It Is Not About The Destination, It Is About The Journey


If the train is a rocking hold on to your wine glass!

I’m headed to Ottawa. It is my first time and I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. Over the next 30 Days I am going to explore our nation’s capital and share with you some of the amazing experiences I have. People, attractions, restaurants, coffee shops, history and unique small businesses are all on my agenda to experience. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride with me as I explore 30 Days In Ottawa.

Tourism Ottawa website

Like any trip away from home it all starts with how you get there. Even though I live in Vancouver my trip to Ottawa starts in Toronto thanks to the fabulous folks from VIA Rail. I’ve only travelled by train once before and that was when I was only 12 years old. I remember nothing of that trip needless to say.

It all begins at Union Station where I’m only 1 of the 250,000 people that travel through Union Station daily.

Union Station ceiling

Union Station Toronto

I met up with my fellow travellers (who you will all meet in a separate post) in the Panorama Lounge. If you travel first class on VIA Rail, and I highly recommend you do, the lounge is yours to enjoy complimentary. It was nice to arrive and settle in, grab a coffee, relax and chat with my fellow travellers before we boarded. It’s also a handy place to get some of those last minute emails off before you board thanks to complimentary WiFi.

Panorama Lounge

Panorama Lounge coffee bar

tour instructions and welcome greeting from VIA Rail rep Malcolm Andrew

A quick welcome from Malcolm Andrews our VIA Rail host and then it was time to board our train. Two tour hosts and 8 travel bloggers! Man I have a feeling this trip could get wild!

My VIA Rail ticket

All Aboard

All board and we are ready to go. A five hour journey to Ottawa from Toronto, we are riding in style. Comfy seats with plenty of room and electrical outlets at each seat for laptops or phones. Complimentary WiFi is included and if you are like us and travelling in a group the seats can be configured so that you can face each other.

Costel rearranges the seats part 1

Costel rearranges the seats part 2

Costel rearranges the seats part 3

Costel rearranges the seats part 4

Costel rearranges the seats part 5

Voila! Now that we are cosy it’s time to select our meal which is included when you travel in first class. I choose the Butter Chicken. Cocktails and wine with the meals are also included at no additional cost.

VIA Rail first class menu choices

I promise I am not being paid by VIA Rail but why you would choose to travel in economy when for only a 50% (avg) price increase you can travel in style and comfort. It seems like a no brainer to me. Plus there is tons of room to move around so you need not get cramped legs.

Erica working away

At our journeys end our host Jantine Van Kregten welcomed us to Ottawa with little gifts of maple syrup candies and a pedometer so we can log all our steps in this beautiful city.

Jantine welcomes us to Ottawa

I’ve arrived in Ottawa. The sun is shining, the air is clean and the politicians have all left for home, woohoo let’s get the tour on!

Have you ever travelled by train? What was your experience like? Is it on your bucket list? Let me know and I’m sure Malcolm & VIA Rail would love to hear from you on their Twitter account if you have some special memories of being on a train. Didn’t every little boy want to be a train conductor?

Next up on the journey I share my “home” for the first 2 nights in town. Great food, a special kitchen party and a bed that made me ignore my morning alarm. Here’s a teaser pic.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.


  1. 50% seems to be a lot to ask to increase in a travel budget.

    Most of the time with Escape fares, Toronto-Ottawa could be had for $29 bucks. Whereas Business Class at cheapest is 5x more costlier for a larger seat and no food. You can buy a sandwich for $6, which is more than enough to hold you over on a 5 hour trip.

    VIA Business seems nice, but the improvement between the comfortable LRC economy seats and the Business seats doesn’t mirror the improvement between flying economy versus business.

    The extra $40 seems difficult to justify for a 5 hour trip, unless you want to treat yourself. I am a huge proponent of travel by rail and a NARP member, but VIA business class doesn’t seem worth it, sometimes it’s even cheaper to fly than take VIA Biz-class.

  2. Whohooo! you should look up my sister Julie in Ottawa (who is also a documentary photographer/urban photographer) just starting out her business (juliemaccormackphotography) that would be SUCH a small world!
    Are your 30 days all taken up or do you have free time?

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