The Via Rail Experience

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 | Posted under Canada

Americans tend to have a superiority complex about many things, but our rail system is not one of them nor should it be. Most countries, including our northern neighbor Canada, surely have us beat on how to do rail travel and how to do it right. Since I live in the Northeast United States, I’m lucky to have great access to Amtrak. It’s a easy and comfortable way to get between many Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Even with the comfort and ease, Amtrak just doesn’t feel worth it. The seats are old; the wifi can be spotty; and the cafe car offers food that should be in a (bad) vending machine  After taking Canada’s Via Rail, I think I feel like I’m being taken for my money by our expensive, amenity-lacking rail system here in the U.S.!

First, if you’re traveling between Toronto and Montreal, consider taking the train. While the flight is about an hour, and there is a domestic airport right in downtown Toronto, I found the five hour train ride to be comfortable and quite fun. DISCLAIMER: This was my experience in business class. I can’t vouch for the second class train experience.

In Toronto’s Union Station, there is a separate lounge for business class passengers. Just flash your business class tickets to the attendants, and walk right in.

P1090308Yes, it’s fancy; and, yes, there’s wifi. 


Free drinks. I wish I drank soda because I would have (or should have) totally taken one.

The waiting room in Toronto was a big enough perk to me, but getting to board early as a business class passenger was also helpful, especially since were were traveling with Baby C.


Baby C is so tiny here! I don’t remember her being so small…

The conductors on the train were a mix of ticket agent and waiter (yes, waiter. I’ll get to that). They were kind enough to let us switch our assigned seats. Assigned seats aren’t as common on Amtrak trains, particularly in the Northeast U.S., so we needed to make sure that we were in the right spot.


Now to my favorite part of this experiene: the food! Via Rail’s business class includes breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on the time of day you travel. Did I mention that there is more than more than one course? Yep, that too. When I first read about this I was shocked. A multi-course meal on a train just can’t be good…but it was good, and pretty tasty. Before we had barely left Toronto, we had already been served soft drinks and cookies. A couple of hours in, lunch was served by our double duty agents:


Goat Cheese with cucumber and tomato, plus bread. Also a sneak peek of dessert is included on this plate. 

There were choices for the main entree but I chose the mango chicken that came with smooth and savory mashed potatoes and crispy steamed veggies. My kind of meal.


Not the  best picture, I know.

 Dessert should never been too far away. This was a hazelnut mousse cake (I think).  I finished it. Of course….


One thing that I didn’t get to document was the rich truffles that came at the end of the meal. Apparently these are so popular that they’re actually sold separately. Check them out here (there are also other shots of fabulous Via Rail meals).


 Baby C was sleeping underneath that nursing cover, and I was quite happy about that. 

To summarize:

1. Take Via Rail Business Class while in Canada.

2. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.

3. Watch some scenery while eating said dinner.

Sounds like a plan to me. Do you get why I think Amtrak is not making the grade?

What has been one of the best rail experiences you’ve had? This was definitely one of mine.

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Happy 2015!

Thursday, January 8th, 2015 | Posted under Personal, Video, Vlogging

Here’s a video to say hi to you all! I hope 2015 has started out well for everyone!

Also that is the world’s weirdest screen shot. Ugh….. :) Happy to be back! :)

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A Family Day at the CN Tower

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 | Posted under Canada

**Hi….my name is Terri, and apparently I write a blog…..**

The CN Tower will always be pretty special to me as it’s technicallly the first sightseeing that Baby C has ever done.

When you go to Toronto, you can’t say that you don’t know what the CN Tower looks like. It dominates Toronto’s skyline, and it’s striking.


Baby C and I ready to take in the tower.

Downtown Toronto is super clean (a New Yorker would notice this, of course), and the CN Tower lies in a entertainment district close to Lake Ontario. It’s right next to the Rogers Centre (love that British spelling), where the Toronto Blue Jays play; the Air Canada Centre, where the Raptors play, and it’s not too far from its rail station, Union Station. In other words, the CN Tower is in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District.

I will say that we were a little confused even getting ot the entrance. Just know that you’ll need to get through some doors, hallways, and what not just to get a ticket and to get to the elevator that takes you to the to see the tower’s views.

