Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Eastern Canada Trip 2013 Day 14 Wednesday September 25 Ottawa to Toronto

This is the 14th of a series of posts dealing with my third trip to Eastern Canada. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of a year later or to add further clarification.  These are indicated by “NOW”.

I did a different early morning walk this time, heading a little south, heading west and crossing the Rideau Canal, visiting Peace Tower from the outside (there was a flame in a fountain), then heading east grabbing lunch at the McDonald's near the hostel (breakfast at the hostel would have been cutting it a bit close).  I checked out then went to Mackenzie King Station where I took a 95X bus (Ottawa Transit) to the train station.

[NOW: Ottawa’s transit is properly called OC Transpo. The station I got off the bus near the train station, like Mackenzie King Station a Transitway stop, is actually called simply Train Station. The hostel again is H-I Jail, a converted jail.]

The train ride was by far the low point of the day and in indeed the entire trip arguably.  The crew didn't check all the seats before boarding and I noticed a couple of drinks on a track blocking my seat, including an open tea.  The only crew member I could see was helping people board. I figured before the train left they would make sure everyone was seated, so I awaited my opportunity. The only crew member I could see was still helping people with seating when the train took off without making sure everyone was secure. So, since someone else needed to sit beside me I made a go for the seat.

Tea or coffee (maybe both) spilled everywhere including my short sleeved pants, my coat, and the seat beside me (the woman who was going to sit beside me managed to snag another seat); part of a map book get wet too.  Someone finally came around to clean up the spill and handed me a bunch of napkins, but he didn't try to access the full extent of the situation.  I admit that when the woman serving food came around serving food and drinks I got a bit testy and told her that VIA wasn't getting another cent and explained why, pointing out how soaked my pants and coat were.

The woman started arguing with me, insisting I should have grabbed a crew member instead of trying to sit down and wouldn't listen when I tried to explain that no one was available. I had a panic attack and she started to call security. Fortunately another woman across from me understood what was actually happening and ran interference.

Briefly I thought that maybe I would use VIA in the future, especially after they gave me a free tea and cake. But then later with her back to me (after grabbing the empty cake package but leaving the empty tea container) she started right there talking about me to that other passenger as if I wasn't directly behind there. I pretended to ignore that slight, not wanting to get kicked off, but made a note of it. The crew also made no effort to grab the empty tea container and I had to ask them to take it away so the tray could be put down. They made no further effort to ask me if I was feeling any better or if my stuff was dry.

[NOW: I later complained about the service and Via Rail gave me a discount that would have required purchasing a pricey ticket within a couple months of the complaint. I wasn’t going to reward them for bad service by paying for another trip I wouldn’t otherwise have gone on.]

The one positive think during the ride beyond some parts of the view in general is I saw a puppy running happily off leash.

I got off at Union Station in Toronto and made it back to Global Village Backpackers, passing through the Canadian Walk of Fame along the way. I figured changing places for one night was more trouble that it was worth and plus by now those three women were likely long gone. This time only an upper bunk was left (unfortunate because I'm an energetic sleeper so I can be extra noisy while sleeping on an upper bunk). Again, just for one night.  I noticed I apparently left my journal at H-I Jail so I just now e-mailed them.

[NOW: Global Village Backpackers is now closed. H-I Jail was not able to find the journal. There was a guy in the hostel room I didn’t entirely trust; he may have taken it, or I might have left it at the McDonald’s.]

I grabbed lunch at the McDonald's on Spadina and Queen, walked to Dundas Square, headed north along Yonge (while searching for a washroom I found a store called Game Centre and bought South Park season 16 on blu-ray and Mystery Science Theater 3000 v23 on DVD).

I walked west along Bloor, visiting Bumpkin the rabbit at Doug Miller Books and made it to High Park. It took some effort but I found the small zoo there.

I walked east along Bloor until Spadina (I passed the place from last year with the cats in the window and got photos of one or them sleeping), and had dinner I bought from Pizza Pizza while chatting with my friend Aidan (coincidentally he showed me a photo of the other cat, same window). We walked to the University of Toronto and I wandered part of the campus a little after we parted company. Then I went to Denison Square and this time got better photos of the Al Waxman state. A guy sitting at a bench by the statue seemed impressed I know who Waxman was.

[NOW: The cats weren’t there the following year and may have moved on. Denison Square is also known as Bellevue Square.]

I walked back to Yonge-Dundas Square, getting a drink from Mac's along the way. The preacher was across from the main part of the square again, only this time people seemed to be ignoring him. I noticed that a tourist info booth had Niagara misspelled (yeah, I'm sure I've done my share of typos these reports, but these reports aren't meant to be professional). I walked west along Richmond and then south along Spadina back to the hostel.

[NOW: The typo was “Nigara Falls”. I pointed out the error this trip and next but they never fixed it.]

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