Trip report-MDW-EWR then silver service to and from Florida plus Brightline

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Steve4031, Apr 14, 2019.

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  1. Apr 14, 2019 #1

    Steve4031

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    Steve4031

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    This is a trip I’ve been looking forward too. I’m flying to New York because the dining car service on the Chicago east coast trains just does not get it done. Plus this gives me extra time to meet friends in nyc, Orlando and Washington, D.C. along the way.

    The attached photo shows what I’m leaving behind in Chicago as I head for warmer climates in New York and Florida.

    I checked in exactly 24 hours early and snagged the A25 boarding position. I’m rather pleased to get that and not spend extra for early bird Boarding.

    Even though it is Snowing the flight is currently scheduled to leave on time. So far I’ve managed not to get caught in the 737 Max issues and have a cancelled flight. I’ll keep you posted as the day progresses.
     

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  2. Apr 14, 2019 #2

    Steve4031

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    And now the flight has been delayed an hour. Not unexpected due to snow. Assuming this is because planes have to be de-iced and air traffic control has probably made adjustments.
     
  3. Apr 14, 2019 #3

    pennyk

    pennyk

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    72BC6C48-30EF-497B-BEE5-FC5504DFAAEB.png Pretty warm in Orlando now. I’m looking forward to seeing you.
     
  4. Apr 14, 2019 #4

    OBS

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    Looking forward to your report.
     
  5. Apr 14, 2019 #5

    Steve4031

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    The drama continues. Lol. It’s snowing like crazy here . The pilot says once we are in the air 1 hour 26 minutes to Newark. They are plowing the airport. The luggage in those carts is getting snowed on.

    This is my first flight in a snow storm. So kind of interesting. Plane is getting de-iced.
     

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  6. Apr 14, 2019 #6

    Steve4031

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    Made it to Newark at 4:30. Amazingly I got back on my schedule to be in Rosedale by 6:18. Caught 5:08 njt train to nyp. Then caught the 5:45 train to Rosedale.
     

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  7. Apr 15, 2019 #7

    Steve4031

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    We ate dinner at red lobster. The red lobster out here is better than the ones in Chicago. They had a lobster roll and lobster bisque. They sang happy birthday for my friend. It was fun. These trips are better when you have friends to visit along the way.

    I’m at Rosedale waiting for 8:48 back to penn station. Staying at Hilton Times Square.
     
  8. Apr 15, 2019 #8

    Steve4031

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    Fog enshrouded Rosedale station.
     

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  9. Apr 15, 2019 #9

    Steve4031

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    The service advisory for the 1,2 and 3 trains has got to be difficult for people with dyslexia.

    The Hilton Times Square is perfectly located for getting to from penn station. Take the 1,2,or 3 one stop to Times Square and walk 1/2 block to hotel.
     

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  10. Apr 15, 2019 #10

    Steve4031

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    Packed and ready to head back to Penn station. I’ve started using a wallet that I pack in my cartoon to keep all of my transit cards from my travels around the USA. Found the metro card for nyc. Even though it expired I was able to transfer value to knew card for no charge. The old card had 8 dollars on it so this system of keeping cards saved me money.

    Views from the Hilton Times Square.
     

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  11. Apr 15, 2019 #11

    Steve4031

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    The Hilton Times Square is a great locyfor train travelers in nyc. The 1,2,3 Times Square stop is 1/2 bock away. There are several exits and entrances sometimes it pays to look carefully before exiting. The hotel has one long hallway on ground floor that connects 41st and 42nd. It’s easy to get turned around coming out of hotel. Make sure you are heading towards 7th Avenue on 41st or 42nd and you will see an entrance to the subway lines there.

    Here are views from my room.
     

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  12. Apr 15, 2019 #12

    Steve4031

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    The CA is open and functional. The agent greeted me and when I told her I was on 97 she confirmed I was in the sleeper and excepted my verbal confirmation. I was already taking my phone out to show my ticket. Nice touch.

    The air circulation is poor and the drink station is out of service. Bottled water and sodas are kept in a refrigerator that is not refrigerating. As always the seats are comfortable so I’m fine. The new lounge will be interesting to experience.
     

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  13. Apr 15, 2019 #13

    Steve4031

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    I’m onboard 97 in the 9712 car. Boarded about 2:50. Windows are clean and room is in good as condition as possible. AC is working too. I’m happy.
     
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  14. Apr 16, 2019 at 12:21 AM #14

    Steve4031

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    The ride down the corridor was uneventful. And enjoyable. Had 6 pm dinner seating. They do not hand out reservation slips. Just take your room number and car number. In the diner they write room and car number on the check and then you sign. Pretty precise record keeping. I had the steak which was good and cheese cake for dessert.

