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Amtrak Adirondack Trip Report

We rode Amtrak’s Adirondack from Fort Edward to Montreal on 17 July 2010, returning from Montreal the next day. Other stations served by the Adirondack were visited during our journeys on the Ethan Allen Express and Empire Service.

Beginning our journey in Fort Edward worked very well. Aside from being a beautiful old station, there was a small gift shop and snack area inside allowing us to get a cool drink on a very hot day. The station was stocked with plenty of Amtrak schedules and brochures including route guides, and the person at the gift shop even gave the boys a couple of Amtrak coloring books for the journey. It was a very pleasant station to visit.

Another advantage to starting in Fort Edward is that it meant that we sat in one of the “local” cars where many passengers had already gotten off the train or would get off at one of the next few stops. As a result, we were able to easily find seats and sit together, and by the time we reached the Canadian border our car was nearly empty. Our understanding is those going all of the way from New York to Montreal sat in the back of the train which remained crowded the whole way.

As with most Amtrak trips we visited the café car multiple times. The first visit was soon after we boarded and it was still so crowded with people eating lunch that we had to bring our lunch back to our seats, which was nowhere near as comfortable as sitting at a table in the café car. Future visits were no problem though, with tables readily available.

The scenery along Lake Champlain was very pleasant, and the weather was beautiful until we were nearly in Montreal when some strong thunderstorms hit.

This was our first time crossing the border by train, and it was a long boring process both ways with more than an hour sitting stationary, not permitted to move from our seats until the train was cleared. Luckily on the way to Montreal by the time we reached the border the kids had met other kids on the train and they kept themselves entertained with their video games.

We only had to stop and wait for another train to pass once, so in general we seemed to move along pretty comfortably. The one exception to this was a long stretch through the Montreal suburbs where we seemed to crawl along at about 10 mph for at least 30 minutes, apparently due to really poor track since we went the same speed through that section on the return trip also. We also travelled slowly through much of northern New York on the return trip due to dark signals, resulting in a very late arrival.

We arrived into Montreal about an hour late in the middle of a thunderstorm. We stayed at the Hilton, so it was nice to be able to find our way through all of the tunnels connecting the buildings in that area and not need to go outside. We got a bit lost the first time through, but by the next morning we were old pros. Unfortunately due to the weather we couldn’t use the pool nor did we want to explore the city in the rain, so we settled in for a quiet evening.

The next morning brought a beautiful crisp sunny day and the opportunity to explore a little bit before returning to stand on line and wait for our return train. Once again because we were only going to Fort Edward we were directed to a nearly empty car. We found we had the same crew for our return trip as we had the day before, so it was nice chatting with them in the café car for a bit. One surprise at breakfast on the return trip was that although we were rolling through Canada, Canadian currency was not accepted in the café car. This wasn’t a problem for us since I was using a credit card, but a few of the Canadian folks found themselves in a bit of a pickle. I had some extra cash so traded some “American” for loonies so at least the folks who were with us could eat.

Another even longer wait at the border, but at least it was near the beginning of the trip this time. The train became more crowded as we continued until by the time we reached Fort Edward we were ready to call the journey complete.

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