A journey of a thousand miles starts with a small step, yes it does.
Every place you travel holds something special, but what really makes it memorable is the travel itself. For all the time I spent here in Canada, I have probably used all possible means of transportation. As pilots, we enjoy the view from the cockpit of the landscapes that we fly above. But this was truly a new perspective for me to explore, something from a solo traveller’s point of view.
I still reminisce about when Aarohi and I flew out of Wick together to make it across the mighty Atlantic. Though Mahi and Aarohi were headed to Iceland at a lower altitude than me, and I was flying commercial to Canada, we were still practically flying together. Their journey took four and half hours to Reykjavik, while I took six hours to make it all the way to Ottawa.
Little did I know at the time that this was just the beginning of “My Journey”.
Once in Ottawa my main modes of transport were mainly cabs or on foot. Fortunately, my hotel was located close to the downtown and market areas which were within walking distance. A short hike brought you to a spectacular panoramic view of Parliament Hill, especially from Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa river. I’m pretty sure my trainer back home in India will be proud to see how much walking I’ve done ever since I got here!
My next mode of travel was a scenic train journey to the magnificent Niagara Falls…my birthday gift from the Social Access team.
I had to change two trains and then take a bus to reach the falls. I boarded the VIA Rail Canada train 51 from Ottawa to Toronto Union Station, which was already running late by 30 mins, maybe because of the pouring rain. As we left the station, the grey skies started clearing and as we pulled into Kingston, we had a bright and shining sun in blue skies. Leaving Kingston, the train ‘chugged’ along the shore of Lake Ontario and crossed tiny little ports all along the way. With the pristine blue lake on one side and rapidly changing fields of different colours on the other, we made our way down to Union Station. It was a four and a half hour ride till my second train journey for the day which would take me to Burlington. I changed to the GoTrain service and climbed up to the second level of the train car as my destination was going to be the last stop. After a decent one hour journey skirting along the suburbs of Toronto on one side and the lake on the other side, we made it to Burlington Terminal. Two train rides down, it was now one bus ride to go, till Niagara.
Again the bus was a double-decker and I promptly bolted towards the seats in the front to have the best views of the road ahead. The bus jostled down Queen Elizabeth Way making its way across Burlington Canal and down to Niagara while Lake Ontario continued on our left. On my right, the suburban landscape transformed into lush green vineyards.
Something quite unique that caught my eye was a vineyard named Organized Crime Winery. Maybe some day I’ll come back to visit!
After an hour long drive, the bus pulled into the Niagara Bus terminal. I took a cab down to my hotel, dumped my luggage in my room, and set off to see the Niagara Falls right away.
The first time you see the falls gushing down is something you will never forget. I walked around the area, listened to a lovely little orchestra which was playing there and just soaked in the sights and sounds around me till it got too dark. I came back the following morning for the ‘Voyage to the Falls’ boat tour.
Now I am a girl who belongs in the skies, and even though I can swim, getting on a boat scares me.
The fact that I would be able to get as close as possible to the magical Niagara Falls, drove me to get on it. So here I was, on a boat, something I was never keen on, on my way to the falls. The experience was incredible. At the closest point to the falls that we could get to, the feel of the force of the falls is hard to describe! The water thumps down with such power, making your heart thump along with it. The trip lasted for 20 mins and for me, it was definitely one of the best experiences of the expedition so far.
And once again, it was time for me to get on to more ‘steady’ transport – a cab to the bus terminal, a bus from the terminal to Burlington, a train from Burlington to Union Station and then again a train to Ottawa. A couple of more days exploring Ottawa by bus or on foot and the team told me I had to head to Goose Bay. There was no direct flight from Ottawa to Goose Bay and so it was a ten-hour journey with two halts, one at Halifax and the second at Deer Lake, which finally brought me to Happy Valley – Goose Bay, a quaint little town in Newfoundland and Labrador.
All along this journey I have met a lot of new people, some friendly and some not, visited many different places and saw miles of road, tracks or water go by. Seeing the world from a solo traveller’s point of view can make you see how incredible it is. It also teaches you, that if you get stuck at some point, there is always a way out. If you can’t walk out of it maybe you can take a flight out of it! 😛
Take flights, trains, buses and boat
A little bit of walking and something to explore
New places, new faces, new cultures you’ll know
I urge you to travel just a bit more.