up two side by side double cabins and create one
large super cabin. I did not see one of these.

Opinions expressed by others about there cabins and the sleeper accommodation:
A few people seemed totally unprepared for the SMALLNESS of the cabins. (We heard someone say - "Where is the rest of the cabin?" ) However anyone who checked the Viarail website and actually considered the dimensions would have a pretty good idea what to expect.

Some people also seemed to expect private showers. There aren't any private showers on The Canadian. Each car has ONE shared shower used by all the sleeper passengers in that car. We found it to be quite adequate. It was a decent size, with a little anti-room for changing etc. The water pressure was actually a pleasant surprise - it was good BUT you have to press a button to get water.

The shower ritual:
1. Viarail supplies you with a shower kit in a plastic string bag that includes:
soap (good soap btw)
shampoo (also good)
a wash cloth
a bath sized towel
Your steward will re-supply you as many times as you need and can give you additional
towels if you need them.
2. undress in the small anti-room. There is a hook and a small seat here. There is
a waste disposal bin AND a bin for disposing of used towels and wash cloths .
3. If you are the first to use the shower in the morning, the water will be cold - REALLY cold until you run it to warm up.
4. To start water - push button. if it is warm enough jump in and get wet. If not let it run until it warms up - there is a dial for controlling the temp (middle gives you a nice hot but not scalding shower). The water will stop before you are rinsed off BUT you just push the button again to get more water. You can push the button as many times as you like but try not to waste. I would get wet, soap up while the water was off. Then push the button and rinse. If needed push button again to rinse more.
5. Dry off in the anti-room space.
6. Cleanup after yourself with your used towels
7. Dispose of used towel in bin.

Because the shower is down the hall, I recommend bringing along a housecoat (women) or bath robe or other easy to get on and off garmet and flip-flops for the shower.

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