I love slow travel, slow food and discovering new adventures and delicious regional food in new locations. I'm on an indulgent quest and I'd love you to follow at www.walkeatshare.wordpress.com
Published November 23rd 2018
'How long will that take?' asked dubious friends
We encountered many surprised reactions when we announced our plan to travel by train from Fort Lauderdale (near Miami) to New York City. 'Are you sure?' our American friends asked, 'how long will that take?'
We love a train journey and have enjoyed many in Europe. It's a great way to see the countryside through the window while relaxing with a book, something to eat and a cup of tea. Sometimes a glass of wine.
This journey, however, was our first in the USA and we weren't entirely sure what to expect. We had booked a Viewliner Sleeper on the Amtrak Silver Meteor and were to be on board for around 26 hours.
It's best to book an Amtrak journey as early as possible since fares increase in price closer to departure. I had booked 11 months in advance and paid what we considered a reasonable price. It was similar to the cost of an airfare and, of course, would take much longer. I suspect this was the stumbling block for our American friends. From our point of view, train travel is more relaxing, you get to see more and you depart from and arrive at a major city, rather than spending more time, money and frustration travelling to and from airports that are generally located way outside major centres.
We checked our two suitcases in before boarding and headed down the narrow passage to find our sleeper. On the way, we had a look at the 'bedroom' (as opposed to the 'viewliner'. Admittedly there was more room but the price was considerably higher.
Our Viewliner had two, wide, comfortable seats facing each other with a fold-out table in between and a large window to enjoy the passing scenery. There was also a toilet which I found a bit weird to begin with. Hmmm, more about that later.
Our steward, Cleve, introduced himself soon after larding and explained how to use everything, including the toilet. All staff we encountered throughout our journey were courteous, friendly and helpful.
In the blink of an eye, it was time for lunch. I enjoyed a goats cheese salad and an excellent Pinot Grigio. I should mention here that serves were generous, choices plenty and I could have had three courses had I wanted. In the interests of calorific intake, I chose only the salad.
After lunch, I returned to our sleeper and had a bit of a snooze. The rhythmic motion of a rain is most conducive to snoozing.
Now about the toilet.............. it was quite handy having such a facility in our cabin rather than having to walk through three carriages to the public one, and it worked just fine. In the interests of modesty, my husband and I took turns in leaving the cabin while the other 'used the facility'.
Cleve had prepared our beds by the time we arrived back from dinner so my husband climbed up to the top bunk and I settled into the bottom one. The beds were comfortable enough with white linen sheets, a squashy pillow and warm blanket. We had adjustable air conditioning and we could lock our door from the inside. We both slept quite well.
Next morning the scenery had changed considerably as we had left Florida, passed through the Carolina's and Virginia and were headed for Pennsylvania. Clearly, I'd need to add layers of clothing before disembarking in New York.
In the dining car once again I chose Cheese Quesadillas for breakfast, mainly because I didn't know what they were and I'm always up for a new taste sensation. They were tasty tortillas filled with cheese and tomato sauce and topped with sour cream and avocado. I figured they'd sustain me for the bleak weather we were heading for.
We pulled into Penn Station, New York at 11.30am, and felt slightly sad that our train journey had ended. I couldn't fault it, in fact, it became one of our best memories of our trip to the USA. I have already started researching other Amtrak routes for our next trip.
I love a good train trip, too, Karen. We love to see as much as possible when we're travelling. A couple of years ago we took the train from New York to Montreal - 12 hours by day so no sleeper. It was great, apart from delays and toilet problems - but that's another story.