Stuck on a Paris train in 38C weather

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a Paris RER train

July 1, 2015 (Wednesday) – After our day at the Chateau de Versailles, we headed back to the RER train station to grab a train back into Paris. We were looking forward to doing some extra stuff when we got back into Paris. However, things did not go smoothly for the end of this hottest day of the year so far.

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D’Orsay Morning

View of Montmartre and Tuileries Gardens from the Musée d’Orsay

June 30, 2015 (Tuesday) – Our fifth day in Paris started with a visit to the Musée d’Orsay. It was a 30 minute Metro ride on the green Line 12 from our Marcadet-Poissoniers. Even though we got to the Museum early, it was already a long line-up to get into the d’Orsay. We had our Paris Museum Pass that allowed us to go through a different line. However, that line was just as busy as the regular ticket line this morning.

The Musée d’Orsay was another high priority on my visit to Paris. One of my clients had talked about how much she loved the Musée d’Orsay over the Louvre Museum. I know that the Musée d’Orsay houses many of the great works of the great artists. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.

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小樽 Otaru Day Trip

We had finished our first week of Japanese language classes at JaLS and we were upon our first full weekend in Hokkaido. We originally tried to get bus tickets to Hakodate for the Saturday, but all the times we wanted to take were sold out. So we decided to visit Otaru this Saturday instead.

Rapid Airport at Otaru Station

Otaru is a about a 40-60 minute train ride on the JR train. If you grab the Local train, then it stops at every single station. However, if timing works for you, then you can grab one of the express trains and bypass all the smaller stations. Regardless of the speed of the train, the ticket still costs ¥640 for a one-way ticket. The ride from Sapporo to Teine is all above ground and offers a view of the city from high above the streets. However, soon after Teine station, we are travelling right along the coastline of Ishikari Bay until we reach Otaru.

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Getting Around Sapporo – Japan Rail (JR)

In Japan, Japan Rail (JR) is a name that can be found across the country. It comes in many flavours. There’s the green JR East that most people will see in Tokyo, the blue JR West found in Kansai townships, the orange JR Central that serves everything between Kanto and Kansai regions, and more. In Hokkaido, there is the light green manifestation of JR known as JR Hokkaido.

In Sapporo, almost all the JR trains must go through Sapporo Station. This is probably the busiest train station in all of Hokkaido seeing about 90,000 passengers a day go through its doors. If you walk through the station around 6pm, you will feel the rush of 90,000 passengers a day.

If one must get to destinations beyond Sapporo or outside of the subway system, then JR is one way to do it. You can think of JR as a commuter rail system serving the “suburbs” of Sapporo. JR Hokkaido is more than just a suburban commuter rail, but for the purpose of getting around the outer areas of Sapporo, that’s the closest description that matches its services.

Sapporo JR Lines Map

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Getting Around Sapporo – The Sapporo Subway

Sapporo, just like other Japanese cities, is well serviced by rail transportation. The subway system serves most of the inner city. The Japan Rail Hokkaido (hereby referred to as JR) trains connect Sapporo to the surrounding towns, the New Chitose Airport, and other major destinations throughout Hokkaido.

The System

The Sapporo Subway system is made up of 3 lines and is very simple to use.  Rides on the subway range from ¥200-360 depending on how far one travels through the system. The blue Toho Line runs north-south and serves the northeast and southeast of Sapporo. Major destinations accessible on the Toho Line include Toyohiro Park (Toyohiro Koen station), and the Sapporo Dome (Fukuzumi station). The green Namboku Line runs north-south as well, but serve the areas directly north and south of the city centre. Major destinations along the line include Nakajima Park (Nakajima Koen station) and Hokkaido University (Kita 12 Jo station). The orange Tozai Line runs mainly east-west and serves the city’s northwest and part of the southeast.  Famous attractions on the Tozai Line include the Shiroi Koibito Park (Miyanosawa station) and Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen station). All three lines feed into Odori Station. Like most Japanese subway systems, all stations in the system have a letter and number combo to identify the station. Because you know it’s a lot easier to say station H-05 than saying Higashi Kuyakusho Mae station for us foreigners.

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In Transit – The Union-Pearson (UP) Express

On my last trip to Toronto, I actually could see part of the construction of the new express train station at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. It’s due to open in Spring of 2015 in time for the Pan-Am Games. It looks pretty exciting to me. 25 minutes to downtown Toronto would be way better than the current 60 minute ride by the Airport Shuttle Bus.  Add that to my transit checklist. Here are some pictures/renderings from the Union Pearson Express site.

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Edmonton LRT – South LRT

After the Health Sciences Station at the University of Alberta, the Edmonton LRT continues south along 114 Street.  The next stop is McKernan Belgravia.  It’s a small, unassuming station near 76 Avenue.  The largest landmark around here is the McKernan School across the street.  Photographically, what interested me was the underground pedestrian/bicycle passage way and the ramps on either side. Further south along 114th Street … Continue reading Edmonton LRT – South LRT

Edmonton LRT – Downtown and University of Alberta

The downtown Edmonton LRT stations are currently all underground.  It starts at Churchill Station in the east.  Churchill is right under the Sir Winston Churchill Square which is home to festivals every weekend in the summer.  It’s also right by Edmonton City Hall. The LRT then swings straight westward underneath Jasper Avenue.  3 stations sit underneath Jasper Avenue.  From east to west the stations are … Continue reading Edmonton LRT – Downtown and University of Alberta

Rocky Mountaineer Whistler

In early August, I was lucky enough to be invited for a quick one-day round trip ride of the Rocky Mountaineer Whistler.  Being a train/transit fan, I couldn’t resist and take up the offer. The ride started so early that the company actually put us up at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel the night before.  This way, it was guaranteed that all of the group would … Continue reading Rocky Mountaineer Whistler