Nathan's Travel Logs & The Railfan's Girlfriend
Oh, Canada! (Part 1)
A trip that my girlfriend, Erin, and I took to Canada to visit her family. We visited Toronto, Ont., Montreal, Qbc., Ottawa, Ont., and Niagara Falls, Ont. This included visiting ExpoRail in the Montreal metro.
This was the first time that was going to travel to Canada. Erin is a dual citizen, born in Ottawa, Ont., and a lot of her family still lives in Canada.
Erin and I have been really good friends for almost ten years, and we have been dating for over a year-and-a-half, at the time we left for Canada.
This was the first time that I have ever traveled to Canada, so I wanted to make the most out of the nine-day trip. I made sure that visiting Erin's family was top priority, but when I found out about the mass transit systems in all three major cities that we were to visit, plus ExpoRail in Montreal, I was even more excited.
Friday, July 16, 2010
After finishing my last day of work before the trip, I was able to get off work at a decent time. I had asked Erin if she could drive over and pick me up at my condo, so her parent's would be able to take us to Kansas City International Airport [MCI] the following morning.
I had asked Erin to be at my house around 5:30-6:00 P.M., though Erin was running behind and was not able to leave until 6:00 P.M. I knew there was a storm brewing due the very hot summer day, which is typical of the Midwest.
Before Erin had arrived at the house, it started pouring down rain. She said that she was about mile away when the "flood gates" opened. Though Erin made it to my condo a little nervous, but otherwise fine.
After having a nice dinner, we headed to bed early so that we could wake up at 5:00 A.M. to be ready to leave her parent's house, with enough travel time to arrive at the Kansas City International Airport [MCI] by 6:45 A.M. for our 8:00 A.M. flight on Southwest Airlines. I was very nervous, due to fact that we would have to change airlines at Chicago-Midway [MDW], with check baggage and international check-in requirements---we had a total of 80-minutes between our scheduled-landing and a scheduled-departure, to get our check bags, recheck in at Porter Airlines, and then go through security for a second time---and there were other time requirements, such as the timeframe of when the gate would close before departure---so in actuality, it was more like 30-minutes between arrival and having to be at the gate for departure.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
We made it fine to Chicago-Midway [MDW], ahead of schedule. We were very fortunate to be in Group A, so we were able to find two seats together that were in Row 3. As soon as the compartment door opened, we were able to get off the plane, proceed through the concourse and then get to Baggage Claim.
We had twenty minutes to get to the Front Desk to check in, and check our baggage. With about five minutes before the front desk closed, the flight's bags had yet to showed up, so I sent Erin up to the front desk to let them know that we were here and to see if they can hold. It was no sooner than Erin had left, the baggage from our flight was starting up the to the carousel---in which both of our bags were the FIRST TWO BAGS OFF THE PLANE!
I grabbed both of our checked bags, ran up three flights of stairs, found the Front Desk, but no Erin! I checked myself in and both bags, asked the lady at the Front Desk if she had seen Erin, and she said that she had not. After about two minutes of franticly trying to call Erin on her cell phone, and finally she answered her phone. She was lost………looking for me.
After both of us had checked in, we headed towards the security checkpoint. There was a lot of people in line, and it seem like it would take hours to get through the line. Though luckily, I had noticed that there were a few people going through a different line, then suddenly disappearing; I told Erin to follow me. To our amazement, after making a sharp right-turn, we found three more security checkouts with only a few people in each---we made it through Security in five-minutes.
This was when I was able to finally RELAX! After finding our gate, we had a chance to sit our belongings down and I was able to get Erin and I something to drink and snack on--we had about 30-minutes to spare. Then, over the P.A. system, the staff announced that we would be delayed for about 30-minutes, due to the flight staff was stuck in U.S. Customs.
After waiting for about 45-minutes at the gate, we started to board the plane, bound for Toronto City Centre Airport [YTZ]. Granted it was a smaller plane but a very nice plane, first-class all-the-way. This was the first time I had even flown on a turbo-prop plane.
While up in the air, crossing over the Great Lakes, they served us food---yes, actual food, not peanuts or pretzels, but actual food---and ANY kind of drink we wanted, this included wine or beers of both the U.S. and Canada. I had a turkey sandwich, a side of macaroni salad and a cookie, with a Steam Whistle Brewery logger---which I LOVED!!!
When we were about to land at the Toronto City Centre Airport [YTZ], which is just off the mainland, in front of CN Tower and the Rogers Center (formally known as the SkyDome), it seemed like we were about to land in the water, but luckily we made it fine.
Though we had a SNAFU when Erin and I accidentally switched each other's passports at Canadian Customs, in which Customs Officers had a little "fun" with us, giving us a hard time. Luckily, we were the last two off the plane and in the Customs room, so after a couple of "who is she" questions, as they point over to Erin. They welcomed me to Canada.