About that ticket….it’s NOT cheap.  It’s about $32 for adults, if you don’t buy it online before hand (FAMILY NOTE: For kids under four years old, there is free admission). Plus ,there is a line and a fair amount of waiting, so for those of you who lack patience or travel with children who may wig out after awhile, just build that into your expectations.

So, was it worth the price and the wait? Well, somewhat…. :)


Baby C and I taking in the view

The views are spectacular, and there is ample space to see all of Toronto from all areas of the observation deck. Stepping outside, you will get whipped by the wind, so hold onto your hats. What are you supposed to expect being 1,200 feet in the air? Even on a very warm summer day, it was cold out there. Beware if you’re there in the fall or winter (gulp! Canada is cool, but I don’t think I could take it in the winter).


There are more than enough reminders that you way up high.



 Luckily, Baby C has no fear of heights.

CN Tower View

Did you know that Toronto has an airport downtown? Why yes, it does. You can fly to other parts of Canada and select cities in the U.S. We thought about flying to Montreal, but we took the train instead (for another post).



In all, this was a nice way to orient ourselves in Toronto. We didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have liked, but at least we can say that we saw it from above.

Do you remember your first trip with your family as a child or with your own family that you’ve formed?

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WeVerb Day 7 – 10

Saturday, January 11th, 2014 | Posted under Personal

More WeVerb…..

Day 7 – Send

What was the best thing that you sent someone in 2013? What will you send this year?

Continuing with the ever present Baby C theme…I loved that we got to send people beautiful birth announcements this year. While I’m not into just sending random pictures of me and my family, these were special to me for obvious reasons. While not the best newborn pic of Baby C, we sent this picture (the announcment had her vitals on it). I still can’t believe that she was this small.


Courtesy of Raquel Frechette Photography

Day 8 – Accept

What imperfections have you come to accept in 2013? What will you do to embrace it in 2014?

I am not patient. It can be kinda hard with the whole motherhood thing. Just sayin’. I’ve learned with Baby C and with husband J that I need to occasionally have breaks for myself. Even if it’s just a short walk, I do need to sometime get away so that I can be a more patient wife and mother. I hope to have a little more reflection time in 2014.

 Day 9 – Laugh

Tell us about your biggest belly laugh in 2013. 

Baby C, I know when you’re old enough, you’re going to be upset that I posted this, but come on. This has to be one of the funniest pics I took of Baby C last year. I think Husband J and I laughed a little too long at this one.



Actually this one might be more funny.



Okay, I’m going to stop embarassing my child now.

Day 10 – Support

How did you volunteer your help last year? What will you do this year?

i didn’t really get a chance to volunteer in the traditional sense, but recently I’ve found out that a few friends are pregnant. I’ve been trying to be as supportive as possible. I’m hoping to support friends and family with their life goals and challenges this year.


WeVerb Day 2 – 5

Saturday, January 11th, 2014 | Posted under Uncategorized

Catching up

Day 2 – Remember

What did you do in 2013 that you will remember in the details forever?

I feel like I am going to be a broken record throughout this remembrance of 2013. I’ll always remember the day Baby C was born. At the same time, I think there are some fuzzy things. One thing I do remember is how quiet Baby C was when she was handed to us. She just sat there and looked around barely saying a word. Unfortunately, that quietness didn’t last very long. :)

P1090173One of the last moments before Baby C was born

Day 3 – Hasten

What trick or shortcut did you learn in 2013? What do you want to speed up in 2014?

Everything seemed to take longer this year. If you’ve ever tried to get out of the house alone with a baby under four months old, then I think you know what I mean. Nuff said!

I’d like to speed up my writing this year whether it’s for this blog or for work. I think about how to express things for quite some time. Editing? Don’t even ask. Writing more quickly is going to help me woth both this blog as well as at work.

Day 4 – Rebuild

What do you plan to pick-up or rebuild this year?

Well, your reading it. I’m going to try my best to be a blogger again this year. Thanks for reading so far. :) I’ve missed blogging so much.

Day 5 – Sing

What song or lyrics will be forever tie to 2013 in your mind? What songs are you excited to keep with you in 2013? 

Quite frankly, I just don’t really keep up much with music. I wish I could say that there was some song the encapsulated my year. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. OOps!

I promise I’ll make these more interesting!

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