Green Mountain Getaway
by Karen Plumley
I must admit that I tend to plan a vacation as if it’s some kind of endurance test:
How many historic sites, picturesque villages and breath-taking natural wonders
can one human being conquer in seven days?
So when I suggested that a one-week break was just enough time to cover all the
hot spots of New England, my weary, yetever-patient fiancé masterfully battled
late-summer traffic to get us through Connecticut, Rhode Island and
Massachusetts in less than four days.
But attempting to leave Salem during rush hour on a Wednesday afternoon was
the last straw for my intended, and I found myself scrambling through maps and
guidebooks in search of a restful diversion. We were in desperate need of some
peace, some fresh air and some meandering off the beaten track. In a word, we
were ready for Vermont.
Only eleven miles from the Massachusetts border, Brattleboro certainly wouldn’t
throw us into the heartland of the Green Mountain state, but it was as far as we
were willing to go after that chaotic day. Plus, I had been attracted to the name of
the hotel, Dalem’s Chalet, and the pleasantly fitting accent—German, or Austrian
perhaps—of the woman who had given me directions. I felt washed over with a
warm sense of familiarity, and memories of past holidays spent in the Alps.
Driving west along scenic Route 2, we could already feel ourselves being
revitalized. The sky was still pre-sunset blue above the trees, the air was
becoming ever cooler, and the traffic was steadily thinning as we sped away from
the seaside throngs. It was nearly 7:30 by the time we turned north, but we were
laughing—traveling buddies once again—anticipating what might lie ahead in
our unfamiliar destination.
Rustic and welcoming from the hilltop, surrounded by pine trees, Dalem’s Chalet
looked like a Swiss postcard magically brought to life. The sun was just starting
to set, and the air was cool and filled with the comforting aroma of a roaring fire.
Inside, the smell of maple wood blended with that of spices and wine sauces
wafting from the kitchen.
Impatiently, we unloaded the car, determined to have only a quick glance at the
room before heading to the restaurant. But when we opened the door onto a
perfect replica of an Alpine lodge, complete with gilded mirrors, Hansel and
Gretel furniture, and a ceramic-tiled shower with glass doors, I was ready to
forgo dinner and stay in the storybook room all night. A man, however, must eat,
so reluctantly I abandoned our rustic retreat and took the few chilly steps to the
The dining room was large, but felt cozy for all the beams and Bavarian
furniture. A blazing fire gave the entire restaurant a glow like that of utter
contentment. The back wall was all glass, and during nice weather, guests could
eat on the patio and enjoy the view of the village below. Our waitress wore
traditional Bavarian garb, and served us with just the right amount of
brusqueness to be genuinely German.
I don’t know if we were simply famished, or if the atmosphere and mountain
air had affected our senses, or if it really was the best meal we’d ever had in our
lives. But when we scraped the last crumb of Torte from the plate, we had
already decided to stay another night at Dalem’s Chalet.
It was morning, and I thought I must have still been dreaming. How long had it
been since I woke up to church bells outside my window? Leaping out of bed
and flinging back the curtains, I saw the white-steepled church below ringing up
to me, “Get up! Get up!” I allowed myself a moment to enjoy the strange feeling
that I was starring in a real-life “Sound of Music.”
After breakfast we headed north to Bellows Falls to take a ride on the Green
Mountain Flyer, a fully restored 1930s passenger coach pulled by a vintage diesel
locomotive. In its glory days, our coach rolled through Boston, Montreal, and
even beneath Park Avenue, when Vermont trains used to run directly into New
York City. Now, it would not only carry us on a ride through the countryside,
but on a journey through time.
“All aboard!” shouted the conductor, and as the whistle blew, the train slowly
chugged out of the station. The windows were open wide, and the leisurely two-
hour ride to Chester offered us up-close views of covered bridges, rivers and a
But more than that, it gave us a chance to experience an unhurried form of travel,
reminiscent of a time when gentlemen wore hats, ladies always traveled in heels,
and every tiny village station invited the traveler to alight and possibly discover
A visit to the southeastern corner of Vermont does not have to be the tranquil
intermission of an otherwise-hectic tour of New England. Located between the
West and Connecticut Rivers, Brattleboro makes a great home base, with enough
to see and do within a forty-mile radius to make this area your primary holiday
From Points North and South
From I-91, take Exit 2 (Rt 9). The travel distance is approximately one mile from
From Points East (in Eastern Massachusetts)
Take Rte. 2 West, To I-91 North in Greenfield.
Continue on 91 North to Exit 2 (Rt 9) in VT
From Points West (around Albany, NY)
Take the I-787 North ramp towards Troy, merge onto I-787 North
Take the Rte. 7 East exit towards Troy/Bennington
Merge onto Rte. 7 East
Rte. 7 East becomes Rte. 9 East
Follow Rte. 9 East to Brattleboro
Passengers can still arrive in Brattleboro by train, with Amtrak's Vermonter
providing regular service.
Dalem’s Chalet is one of hundreds of country inns scattered across Vermont, and
provides convenient and comfortable accommodations at an affordable price.
Although the atmosphere is rustic, all rooms have private bath, color television,
and telephone. Coming north on I-91, take Exit 2 and drive west on Route 9 for ¾
of a mile. In Brattleboro, turn left after the Congregational Church onto South
Street. Call 1-800-462-5009 for reservations.
From Dalem’s Chalet, take I-91 north approximately 23 miles to Bellow Falls to
ride the Green Mountain Flyer, a unique way to experience some of Vermont’s
most scenic countryside.
About the author: Karen Plumley is a professional writer currently based in Virginia
Beach, Virginia, after spending more than 25 years in Europe. Her freelance work has
appeared in The Virginian-Pilot and West Virginia’s Mountain Messenger, as well on the
online travel resource, Paris Eiffel Tower News.