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By Train from New York City to Toronto, Canada
The Amtrak “Maple Leaf” leaves Penn Station in New York City at 7:15 am, bound for Toronto, Canada. I got to the station a little early and walked over to a big Canadian Flag sign that said “register here”. An Amtrak person checked my tickets and passport. He gave me a couple of luggage tags and then it was time to stand in another line and wait some more.
Once that line started moving toward the escalator to the downstairs tracks, another Amtrak employee told me that my ticket was not “stamped” and that I had to go back to the other counter under the Canadian Flag. In the meantime, there was a large queue behind me. So I went back only to find another person at that counter. I showed her my two luggage stickers and asked to have my ticket stamped. Back to the escalator and the nice lady there let me come right to the front of the line because, as she put it “those guys are not doing their job right and pay no attention
www.Amtrak.com is where I had made my reservations for a one way Business Class ticket for $121.00. The price difference between Coach and Business was quite small ($21). Once I got onboard, we received a complimentary copy of the New York Times and were told, that all of our non-alcoholic beverages would also be free. A friend of mine had suggested to find a seat on the “left” side of the train, as that would give me the view of the “water”. Hudson River that is.
The train left right on time. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and as we made our way out of New York, I enjoyed the smooth ride right along the wide Hudson river. Tugboats, motorboats, even some sailboats were already out on this summer morning.
I had brought a map, so I could follow along with the route. I have never been to this region before and had been looking forward to this train trip. On the other side of the river I saw lovely homes and estates overlooking the river, but they got fewer and fewer as we moved further away from the city.
As the train moved north, I spotted Highland Falls Military Academy in West Point across the river. Another stop in Poughkeepsie. The name derives from a Native American word (roughly U-puku-ipi-sing), meaning "the reed covered lodge by the little-water place," referring to a spring or stream feeding into the Hudson River south of the present downtown area. Poughkeepsie is known as "The Queen City of the Hudson." During the late 1980s through the late 1990s Poughkeepsie suffered from severe economic and social turmoil, serving as a symbol for urban decay in the Hudson Valley. Recent efforts at waterfront and Main Street revitalization poise Poughkeepsie for a potential
upswing. From the train it looked like a pretty town. Along the way lots of names that reminded me of Dutch,E nglish or German city names.
We were still on time as we got into Albany, the capital of New York State. There, the train had about 20 minutes delay because of power problems. An announcement was made that we could step out to the platform for a while and enjoy the lovely weather or to smoke a cigarette. It was funny to see the smokers move to one area and we non-smokers to another side of the platform.
The trees, the landscape and lawns were all bright green. Living in California, we hardly ever have such bright fresh green colors (except for a few weeks in February). I started thinking about how cold it would get here in the winter and how much snow they would have to shovel. Probably a lot, but it certainly looked pretty at this t ime of the year.
Our journey continued through lush countryside, several stops along the way like Syracuse, the 5th largest city in New York State. As we got closer to the Canadian Border there were several announcements regarding customs clearance. “Stay in your seat” or “have your passport and papers ready”. Last stop in the USA was Niagara Falls, NY side. The Amtrak US personnel stepped off the train and Canadian employees joined us for the rest of the journey.
Several Canadian customs agents boarded the train in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Nobody else was allowed to get on or off during the time at the border. We waited about 40 minutes until the inspectors had walked through the train and looked at passengers and their documents. By this time, we were about 1 hour and 30 minutes late.
I called ahead to let my friends know about the delay. By the time we pulled into Toronto, Canada I was ready to get off the train after our 13+ hours ride. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant trip and I am very glad I took it.
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