The Vermonter, a luxurious Winter glide from Washington DC to St Albans, Vermont.
Your journey begins from the snow dusted Penn station, Manhattan. You cruise Northwards past the whitened landscape and by the time you reach Hartford, Connecticut the snow has softened out the rough edges in a carpet several inches thick. The carriages begin to feel the effects of the cold as the snow builds up between them and rows of pretty icicles adorn the exposed surfaces. The line follows the valley of the Connecticut river and offers fine views of the Green Mountains on the Eastern side. The train passes frozen lakes dotted with the huts of ice fishermen trying their luck. The cosy cafe bar is full of the excited chatter of skiers on their way to the mountain runs at Ascutney, Bear Creek and Stowe. As night falls the landscape is bathed in pale moonlight and the train passes close by Naulakha, the onetime home of Rudyard Kipling and the place where he penned the stories of Mowgli and his Jungle Book adventures.
The excursion ends at St Albans. Here there is a range of accommodation available but very popular are the modestly priced Bed and Breakfast places that abound within a short taxi ride of the station. Should you wish to continue the journey there is a bus connection on to Montreal. The Adirondack, a leisurely ride North from New York and across the border to French influenced Montreal.
The Adirondack runs all through the year and there is plenty to see in every season. However, this trip was in the chilly early Spring so there was no use for the open cars that are popular in the warmer months. The journey begins in the functional but businesslike surroundings of Penn Station. The weather of late has been warmer and the snow that has blanketed the countryside recently has begun to thaw. However, this should take nothing away from the spectacular views you are expecting as the train winds it’s unhurried way North. The train hoots to signal it’s departure and you wind your way out through Yonkers and into open country. The scenery becomes more rugged as you approach Storm King Mountain crossing land that was hotly contested during the Revolutionary War. Franklin D Roosevelt had his house in these parts and the West Point Military Academy is not far away. At Hudson the views of the Catskill Mountains slide by.
The line skirts the edge of Lake Champlain, it’s shores dotted with log cabins, pine woodlands and despite it being Spring, still frozen beaches. The cold obviously keeping ‘Champy’ the legendary lake monster out of sight today! The station at Rouse’s Point marks the border into French Canada and you can begin to look forward to elegant patisseries, fine cheeses and chocolate in Montreal. Fortunately, if you have booked your accommodation at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel above the Gare Centralle and so will not even have to venture out into the cold at the end of your journey. The Downeaster, a short but magical journey along the New England coast between Boston and Portland.
Leaving Boston’s North Station behind the train runs at a leisurely pace through picturesque woodlands passing small towns and villages of white clapboard houses. Short stops at Exeter, Durham and Dover show the New England architecture at it’s best. The station at Wells Beach is just a short hop from the Bush family’s favourite vacation spot of Kennebunkport. You get your first glimpse of the sea at Old Orchard Beach shortly before pulling into your final destination of Portland. Once there take the time to explore the older parts of town walking across cobbled streets and sampling the delightful seafood restaurants down by the harbour. Trips by boat out to Calender Islands are available although you can leave these delights for another time.