    Between Baltimore and Washington we ran slowly, stopped and started a few times and then switched to the middle track to pass a stopped Marc train. There was a tree down along the side of the tracks. We passed too quickly to determine if this was the actual cause of the slight delay.

    At Washington I got off and walked a few minutes. I’m in the only named sleeper on the train, Croton River.

    A picture of the cheese cake and then around WashingtonD.C. Platform area.
     

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  15. Apr 16, 2019 at 1:21 PM #15

    Steve4031

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    We departed Washington a few minutes late. I had dinner with the lady and her 2nd grade daughter who were occupying room 2 in the 9712 car. It was fun seeing the girl enjoy the train at Dinner. After Washington I invited them to my room for a few minutes so they could see the monuments.

    I slept well during the night. Woke up at Florence and showered in Savannah. CSX has improved the track quite a bit. Very smooth. I noticed sections with concrete ties at breakfast.

    Now I’m going to take my after breakfast nap.
     
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  16. Apr 16, 2019 at 8:57 PM #16

    Steve4031

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    Enjoyed lunch in the diner. I shared a table with a lady from nyc and her daughter. Very enjoyable conversation. Penny walked down to the sun rail lynx station and waved as we rolled by. I tried to do a Facebook live video but it didn’t do her effort justice.

    We just passed Indiantown and are hot on the heels of 91. Maybe 5 minutes behind it.

    Hopefully we stil get into Miami early.
     
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  17. Apr 16, 2019 at 10:48 PM #17

    Steve4031

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    Looks like we will be about 30 minutes early into Miami. I’m on west side of the train and I can feel the heat from the sun. AC is working but it’s still better to keep curtains closed.

    At Miami I will take a Lyft to the Silvercar car rental at Miami airport. I’ll pick up an Audi A4 for the trip to Orlando. I’m driving there for a time share presentation tomorrow morning. I know I could have gotten off in Orlando but I like the train time.
     
  18. Apr 17, 2019 at 12:16 AM #18

    caravanman

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    An interesting report, I like the short "instalments" way of doing it. Being rather "long winded" myself it is not something I could manage... :D
    One question, are you giving the Orlando timeshare presentation, or going as a potential customer?
     
  19. Apr 17, 2019 at 6:41 PM #19

    CGChief

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    I too like the short snippets of info. Sounds like you're having a great trip thus far.
     
  20. Apr 17, 2019 at 9:08 PM #20

    pennyk

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    I had a nice lunch with Steve in Orlando this afternoon.
     
  21. Apr 17, 2019 at 9:30 PM #21

    Steve4031

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    Thank you for the feedback. If I don’t do installments I don’t do it at all. I enjoy trip reports from others when I can’t go. So I want to give back.

    In regards to the time share I am attending the presentation. In June 2018 Hilton Grand Vacations called with an offer of a 3 night package in Orlando for 199 dollars plus 20,000 Hilton points. I bit with the intention of not getting a time share. It doesn’t match my style of travel. I told the lady on the phone this immediately and she said no problem and sold it anyway. I then used it as an excuse for this train trip.

    I was booked in a studio which is the equivalent of a hotel room with a cupboard and sink in the hallway.

    I arrived last night about midnight after the drive from Miami. The resort is gated and I was admitted without hassle. Check in was quick. The rooms are located in about 10 6 story building. My room was on the 6th floor. There are elevators but no interior hallways. It is all pleasantly decorated and maintained.

    The room is adequate. Main issue was AC had worked earlier but was now not working. You communicate with the staff by text and issue was resolved in 20 minutes. This was pretty good. But now it was 12:30 and I still needed to shower and fall asleep and then get up for the early 8:15 am presentation. I had yelped search a good breakfast restaurant which was near the hotel. The timeshare presentation was 5 minutes away. Woke up late at 7 but still made it on time and after eating a great, cheap breakfast.

    The presentation was not bad. 2 hours 15 minutes. The guy assigned to me was visibly and verbally annoyed when I was determined in my no. I understand they have to be able to present the product but the guy had already given me misinformation. He told me the points used in the timeshare could be used at Hilton hotels. I really think it was more a matter of him not understanding and being poorly trained rather than being deliberately dishonest.

    I asked another person later during the final confirmation about the difference between the point systems. She confirmed my understanding that they were not interchangeable. I was polite and calm and understanding of their requirements to have me sit until a certain time period had passed. The lady was better about handling my no then the first person. Years ago I had participated in another more high pressure timeshare presentation in Chicago. I ended up getting in an argument in cursing at that guy. Years and more maturity on my part led to a better outcome on this experience.

