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We rode Amtrak’s Maple Leaf from Poughkeepsie to Niagara Falls Ontario on 4 June 2011. Beginning the trip in Poughkeepsie we expected to encounter some difficulty finding two seats together, but although the train was pretty crowded a couple of seats were still available. The ride was pleasant with views of the Hudson River early in the trip and then the Mohawk River later. As with most long trips we visited the café car multiple times. Unfortunately the credit card reader was not working properly so while we were able to charge our first meal, the ones after that were paid with cash, which became a problem on our return trip (see my Empire Service trip report).
There were no real slowdowns along the trip, although we did seem to move very slowly between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. At Niagara Falls New York we stopped for a long time, which while it was nice to walk around outside for a bit, knowing we were so close to our destination made this seem like a big waste of time. Finally we were on our way again for the slow journey to the Niagara River. Here it was actually nice that we were going so slowly because it gave us a chance to really look around and take pictures of the gorge. Since a special pass is required to drive over that bridge, the train is the only way for most of us to get exactly that view of the river.
When we reached the station in Canada, we were kept in our seats for a few minutes while the agents did a brief walkthrough of the train, then we were directed off the train and into part of the station to go through inspection. While this did take awhile, the staff working in this area was quite pleasant and helpful to those of us waiting in line. The nice thing about individual inspections off the train is that once we were cleared we were permitted to leave, while other people continuing on were allowed to re-board the train or walk around outside. The Canadian authorities were even OK with me photographing the train at this time.
We stayed at a Hampton Inn just around the corner from the station. This is in downtown Niagara Falls, which is a VERY quiet area on a weekend. Later that evening we took the half hour walk along the gorge to see the falls and have dinner in the tourist area. A city bus got us back to the hotel later that evening, and early the next morning we took an Empire Service train from Niagara Falls New York back to Poughkeepsie.
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Copyright 2011 by Robert Mortell