Friday, June 1, 2012

Traveling by Train

Mode of Transportation

Six states in Six hours

For me part of the magic of a trip is the “getting there”.  I know that many people just want to get to vacation as soon as possible, but for me, getting there is part of the fun and the experience.  So when I had the opportunity to go to DC on Memorial Day weekend I had three options.  I could drive there (about 6 hours on paper + Holiday traffic = unknown hours of grumpy).  I could jump on a plane (about $250, 1 hour of waiting, 1 hour of flying and that bonus grope by TSA.)  Or I could take a train.  (About $170, scenic view and 6-7 hours of relaxation.)

I opted for the train this trip as I had never taken it NYC, the price was right, the timing worked well and heck… I just loved the idea of riding the rails.  So my friends and I parked in Windsor, CT (free for the three days we needed) boarded the Amtrak shuttle and headed off. 

Switching trains in New Haven is almost always quick and easy.  Get off track A, turn around to track B, wait ten minutes and you are off again.  The the train was packed for the holdiay weekend, we were able to get three seats together and we were in the back row of the caboose, so though it was a little more rocky, we didn’t have people walking by us ALL trip long.

The the day was grey, you could still
 see the glory of the Freedom Tower
rising into the sky.

The NY to DC leg of the Northeast Regional route is somewhat scenic, more interesting and industrial, but had some great things to see.  From NY’s Penn Stations we go into New Jersey, toward the rail to air shuttle that brings you to the airport.  You pass through lower Manhattan where you get to see a great view of the city skyline including the ongoing construction of the new Freedom Tower (now taller than the Empire State building).  You travel into Philadelphia which has a lot of graffiti along the train tracks, but it was more art than vandalism for sure.

This seascape is painted on a marketing
building in Willmington DE

As you passed through Delaware there was often water on either side of the train, going past marinas with full boat yards and water front homes then into Maryland, where you travel through great brick neighborhoods full of wonderful mom-n-pop businesses.  Our trip ended in Union Station, Washington DC, a very large and easy to navigate rail house that merged train lines and metro rails. 

Now, I have to say, the food on the train was surprisingly good.  I had heard that Amtrak was improving their food to help compete with air travel.  I had a wonderful chicken caesar salad and added the “cheese board” that I got (cheese, dried fruit and crackers).  It was great.  My friends said that the cheeseburgers were surprisingly as well.  Much better than expected, which is always nice. 

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