    I was able to return to my room for a quick nap before lunch with Penny at a restaurant that was convenient for both of us. We had a wonderful 2 hour lunch conversation. Penny is an intelligent, great conversation Partner. We used to squabble on the rail fest but I trust that those days are over. I really respect Penny’s fairness with me on AU inspite of some of my previously boorish behavior. And she has great travel experiences to talk about.

    Now I have to go do some work for my college coursework to become a principal. I procrastinated and now have to pay the piper.
     
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  22. Apr 18, 2019 at 3:27 AM #22

    Railroad Bill

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    Enjoyed the report Steve. Did the time share Hilton presentation in Orlando a few years ago. A good deal for us but no contract signed. Too old to start this now. Also best wishes on your becoming a principal. I also made that move after nine years of teaching history and government. Pros and cons of that move are many. Glad you had a nice day with Penny.
     
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  23. Apr 18, 2019 at 6:07 PM #23

    Steve4031

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    For the driving portion of this trip I rented a silvercar. I will do a many report on my experience with Silvercar. Silvercars are rented by booking on the internet or using a smartphone app. You can rent a few different types of Audis. A sedan, an suv, or a convertible. The sedan is the A4. It has the technology to use apple car play or Android auto. Then you can play your music and use your smartphone gps and google maps to navigate. This system has worked well in cities and in remote areas.

    I arrived in Miami on Tuesday and took a lyft to the Silvercar rental location. These are usually near airports. Since Miami Amtrak is near the airport the Silvercar place was a 15 minute ride. The silver car people use text messages to coordinate picking you up at the airport or having the car ready when you arrive. In the Lyft I texted them to let them know I was on the way. When I arrived my rental pulled up. My luggage was transferred to the trunk. I used my phone to unlock the car using their app. After adjusting seats and mirrors and selecting a music playlist I was on the way.

    The car is equipped with toll transport so you can use toll roads and express lanes without surcharge. I experimented with the express lane toll on I 95 nb. The sign said it would cost 10 dollars. I would not do this daily. But the express lanes were interesting in that they had their own Ramps to go through and around a major congestion point at a major interchange. At one point I was soaring above the lanes of traffic on a long, high bridge. A few miles later reality caught up and express lane traffic was stop and go. A car and motorcycle were parked on the left shoulder and people had to slow and look. All of this is much less annoying with great AC, comfortable seats, and James Brown grunting and his band thumping on a great sound system.

    Of course an Audi accelerates quickly and takes turns well. Slow moving pick up trucks, suvs, and semi’s were dealt wit easily and appropriately. Wait patiently and then when it’s safe haul ass and pass. Ramps that have a 30 mph caution speed can be taken at 45 mph without issue. Fun.
     
  24. Apr 18, 2019 at 6:34 PM #24

    Steve4031

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    This is the big one. BRIGHTLINE.

    I made the trip to Florida primarily to ride the Brightline. I purchased a round trip select ticket. This includes parking. I booked the tickets ahead of time. I changed trains and times a few times as my plans changed. The app worked flawlessly each time. Each time I was allowed to re-select my seat. At one point I recalled seeing an arrow indicating direction of travel. But when I made changes I did not see the arrow.

    I drove to the West Palm Beach station. The google maps gps got me to the station. Finding the garage was a bit more challenging. From prior research I knew it was in the west side of the tracks. I assumed that I would see a sign for the parking. I did not so I crosse. The tracks, turned left and then left again across the tracks. I could see the building with the garage but still did not see signs. I made a couple of more turns and got to the garage.

    As I drove up I vaguely remembered the instructions on dealing with parking when in select class. Something about downloading an app . . Oops, forgot that too.

    A lady was sitting at the garage entrance and as I explained she waived me through. In a vegetative state, I got out of the car and walked into the station thinking I was all set with parking. Then I saw the signs marked pay by phone. I knew I needed to tie up loose ends.

    I entered the station and two Brightline employees employees greeted me. I explained my concern. The lady patiently helped me. She instructed me to find the correct website and gave me the code. For some reason my phone struggled to load the website. She was patient the entire time she helped me which was 15 minutes. Good thing I arrived early. I would have missed the train otherwise.

    After the website loaded I had to go back to the garage and enter my license plate number from the rental car. Once back inside the station I was escorted up the escalator through security and into the lounge. The lounge is comfortable but the chairs are not designed for napping.

    Boarding was called and I boarded. I immediately saw that I had booked a window seat on the right side and not the left side. I changed my seat in the app and moved. We’ve just departed on time and I’m going to look out the window.
     
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  25. Apr 18, 2019 at 7:35 PM #25

    pennyk

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    I am glad you made it down there OK. I hope you enjoy the ride.
     

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