Oh the people you’ll meet – Riding the train from Montreal to Toronto

There are 4 different ways to get from Montreal to Toronto. You can drive – it’s about 6 hours, and very boring. You can ride the bus – which is about 8 hours, and while you don’t have to drive the thing, it’s not exactly luxurious. You can fly – either to the Island Airport (which I keep promising myself to do, and have never actually done), or to Toronto International which is an airport I avoid under all circumstances.

Or – you can take the train. The train takes 4 hours. You arrive minutes before it is due in Dorval, stand either on the platform or in the train station, climb on – and off you go. From Montreal to Toronto, seats are assigned – so you know which car, you know which seat – it’s quite easy. Most of the time.

And generally fairly reasonable. In the height of the season, a senior ticket is around $100 one way, including all taxes. So it’s less pricy than flying, and about the same amount of time if one includes arriving at least 2 hours ahead for the plane!

So – Friday am, 7:11 finds me on the train heading to Toronto. I’d selected a window seat months ago, but it was taken by a lovely older woman, who explained that she’d given up her seat to a woman with a baby. The baby in question was ensconced in one of those giant carrying seats – and the woman was apparently asleep. Oh well – guess I’m getting an aisle seat this time. I don’t mind the aisle, it’s really just that I prefer the window. But it’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for the baby at least.

I make myself comfy – I brought along fruit to munch, figuring that no matter what they had to sell it wouldn’t be either on my diet or frankly – fresh and yummy. Packaged cakes are easier for the staff – but hardly made this morning.

Naturally, being of similar ages, my seat mate and I start to chat – and chat – and chat. She has 2 sons, and 3 grandkids. She’s going to visit a friend in Toronto that she’s known since elementary school. She recently took a river boat cruise from Prague which was great except that her roommate – an extremely good friend that she’s spent much time with – turns out to be a better house mate than room-mate. In fact, she’s a lousy room-mate – insisting on lights out at 10:30 – and no noise. Hard to take a shower before bed, hard to party if you must undress in the dark. But overall the river boat was apparently a wonderful trip – worth thinking about.

My new friend continues to tell me about her life. Her husband died very young, and very suddenly. He had just been playing golf, came in – complained of not feeling well, and died. She called a neighbor who called 911 – and tried to do mouth to mouth to no avail. That was quite some time ago – since then she’s had a male companion – who she will not marry, nor live with – but loves to travel with. Interesting. I think about how truly boring my life must appear to most people – my husband and I are celebrating 43 years of marriage this September.

We discuss the challenges involved in finding someone to travel with – I remind myself how fortunate I am that I have 2 travel companions – my husband for upscale trips or downscale re-enactments, and the Intrepid Traveller for long stays in one country. Somethings just work out like that. I wonder if she thinks I’m fortunate – or merely boring. The old adage – walk a mile in someone elses shoes – seems so valid at moments like this.

We chat for effectively the entire trip, interrupted only by trying to figure out the capital of Finland (It’s Helsinki), and by the young man with the food cart. Such lousy coffee – at least it’s not insanely expensive too.

At our arrival in Toronto we part ways – her to find a porter and her friend. Me to drag myself and my tiny traveling bag to the Royal York to meet up with my husband.

Ships that collide in the night – and likely never meet again.

Great trip. Thanks Seatmate!

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