A train trip from White River Junction to Brattleboro Vermont.
I love trains. The sound of them coming down the tracks, the long whistle blow and the promise of taking a new journey all adds up to a fun adventure in my mind. This past weekend I took the train from White River Junction to Brattleboro, with six members of my book group. I have not taken Amtrak in many years, and I was excited to see a bit of Vermont and New Hampshire that can only be viewed from the window of a train. I was not disappointed.
Travelling with close friends is always a treat. It is an opportunity to get outside of your normal routine and experience a destination together. For some of our group, the journey began at one of my favorite spots in the Upper Valley, the Tuckerbox Café. As a former San Franciscan, this little spot in downtown White River Junction gives me a bit of the city feel that I still miss at times, especially during the holiday season.
The Vermonter to Brattleboro leaves a little before noon on weekends, and gets you there shortly after 1:00 pm. This offers you close to four hours of exploration in town, and with the station just a short walk from main street it is very convenient. It is worth booking the trip in advance to take advantage of discounts, and at times there is an in-state discount for Vermonters. You can book your ticket online but may want to talk to an agent to get the best information and price.
The train trip was terrific. The conductors were all friendly and fun. We were all surprised to find that we had missed crossing the river into New Hampshire, for our first stop in Claremont. Next stop was Bellows Falls, before we pulled into Brattleboro. The scenery was lovely, and at times a bit startling when you realize you are just inches away from granite walls on either side of the train.
Once we arrived, we started to shop. Brattleboro has many unusual stores, a fair amount of antiques, and several independent bookstores. Everyone’s Books is a terrific bookstore that features many political, scientific and social justice books in addition to the usual best sellers. Brattleboro Books is a lovely used bookstore that has a wide variety of treasures. And for those mystery fans in your life, Mystery on Main Street is a must visit for all things mysterious. I especially appreciate the Edward Gorey books and items. We visited a gallery, and a terrific burger joint aptly named Brattle Burger. Although there was much more to do and see than our four hours allowed, it made us all want to come back again, to experience this vibrant town.
If you can make it down during the holiday season you will be treated to some lovely decorations and old-fashioned windows filled with Santa, toys and twinkling trees. Even the bridges are decorated with fresh greens and the stars that light up one area of downtown make everything feel festive and fun.
I am looking forward to my next train trip and won’t wait another ten years to take it. Perhaps Washington DC during cherry blossom festival, or New York City to get my city fix. I’m still humming Johnny Cash, in spite of all the holiday music in the air.