Sunday, July 10, 2011
On the fast track home
Rather than drive our rented car all the way home to New Hampshire by myself, I dropped it off and took the Acela high speed train back from Washington. I've always loved train travel, but I've never been on this one.
I sprang for a first class ticket, since it didn't seem to be too much more. That, it turns out, was my stroke of genius. What a fun trip. The 7 hour ride to Boston went by in a flash. The extra $100 gets you a lot. I got to hang out in the first class Acela Club at Union Station, a lounge for first class ticket holders with a living room atmosphere, the news on tv, a huge stack of New York Times', coffee, and a light breakfast spread. They'll let you pre-board the train right from a side door in the lounge. I did have to wait for a police escort to PRE pre-board an Asian Minister and his family, as well a family from Bahrain. But I still got one of the single seats along one side of the car, which is what I wanted. I checked out the seating arrangement beforehand on their website
The first class car is configured with single seats, double seats, and seats with tables in between. The amount of space is astounding when you compare it to the cabin of a plane.
On the trip to Boston I was served breakfast and lunch at my seat, with unlimited drinks, including beer, wine and mixed drinks! All of the food and drink is free of charge. Is this the best kept secret around, or what?
I felt like I was hanging out in my favorite restaurant, only in a comfy chair with Internet and a great view. The staff is very friendly and checks on you regularly to make sure you have everything you need. As if the two meals weren't enough, they will also bring you anything you want from the dining car.
The meals were incredible...for breakfast the choices included a mushroom omelet with Irish banger sausage and deep dish pancakes, among other things, plus bloody marys and screwdrivers. For lunch there were crab cake sliders on brioche buns, a shaved beef and arugula salad, tex-mex chicken meatloaf, and vegetarian lasagna. For desert a tiramisu parfait. Amtrak has always been known for good food, and my experience lived up to that reputation. With real silverware and cloth napkins, it was a treat.
I highly recommend this train if you have to make the trip between Boston and DC, and time isn't of the essence. Or even if it is! All that eating and comfort, combined with great Internet access made the trip fun, productive, and even restful.
I forgot to mention that Union Station in DC was a treat in itself. They say it's the most visited destination in DC, and after being there I can believe it.
I was there early in the morning, so I'm guessing it gets a bit more crowded than this.
I'm ready to go back---has anybody else tried the Amtrak first class service?
Posted by Sue/the view from great island at 8:19 AM