A small break from writing up about our experiences travelling and housesitting in Turkey. Let’s head back to late September 2016, this is when our first experience with Amtrak started and ended.
The seats are filling up
we are on our way to a new destination.
We may sit beside you all of this journey,
Or we may sit elsewhere, never knowing you.
But if fate should make us sit by your side,
Let’s be pleasant travellers;
it’s such a short ride
New York to New Orleans was anything other than short!. Though life is, and this is the reason why we like to get out of our comfort zone and just go for it.
The other reason we decided on a train ride and not a flight is that the airfare from New York was too outrageously costly, so being lovers of trains a train journey from New York to Orleans sounded like an excellent travel adventure.
Little did we know:
- The Amtrak train [named The Crescent] runs on freight tracks – this means it is a very rough ride, shaking and being thrown side by side in parts of the journey.
- Every intersection there was a loud, and I mean LOUD hoots. Or rather good in daylight hours, at 2 am not so much!
- First-class seats DO NOT EXIST, well they do, though not the type of First Class most people and us are familiar with on trains. Believe me, when we asked if we were in the first-class section, the conductor just laughed. Then we knew we were in for a roughly 30-hour trip!
- It takes over 36 hours – yes we knew this before taking on this journey, we imagined those long hours to be in comfortable reclining chairs, it was supposed to be FIRST CLASS.
- Food is basic and tasteless as in plastic bags. Another option if hungrier is to spend more receive a good selection of food that tastes wholesome, you could go for a sit-down affair – we brought our own! Overpriced food is not uncommon on train journeys, as we had only a short time in New Orleans we chose to bring snacks and avoid upset stomachs.
We have heard that the trains going across the state are more luxurious. Is this because there are fewer ‘poorer areas’ with more people prepared to pay more for their train travel, I am not sure. Though why they would make the train journey so uncomfortable to an area that needs more tourism astounded us!! There is no reason for the train down to New Orleans to be so austere. As it was undoubtedly well patronised. With research, the standard has declined since Southern Railway finished running this service from Washington to New Orleans.
Not all about the trip was cynical. There are indeed always a few positives if you look hard enough.
Here are a few real highlights from this travel experience.
- Chatting to locals, most were so surprised to hear we were from New Zealand, such a long way from home, they reckoned. So many faces that seemed to me to have untold stories etched on their faces!!
- Kind and friendly staff, which allowed us to refill our coffee from the cabin coffee dispenser for free as the cafeteria was closed, I could’ve hugged her! Actually, the second time around I did!
- Sights along the way, seeing things we would not do so if we had flown. The housing in some areas was an eye-opener!
- We can survive any type of travel after doing this one, and we still enjoy train travel.
- We learnt that we can sleep anywhere if really tired and still function reasonably well!
Now comes the big questions,
would we recommend this train journey?
And would we do it again?
do we regret it?
NO – ON – ALL – COUNTS.
I had initially decided not to publish this post then this morning I read Liesbet’s latest write up about their train journey using Amtrak. Then I thought, “Why not, and why not let more people know about it!”.
For more information about another long train journey, go and visit Liesbet and read all about their trip. It is an informative one! – http://www.roamingabout.com/amtrak-antics-from-appealing-idea-to-ridiculous-reality/#comment-3927