More photos can be found here.

It was an early day on Thursday as I left Philadelphia. It is theoretically possible to get pretty far by train from the city. You can reach Boston, Montreal, Washington, Newport News, and even Toronto, but to reach the farthest points, you have to get up at the butt-end of morning. In my case, to catch a 5:15 a.m. train meant getting up at 3:45.

But I was game. I wanted to finish the day with a long train trip, and one of the most scenic, according to some exports, is Amtrak’s Adirondack, running from New York to Montreal and departing at 8:15 a.m. It did mean a 90 minute layover in Penn Station, which wasn’t the most pleasant of places, busy and cramped. It meant arriving in New York before the sun had come up, and staying indoors and underground most of the time. Fortunately, this was temporary. Once aboard, and through the long tunnel through Manhattan, we went up the east side of the Hudson River, a scenic journey that I loved ever since I saw it in the classic train scene in Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest.

The trains of Amtrak’s northeast corridor are efficient. The trains outside it are somewhat less so. We were about a half hour late getting out of Albany, and an hour late by the time we reached Saratoga Springs. We didn’t seem to notice, however, what with all the fall colours in upstate New York, and the highlight of the trip, travelling the shores of Lake Champlain towards the Quebec border.

The border crossing at Rouses Point was uneventful, and we managed to make up a little time. Unfortunately we lost it due to competing freights and slow track conditions in Quebec itself. This long trip, taken after dark, was a bit uncomfortable. I was glad to stretch my legs again in Montreal.

There are moves afoot, I hear, to speed up train travel south of Montreal. Canada and the United States have signed a treaty to install customs pre-clearance at Montreal’s Gare Centrale. This move, once ratified by congress and parliament, will not only speed up departure times for the Adirondack, but also allow for the reinstatement of the Montreal-Washington Vermonter. There are even plans afoot for a direct Montreal-Boston train, which I think I will take once it becomes a reality.

I came to Philadelphia to eat its food and ride its streetcars. I think Boston is my next adventure. It has the streetcars. I only need to find the food.

More photos can be found here.


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