Moncton to Halifax on the Via Ocean Train

Halifax Train StationI’ve never seen somebody as keen for surprises as Dami is. It must run in the family because when his  uncle DM was a kid, he played pranks on his younger brother (Dami’s father) and he loves surpise visits. So the day before the trip and his birthday, Dami brings me the usual weekly flyer pile and I notice an odd eight and a half by eleven pamphlet folded in three.  The title grabs my attention: “Are You Expecting Any Surprises?” And at the top it reads “The Institute of Unexpected Things”…  I thought there couldn’t possibly be such a thing. Then as I open the pamphlet, I see a schedule for a trip on the train from Moncton to Halifax and I’m thinking this is probably some kind of organized trip to go attend a conference or something in Halifax. And Then I see something about a birthday and read more and I think “Oh my goodness, could Dami be behind this? This is crazy!” I’m laughing so hard I start crying and I have to wipe the tears from my eyes: Dami had booked a Cabin for two on the Ocean Via train from Moncton to Halifax leaving the next day, Saturday at 1 pm and arriving in Halifax at 5pm. We were to take the Dartmouth ferry and walk to the Super 8 hotel and return to Moncton the next day at 12:20. I am so excited to think that he is going to be opening his cards and presents on the train, how awesome is that?

DD and Dami in the 360 CarBeing the planner I am I print out maps and prepare a short itinerary so we don’t waste any time. We decide to each pack light bringing only a day backpack. I challenge myself to bring the smallest toiletry kit ever and it is so cute as everything small in nature is. When we get in the train car, we get upgraded to a cabin for two with shower because the one assigned to us isn’t ready yet so we get cabin #3 in the Pier 21 car. It is my first time in a cabin and I like the intimacy and the romantic feel to it. I have been on the Ocean Via train before but I had an upper berth at the time; that was when we were house hunting in the Maritimes and I had to travel from Montreal QC to go to a house inspection in Sackville, NB. I thought the berth was great, kind of like camping but I much prefer the privacy of the cabin not to mention the fact you can set up the beds anytime of the day and you don’t have to wait for the toilet.

Dami in the Via Ocean Dining CarThe first thing we do as we board the train is drop our bags in the cabin and head for the 360 car for an awesome view of the surroundings. We’re anxious to get a different view of the Humphrey Brook Trail and when we see it we both envision ourselves riding our bikes along the brook. We are suddenly told that the Prime Minister is on board and is about to make a speech (?!). Sir John A. Macdonald is preparing Canada for his 200th birthday in 2015. I am so embarrassed to say I have no clue who this guy is and it turns out I actually know more than I think I do because he’s been on our 5 dollar bill for a long time! As the first Prime Minister of Canada he had the Transcontinental Railroad built and completed in 1887 running from Montreal to Vancouver. Our Prime Minister is accompanied by a fictional reporter, Calvin Hobbes, and they are very entertaining. I ask the reporter if he has any daily news for us and it turns out there’s some sort of scandal happening but we’re never told what it is and then as I look out I am the only one to spots the moose calf walking on its tall skinny legs in the forest!


On our way to the dining car, we walk funny, kind of like being drunk opening doors from one car to another. I let Dami DD at the Dartmouth Commonhave the nice view since it’s his birthday. He has a chicken linguine with sundried tomatoes and I a niçoise salad. I recall the dining car is different than the stainless steel with the chickadees on the glass panels. The Renaissance dining car reminds me of a department store restaurant. After the meal I bring back some hot water for a tea in the cabin and Dami opens his gifts and birthday cards. I was so looking forward this moment after reading his invitation pamphlet: I knew my homemade card would be a sensation. After the presents, the cards and a game of Nab-It, Dami makes the bunk beds and we have a nap. It is nice to be able to rest.

We get out of the train with a sense of freedom. We walk in the rain on the Halifax Harbor trail to the Dartmouth ferry. It is pretty much empty and we take advantage of the sheltered areas to get our camera out and snap a few pictures. In no time we embark the ferry for 2.25 each. Dami wants to see the view so we walk up the stairs to the upper level and stand in the light rain. In less than 15 minutes we are across the water and only a short walk up the street to the Super 8 hotel. Not the best choice hotel but it was cheap and convenient although they are in serious need of some TLC and a thorough cleanup.

A Crow at the Dartmouth CommonAfter settling in our room and checking out the delivery menus we opt for a walk to the nearest supermarket, No Frills which is part of the Loblaw family. The walk through the Dartmouth Common is very nice and reminds me of Prague. I was there at about the same time last year and the leafless trees and the elevation with the view of the water reminds me of the Vltava. We come across a crow with no voice and the poor thing looks like he’s coughing and sneezing and we can sense his frustration. At the store, for a good price we get a pretty decent frozen lasagna supper with Golden Oreo cookies and milk for dessert. It is a fairly short walk, maybe 2km but after this long day we are looking forward getting back to the room. After eating and watching some tv it is already time for bed.

Sunday morning, Dami goes for a walk and breakfast while I sleep until 9. After breakfast, a stroll on the Halifax as Viewed From the FerryDartmouth harbor and a quick return visit to the Dartmouth Common, we hop on the 11:30 Halifax ferry and unlike the day before, it is sunny and we are able to sit down on the upper deck. There are more people this time and next to us is a couple with their 2 children all excited to take the ferry to Halifax to go swimming.

We are more relaxed walking on the Halifax Harbor this morning but we have don’t have much time to waste because our train leaves in 45 minutes. This time though we can stop and take pictures anywhere, and I even captured the man playing accordion on video, immortalizing the melodies.

