Author Topic: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed  (Read 574 times)

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Cali.in.UK

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Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« on: May 14, 2014, 11:10:32 AM »
Hi everyone, I'm in the very early stages of planning a trip to Canada to see friends who live scattered around Ontario and go further from there. I'm still trying to decide if I can afford to go so I thought I would ask on here for some shortcuts in the planning process. I would be flying into Toronto but I want to go to Guelph, Ottawa, and then to Montreal.
I think my options are: 1. rent a car 2. take trains 3. greyhound bus 4. fly
1. I have a drivers licence from the US, but I haven't driven much in the past 4 years because I've been abroad. Does anyone who traveled to Canada and rented a car have any experience with it? How difficult it was to navigate etc?
2 + 3 How quick/comfortable/expensive/safe are the trains and/or greyhound
4. Are domestic flights a good option from Toronto to Ottawa?

Mergatroyd

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2014, 11:20:30 AM »
If you have a drivers license, driving around Canada is very easy. You can turn right on a red light, except in Quebec.
The trains are pretty good, I'd choose them over the greyhound. The bus takes forever, can be cramped and crowded, and sometimes the stops are not at ideal times or places. Flying would be fastest if you can afford it, but you'll see less of the countryside. Montreal has great trains. As for safety, most everything is safe really. I've never had a problem on the bus, train, or plane.
Car rental is easy, get insurance.

Cali.in.UK

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2014, 11:33:23 AM »
Thank you! :)

blue2000

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2014, 12:32:52 PM »
I like both the trains and the bus. I think they might be easier for you than a car.

If you are planning trips around while you are here, do get a bus/train map online and check where you want to go and how. The major bus and train lines in Ontario are kind of quirky, like a demented spiderweb with Toronto in the middle and the lakes smushing up against it. Plenty of buses/trains run back and forth through Toronto along the shore. They go all the way to Montreal if you want (and I've been that way. It is a nice trip by train).  But if you want to go to Guelph, that is a separate bus/train line that goes perpendicular to the main lines.

On another subject, Montreal is so beautiful. Walk around if you can, instead of driving, so you can see as much as possible. And the food!!! I'd live there if I could. :)
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2014, 03:03:06 PM »
Guelph is about an hour from Toronto, Ottawa about 4 in the other direction and Montreal is about 4 more (I think) from Ottawa.

To get to Guelph and Ottawa, you will have to drive on the 401.  It is the busiest highway in North America.  You do NOT want to be driving on this highway at rush hour times because it is very, very congested.  Plus, we are now into our other season besides winter.  Construction.  Only 2 seasons here, winter and construction.   :P  So I wouldn't recommend renting a car, in light of the fact that you haven't driven much lately.

There is decent train service between Toronto and Ottawa and I believe it continues on to Montreal.  There is also train service between Toronto and Guelph but I believe is is mostly a commuter service so you might be limited in travel time.

If you are flying into Pearson, you will have to take a bus or taxi to get to the start of the subway line.  Once you hit the subway, though, you can get all the way down to Union Station where the trains will leave from.

Guelph is a university town so the transit is OK.  When I went to school there, it didn't run on Sundays.  That may very well have changed though, since that was (mumblety) years ago.  Ottawa has decent transit.  I don't know about Montreal.
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wx4caster

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2014, 03:59:57 PM »
Guelph is about an hour from Toronto, Ottawa about 4 in the other direction and Montreal is about 4 more (I think) from Ottawa.

To get to Guelph and Ottawa, you will have to drive on the 401.  It is the busiest highway in North America.  You do NOT want to be driving on this highway at rush hour times because it is very, very congested.  Plus, we are now into our other season besides winter.  Construction.  Only 2 seasons here, winter and construction.   :P  So I wouldn't recommend renting a car, in light of the fact that you haven't driven much lately.

There is decent train service between Toronto and Ottawa and I believe it continues on to Montreal.  There is also train service between Toronto and Guelph but I believe is is mostly a commuter service so you might be limited in travel time.

If you are flying into Pearson, you will have to take a bus or taxi to get to the start of the subway line.  Once you hit the subway, though, you can get all the way down to Union Station where the trains will leave from.

Guelph is a university town so the transit is OK.  When I went to school there, it didn't run on Sundays.  That may very well have changed though, since that was (mumblety) years ago.  Ottawa has decent transit.  I don't know about Montreal.

Montreal is only about 2 hours from Ottawa. But that is assuming you're still moving once you pass the city limits.  I don't know about buses, but I found the subway to be reliable.
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green.and.blue

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2014, 04:08:47 PM »
I would suggest greyhound bus from Toronto to Guelph. They are comofortable, reliable, and there are some express services. GO bus/tains do run to Guelph, but only on commuter schedules.

The VIA train from Toronto-Ottawa or Montreal is wonderful, but pricier. You can catch the VIA in Guelph as well, but will need to switch in Toronto anyway. As far as flying, we have flown from Hamilton or Kitchener to Ottawa before. They are smaller airports than Toronto and the service is nice. If you are in Guelph, Kitchener is closest, and you could easily get an airport shuttle, I think Red Car.

The local transit services in Toronto (TTC) and Ottawa (OC) are great - no need for a car in either city. Guelph transit is spotty at best.

Happy vacation!

Cali.in.UK

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2014, 05:57:58 AM »
Thank you everyone! All the information is really helpful ;D

Sharnita

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2014, 07:12:59 AM »
As somebody who lives in Michigan,  driving in Canada has never seemed too bad.

Coralreef

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Re: Getting around Canada, advice and tips needed
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2014, 10:06:35 AM »
I would suggest you check distances between cities carefully.  To Canadians / Americans, a distance of 200 km is not that bad, but talking with European friends, they thought we were crazy to drive Montréal - Québec City - Montréal in the same day.  Also, most Canadians will give you distance in time rather than km or miles, as it will depend on the time of year.  Somehow cities get further apart in the winter  ;D.

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