Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Off the train

Well, I did my first big train journey - actually it was only a tiddler journey (30 hours) compared to what's coming up (3 days!) but still, it was an experience.

I traveled from Toronto -> Winnipeg on the Canadian train, and I have to say it was a blast. The train was superb, as old fashioned and "American" as I'd hoped it would be, the staff were great, the food was superb (it was like being in a very good restaurant that happened to be a train) and I met some good people. It would have been nice if the average age of the passengers was a little lower, but still, I felt very young :-)

I met a photography student from Vancouver, and a guy from Manchester on a trip around the world - we ended up drinking the train dry of bottles of "Dark Ale", which was good fun. Plus, I am now *really* good at Sudoku puzzles, although they are significantly harder the morning after an evening on "Dark Ale"...

So now I'm in Winnipeg for a day or so before I get back on the train for the 3 day trek up to Churchill - I don't think that train will be as plush as the Canadian was, but it should still be an experience.

An experience that stays with you too, as since leaving the train 90 mins ago I find I can't sit or stand still without starting to sway in time with the train. Hopefully that will go away soon, as it's a bit weird :-)

Monday, August 29, 2005

It's hot, eh?

Just a quick one from Canada - it's my last day in Toronto and I've really enjoyed it here: good food, good people, good town and (some) good beer. The tip for the beer seems to be anything with a very Canadian name (Moosehead / Molsen) is bland, but stuff like Alexander Keith (whoever he is) is pretty good.

Toronto is a good city - not too big (but there's so much development going on I'm not sure how long that will stay true) and with very well-defined the point where Chinatown seems to stop dead at the end of a street. I don't know whether that's "natural" or dictated. Anyway, bits of it remind me of Boston - some of the buildings and the feel of it. I had a few pints and a meal in the "Elephant and Castle" last night...which perhaps isn't a good example of me immersing myself in Canadian culture, although it was Canadian beer, so I'm not being a terrible Englishman abroad and demanding tea and crumpets wherever I go.

Yorkville was a good little district - horribly expensive by the look of it. Yonge street is good for shops - nearly got fleeced by a friendly woman in a camera shop who tried to take advantage of my gadget addiction. The harbour area is really good - I'll head back there today and take an island trip I think.

Niagara was excellent - very tacky, but you could easily ignore the tacky and concentrate on the falls, which were incredible, especially from the Maid of the Mist boat, but not as tall as I imagined them to be.

My first big train trip is coming up tomorrow - Toronto to Winnipeg, which is about 30 hours. 30 hours! Should be OK as it's on the plush Canadian train, with observation cars and a sleeper compartment, so I'm looking forward to it. I've seen North by Northwest...I know what happens on these trains ;-)

As soon as I find an internet cafe that lets me upload photos I'll post some holiday snapshots.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ultimate Pig Pizza

I made pizzas last night and tried a new topping combination: bacon and black pudding!

Not exactly a traditional Italian combination I guess, but it worked out pretty well - it was certainly devoured in record time by everyone at the table.

Shame I didn't have any sausages handy to make it the Ultimate Pig time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Travelling aboot

"I don't even know what street Canada is on."
Al Capone

So, in just over a week I'm off on my Big Canadian Adventure (TM)!

Off to the land of Bryan Adams, Alanis Morisette and Celine Dion. Hmmmm.....why am I going again?

Anyway, it's come around very quickly and I'm just now reading up on all of the places I'm going to, something I should have done a while ago I guess. Despite my rather haphazard planning the trip still looks good and I'm pretty excited about it. It's nearly 6 weeks of scooting around Canada by train, with some bus and ferry rides thrown in for a bit of variety, mostly on my own with my other half meeting me in Vancouver for the final week.

I guess this is my big chance to see some amazing scenery, a lot of it while lounging around on (hopefully) swanky trains, meet some new people and see some bears, while staying far enough away that I can run for it if necessary (from the bears that is).

Things I'll miss while I'm away:
  1. The missus (aaaah)
  2. Riding my motorbike (#2, but I rode it today for the first time in 2 weeks...and maybe I should make it #1 :-)
  3. The cats (mainly because I'm the only one who's nice to 'em!)
Things I'm taking with me;
  1. My Nikon D70, and an enormous amount of memory cards. Seriously.....enormous.
  2. Books.....lots of books. I aim to know more about Che Guevara, the history of Nearly Everything, and be a Sudoku master by the time I get back. And maybe some Spring and Hibernate too if I'm feeling geeky.
  3. Various essential gadgets, such as phone, PDA, MP3 player and their associated chargers...I've heard of travelling light, and I want no part of it.
So unless anything especially interesting happens next week, my next post should be from the land of big mountains, big bears and big adventures.