After going through Canadian Customs, we had to take a ferry across the channel to the mainland [ABOVE RIGHT] which is reported to be the shortest regularly-scheduled ferry in the world. There Erin's Aunt Nancy and her grandma were waiting for us.
After greeting everyone, we got into Aunt Nancy's car and we drove towards Toronto Union Station, in downtown Toronto. While driving towards Union Station, we saw a few street cars traveling down the street [ABOVE]. That is where Nancy, Erin and I got out of the car in front of Toronto Union Station [BELOW] and headed towards the Hockey Hall of Fame.
While walking down the sidewalk, we had a chance to view some VIA Rail trains coming through the station. [BELOW LEFT], as well as see the tracks that enter underneath the grand building [BELOW RIGHT].
We made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Erin was in Heaven [ABOVE LEFT]. Erin is a BIG hockey fan, especially after Team Canada beat Team USA in the Gold Medal Match of the Vancouver Olympic Games---which you will see below. Inside the main building where the Hockey Hall of Fame is located [ABOVE RIGHT].
Erin in front of the display for her favorite hockey player, Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the person who scored to winning goal for Team Canada in the Gold Medal Match against Team USA [ABOVE LEFT]. Erin's Aunt Nancy who made me take a photo of her proud that both Team Canada hockey teams won the Olympic gold in 2010 [ABOVE RIGHT]. Then what Erin has talked about non-stop since we started to talk about making a trip up to Canada, the Stanely Cup [BELOW RIGHT].
After leaving the Hockey Hall of Fame, we all headed over to the Canadian National (CN) Tower. There were a lot of people who were in line to go to the top of the tower before it got dark, so we decided to wait until it was dusk before going up. But while waiting in line, to get tickets, I took a picture of the tower at it's base [LEFT].
Across from the CN Tower and Rogers Centre, located at the old roundhouse,, Erin took a photo of me with CN6213 (a 4-8-4 Steam loco), and CN4803 (ALCO) [1st ROW BELOW]. There is a historical society and Steam Whistle Brewery [3rd ROW BELOW] inside the old roundhouse, with other rollingstock and locomotives, a miniature railroad that you can ride outside in the park area. Attached to the side of the Rogers Centre, which overlooks the right-of-way going into the Toronto Union Station, there is state with different people, including what I call "The Railfan" [3rd ROW BELOW].
After visiting the old roundhouse, we still had a few hours before out time to go up the CN Tower, so we decided to walk over to Yonge-Dundas Square, which is like Toronto's version of Times Square, there was a band playing and there were venders everywhere, for food and other items.
Our legs were starting to hurt and we were starting to get tired, that is when we decided that we would take the subway about ten blocks back to Toronto Union Station, after getting off the subway, we ate dinner at Fuddruckers, then headed back over to CN Tower.
At dust, we were finally able to take the elevator trip up to the observation level of the CN Tower. I am not a big fan of heights, but when up there it was great. There are two levels of the Observation, the top level is enclosed, which includes a restaurant, I was able to take long exposure photos of the surrounding area, including the airport where Erin & I laded earlier in the day [1st & 2nd ROW BELOW]. The level below, is an open observation and they have a glass floor, which you can see straight down [3rd ROW BELOW].
After going down the tower, both Erin and I were warn out. We had walked over 20km throughout Downtown Toronto, according to Erin's Aunt Nancy. That is when Aunt Nancy had another surprise for me, we were going to take the GO Train back to Oakville, which is where she lives. Though I am sad to say that I was not able to take any photos.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The next day we had another full schedule, we left for the Toronto Zoo, and we spent the whole day there. At the beginning of our planning, Erin has a couple of friends who still live in the Toronto area, and after leaving the zoo, one of Erin's best friends, had a couple of beers and a few hours later of catching up we left for Oakville. The next day we would have to pickup a rental car and drive to Montreal, Qbc., which is about 8 hours Northeast.
Monday, July 19, 2010
After renting a car, Erin and I headed for Montreal, Qbc. After driving through the country side of Ontario, we made it Qubec. I was nervous when we went past the Provincial line into Quebec, because everything written turned from English & French, to French only---and I don't know French! Luckily Aunt Nancy allowed us to use her GPS which would help me with the Metric-to-Imperial conversions as well as assisting me with getting to Erin's family who lives in the English section of Montreal.
Once we got to the house, Erin introduced me to her family and we had a great visit. We were asked what we would like to do for dinner, I asked that we could have a traditional Qubaqua dinner, in this case we had All-dressed hotdogs, greasy french fries and putin---which is french fries, cheese curds and brown gravy---as Erin says it is a heart attack in-a-bowl, but so good.
Because we got there in the late afternoon, we decided that we would spend the night at the house and relax for our next day. The day that we would go to ExpoRail and visit the Old Port of Montreal.