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Tracking Down Adventure

August 5, 2010

I had come to Montreal—alone—for three days of sightseeing, the pursuit of gastronomic pleasures, and a dose of the unfamiliar. I got all three, visiting nine museums over the course of 72 hours, sampling my very first gravy-and-cheese curd-laden poutine, getting caught up in the national pastime, and generally having a marvelous vacation. All done without the odious tinge of compromise. My time was my own. Wherever I wanted to go, I went. When I wanted to leave, I left. So as I prepared to board Amtrak’s Adirondack service back to New York, I was leaving with sack full of pleasant memories. I had no regrets (save that I had missed out on a Schwarz’s smoked meat sandwich). It was Sunday morning and I was scheduled to be back to work on Monday. In my mind, the best part of the trip was behind me. I braced myself for the 10-hour train ride back to reality. I didn’t realize then that riding the Adirondack would amount to one of the better parts of my trip.

As the train chugged southward, out of Montreal and past the suburbs, we were accompanied by flocks of  migrating birds in “chevron flight”  against a cloudy and sunless sky. Pulling away from the city and moving towards more rural areas, we  glimpsed high mountains and vast lakes. We passed smaller lakes and streams, sparkling and dancing in the sunlight, as well as tiny towns that both man and time seemed to have forgotten. The windows of the car, wide and clear, granted me an almost panoramic view of the world outside as the silver train slid southward back to New York.

The train trip turned out to be one of the highlights of my journey. Sure, air travel is significantly more efficient (a non-stop flight from Newark to Montreal would have taken slightly less than an hour and a half), but you can’t beat watching the world whiz by your window. Train travel isn’t dead. Plus, it’s great for traveling solo—it’s affordable (my round trip fare to Montreal was a mere $124) and you get plenty of time to meet and chat with fellow travelers.

If you’re trying to track down your own railway adventure, why not start with National Geographic Traveler’s Top 10 North American Train Trips?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. oldsalt1942 permalink
    October 21, 2010 11:30 am

    I LOVE traveling on trains. I made several trips between Boston and Chicago when I was going to college in Missouri. Once from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. Once a round trip from New Orleans to Chicago on the “City of New Orleans.” And one time I took the TGV bullet train from Paris, France to Antibes, France. THAT trip was truly memorable whizzing through the countryside at over 300 kilometers and hour. And there’s a speedometer at the front end of each car.

    You miss so much when you fly. You go to a crowded, unimaginative terminal near your home, get crammed into an aluminum tube and deposited at a new terminal that looks like the place you just came from. Sort of a precursor to “beam me up, Scotty.”

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