The American Music Tour – Part 2

Amtrak – USA

What can you see from 35,000 feet – not a lot, just the inside of the airplane, so if you want to be more ‘down to earth’ and adventurous then perhaps try the Amtrak whilst visiting the USA.  Amtrak operates over 300 trains each day on 21,300 miles of track, it is a mega operation and as well as passenger transportation, freight is the main stay of its business.  Trains may not be on time – but mainly they are – but freight is given priority. It is a very good way to get from A to B in a comfortable,way. 

Chicago Union Station Grand Hall 1925 by vince Creative Commons Our journey started in Chicago at 8 pm, we were shown our small, ‘bijou’ roomette, the two seats are comfortable enough and turn into the bottom bunk.  The top bunk is pulled out from the wall, bedding is provided for both bunks and a little storage area is provided. We stored our cases in the rear of the train, this can be done by booking your cases in at the train station or you can bring them on board and leave them in the spaces provided at the bottom of the stairs.  But whether you are on the upper or low deck of the train, it is difficult to ‘squeeze’ a large case in the roomette it is rather ‘snug’.  My tip is to book cases into the rear carriages, they are stored and locked away until you get off at your chosen stop.

We organised ourselves and made up the beds then retired to the dining carriage, where we had a very pleasant evening meal (if you book a roomette, all food in the dining car is included, breakfast and dinner) and had the company of a couple from Seattle who were traveling on Amtrak from Seattle to Memphis.  After dinner we retired to our roomette, there are showers downstairs (we were on the second tier, but there are cabins on the bottom deck) our carriage only had one toilet, but there are three toilets downstairs.  My tip: take small hand luggage with nightwear, underwear and toiletries, with wet wipes, it isn’t easy to wash or do your ablutions a little bit like camping, but it isn’t uncomfortable for one night.  Also remember it isn’t a quiet train journey, the hooter sounds all night long at regular intervals.  I slept well but my husband, who was on the top bunk didn’t, he said that the top bunk was too close to the ceiling of the cabin (coffin like) oh dear!  If you are of large stature this could be a difficult journey for you. But if you prefer to sit in the comfortable seats instead of folding the beds down then that is another good way to have a restful night.

Amtrak The cost of travelling on Amtrak is very competitive, from Memphis to New Orleans for instance the cost is $58 one way. The Amtrak goes all over America and is a good, economical way to travel in comfortable surroundings and quite an experience.  We had another Amtrak journey coming up in two days time and I was quite looking forward to it – a day journey this time to take us down to New Orleans, so no roomette, just very comfortable seats and lots of lovely countryside to see from the viewing carriage, which is open, spacious and very popular. But for this overnight journey it was over as we pulled into Memphis at dawn, right on time.

•  Read The American Music Tour – Part 1
•  Read The American Music Tour – Part 3
•  Read The American Music Tour – Part 4

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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