The City of Sherbrooke is located in the beautiful hill country in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The area is well known for its great scenic driving especially during summer and autumn. This region has attracted tourists for these reasons and for one other very special reason
Sherbrooke is the home of the tourist train, the Orford Express. If you are looking for somewhere to go for a relaxing trip with fine scenery, and somewhere where you are pampered with great service and outstanding food, you should investigate the Orford Express and enjoy a trip from Sherbrooke through Magog to Eastman and back.
Picture yourself looking from the large observation windows as you slowly move along the ribbon of steel. On one side is sparkling blue water and on the other side you are hemmed in by a rising hill cloaked in evergreens, punctuated by the appearance of large sections of exposed rock stepping roughly upward. Higher up the maple trees are just beginning to show the effects of Jack Frost and are very striking as huge white cumulus clouds float leisurely past.
Of course the open stretch of track backdropped by a small mountain flagrantly covered with fall colours is really nice too, especially since there are more of those fluffy white clouds floating across a really blue sky.
If you are driving, a favourite picture shot is at the Eastman Bridge where you might be lucky enough to get a train reflected in the water.
All of the fun isn’t derived from the fine scenery. A large component of the trip’s enjoyment will come from a scrumptious meal served on your table. The crisp coloured tablecloth and matching napkins protruding from the wine glasses are just waiting for a guest. As the trip progresses the rising atmosphere of gaiety, laughter, and the clink of glasses is enhanced by the delicious aromas coming from the dishes that you are served.
When you arrive at the old train station in the train yard you move over to an old caboose, wine red and finished with beige on the top, to get your tickets. Right out in front the Orford Express will back up to receive its passengers; up to 200 can be seated.
The cars are delightful to look at. Their stainless steel colour is trimmed with blue stripes and you will have lots of opportunity to observe them as you take a seat on one of the walkway benches. This is also a good place to observe the many people aimlessly walking along the broad walk talking and grabbing a few pictures before the trip.
Reservations are required and you may have to select your main course days ahead of the trip so they will have it ready.
Parking, unfortunately, is not free, and since the 3 ½ hours trip is longer than the three hour limit at the station you must use a parking lot that is farther away through the pedestrian tunnel. Parking isn’t set up for large RVs and that’s a problem.
You will definitely find the trip relaxing. It’s a time to leave the world, and cell phones, behind and just enjoy yourself.
For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels. Visit his website at: www.stonesstravelguides.com