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Senior's train trip, part two, overnight to Chicago.


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#1 caravanman

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 12:15 PM

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)



#2 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 12:21 PM

Ed, as usual, always fascinating to read about your travels! :)

 

Glad they didn't get your hat this time. :P

 

On a practical level, about eggs: Eggland's Best now sells 6 hard-boiled and peeled eggs in a ready-to-eat bag (the eggs are ready to eat, not the bag :giggle:) in the grocery stores. A bit pricey, but if you have access to a fridge and want two or three a day for breakfast, it might be worth it just for the convenience.


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 11 July 2017 - 12:22 PM.


#3 caravanman

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 12:25 PM

To be honest, the cost was not an issue... I was buying 1 dozen eggs for less than $1 later in the trip! Anyway, back home now and able to buy 6 eggs here for more than the price of a dozen stateside!

 

Cheers,

 

Ed.



#4 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 12:27 PM

Yep, just caught up with where you are now! :)



#5 NorthShore

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 11:55 AM

You need your own chicken!

#6 Bob Dylan

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 01:56 PM

You need your own chicken!

😄 But will the Sheriff allow it there Eddie?
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#7 dogbert617

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 05:26 PM

Speaking of business class, what are all the long distance trains that also have business class, besides sleepers? I know there's the Palmetto(think it has sleepers, correct me if I'm wrong), Coast Starlight, Lake Shore Limited, but what other trains have both sleepers and business class? Usually seems like most Amtrak trains only have business class(for shorter trains/regional corridor routes), or sleepers instead(for long distance trains). Not often do Amtrak trains, seem to have both.

 

Good report, too. I was hoping for a few more photos, of pics you may've taken along the way. Did you just not take a lot of pics on this trip?


Edited by dogbert617, 13 July 2017 - 05:28 PM.


#8 CCC1007

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 05:46 PM

Speaking of business class, what are all the long distance trains that also have business class, besides sleepers? I know there's the Palmetto(think it has sleepers, correct me if I'm wrong), Coast Starlight, Lake Shore Limited, but what other trains have both sleepers and business class? Usually seems like most Amtrak trains only have business class(for shorter trains/regional corridor routes), or sleepers instead(for long distance trains). Not often do Amtrak trains, seem to have both.
 
Good report, too. I was hoping for a few more photos, of pics you may've taken along the way. Did you just not take a lot of pics on this trip?

The palmetto does not have sleepers.

#9 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 05:51 PM

Speaking of business class, what are all the long distance trains that also have business class, besides sleepers? I know there's the Palmetto(think it has sleepers, correct me if I'm wrong), Coast Starlight, Lake Shore Limited, but what other trains have both sleepers and business class? Usually seems like most Amtrak trains only have business class(for shorter trains/regional corridor routes), or sleepers instead(for long distance trains). Not often do Amtrak trains, seem to have both.

 

Good report, too. I was hoping for a few more photos, of pics you may've taken along the way. Did you just not take a lot of pics on this trip?

The Crescent and the Cardinal also have business class.  

 

Remember, most pax take LD trains for shorter trips so having a business class on an LD train makes sense.



#10 SarahZ

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 06:27 PM

I've been able to find smaller packs of eggs (usually in sixes), but you sometimes have to go to a larger grocery store to find those. Most smaller markets, drug stores, and the like carry the standard dozen.

 

Bravo for venturing to Chicago during the hot/humid part of the year. :) I tend to avoid the city during July and August. If I do find myself there for an event, I don't venture out until dinner time or later.


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#11 caravanman

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 04:35 AM

Cheers for the replies. We do tend to have daft pricing structures here in the UK too, but the US beats us hands down! A tiny bottle of milk $1.49, a huge gallon or so, $2.00. :D

 

I did take more photo's, and will post a link to them later, once I decide which ones are worth uploading!

 

"But will the Sheriff allow it there Eddie?" Eggzactly the problem, Jim!

 

Stay tuned...

 

Ed.



#12 v v

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 08:51 AM

Ed, which one and what did you think of the Hostel you used in Chicago and a bit unrelated have you ever used one in downtown San Francisco?

 

In Chicago have you used the Parthenon Hostel on S Halsted about 3 blocks down from Lou Mitchell's? looks very convenient for the Union Station.



#13 Bob Dylan

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 09:03 AM

Ed, which one and what did you think of the Hostel you used in Chicago and a bit unrelated have you ever used one in downtown San Francisco?
 
In Chicago have you used the Parthenon Hostel on S Halsted about 3 blocks down from Lou Mitchell's? looks very convenient for the Union Station.

Not answering for Ed Jamie, but the HI Hostel on Congress in Chicago is much better than the Halstead one.

I haven't used a SF Hostel but the one in Sacramento is First Rate,( its an old/ nicely remodelexd Victorian House)and of Course the One in Austin is really worthwhile!😎

Edited by Bob Dylan, 06 August 2017 - 09:04 AM.

"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#14 dogbert617

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 01:58 PM

[quote name="CCC1007" post="716775" timestamp="1499986015"][/quote]The palmetto does not have sleepers.[/quote]

Oh yeah, right. Now that I relooked at the timetable, since it doesn't run overnight. I am right in thinking that train used to run further south than Savannah, into FL? And that it served Waldo and other stations, that now only have connecting bus service to Amtrak stations elsewhere?





Speaking of business class, what are all the long distance trains that also have business class, besides sleepers? I know there's the Palmetto(think it has sleepers, correct me if I'm wrong), Coast Starlight, Lake Shore Limited, but what other trains have both sleepers and business class? Usually seems like most Amtrak trains only have business class(for shorter trains/regional corridor routes), or sleepers instead(for long distance trains). Not often do Amtrak trains, seem to have both.
 
Good report, too. I was hoping for a few more photos, of pics you may've taken along the way. Did you just not take a lot of pics on this trip?

The Crescent and the Cardinal also have business class.  
 
Remember, most pax take LD trains for shorter trips so having a business class on an LD train makes sense.


Gotcha. On those LD trains with business class (outside of bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points), what are the benefits of business class besides being able to use the first class lounges in Chicago and LA(and etc), that you get free non-alcoholic drinks and a newspaper, and things like that?

Yep I am aware some do ride the train for shorter distances. You do always forget some only ride it part of the way, since many start or end their travels at one of the 2 endpoints of that LD train. Not to forget those who earlier or later transfer to or from another Amtrak train!

Edited by dogbert617, 06 August 2017 - 02:02 PM.


#15 v v

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:11 AM

Thanks for that info Bob, it's also convenient isn't it. The plan is to arrive afternoon/evening from London and be gone the following lunch time on the Zephyr, so it's the cheapest most convenient place to lay our heads. Same will apply to San Francisco as like Chicago we have visited for a few days twice in the last two years so this time just passing through both cities to other places we want to stop.

 

Of course if somewhere was the biggest dive in the area it's also good to know.


Edited by v v, 07 August 2017 - 06:12 AM.


#16 caravanman

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:13 AM

Hi Jamie,

 

I have not heard of the other hostel, so no info on it. I highly recommend the HI Hostel as a very decent and enjoyable place to stay.

 

It is about 15 mins walk to the Amtrak station, or the CTA bus route 126 starts from very near the hostel, about 100 meters. Nice park and Michigan lakeside about 5 mins walk away. I stayed just for one night when I was westbound this last trip.

 

Coming from the airport on Blue Line, alight at La Salle, and it's about 5 blocks walk to the hostel, same street.

 

Ed.



#17 v v

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 02:39 PM

Thanks Ed






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