Today, we travel from New York’s Pennsylvania Station to New Orleans on the Amtrak train. We booked a sleeper car, which was pretty exciting really. Don’t get us wrong; we had no delusions of glamour, style or class neither about the journey, nor about ourselves on the journey. We have, after-all, seen that episode of Sex and The City.
As far as actual experience goes, I travelled on the train from London to Beijing, so could give a couple of tips of long-distance train survival to Katie. However, from the get-go I realised that this Amtrak service is so far removed from the Trans-Siberian route that my tips of ‘take enough pot noodle to get you through’ and ‘you can’t use the bathroom when it’s in the station as it may just be a hole in the train floor’ were totally useless. As we stepped onto the Crescent Route train we were greeted by a cheery African American lady by the name of Rachel. She showed us straight to our ‘Viewliner Roomette,’ which consisted of two upright seats facing each other (which fold into two bunks) and a toilet. There were pillows, towels, bottled water and bedding.
We spent the next few hours reading, talking and watching an older couple attempting to fit both themselves and 2 gigantic suitcases into their Roomette (Katie and I had packed small backpacks with the necessities in them – toothbrush, pyjamas, change of clothes – and checked our travelling backpacks in).
Having chosen 7:30pm for our dinner service, we made our way down to the dinner car bang on time. They do still run communal seating in the dining car, and we ended up enjoying our meal with ex-British Sculptor, Andy. He was travelling back from a gallery viewing in Washington DC, and always preferred to take the train back to his now hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. I had the vegetarian pasta and Katie enjoyed the steak. Both were outstanding, especially as a green salad and a fresh roll accompanied them as well. Despite not really needing it, all three of us said yes to the apple pie a la mode for dessert, which was also delicious.
Now, with a full belly, 2 glasses of wine and after 8 full on days in New York, I thought I would sleep like a log. However, with the constant rocking of the train and the horn from the driver, both Katie and I found it almost impossible to get to sleep. The only thing I could suggest to make sleeping a little easier on the Amtrak train would be earplugs.
Overall, the service is great. Easy to navigate, pleasant and a great way to see more of the country. Our main tips for having a great journey on Amtrak would be to pack light and check your large bags, take plenty of things to do (books, movies, etc) but to try and look out of the window as much as possible, as it really is a great way to see a lot of the America you would usually miss out on.