Halfway between Boston and Quebec City is...

A friend from the Left Coast is going to be visiting her boyfriend in Quebec City in a couple of weeks. She expressed an interest in us hanging out, maybe having lunch. Neither of us will have access to a car. She thinks that we could meet halfway in between.

I don’t think that she fully appreciates the distances involved, what with her living in the tiny states out west, like Washington and California.

Where could we meet halfway? It seems like northern NH is best, with its great metropolises and extensive railways and bus lines.

Is this even possible?

Without doing any research, I’m guessing the most convenient thing will be a bus down the Mass Pike to Albany, NY, then get on another bus up the Northway to Montreal, then a third bus to Quebec City.

The “meeting halfway” could take place either in the Berkshires (nice, classy hill towns with good serious music and dance – Jacob’s Pillow, e.g. – and cute historic towns), or in the eastern fringe of the Adirondacks (pines and picnics and clean air and lakes), maybe Lake George Village.

Albany would make the most sense as a meeting place, but it’s meh, though the NY State Museum is okay, and there’s a cool little neighborhood of brownstones and cafes a few blocks NW of the “Mall” mostrosity.

Portland, ME is on the Amtrak Line, has great food, pubs, scenery, places to hang. Okay, it might be a tad difficult to get from there to Quebec City…but dang! It’s a great city. Albany is pretty drab. Saratoga Springs is serviced by the train out of Albany, but it’s pretty small, and not that many trains stop there.

What about Burlington, VT? It is on the Amtrak line, has scores of great places in walking distance of the train station, and is on the way to QC.

Yes! If this works transportation-wise, it makes great geographic sense as a “halfway point”, and it’s a wonderful little city between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.

If either of you plan to spend the night, be sure to find out if there’s any music going on. I saw folk legend Odetta perform in the little ol’ music hall there, and of course that’s where Phish got their start.

If you take Amtrak up to Burlington, you’ll pass within a mile of my house. For what that’s worth.

I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t realize, until I just now looked at a map, how far east Quebec City is.

So, unlikely my Albany route is the best way to go – although, given the deplorable state of both our train and our bus systems here in the US, it just might be.

Now I’m guessing it will indeed be Burlington (you changing train or bus in Springfield, she changing train or bus in Montreal).

If you could both rent cars, though, Waterville, Maine would obviously be even better, and a lovely drive for each of you.

Or, if you have time, why not just meet up with her in QC? It’s a fantastic little city.

Though it might be awkward to take time away from her conjugal visit…

I like the ideas of Portland and Burlington. We’re also discussing Rockport, MA, since I will be there on the weekend of the 25th. But that’s kind of crazy far for her, not that she doesn’t do stuff like that all the time anyway.

There is no train between Burlington VT and Montreal (let alone Québec City) with either Via Rail or Amtrak. They both go to Albany, however (probably a code-share, but I’m not sure) and Plattsburgh NY, though.

Here is Amtrak’s routemap: your options are much more limited because there’s really only one southern route out of Québec City (via Lévis, Drummondville, St-Hyacinthe and Montreal, IIRC) by train and there aren’t many US-bound options out of Montreal.

Considering the geographical distances between cities in Canada and the total lack of train tracks headed east, I actually think your best meet-up place is Montreal itself. The train station is about as central as you can get: you can pretty much literally leave the train and start shopping, dining and exploring the downtown core. For that matter, there’s a Hilton attached to the train station - you wouldn’t even have to go outside to get to a room (if that’s where you want to sleep).

If you’re willing to take buses, then there is Greyhound service out of Montreal to the USA, but your friend would have to leave the train station, take the metro and get to the bus terminal - a bit inconvenient. And…Greyhound. Eww.

You might want to consider air travel, to save yourself the hassle of trains (Montreal-Boston is a LONG train ride!). Shop around, you might be able to find some cheap flights.

Porter airlines goes from Boston to Montreal and Quebec City(via Toronto), most of the US airlines probably fly that route, and Air Canada most certainly does.