Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Train 510: Welcome to Canada

We reach Vancouver just over an hour late. Unlike my previous encounters on cross-border Amtrak services, our journey has not been interupted by border guards. At Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, our train pulls into a special platform which is surrounded by three metre high fence. Behind us the tracks are closed off by a tall gate. One by on the cars are opened, and we disembark and head to the station, where Canadian Customs officials are ready and waiting for us. There is a short queue, and as usual the precise nature of my work permit is questioned. But the process is quick and infinitely more sensible that stopping the train en route.

I leave my bags at the station ticket desk (C$2.50 a piece, but I'm able to give a handful of US change to make up for what I don't have in Canadian currency). Newspapers are on sale announcing the near record high of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar, now nearing C$0.90 to US$1.00. Great for Canadian tourists, bad for Canadian business. I really should have postponed my trip a little later...

I step out into the bright sunshine, and breathe some fresh Canadian air.

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