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Toronto-Montreal-Quebec via rail in winter?

Toronto-Montreal-Quebec via rail in winter?

Sep 30th, 2007, 01:03 PM
  #1  
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Toronto-Montreal-Quebec via rail in winter?

The girlfriend(loves the cold) and I are planning a trip through Ontario next March. We're planning on flying into Toronto, spending 2-3 days there and then hopping on the rail to hit niagra falls, montreal and Quebec city over about 9 days. We have one night already planned at the ice hotel (brrhh). What I'm wondering is do we have enough time? Are there any small towns along the way that we should stop at in addition or instead? and are we limited in "things to do" because of the time of year? any suggestions are very appreciated. thx
aszatkowski is offline  
Sep 30th, 2007, 03:30 PM
  #2  
BAK
 
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First of all, you'll have lots to do.

FRom Toronto, Niagara Falls can be an easy day trip; many people think the bus is better than the train. More trips per day, and better chance of being on time, especially on the NF-Toronto run. (Gets slowed by customs sometimes more than others)

I prefer driving, even int he winter, and I'm a believer that Toronto - Ottawa - Montreal beats Toronto - Montreal - Quebec City.

Regardless, you can use VIA for Toronto - Ottawa - Montreal easily enough.

Small towns? It all depends. I did a book on walking tours of small towns, and Picton, Smiths Falls, and Merrickville were in the book and between Toronto and Montreal. And Kingston has a lot to recommend it for a day, or even for just a few hours if you choose to rent a car and drive from Toronto to either Montreal or Ottawa.

BAK
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Sep 30th, 2007, 04:37 PM
  #3  
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thanks BAK. Sounds like the bus for Niagra is a better option.

Normally we would consider driving but I think we'll save some money and time doing the train. We're thinking about doing the 10-day Corridor pass so we can hop on and off as we like.

I'll take a look at Kingston and some of the other small towns you mentioned. I'd love to stop in Ottawa too, but haven't had the chance to look it up to see what to do.

My one "must do" this trip is catch a hockey game. Even if it's a minor league team.
aszatkowski is offline  
Sep 30th, 2007, 06:24 PM
  #4  
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The problem is that the train doesn't go to the most interesting small towns. But it does stop in Kingston, and you could grab a taxi to downtown, spend a couple of hours, and then catch another train. Kingston serves both the Toronto - Ottawa route and the Toronto - Montreal route.

I've taken the train to and from Toronto - Montreal at least a hundred times, giove or take -- I used to get a ride to Kingston fairly often, too.

BAK
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Sep 30th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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train gets slowed by customs - last time I looked naigara falls was in canada - yes there is a portion in the US but doesn't compare in size to canadian and leaving from Toronto you would be in Canada would you not?
geosand is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 07:04 AM
  #6  
 
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If you're interested in small towns and you're going to Niagara Falls anyway, you might want to spend a couple of days in the area and also visit nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, a lovely historic town with lots of little shops, cafes and restaurants. The Niagara area is also one of the major wine regions of Canada if that interests you - winery tours and tastings (I believe bus tours are offered, don't know about seasonality of them). Some of the wineries offer fine dining, several with views overlooking the countryside.

Ottawa is known for it's many good museums, the scenic setting of the Canadian Parliament Buildings overlooking the Ottawa River, and the Byward Market area of shops and restaurants. But, your 9 days will already be pretty full between Toronto, Niagara, Montreal and Quebec City. And whether you will feel limited in things to do depends on whether you like outdoorsy activities and festivals, which of course are very limited at that time of year. Skiing is popular, downhill at the ski resorts, and cross country in some of the provincial parks (which can be quite scenic in winter if there's a good covering of fresh snow and you don't mind bundling up). If you make it to Ottawa, skating on the Rideau Canal is a famous winter activity.
mat106 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 07:33 AM
  #7  
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thanks mat106! I've heard good things about NOTL and would probably rather spend more time there rather than at the falls. Hopefully it's easy to get to without a car.skating on the canal in Ottawa sounds good too. I've already accepted the fact that it's gonna be cold, so bundling up is no problem. i originally wanted to take a cruise on the water, but felt it might be too painfully cold.
aszatkowski is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 11:11 AM
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Here's my 2 cents worth...i live in between the Falls and Toronto.
I'd suggest taking a taxi to your hotel in downtown Toronto. Explore Toronto by foot (subway/taxi). March weather is not as frigid as Jan/Feb, but you never know.
Then for Niagara, i'd rent a car. The drive is EASY. It's about 90 minutes from Toronto to the Falls. Niagara Falls is very touristy and, in my opinion, once you see the Falls there's not a whole lot left. The Falls are awesome in the Winter. Go late afternoon when you can see them during the daylight, have dinner and go back when the coloured spotlights are on. Clifton Hill is a block away from the falls and has wax museums and Rippley's, etc. Kind of dumpy IMO.

Niagara on the Lake (NOTL) is a neat little town that you could spend a few hours at. There are some nice hotels and B&B there and it's a short drive to the falls along a scenic route (20 mins or so). A full day in NOTL and one night would be enough i think. There are lots of wineries in the region if you like that.
From Niagara i would suggest either dropping the car in Toronto and taking the train, or keep the car and head to Kingston or Ottawa.

Depending on what train you catch you don't save huge amounts of time over driving and cannot stop along the way. Kingston's waterfront is not far from the 401 Highway and not as much of a diversion as Ottawa would be en route to Montreal.

Visit Old Montreal for a throw back in time.
Quebec City is beuatiful as well. Go the the Chateua Frontenac for a ride down the Ice Slide.

Hockey: you may be able to catch a game in Toronto. The Marlies play at an arena at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) about a 10 minute cab ride from downtown. Tickets should be easy to get.

www.torontomarlies.com

If you get pressed for time, i would make Niagara Falls and NOTL a day trip from Toronto. Leave at 8am, you'll be in NOTL for a late breakfast (lots of places to choose from). Roam the main street (which is really the main attraction and only about 200 yards long), then go the to falls in the afternoon have dinner. Leave at 8 pm and you're at your hotel by 10 easily.

Understand that Canada's rail system is not like Europe's. Renting a car for $40 for the day provides way more flexibility than train or bus.

Book your hotels. School Break is the second week of March so some cities get booked up, others less so.

Have a great trip!
MrFun is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 05:26 AM
  #9  
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wow, thanks for all the suggestions. Especially the heads up on the school break.The Marlies game looks perfect and I think we'll take the advice and get a car to Niagara.
aszatkowski is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 12:05 PM
  #10  
 
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Hotel suggestion for downtown Toronto: Holiday Inn on King (on King Street). Easy to get to. In the theatre district, close to the CN Tower, great restaurants, 10 minutes to where the Marlies play (take a taxi), the SkyDome(now the Rogers Centre) where the Blue Jays play,close to the Air Canada Centre (Toronto Maple Leafs), a few blocks from China Town. Rate will be about $179/night (ask for a lake view).
Approx location is Spadina Street & King St. Shopping is close by too!
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Oct 8th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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oops...Spadina AVENUE
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