Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A little trip by rail

Angie and I celebrated our 15th anniversary the other day. For that we took a trip to Chicago by rail.

We picked up the train in Albany and had a sleeper car overnight to Chi-town. For the two of us the sleeper car was just about double what it would have cost to fly but included 2 meals which mitigates the cost some. It took just about 18 hours since the train was 3 hours late but dropped us off right in downtown Chicago and the parking at the train station was way cheaper than an airport.

The smaller sleeper berths are called a "roomette" which is pretty descriptive:

Imagine a 7 foot square 8 feet high and you get the picture. During the day the upper bunk is raised so the room is actually kind of short but not really so bad. There are two seats facing each other with a small table in between. If you look over Angie's right shoulder (left side of the picture) you might spot the sink which folds down from the wall. Immediately below it is the toilet. Obviously you get friendly when using the bathroom. Generally one of us would step into the hall giving the other some privacy. The bathroom is a blessing, we used the public toilets a couple times, they appear to get cleaned during the long stop in Albany and not again until Chicago, in the morning they were pretty ripe...

We brought the wrong bag on this trip, you can see it takes up a good portion of the room. I did eventually get it stuffed into the little cubby for it above the door but it took some effort. Two small bags would have been a much better choice.
The seats were relatively comfortable and at night folded down into a bed, above another bed descends. Don't think you're going to sleep two people in one bed, these are cots with just enough space for one. We found the upper bunk to have a much firmer mattress than the lower and about halfway through the night we switched places. I kind of liked the upper and Angie preferred the lower so it was nice we had two options. Eye masks and earplugs are probably a good idea if you're the sort who has difficulty sleeping.

Two meals were included with our trip, neither was anything to write home about but both were adequate. I had beef short rib for dinner, Angie had pad thai. With a list price for dinner somewhere around $40 I'd have been upset if I'd had to pay for it but it wasn't bad for being included. For breakfast I had french toast, Angie had an omelet, I think I got the better of the two choices. The coffee was surprisingly good and plentiful. There was also juice and water available in our car most all the time and coffee in the morning.

This is the shower, yes a shower in the train. It wasn't bad, small of course, but the water was hot and the soap and towels were pretty nice. I liked that we had the option.

So overall I was pleased, this is something I would do again. I'd bring more snacks and beverages though and some small speakers for my tablet, we watched a couple movies as we traveled but the train is fairly noisy and one of the movies was kind of quiet. The train has wifi which is surprisingly adequate, you're not going to watch YouTube but for the occasional email or article or checking Facebook it was fine.

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