Planning a trip round Eastern Canada Summer '14 using public transport
Replies: 33 - Last Post: Mar 4, 2013 11:47 AM Last Post By: CassieT14
Feb 26, 2013 9:04 AM
15Do not not take Greyhound, especially if on a budget. The only time you will encounter a problem is if, for some reason, you need customer service. Greyhound is more annoying than unreliable: you have to show up for your bus 30-60 min. ahead of time and then fight for a seat. Sometimes the driver will put your bag in the hold, sometimes you have to do it. The drivers are generally pretty grumpy. But they are on time and safe. If you can afford the train, do it. If not, take the bus. Thousands do; I do nearly every month. In Canada and the US, most bus routes are monopolized by one company. Hence, only one company services Toronto-Ottawa: Greyhound. Only one company services Toronto-Montreal: Megabus. Outside of the northeast US, you usually do not have a choice in bus company.
Cassie, do you mean Toronto Islands or 1000 Islands? Toronto Islands are in the city, a 15 min. ferry ride from downtown. It's worth spending a day/afternoon there. You can rent a bike and tour around.
Feb 26, 2013 10:13 AM
16#15 okay thank you for the advice. I think I would rather travel by train, greyhound seems to be more time consuming and the general census is bad customer service. I'll save up more money to take the trains, but it won't be end of the world if I have to get the bus.
And yes sorry I meant the Toronto islands, and do the bike tour. Is it good? I just don't want to spend all my time in the centre of the cities, I would like to explore outskirts of them too etc.
Feb 26, 2013 5:05 PM
Feb 26, 2013 5:07 PM
Feb 26, 2013 5:59 PM
Feb 26, 2013 6:05 PM
Feb 26, 2013 11:55 PM
21Sorry I meant that as 2 separate bits. I want to go to the Toronto islands. And I want to go to some of the outskirts of the cities. Perhaps I am being a bit naive but I've never been to Canada, I'm doing research on the Internet and reading some travel books, and getting some helpful stuff off of here, but that can only take you so far I guess.
#20 thanks I'll have a look out for it.
Feb 27, 2013 5:47 AM
22Hi Cassie. I'm not sure where you are from but it seems we use the term "outskirts" differently than yo do. The outskirts of Toronto are the suburban/exurban areas that are formerly agricultural and now mostly residential. There is not much for you to see and do there. If your goal is "nature," there are some "Conservation Areas" scattered in the area surrounding Toronto, see here but I don't know how you would get to them without a car. A better bet is to find a trip to a Provincial Park, which are larger and more scenic than nature areas. Within Toronto, there are some nice parks like the Toronto Islands, High Park, and Rouge Park, which are all accessible by public transit. Check out the Sierra Club and visit the Mountain Equipment Co-op to see if there are any trips you can join.
Feb 27, 2013 6:17 AM
23Just remembered this from a bus trip I did with some visiting Chinese, a Toronto bike route map, the routes go through some interesting areas, some like almost being in the country while in the heart of the city.
some city buses have bike racks
Edited by: RayitoG
Feb 27, 2013 7:30 AM
24Toronto has a lot of green space (parks) throughout the city with the Humber Valley and Don Valley being perhaps the two biggest. You can in fact walk/bike up the Don Valley on the bike trails and feel as if you are not in the city. Toronto is well known and admired for that in N. America.
The suburbs of Toronto stretch for many miles around Toronto in every direction and are just mile after mile of cookie cutter housing developments with little if any redeeming features.
As noted, to get into the country you really need to go quite far out and public transport is not likely to get you there. The idea of perhaps going on some kind of organized tour makes some sense. I say that even though I hate tours personally but it may be your only alternative.
Another possibility might be if you meet up with some like minded people in a hostel who are interested in sharing the cost of hiring a car for a day.
If you want to try bicycling, you can hire bikes down at Toronto Harbourfront and they will provide you with a bike path map when you rent. You could do a nice day ride up the Don Valley that way or take the bike on the ferry to ride on the Toronto Islands.
Feb 27, 2013 12:31 PM
25Yeah I'm from a small town in England so I think our term of outskirts may mean different things lol.
#22 thank you I will definitely check out those parks, also those clubs to see what's available. I'm not a huge fan of tours but if its the only way I can do places like that then I'll definitely look into taking them.
#23 thank you that's very helpful :) I do enjoy cycling so I will definitely look into doing that.
#24 thanks, yeah as I said above I'm no a huge fan of tours but if that's the only way to do it then I guess I'll have to take the opportunity. Don Valley sounds lovely, I'll do some research on that, thanks!
You've all been really helpful thank you again.
Feb 28, 2013 10:01 PM
26I've often travelled on the Greyhound and don't see any big problems with it. If you book far enough in advance you can get some really good deals, and you can travel to a wider range of places. VIA is another story - completely overpriced, limited routes, and generally terrible service (maybe because they have no competition? although Greyhound barely does either...)
I second the looking into the Conservation Areas ideas. You can camp in some of them.
If you can, I highly recommend going to the Gaspe region in Quebec.
In Ontario, one of my favourite places is the Bruce Peninsula, though that might be a bit out of your way. There is an awesome national park up there that is definitely worth visiting. It's pretty popular in the summer (always very busy) and you get to see really beautiful green forest, rocky cliffs and clear blue water. It's tons of fun - you can go hiking, kayaking, swimming. It looks like that "parkbus" link someone provided goes up that way (I didn't even know about that bus until now, I should hang out here more often...). If you're interested make sure you book a campsite ahead of time because they fill up fast!
If I were you I'd skip Niagara Falls, although I can imagine for someone who has never seen it it's hard to understand why I would say that. I can't help but think you might be disappointed when you get there, but maybe that's just because I'm used to it. If you did skip it you could spend a few days in another area a bit outside of the more touristed route...
Anyway, from my experience, unless you're sleeping on an overnight route or you get an affordable ticket/pass, take the bus instead of the train.
Edited by: bellaunion
Mar 1, 2013 9:03 AM
27I've done a lot of travel by train and bus in Canada, mostly between South-Western Ontario and Ottawa or Montreal. The train is a really pleasant way to travel, with comfy seats, legroom, and often nicer views than from the bus. It's usually a lot more expensive, though.
That said, in my experience the buses are pretty good (this 'Greyhound sucks' idea is new to me). I've found the schedules to be reliable and customer service to be just fine, although I only travel to and from big cities; it might be different in small towns. I've certainly never seen 'bums' or unsavoury characters on the bus. It's absolutely fine to travel on the bus.
The train and bus are both good options for getting between cities. But there's a paucity of tourist infrastructure to get you to the remote areas, parks, and small communities without a car. Some of the ride share ideas presented here might be quite good, or maybe day tours departing from the cities (check the Lonely Planet to see if such a thing exists). Another option might be to rent a car just for a day or two from one of the cities you stop in.
I've been to the Toronto Islands; they're really nice and give you a great view of the city skyline that you can't get from anywhere else. They're an oasis of quiet parkland and quaint neighbourhoods amid the urban jungle of Toronto! It's a day trip at most - probably half a day would be enough. There isn't much to do other than stroll around (or rent a bike) and enjoy the quaint neighbourhood. I don't think there's anywhere to stay overnight anyway. Go when the weather's nice, because you'll be outdoors pretty much the whole time.
Mar 2, 2013 1:23 PM
28#27 has obviously never been in the sick grey dog terminal in Dallas (a big city) to make a statement about their 'good' service nor ever traveled through a town with a state penitentiary where they give a bus ticket to guys upon release.
Ah well someday she may take a real bus trip.
Mar 3, 2013 6:37 PM
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