Possible one-week Amtrak+ vacation to Montreal+

Discussion in 'Northeast' started by velotrain, Jul 30, 2019.

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  1. Jul 30, 2019 #1

    velotrain

    velotrain

    velotrain

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    An interesting vacation for New Yorkers (NYC) using the two most scenic routes in the NE. This could also be used by those to the south - but they would a need a connection to the Adirondack. Take the Adirondack to Montreal and spend as many days there as you care to. I recommend taking VIA to Ottawa for a day or two, as it's a wonderful city, in my view more visually appealing and compact than sprawling Montreal. The station is several miles out from the town center (sort of a VIA Amshack ;-) From Montreal take a bus to Burlington, VT, to catch the Vermonter for the return trip.


    If you're not aware of it, Burlington itself is well worth one or more days. I would also suggest renting a car for the day to explore the lovely Lake Champlain Islands, perhaps returning down the NY side with a ferry ride to Gordon Landing late in the day. There are also suitably interesting and scenic areas on the Vermont "mainland." BTW - you'll need to take a taxi to the Amtrak station in Essex Junction to catch the Vermonter. Although a much smaller city, I find Montpelier quite attractive and very walkable - perhaps the most friendly state capitol in the country and perfect for 24 hours of downtime between trains.


    I've created two driving routes out of Burlington, one a bit longer than the other. I'm using generic starting points near the crossing of I-89 and US 2, which on the west slopes down the hill through the middle of town before reaching the lake. Most of the chain hotels are here - there's a couple close to the lake, but you could pay twice as much for lake-view rooms. You'll need to determine the best Greyhound stop and car rental agency for you.


    This software is designed for recording and viewing bike rides, but I've used it to plan the routes for the many group tours I've led around here over the past three decades. You can use the basic version of the product for free, so you can create your own account, open one of my routes, and save it with a new name, then you can make modifications after doing the above steps. Or, you can create your own route from scratch! As a non-paying customer you're severely limited in what you can do, so I usually hide the side and bottom panels.


    There is a bit of a learning curve, but it's not too bad and there are many in-product tutorials, and there's an Undo button if you inadvertently place a Control Point along the wrong route - which is very easy to do. Lastly, the routes (mine or yours) are downloadable to a GPS device. I imagine you would need a portable device since you're renting a car, but there may be some way to connect it. This is also a great tool for planning urban explorations - such as a walk around Montreal. No more standing at street corners with a map and looking confused.


    Since these routes were developed from a cycling background, my general priorities are to avoid busy roads (except I-89 when warranted), select the most scenic roads available, and ride as close / next to the lake whenever possible. There are many other options in the area, but I can state with some certainty that these are the best routes for getting the best overview of the lake in one day. I first saw the Champlain Islands when my father drove down them on our way back from Expo in October 1967 - I had just gotten out of the army in Germany. Although there are many places that I can visit once and be satisfied, Lake Champlain has a sublime beauty that I never tire of returning to.


    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30698297 122 miles


    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30706232 164 miles
     
  2. Jul 31, 2019 #2

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

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    Agree that Ottawa is a Wonderful City to visit, when the Weather is nice! LOL

    Seriously, it's great in the Winter too, but very Cold, but the Winter Carnival is Spectacular!!

    And Vermont and Lake Champlain are Marvelous places in the Summer!:cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
  3. Aug 9, 2019 #3

    velotrain

    velotrain

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    After taking the Adirondack on Monday I have a variation that I would use - perhaps later this year. All the lake scenery is gone by the time you reach Plattsburgh, the border crossing takes maybe an hour and a half, and the last hour into Montreal is tedious non-stop suburbs. So, unless you really want to get to Montreal, I'd suggest getting off at Port Kent and taking the ferry across the lake to Burlington. It's an hour long crossing, but there's a restaurant/bar at the Port Kent dock if you'll have a long wait. I would suggest traveling lightly. Greyhound apparently has a Plattsburgh-Burlington bus, but they claim it's a 9-hour trip - which I can't begin to fathom as 2-3 seems more reasonable based on the route.

    There are a couple of high-end hotels (lake view rooms extra, but it is a majestic view at sunset from an upper floor) reasonably close to the Burlington dock, although uphill. All the major chains are at the I-89 - US 2 intersection a mile plus up the hill near UVM, so a taxi is required, and perhaps suggested for the downtown hotels.
     
