Sunday, May 21, 2006

...ontherails Q & A: James answers your questions

So, you want do your own rail trip? Or you want to know why I chose to spend more time in Edmonton than Vancouver? Leave your questions here in this thread (click on 'Comments' below) and I'll be answering all your questions in the coming days.




Anonymous said...

Which cars did you think were better the Rennessians or the Older VIA Cars?

James said...

There's no hiding that they're different trains built for different needs (and for different countries) so in that sense the Renaissance cars will never be as good as the older ones.

As a coach class passenger, I definitely prefer the older stainless steel 'HEP' cars which are used pretty much everywhere except in the Corridor, on the 'Ocean', on the 'Lake Superior' and from Victoria. They're not as sophisticated, but they're much more comfortable to spend a night in. Bizarrely enough, less design = more comfort. They're getting old, but they've been looked after. I can't offer much advice on sleepers, but I loved my berth on the 'Hudson Bay' and there's no equivilent accommodation on the new Renaissance cars.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog on the site and thoroughly enjoyed your cross country adventure; I always looked forward to your next update.
I am curious if you ever experienced dizziness off the train after being on one for a few days. It seems to take me anywhere from four to seven days to feel steady on my feet after a train journey.

Anonymous said...

do you usually know your couchsurfer/hospitality club hosts in person for a while before you visit with them? or is it more spontaneous than that? ( think safety issues + awkwardness of asking a stranger for accomodations, heh!)

and congratulations on making it through(and simultaneously maintaining an A-class blog)


James said...

Re: anonymous # 2's question on dizziness....

I've not encountered such problems, but I've been travelling since a very young age. My parents married late in life and kept their own homes when they married: we spent the weeks in the city and weekends in the country. Every weekend up to my fourteenth birthday would involve a two hour round trip in the back of our little VW to visit the other home. Travelling with children from a young age is a good way to condition them against travel sickness, but I think in car DVD players etc are abhorent: when travelling the window should be your personal entertainment system :-)

As such I find train travel very smooth and relaxing, but I can completely understand that long journeys can make some people dizzy. I recommend you take advantage of every smoke stop to get off and walk a length of the platform to help maintain some equilibrium !

Re: anonymous # 3's question on the Hospitality Club...

Both the Hospitality Club ( and CouchSurfing ( allow members to offer and seek accomodation in other member's homes around the world. It depends a lot on trust, but imagine that as a host you have to trust your guest a lot, and as a guest you have to trust your host a lot... it balances and profits from a wonderful sense of human spirit and generosity. For your security, all communication goes through the websites, so you don't have to reveal any personal contact details, and these messages are logged remotely. You are also encouraged to offer your ID on arrival to confirm that you are who you are.

Yes, it sounds slightly dodgy in principle, but it works. I recommend the Hospitality Club more strongly than CouchSurfing. HC has more members in more places, and there are fewer appeals for donations because it's run by volunteers rather than a board of directors. See Wikipedia's entries on them for more info.

Thanks also for the kind compliment about the blog too - it was fun doing the trip with it in mind, I was a lot more attentive to details I'd normally overlook :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi James, not sure if you are still around, but just wanted to add my thanks to you for an informative and entertaining, well rounded travelogue!
I have posted a few travel trips myself, but don't often get much feedback from the readers. Do you know how many people have visited your pages?
ps am a fan of Hopper myself too.

James said...

Ed... thanks for the kind comments. I've just checked, and between launching the counter on 21 March 2006 and today (14 June 2006) the blog has been viewed 7,198 times by 3,775 unique visitors.

That's an average of 84 page loads and 44 unique visits a day, with the highest number of hits on 26 April, when there were 285 page loads and 161 unique visits. At the time, I was on the last leg of the California Zephyr into San Francisco... it's fun to know where I was the day the blog had it's finest hour :-)

Oh, and PS... another trip to Chicago is on the cards for September, so I promise to go back and look at Hopper's 'Nighthawks' with a bit more time to spare!

Anonymous said...

Hi James. Awesome travelog. I've planning a rail trek too, and have a lot of questions, especially regarding sleeping arrangement. Did you sleep on the train or on the ground-hotel, motel, hostel or friends? Also about security if I am to travel alone?

Anonymous said...

I am preparing to publish in ourlocal Museum Society Magazine a similar but much shorter article by an elderly Museum member.
Unfortunately she does not take photographs. Can I have your permission to use a couple of your photos (with due acknowledgement) in the magazine ?
A.B.Porter, Southport, England

angel said...

Great post… Great info on bounce rates… I’ll have to write an entry about the same topic some day soon… Bounce rates can tell you alot…
I tend to look at the bounce rate and then look at the keywords that brought people to the site. Does the page answer the keyword question? If No then there is some work to do on that or a new more focused post.

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