I was really excited to go to Montreal.
I had never been to Canada so this trip would help me tick off the country.
I heard it was a mini-France and I was excited to eat as many croissants as I could. I read in my Lonely Planet guidebook that it was a foodie haven.
Lastly and most importantly: it cost only us only $90 return (per person) to get there from New York via Amtrak Adirondack train!
Yes. I just said train.
The Amtrak Adirondack journey was approx. 10-11 hours each way.
The only real issue I had with a journey this length on board a train were the bathroom facilities but apart from that, I didn’t mind that it took half a day to travel. I read that this train trip was very scenic, and it allowed me to catch up on my reading, writing, audiobooks and trip planning.
For the journey I packed the following essentials:
– Smartfoods White Cheddar Popcorn (love this stuff)
– Goldfish crackers
– Muesli bars
– Whole Foods Breakfast Croissants (were stale by the time we ate them)
– My Banana Toffee Easter egg 😂
– Pret A Manger sandwiches
– A bag of Starbursts
– Comfy socks
– Wet wipes
– Disinfectant wipes (especially for the bathroom just in case it was scary in there)
– (Ava’s) Fleece blanket
– Eye mask
– Ear plugs
– Bose noise cancelling headphones
Our Journey To
We arrived 45mins at Penn Station for our 8:15AM Amtrak train.
I wanted to get to the station early to secure seats together as seating was on a first-come first- serve (not assigned), and seats on the left hand side, facing north.
I had read on a forum that the views were best on the left hand side, facing north. The train line ran along the Hudson River for some parts and the tip really paid off.
When we arrived at Penn Station and found where to go for our train, we had our passports and tickets checked, luggage tagged, and instructed to line up in what looked like a random queue in the middle of the station.
At around 8:05AM, we started boarding the train and made sure to grab left hand sided seats. I thought the train would be late to depart but to my surprise, it didn’t! It departed at 8:15AM on the dot.
The train ride was a little rocky at the beginning and it reminded me on being on board a ship. However, once we were on the outside train lines, the ride was smooth.
By 9AM I had eaten half of all the snacks.
The views were gorgeous. The river. The ‘wintery’ trees still brown and leafless. The ice melting. It reminded me briefly of the time I sailed down the Rhine River in Germany.
Believe it or not, the 10-11 hours went by quickly.
If I had to sum up what I got up to, it would be: eating, sleeping, listening to music, looking over at Jon’s iPad, annoying him every 30 mins or so, and reading books on my iPad.
The most exciting thing that happened was when the Canadian Border Security checked our passports, tickets, and asked us questions.
We arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule into Gare Centrale, Montreal.
Our Return Trip
The departure procedure from Montreal to New York was very casual and easy. An Amtrak lady checked our tickets at the station and we just hopped onto the train.
We arrived at the station early again to secure seats together. I chose to sit on the left hand side heading south to get some of the video footage.
The most exciting thing that happened on this trip was when the USA Border Security officers drilled Jon and I.. wanting to know how we knew each other, what we are doing coming into the US, and what he does for work.
Unfortunately, our train arrived into Penn Station a couple of hours late. Our train had to share the train track with other trains and that caused delays.
Our trip was still pleasant and I managed to entertain myself for a large part of it.
Amtrak Adirondack Overall
I would highly recommend the Amtrak Adirondack train to Montreal.
However, if you have a weak bladder and/or a sensitive nose, I do not recommend it.
A few features to note:
Leg room: I am 5′ 6″ or 166cm and I fit snugly. If you are a giant, you will probably need to try and secure two seats and sit sideways.
Food: There was a cafe carriage but I didn’t need to go to. As you can see above, I packed enough to feed the people in one carriage. I was told there is wi-fi in the cafe but apparently it didn’t work.
Wifi: According to the Amtrak website, only selected carriages have wi-fi. Ours did not and I actually liked being disconnected.
Cleanliness: I found on both legs of the trip that our seats were very well kept and clean. I feel sorry for the cleaners that had to fetch all the popcorn that didn’t make it into my mouth.
(UPDATED 21 April, 2015) Luggage: The Amtrak Adirondack booking allowed for carry-on luggage only. There was NO checked luggage option for this trip. Our luggage was counted at Penn Station but not at Montreal. I can only assume that it was because it was a full train.
NOTE: They do NOT like you putting your bags on the seat next to you. They must be stored in the overhead, under the seat in front or the designated baggage areas that were either in the front or back of the carriage.
Note: I went to the bathroom only once and that was on the train to New York.
The train hadn’t left the station yet. The bathroom was a reasonable size, with a lot of room for people if they needed to get change or do some yoga poses secretly. Although I wouldn’t recommend staying in there too long as a) it stunk and b) people will think you are doing something nasty.