Sunday 8th May 2022
Having travelled on the Amtrak Acela train from New York to Boston, today we started our coast to coast trans-American train journey. Over the next three days we will be taking two trains to travel the 2,911 miles from the east to the west coast of the USA. The journey starts at Boston’s South Station.
As a sleeper passenger, prior to your journey you may use the facilities in the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge inside the station – a glorious spacious room with splendid ceilings. There are complimentary snacks including crisps, chocolate and soft drinks.
Robert’s planning meant we had arrived early at the station so we left our luggage at the Metropolitan Lounge and went for a final walk around Boston.
On our first day in Boston Matilda was surprised when she pressed the walk button at a road crossing and it told her sternly to ‘wait’. Matilda felt now was the time, perhaps childishly, to get her own back [put sound on].
We had heard about the nine bronze duck statues and made our way to see them.
They are apparently based on a popular American children’s book by Robert McCloskey, Make Way for Ducklings about a family of ducks which makes its home in Boston’s Public Garden. Currently the mother and her eight ducklings are dressed in the colours of the Ukranian flag.
We happened to be there on the same day as a Make Way for Ducklings Duckling Day celebration with games, activitites and music provided by the Harvard University Band. It reminded us of the Duck Race held in July in our home village.
Several people had recommended the swan boat rides and even though the weather was fine, we did not have time before our train but watched the first ones of the day set off. There is a growing list of things we hope to do next time we are in Boston.
Back at South Station we waited in the Metropolitan Lounge until our platform was announced, and we were then escorted to the train. The Boston Amtrak Lake Shore Limited service is a single decker train that comprises three carriages, the first is the sleeper consisting of ‘roomettes’ and ‘bedrooms’. The second carriage has the business class seats and the café. The final carriage has the standard seats. We had opted for a ‘roomette’ with two facing seats during the day which convert into a bed for the night with a fold down top bunk.
The room also has a toilet and sink: the toilet, with the seat cover down, also doubles as the steps to reach the upper bunk.
Matilda was not impressed when her bed was made up with her pillow at the toilet end as she had no interest in being awakenend by Robert using it next to her head in the middle of the night. She opted to sleep the other way round.
Or train departed Boston on time at 12:30. The café car serves hot food, soft drinks and alcohol. It is all pre-prepared microwave food. As a sleeper compartment passenger we were taken down to a table in the café where we were allowed to have anything we wanted from the hot food menu plus a drink and a snack for lunch.
At 18.10, 200 miles from Boston, we arrived in Albany-Rensselaer, where the other half of our train, the New York to Chicago Amtrak Lake Shore Limited service was waiting for us.
We have about 50 minutes here to get off the train, stretch our legs and go up to the station. The announcement had advised us that we could have a look in the snack bar or buy a newspaper while the two trains were being connected.
The New York part of the train consists of five carriages. At the the front there are two ordinary seating carriages, behind that is the restaurant/dining car and behind that there are two sleeper carriages.
The Boston train’s carriages are put in front of the New York ones and then we head off to Chicago. Robert of course, needed to video the shunting.
The merged train now has a dining car, for the exclusive use of the sleeper passengers.
So we are able to walk down to the dining carriage for our meal which, as a pre-prepared microwave menu, really only qualifies as Dish of the day for curiosity’s sake rather than any gourmet excellence.
Trains sound their horns as a warning at the approach to every level crossing, whatever the time of day so after a slightly disturbed night’s sleep, we went for our pre-prepared and microwaved breakfast.
The view from the dining car is better than the one from our roomette so we sat for a while to take advantage of this.
At 09:50 we arrive in Chicago, on time, having travelled 959 miles.