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All Aboard! – Train Journeys in the USA

John and I have always liked travelling by train. And John is not wild about flying. So a couple of years ago when we were booked on a cruise from Orlando we decided to get there from New York, by train.

We had booked a hotel to stay in New York for about a week before we went on the cruise and I thought it might be nice to take the trip on the 18 hour train journey, with a chance to see a bit of the countryside on the way as well, and at a fraction of the cost of flying!

We visited http://www.amtrak.com/home for the train tickets & started from the famous Penn Street Station in New York, travelling out through Washington and through the Carolinas. Every now and again the train would stop for a longer spell at a station and we would get out and talk to fellow passengers and soon found that as Brits, we were a bit of a curiosity! The compartments were compact but very clean with two seats set either side of a table that converted into a bunk with another above, for sleeping. Beside one of the seats was what looked like another seat with a wooden top to it. That turned out to be the loo! To preserve modesty we would take a spin in the corridor if either of us wanted to use the facilities.

The sights from that train window have stayed in my memory every since that trip. Huge cities melting into rural scenes with little shacks up against the railway lines, huge delt

as and rivers and almost surreal looking “Waltons’” type villages, some neat as a new pin with wooden church steeples and rows of shops with verandas along the front of them, other looking a bit less ‘brochure.’ Unlike in this country the railways are not are not fenced off at all in these rural areas. And that was another problem that we had not anticipated. True to their litigious reputation Americans of all sorts have sued Amtrak the national rail carrier after being hit by trains on these unfenced crossing. As a result driver’s are obliged to hoot the train horn at every crossing they come to, and that is not only official crossings, it is also any crossing that people have made unofficially over the tracks. As night fell and we tried to sleep we were soon to realise just how many of these unofficial and official crossings there are in the rural areas we were passing through!

The restaurant car was a surprise. It was very reminiscent of the ‘Orient Express’ although not quite as grand but the surprise was that the food was amazing! It was almost the highlight of the journey!

I have to say that of all the trips I have been on this was one that I will always remember, despite one unfortunate incident… When we arrived at our destination I tripped getting out of the train and skinned and badly bruised my leg. Luckily I was whisked away and dealt with very efficiently with plenty of time to spare to get to our cruise. It’s a blessing that I had to take out insurance for the cruise (they require proof of it when you book) and I was pleased we did (we used . Now I’d say I’d never consider travelling without it. Far better to have peace of mind and enjoy your trip wholeheartedly with no worries!

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