The return trip is sensibly the same except for a few details. All in all, this trip was awesome even though it was short. Our next travel destination will be to St. John’s Newfoundland and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Riverview Cat Show

Walter Hutzler judging at the first annual Spring Has Sprung Riverview Cat Show
Walter Hutzler judging at the first annual Spring Has Sprung Riverview Cat Show. Mr Hutzler has been judging cat shows since 1970 and it was great to have such a renowned judge at the Riverview Cat Show!

How lucky we have a cat show here in Riverview! April 6th and 7th the Spring Has Sprung Riverview Cat Show hosted by the Fundy Fanciers CCA Cat Club came to town and we wouldn’t have missed it!

Cat shows brings out all the most ardent cat lovers who can meet with breeders and other cat addicts! Saturday when we went it was pretty much a full house and the Kinsmen Center Hall was pretty much packed. Fur to the rafters! Claws in every corner!

There were four judging areas and rows of tables with all the assorted breeds of cats and their owners, handlers and curious cat lovers young and old. The show was nice and laid back, as it was both an All-Breed Championship and also a Household Pet Cat show so there was a real variety to see.

Eleanor MacDonald judging at the Riverview Cat Show
Eleanor MacDonald judging at the Riverview Cat Show. Some of the cats were nice and calm while they were lifted, poked and inspected. Good kitty!
Christine Ling judging at the Riverview Cat Show
Christine Ling judging at the Riverview Cat Show. This lovely creature seemed to enjoy the warm hands of the judge!

Some of the kitties were shy, some were sleepy, some wanted to crawl through the bars of the judging cages and a few were howling and hissing at the top of their lungs!

There were so many beauties to see, short haired, long haired, kittens! My favorites were the Abyssinians, Havana Browns, Bombay, Bengals and of course anything Burmese.

I hope that next year the show will be in a bigger spot, there weren’t enough chairs around the judging tables and it got pretty crowded and it was hard to move about. It was also very hot inside and we went back to our car to leave our coats and hats in the car.

Kitty with Ribbons
Peeking out from behind the ribbons, one little pussycat smiles for the camera. Good job you little fluffer!
William the Burmese Kitten
William the Burmese kitten was a real sweetie. He enjoyed being petted by his papa and when it was judging time he sat handsomely in his cage with his eyes half closed in his own little Burmese dreamland.
Little Bella in Pink
All bundled up in pink, little Bella has a snooze under her blankie. She’s a real Pink Panther!

Since it was the first annual show, and hopefully the start of a yearly cat show, it was probably wise to start small but there were a lot of people so hopefully next year it would be in a larger facility. The judging was very interesting but it was hard to hear and see because all four tables were so close and with all the people it got pretty loud.

Hopefully with good positive feedback from the community we can have a show next year in a larger spot!

Walter Hutzler at the Riverview Cat Show
The crowds were packed close to the judges table as Mr. Hutzler explained how he was judging the cats and what he was looking for. He’s a great judge!

My favorite judge was Walter Hutzler from New York City. He was very informative about each breed he handled and gave us insight into the cats and what he was looking for as a judge. I remember at the show in Montreal seeing Walter as a judge and was impressed at the time. It was nice to have such a good judge here at the show in Riverview. He’s been doing it since 1970 and knows his stuff!

Abyssinian  Cat
This friendly Abyssinian cat relaxed while waiting for judging and was making pretty eyes at me. He may have only got 6th place at this judges table but he got top marks from me for being so affectionate and playful!

It is nice to be able to see all the different breeds and meet the owners and breeders who came from Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia and beyond to be at the show. It’s so hard to pick favorites from so many handsome creatures, it’s fun to see the kids taking an interest in different cats beyond the familiar housecat.

Speaking of something different: One darling angel was  more of an angel of darkness! The infamous Nofuratu The Cat was on hand in his own private graveyard of ghoulish kittens which was equipped with a coffin cat box! What a sweet little ghoul all bundled up in black swaddling covers!

Nofuratu on the Black Blanket of Beastly Kitties
Nofuratu sat on the Black Blanket of Beastly Kitties surrounded by ghouls and spirits! Nofuratu even has a blog so you can follow the “Adventures of a Naked Cat”

Now if that cat drove a car then I’m sure it would be a hearse with a license plate that read NVRMORE!!! She has her own blog too so you can keep up with her diabolical pussycat antics and sorcery. You can enter Nofuratu’s realm of darkness and keep up to date with “The Adventures of a Naked Cat” at the official website

Cat shows are fun and it was a great day for us. I might have wanted to go on both days but I will wait until next year when hopefully there will be a bigger hall to accommodate everyone a tad more comfortably.

When we got home from the show we were happy to see our own cats sleeping and I was glad I hadn’t entered them in the show…they are our own Best of Shows in this house!

Gimme a Kiss Kitty
Give us a kiss!
Blue Velvet
A loveable ball of blue velvet!
Gizmo the Bombay Rascal
Gizmo the Bombay Rascal
Relaxing in the tent
Relaxing in the tent
Give it a Try
Walter lets the owner try judging.
Don't put me in the cage mama!
Don’t put me in the cage mama!

Thanks to all the sponsors and organizers who put on the show. It was really good and we loved it! We give it four paws up!!

Websites of some of the attendees and sponsors  of the Fundy Fanciers Cat Club Riverview Cat Show
Bengal Cattery:
Burmese & Bombays:
Exotic Shorthairs/Longhairs:
Egyptian Maus:
Birman & Siamese:
Norweigian Forest Cats:
Adventures of a Naked Cat:

The 2014 edition, which will be the 2nd Annual Spring Has Sprung Championship Cat Show will be at the Coverdale Center at 50 Runnymeade Road in Riverview, NB. Can’t wait! See you all in 2014!

Meow Meow for now!

Oh and if you want to meet our cats you can see them here: Jasper & Alaska Burmese Photo Album