  4. Aug 9, 2019 #4

    jis

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    I am a bit confused about the comment about the location of Ottawa VIA station. The last time I went there on VIA, the Ottawa Station was within a mile or two of downtown. There was another suburban station called Fallowfield where the Ottawa terminating trains from Montreal actually originated and terminated.

    This is Ottawa Station. Is this the one you are saying is an Amshack like station?:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/4...!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d45.41599!4d-75.65151

    And this is Fallowfield Park and Ride Station:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/F...ba896ebd705b26!8m2!3d45.2992771!4d-75.7365782
     
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  5. Aug 9, 2019 #5

    velotrain

    velotrain

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    I saw it decades ago and only the exterior.
    It seemed to me that it was miles from downtown.
     
  6. Aug 9, 2019 #6

    jis

    jis

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    It is less than two miles from the University area, and a little further from the central district. Not as deeply embedded in the downtown as Montreal Central or Toronto Union, but not exactly out in the boonies like Essex is from Burlington either, though one could almost feel like it since it is adjacent to a significant highway interchange.
     
  7. Aug 9, 2019 #7

    velotrain

    velotrain

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    You would need a bus or taxi to reach it or to get to downtown from there, while understanding why it was done.
     
  8. Aug 9, 2019 #8

    jis

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    From sometime this year, one will be able to take the O Train Confederation Line (Route 1) from Tremblay/VIA Rail Station at ( couple of hundred feet walk) Ottawa VIA Station to downtown. The bus connection to downtown is Routes 61 and 62 to be replaced by Route 1 (Confederation Line).

    This Wikipedia page has good information on how bus lines will change when Confederation Line Route 1 goes into service, now slated for September.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OC_Transpo_routes

    Lots of changes.... I guess it is coming to be time to visit Ottawa again! Maybe next summer.
     
  9. Aug 9, 2019 #9

    velotrain

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    One amazing thing that I've enjoyed several times approaching the city from the west by bicycle are the creative stacks of stones in the Ottawa River by John Felice Ceprano, which he needs to redo each spring as the winter high waters and ice destroy them. My group actually found him at work one Labor Day weekend and he said he formerly lived in Providence, RI. These are best to see from the walking/cycling path along the river, but there may be a nearby parking area if driving. No doubt a search will yield more info.



    Searching on " stacked stones in ottawa river at ottawa " will provide lots of hits and images, although most are low quality images on Pinterest or copymarked stock photos on commercial sites.



    Here is a good story I just found. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/david-leonhardt/the-man-who-balances-rock_b_10725956.html
     
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  10. Aug 10, 2019 #10

    jiml

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    Neither really qualify as "Amshacks". I quite like Ottawa's main station - bright and airy, with a decent lounge. It did used to be rather sleepy and a bit far from town, but greatly increased service and urban sprawl have dealt with both of those.
     
  11. Aug 10, 2019 #11

    jis

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    And it will become even more integrated with the very frequent Confederation Line 1 service to downtown. Unfortunately, given its location it is less likely that a hub of activity would develop in its immediate neighborhood.
     
  12. Aug 10, 2019 #12

    velotrain

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    As I saw it some 25 years ago, it was rather sleepy and seemed a good ways from town - certainly not a classic downtown station.
     
  13. Aug 10, 2019 #13

    velotrain

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    Also, my calling it an Amshack was related to my experience of Buffalo Depew, which is also sleepy and quite far from the urban core.

    As I only saw the Ottawa station from the outside, I didn't realize how large the interior space was.
     
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  14. Aug 10, 2019 #14

    jis

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    Apparently the Ottawa station, if it were an Amshack, would be the Amshack that has won most architecture plaudits and awards among all Amshacks. :)

    It is also apparently protected under the Heritage Railway Station Protection Act.

    Of course there once was a classic downtown Union Station in Ottawa which this one replaces. The classic station is now a conference center, and predictably the tracks leading to it are now replaced by a scenic parkway.

    I just got curious about it and looked it up.
     
  15. Aug 10, 2019 #15

    velotrain

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    "For many decades the area east of the canal had held Ottawa's main rail lines connecting to the Ottawa Train Station near the northern end of the canal. In the mid-1960s the train station was controversially relocated about 3 km (1.9 mi) southeast in an industrial area in the east end of the city, leaving the area on the eastern bank of the canal open for development. The National Capital Commission thus decided to create a scenic parkway."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonel_By_Drive
     
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