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Trip Report Plattsburgh, not at all "Platte"

I'm a Montrealer who's a dual national (Canada/US). Today I went to deal with that yearly duty of filing US taxes; they charge an arm & a leg to fill in US tax forms here in Canada, (Canadian H&R blocks only deal with Canadian taxes, tends to be large international law firms that deal with this) so I went to the closest place possible with much more reasonably-priced H&R Block in the US, Plattsburgh, to take care of things.

Being the closest town of any size to Montreal, Plattsburgh NY kind of has a funny reputation among people I know north of border. The only mentions of Plattsburgh I'd heard were 1) in reference to cross-border shopping at one of the town's mega-malls during times of too-strong Canadian $, 2) The chain restaurants, big box stores, Holiday Inn visible off of I-87, 3) unfortunate jokes of "Platte" (Quebecois slang for boring) and "bourg" (jokes roughly equalling "Boringsburg").

I took the bus this morning at 9am and had about 2 1/2 hours to while away prior to my appointment at the tax agency, with little in the way of expectations. I decided to catch a City Taxis (561-7777) cab from the bus station ($6.75 fixed rate) to a restaurant that looked appealing on Trip Advisor (called the Great Adirondack Soup Comapny) that seemed not too far away from Lake Champlain near what seemed to be the downtown core. I thought, even if the downtown core is uninteresting, at least I'll have a nice meal and get to see Lake Champlain.

Well, my opinion now is far too many Montrealers have missed the boat with regard to their nearest US neighbour. The historic downtown core I found quite walkable, charming, with some handsome old churches, regal monuments and gloriously chiseled statuary. Margaret Street (as well as some streets surrounding) was a particularly enticing road, with mutliple alluring eateries and cafes that I had trouble choosing where to stop. Thankfully, the taxi service was quite good to get me from downtown to my appointment (near the highway); I took 3 cabs and never waited more than 5-10 minutes.

As it is, The Great Adirondack Soup Company was such a terrific find: friendly service, somewhat Bohemian vibe, perfect-sized portions in my mind (not too big!), with a tough-to-choose selection of soups (my Indonesian Vegetarian soup was a-ma-zing, and the accompanying hummus sandwich surprised me for how extraordinarily delicious it was). Koffee Kat was such a colourful, artistic coffee shop, again with a Bohemian flair to it... I loved it... This was so unexpected; I can't reiterate too much how I wasn't expecting Plattsburgh to have anything resembling either of these two eating establishments (I was thinking if I'm lucky I'll find a diner-y place with meatloaf, gravy and veggie sides... I apologize for such misconceptions....).

After lunch, I enjoyed the views from the River Walk (I was surprised and pleased at the bilingual French-English signage, making nearby Quebeckers feeling welcome) . Lake Champlain with the Green Mountains of Vermont distant is just gorgeous and the park just below the imposing MacDonough Monument, with views of rushing river and a stone bridge was a pleasant place to sit on this cold but sunny day.

I had been tempted to spend a day in Plattsburgh's core in the past (which you get a slightly better glimpse of from the train station), but never could quite convince myself that it was a worthwhile enough day trip. I'm sorry I didn't as I think the town is delightful.

My recommendation is if you happen to be going to Montreal or Quebec from the New York City area by car, give the town a chance. If you're hungry near Plattsburgh, don't stop at one of the chain eateries right by I-87! Take that extra 8 minutes or so and check out the downtown!

Happy travels, Daniel

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