Monday, May 15, 2006

Train 14: breakfast

After my first brief experience of New Brunswick (a new day, and the first of two new provinces...) on the platform of Campbelltown station, we are on our way again. I walk back two carriages to the restaurant car, where I have been told there's plenty of room for breakfast. The restaurant attendants are extremely welcoming, and are already joking and chatting with passengers. I'm seated straight away at a table for four opposite another passenger, a physician from New Brunswick. He uses the train to travel to Montréal frequently, often flying in one direction and then taking the train in the other. He explains that there is no better way to travel, especially with the schedule of the 'Ocean', which departs Montréal at the end of a working day and arrives back in his home town of Miramichi just after 10.00 the next morning.

My breakfast companion is just back from a holiday in Cuba. Using his hand-held computer, he proudly shows me a photograph of the beach he has just spent a week on in Varadero. I counter by opening my laptop and showing him the beach in Churchill, Manitoba, complete with frozen ocean. We evidently enjoy very different types of holiday.

For non-sleeper passengers on board the 'Ocean', breakfast costs C$10. It includes coffee, juice and a plate of toast, which comes a bit before my main dish of folded crepes with cheese, fresh fruit and syrup. Once again, these trains have had to be adapted for their new job in Canada. There were no restaurant cars in the original fleet, so sleeper cars were converted for the purpose. The only noticable thing about this conversion is that because the sleeper cars were built with fewer and smaller windows, tables have to be spaced out through the car to make sure each has a window. Food is prepared off the train and re-heated on board, although the quality of my meal was impressive. The crepes did not have the unnaturally hot tell-tale taste of microwaved food, and the fruit was fresh.

As always with my on board acquaintances, we talked of our trips and how we liked to travel. My dining companion was a French speaker, and it was good to be talking in French again. I fluff a few words and a few tenses, but I don't think I drop any clangers. Hopefully four weeks away from Montréal hasn't killed off the young French side of my brain. My dining companion finishes his meal and returns to his sleeper, and I linger over my empty plates to gaze out of the window. The bay is beautiful this morning - a gentle deep blue that stretches to the horizon, merging with the hazy sky once we have lost sight of the Gaspésie shore. The waiter refills my coffee and (on request) my juice, and I enjoy this sunny start to my day.

No comments: