Every few years I eat Taco Bell because I somehow think that its effects are not as bad as I remember them being. I am quickly reminded why I don't eat Taco Bell. Amtrak seems to have the same effect on me. I think it's a good idea. You go to sleep in Chicago and wake up in Buffalo. What could be better than traveling with little effort, little money, and no day lost to travel time? Then I remember the truth. Here are some highlights/lowlights from my recent Amtrak experience.
1. The schedule put out by Amtrak is merely a rough estimate of when they may think about arriving or departing. You should in no way make plans around this schedule. It's usually a good 2-3 hours off.
2. Train personnel are not responsible for informing you of stops, delays, or changes in plans. You are just supposed to guess when your ride should be ready for you. (Thank goodness for my Blackberry!)
3. No matter how many footrests they put on those seats, they are not comfortable. You will not get any actual sleep. However, the guy across the aisle from you that snores like a banshee will get a solid 8 hours.
4. Since you will inevitably be stuck in the train station for endless hours in the middle of the night, you should try to do so with a 100-member gospel choir. Their antics, songs, and dances will keep you well entertained until the train shows up at 2AM! Have you ever seen 30 people dancing the Cupid Slide in a train station? I have.
5. 1 usable bathroom is more than enough for 2 train cars full of people. And, you should know which ones are broken and which ones are actually in use. It's definitely not the responsibility of anyone who works for the train to tell you or put up a sign.
6. If you have a really good book, your seat-mate will talk for hours on end. This will cause you to be grateful for the 2 hours after he gets off the train when you can read in peace.
7. Weird people take the train.
8. There are so many different takes on the proper attire for an overnight train ride. I am of the running pants/sweatshirt camp. It's overnight--why wouldn't you want to be comfy? There are also people that believe in wearing your Sunday best. Some are dressed for a night at the club. Others go all out with pajamas and face masks.
9. There is no set temperature on the train. Our train car fluctuated between 60 and 85 every 5 minutes or so. I think it's too keep you busy putting on and off layers so you forget to look at your watch to see how late the train is.
10. The one think Amtrak does really well is outlets---two for every seat! Brilliant since I killed my phone battery checking amtrak.com to see what time the train was going to actually arrive....
Next Trip: Peru with a team from work. I'm sure this will be good for some stories.
Someday, when I'm home for more than 48 hours. I'll blog about some of the fun stuff I did the last two weeks in WNY.