Friday 2nd June 2017.
Had a pretty good night’s sleep, the nutty bloke is still there, and his feet still smell. Other than that, all good.
My Amtrak train to Chicago leaves at 12.50pm, so aiming to get to the station by noon. Currently back in the park, enjoying some early morning sunshine.
11am check out from the hostel, and a steady walk to the South Station.
I was the first to reach my train coach, so was able to grab a single seat. This ride to Chicago is overnight, and for the first time, I am riding in a “business class” coach. These are not available on all long distance Amtrak trains, so I was interested to try it out. The seats are extra large, and arranged as 1 single + two across the aisle, rather than 2+2 either side of the aisle, as in regular coach seats. Business class fares also include free soft drinks. Only 4 passengers boarded in business class at Boston, but later it filled up more.
One slight annoyance is that the other half of the business coach is devoted to the cafe car, so it was not too quiet. Our cafe server was popular with the customers, who seemed to hang around gossiping with him at high volume. As the passengers came through to use the cafe, I noticed one guy had a picture of an Amtrak train on his T shirt, and the words “Where is George? At the Amtrak meeting...” I assumed he must be a member of this forum, and went up to ask if the group he was with were AU members, etc? It turned out to be a meeting of folk who track bank notes, nothing to do with AU. However, by sheer coincidence, one of the group was an AU member, Carl, who posts here under the name “Trackwalker”. We had a chat and he mentioned he had recently retired from the railroads, on the side that maintains the rails, etc, hence the handle. Carl gave me a gift of a pen which has a built in light, so I can write rude stuff on walls in the dark, and still see what I am writing! Cheers Carl!
I did not sleep very well, even with a blanket and a warm hat, so was pretty groggy by the time we reached Chicago. On balance, I did not feel that the business class was worth the extra cost.
Leaving the station, I walked up to the hostel, just in Chicago for one night, but will spend more time here later in the trip, on the way back to Boston.
Very pleased to see an anti-Trump demonstration in full swing!
Too early for the check in, so I registered and left my bags there and headed up towards the lake and the fountain. Very hot, I sat under some trees to write my notes.
Strange, but true: I made a note about being tired, and needing to keep my wits about me in case I lost something. I walked up to the Chicago “Bean”, and had a nice chat with an Indian woman, then went to the Mediterranean cafe nearby for a meal.
Thinking to head back to the hostel, I decided to call into a store and buy a couple of beers for later. Some guy “dropped” some shopping on the floor and in the confusion / distraction someone picked my back pocket. Lucky for me it only had $10, all in $1 bills, so I guess it looked more of a tempting target than it was. I never carry money in my back pocket, but being tired, my guard dropped. I still find it strange that I was aware enough to make a note in my book beforehand, but not alert enough to put my cash in a safer place. Quite expensive beers, but still under Amtrak’s price!
Room mates are one guy from Taiwan, and one from Brazil, both very pleasant. Used the hostel laundry, cost including powder and drying was $4.
Sunday 4 June 2017.
Good sleep. Had nice breakfast, then went across to the nearby store to buy some eggs, which I hard boiled for my trip to Seattle. As with most food stuff in America, it is hard to buy small portions. 1 dozen was the smallest amount of eggs on sale! I left the unused ones in the “free food” part of the fridge. Most hostels have a shelf where you can leave unused food for others to have.
Before checking out, I went up to the lake again for an hour or so. I saw some runners from an event called colo(u)r run, who were covered in vivid colored powders, reminding me of “Holi” celebrations in India !
Another walk back to the station, and time for the Empire Builder to Seattle!
(to be continued)