Not that anyone ever really needs an excuse to go to Montréal, but here are two additional reasons to think about hopping a train north this fall.
The first is the addition of The Great Dome Car to Amtrak's Adirondack line until November 10 northbound from Albany on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays and southbound from Montréal on Fridays, Sundays, and Tuesdays. Despite its lackluster name, the dome car is really quite a trip. The upper observation level has curved windows that allow passengers to watch Canada geese maneuver in formation across the sky and catch glimpses of lives lived in towns and villages along Lake Champlain and on into southern Quebéc. (Literally, you're seated somewhere between the first and second floors of most of the houses that you pass.)
Down below, there are a handful of booths, but the windows are currently plastered over with Amtrak graphics advertising the beauty of this very trip. This isn't all bad, however, as it was a great place to get some work done on my way back from a great (Canadian) Thanksgiving (it was on Monday, October 12). The lower level also has an eerie ghost-ship quality to it with its gleaming (yet abandoned) stainless-steel café and bar swaying from side-to-side along the route that can definitely conjure images of nights filled with jazz and precariously-full martinis after the car made its debut in 1955.
But wait! There's more! Amtrak is currently running an "I Love New York" promotion that gives travelers who book at least three days in advance twenty percent off all fares throughout New York State (including the St. Lambert and Montréal stations in Canada) on the Adirondack, Empire Service (to Niagara Falls), Ethan Allen Express (to Rutland), Lake Shore Limited (to Chicago), and Maple Leaf (to Toronto) lines through November 20.
Crossing the St. Lawrence on the Pont Victoria into Montréal is worth the price of admission alone on this route, but don't just take my word for it: National Geographic Traveler Magazine rated the Adirondack one of the top ten best rail journeys in the world back in 2000.
Michael Allen Potter is a native Albanian recently returned from The West who writes about trains, travel, coffee, and books at I, Cartographer
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