Saturday, 16 January 2010

Travel Bite #2: Lake Champlain and a taste of New England

Back in May last year we picked up a Communauto car and did a day trip down into New England. We went down the western side of the massive Lake Champlain through New York State and back up the eastern side through Vermont.

We headed south over the border on Interstate 97 and stopped at a tourist information centre soon after where were able to pick up some useful maps and leaflets. We drove further south and were treated to impressive views of the Adirondack mountains towering overhead, which we plan to visit someday as well as the nearby Lake Placid. We had planned to stop first in Plattsburgh (which incidentally is supposed to be a good location for cheap flights across the USA, as many of the budget airlines don't fly to Canada).

Unfortunately not long after we got over the border the heavens opened, so rather than stop we continued south along the 9 and more minor roads by the edge of the lake (which is technically a very large river).

We saw some beautiful houses on the waterfront. As we have seen in most places in North America, waterfront access is often difficult as it tends to be private land - unlike the UK where rights of way and footpaths exist by most lakes and rivers. One house had a beautiful little summer house on stilts on the water with a hammock looking out onto the lake - it made you wish you lived there!

By now the rain had stopped and we spent some time walking down the streets and to the water's edge in a beautiful little village called Essex, where there seemed to be a very sleepy pace of life and fog engulfed the end of the pier.

Outside of the village we stopped at our first US "historic site", a tiny limestone school house from 1816 (photo on Flickr - see below).

We continued south down long and winding (but nonetheless attractive) roads until soon after Port Henry, were we began to head Northeast, and took the Champlain Bridge across into Vermont.

By now the rain had stopped and the sun came out, treating us to some beautiful views over green fields and of attractive wooden farmhouses with pill shaped grain silos.

We stopped at an interesting art gallery/antiquities store and then continued further north until we reached the city of Burlington, which was surprisingly attractive and felt quite British with ice-cream kiosks, clothes stores and pedestrianised streets. We wandered through a shopping centre and stopped for tea and cake at the excellent Dobra Tea where you can sample teas from every country in the world accompanied by delicious salads, snacks and pastries.

We then began to head home, taking the scenic route across the islands through the agricultural settlements of South Hero, North Hero and Alburgh.

The light was amazing as the afternoon drew to a close, making some wonderful reflections on the water and making the trees and grass seem a lush yellowy green.

We crossed back into Canada on a minor road near Rouses Point, which was pretty much one guy in a booth - a much more pleasant experience than our crossing south on the Interstate (and no queue).

The whole trip was about 4.5 hours driving. It was great to get a taster of the areas around Lake Champlain and we left feeling that there's plenty more for us to explore next time. All in all, a great day out, despite the rain. You can see our route here:

You can see higher resolution photos in the full set on Flickr here.

You can find more information about the area via the following links:

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