This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Amtrak.
Sometimes we yearn for a quick getaway. While we certainly love jetting off across the sea and exploring a new country on a long vacation, travel doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. In fact, a simple weekend escape somewhere new is often all we need to feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and romantic!
Many couples like us can relate: the desire to have an adventure, to escape from the everyday doldrums; the need to satisfy our wanderlust. But just because you’re short on time, doesn’t mean you have to be short on experiences. We recently escaped to Montreal for a few days with Amtrak, and it didn’t take long for us to see that this is a wonderful way to travel. Amtrak travels to 500+ destinations across the country, but there are plenty right in your own backyard. Journeying from the Northeast, we were able to hop aboard Amtrak’s Adirondack line and have a sweet adventure in Montreal—an international adventure, to boot!
Come along with us and see why Amtrak is a special way to travel, and why a destination like Montreal makes for a romantic getaway à la perfection.
Off to a Relaxing Start
Travel is all about the destination, right? Not necessarily. While sometimes the chaos of transport can cause a bit of stress (we’re looking at you, airports), traveling by train is the opposite. This is such a simple and straightforward way to get where you’re going, without the hassle of security lines, luggage restrictions, and tiny plane cabins.
Instead, trains have an undeniable element of laid-back luxury to them. Your seating area is far more spacious than it would be on a plane, and there was room aplenty for our legs. You’ve got a tray table plus outlets to keep your gadgets charged. Once you’re on the train, you can move about as you please, exploring the dining area or observation car, or sit and enjoy the scenery gliding by.
In essence, on a train journey, your vacation has already begun.
Grab a beer or wine and settle in with your darling for a serene, scenic train ride. This is a great opportunity to indulge in some quality time. We suggest long conversations or reading side-by-side.
Seeing America from Your Window
One of our favorite things about train travel is the views. Many of Amtrak’s routes pass through glorious areas of the country, and you’ve got the best seat in the house: just look out the window!
We traveled to Montreal on the Adirondack route. This scenic journey begins in New York City and runs all the way to Montreal once per day. We were very excited to travel on this train, as we’d heard about the epic views it offers–especially in the fall foliage season. In Saratoga Springs, we boarded the train and got our cameras ready. Winding its way north, the Adirondack train does not disappoint. Each leg of the journey brings new and unexpected delights. Snaking its way through tall rocks, the train suddenly unveils majestic vistas over blue lakes. After a tunnel you might find, outside your window, lakeside cliffs peppered with red and yellow leaves. There are too many “ooh” and “ahhh” moments to count!
We’d already seen so much beauty, and we hadn’t even gotten to Montreal! This is what is so great about train travel.
On select Amtrak trains during the autumn season, you can also find the dome car. This tall train carriage has panoramic windows that stretch nearly to the top of the car, providing awesome glimpses of the passing scenery. Our return voyage featured this dome car, and we spent a few hours taking in the glory of the foliage, lakes, and distant mountains.
A Touch of European Romance
It was quite fitting that our destination was Montreal, the French-speaking city that is well known for its culture and European vibes. We often associate train travel with Europe, as trains are so plentiful throughout the continent. Taking the Adirondack train to Montreal brought back a lot of fond memories of international travel. And indeed, there is something truly romantic and classic about train travel. Amtrak has nicely blended that sophisticated vibe with contemporary travel needs and a modern style.
Montreal was lovely. You can read a more detailed post about our itinerary soon. Staying in Old Montreal, we were steps away from historic buildings, delicious cafes, and quaint little shops. This was also easy to access after getting off the train. Montreal’s Gare Central is connected to the city’s Metro, and after a five-minute walk, we began the Metro ride toward our hotel.
We arrived in Montreal with no strict itinerary–to us, this is the most romantic and exciting way to travel. We were free to wander and explore hand in hand, discovering as we went. From Old Montreal to the hip Plateau Mont Royal, we saw a great deal in just a few days.
The weather had just turned colder when we arrived, so it felt crisp and chilly–exactly like autumn in the city should be. We feasted on delicious lattes and croissants in a cozy cafe, soaked in the awe-inspiring interior of the Basilique Notre-Dame du Montreal, and gazed at historic buildings and landmarks. Of course, we also made time to enjoy Montreal’s iconic culinary delight: poutine.
The architecture is very European, especially in Old Montreal, making it an ideal place for photography lovers like us. We had fun taking photos at night too, as the area is lit up beautifully. During our nighttime exploring, we came across an unusual sight: the projected image of a monk on a tall city building. This turned out to be a really unique exhibit, a video series depicting the history of Montreal projected onto the sides of buildings all over Old Montreal. Called Cité Mémoire, this film celebrates the 375th anniversary of the city of Montreal and showcases important events and people of the city. We sat down in the grass behind the Hotel de Ville and watched the entire film. Set to epic orchestral arrangements, it was really moving–we had chills!
Check out this family bucket list for more ideas of fun things to do in Montreal.
The Adirondack Train to Montreal: Tips for Travelers
We definitely think you should take the Adirondack train to Montreal, and here’s what to know if you go.
The train departs daily from New York City, terminating in Montreal. There are quite a few stops in between, so you can easily board to the north of NYC as well. We got on in Saratoga Springs, and many of our fellow passengers boarded in Albany. (It’s worth noting that the dome car is only attached to the train in Albany and northward. The tunnels closer to NYC are too low for its clearance).
The entire journey takes about 10 hours. A great opportunity to relax and absorb the nature of the Adirondack Mountains. From Saratoga Springs, our voyage was approximately seven hours.
The coach seats are roomy and comfortable. Each row has a pair of electrical outlets, so you can keep your mobile phone or laptop charged up nicely. Need to connect to the Internet? No worries! WiFi is available on the Adirondack Train and is quite reliable, with the exception of area near the Canadian border, where the signal drops away.
Crossing the border is super simple; you don’t even have to get off the train! Immigration officers board and chat with you about your travel plans. Of course, don’t forget your passport when heading up to Canada! The train remains stopped while the officers do their job, but this time is factored into total scheduled journey time.
Food and drink are available on the train. There’s a dining car that is easy to get to. They sell sandwiches, cheese & cracker platters, soda, coffee, and wine and beer. The cafe does accept cards but can encounter problems in areas of spotty WiFi, so it’s best to have a bit of cash with you (Canadian or USD).
The staff are friendly and accommodating, happy to answer any questions you may have or even stop to chat with you for a spell. We befriended one of the conductors on our return journey and chatted about our travels around the world. He let us know when the best views were coming during the ride, so we could be sure to get our cameras ready!
If you want to start your next weekend escape with views like this, take a look at Amtrak’s routes. It’s super easy (and relaxing) to be off on your trip in no time. Bon voyage!
We were compensated by Amtrak for our trip to Montreal. As always, opinions are our own and reflect our true experiences.