With unused vacation time, I decided on a whim to escape from New York City for a week.
Destination: Atlanta — To visit the Southern Branch of La Familia
My travel buddy: Sassy Spitfire
This would be a complete surprise to all but three who were in cahoots with us to pull this off. Unfortunately, taking a flight was out of the question — no-can-do with the aunt and her ailments — and, I wasn’t about to drive. So, a week ago I went on Amtrak.com and in 1, 2, 3, we were booked on an 18-hour adventure and over 1,000+ miles on the rails. (Note: This is not a paid or sponsored post for Amtrak.) We’d be riding on the “Crescent” line which originates in New York and ends in New Orleans, Louisiana.
We left on Saturday afternoon on train #19 from bustling Penn Station, and just shy of 18-hours, we arrived in Atlanta. I know what you’re thinking…”18-hours? No way!” Actually, it really wasn’t bad at all. We had a roomette (our own compartment, and yes, it’s tiny) — a nice, private, enclosed space for no more than two people. Two facing seats turn into a “bed”, and another sleeping bunk lowers from the ceiling. Yep, presto, change-o, and you go from day-to-night comfort. A word to the wise, though: You’ve got to be pretty nimble to sleep on the upper bed since essentially you’ll have to hoist yourself up on the in-cabin toilet (yes, there’s one) and on to a ledge sandwiched above it and just below the sink area (yes, there’s a sink too). Ha! You can imagine. It isn’t too claustrophobic since a wide upper window makes the small space bearable, but trust me, it only works if you’re not afraid of heights, have no physical limitations and are small in size. Yes, if you’re a “person of size”, the upper bed is probably not the most comfortable. Just warning those who are considering this.
There were two sleeping cars with roomettes and bedrooms that were a bit larger that could accommodate up to four people. The train also has a functioning dining car with kitchen — and I’d note, the food was quite good. The remaining cars included coach-class seated accommodations.
So….Wanna get away? Got 18 hours? Then, take a ride on Amtrak.
My review of the Crescent for what it’s worth…
Departure: On-time (not kidding)…If you don’t know how to pay attention to a clock, you might end up seeing the train leaving the station.
Sleeping Car/Roomette: Small, small, small, but comfortable for two people. Large windows (lower and upper). It’s amazing that they pack two “beds”, a toilet and a sink into such a small space. Compact but efficient.
Staff: Pleasant and courteous. Not sure what they’re officially called, but our sleeping car “butler” (Robert) was wonderful. Ditto for the dining car staff.
Cost: The cost of a basic ticket was far more than a roundtrip/return flight from New York to Atlanta. If you’re thinking of springing for a roomette or any other private compartment, pull out that wallet. It’s pricey. Very pricey. On the plus side: Privacy, comfort, personal service and your meals are included. (P.S. There’s also a shower in the sleeping car, but not in your own compartment.)
Other: For all that is holy, I would NEVER share a roomette with a stranger. As tight as the accommodation of roomettes and with zero privacy with the toilet, you’d have to be crazy to go that route. (No pun intended.)
And, if I can give you one last piece of advice: Make sure the door to the roomette is securely locked when you need complete privacy. Having the door whip open while using the facilities is, well, an unpleasant surprise. O____O
Views along the way, but with the train going as fast as it was, taking photos on my little point and click camera didn’t produce crisp and clear results…
Then, there was the food…