au revior, montreal! hello, amtrak!

Our last day in Montreal came too soon. The weather forecast was calling for a big snow storm to reach us in the afternoon, so we planned some indoor activities. Up first was the Chateau Ramezay, a historic house museum that was originally constructed in 1705 for then-governor of Montreal, Claude de Ramezay. I love a good house museum. Much like the history museum, we had this one mostly to ourselves, and it was a lot of fun.

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Chateau Ramezay parlor room
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Chateau Ramezay cellar

By the time we left the museum, the snow was starting to accumulate outside. In times like this, it’s best to find a café for a mid-day coffee and dessert. We stopped in a little place called Barre a Beurre and I had the most delicious giant peanut butter Oreo (that’s how the guy working there described it). I’m a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter.

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This cake wasn’t even real but it still looked good enough to eat!
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Barre a Buerre

After our break, we made our way to the metro station and headed over to the Biodome de Montreal. The Biodome building was originally constructed for the 1976 Olympic Games. After the Olympics, the buildings at Olympic Park were reimagined as the Space for Life, four facilities featuring natural science exhibits. The Biodome is divided into sections representing four ecosystems found in the Americas – Tropical Forest, Laurentian Forest, Saint Lawrence Marine Eco-System, and the Sub-Polar Region. I’m pretty sure Lyle and I could happily watch animals (especially birds) all day long. It was also great to see a former Olympic venue being used for something and not just abandoned and dilapidated. Adaptive re-use for the win!

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Space for Life, former Olympic venue for the 1976 games

Now the snow was really coming down, so we headed back to the hotel to relax and get warm. Back in our room we watched the snow accumulate in the alley outside. A little later, we were getting hungry as we never had a proper lunch. We went to a sushi and Thai restaurant, mainly because it was right across the street, but it, like everything we ate while in Montreal, was delicious.

Montreal had been wonderful, everything I hoped for and more. And there is so much more I want to come back to see. We will definitely be back…just when it’s a little warmer!

The next morning, we awoke to streets covered in snow. We were leaving with what should have been plenty of time to get to the train station, but when the car we called for wasn’t showing up, we decided we better start walking. Poor Lyle had to drag our big rolling suitcase through the snow. We trudged along and finally made it to the station and got in line to board the train. The weather was causing delays all over the northeast, and we watched as our departure time was pushed back time after time. Finally, a little over an hour after was scheduled, we boarded the train and began the journey home.

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All that snow made for a tough commute to the train station

The miles went by slowly. Getting to the border took almost three hours when it should have taken about one. Things only got slower from there. The train stopped periodically, for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, with little or no explanation. Then, a little south of Poughkeepsie, we were stranded for three and a half hours. The engine had completely failed and we had to wait for a rescue engine. So, there we sat, in the woods of Upstate New York at 2:00 in the morning, waiting to be rescued. The engine finally came and after several more stalls and stops, we made it back to New York City 18 hours after leaving Montreal. The trip to Montreal had taken 10. We took a cab back to Brooklyn. I wasn’t really in the mood to get on another train.

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Lyle forging a path in the snow

It’s never fun when travel plans go a-wry. But just like I’ll never forget the time I missed my flight (by mere minutes) in Miami, or the time it took three flights and almost 24 hours to get to Costa Rica, or the time I had to spend the night at JFK, I’ll never forget the 18-hour train ride through a snow storm. Besides, I plan on taking some serious train journeys in the future. Trans-Siberian Express, I’m looking at you!

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View from the train, somewhere near the Canadian border
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