Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day Three of the Great Ten Day Train Trip

Photos: exterior quote on Union Station (click a couple of times to enlarge and read it!), interior of the shopping level at the train station, and exterior shot of the station.

Today was our first actual day on a train--and it was the first time either Ginger or I had actually traveled on a train.

Things we learned:
1. You don't have to arrive at the train station as early as you have to arrive at an airport. Our train left at 7:30; we got to the airport right after six. And we sat. And sat. And sat. :-) And this after we had gotten up at 5 a.m.

Nothing happened--absolutely nothing--until about 7:15. Then suddenly the gate opened, we dragged our luggage through it (no checked baggage on this train trip--and that was interesting!), and we climbed aboard the train. (I had to take my two suitcases plus carry ons down an escalator. When my heavy bags tilted on the escalator, they nearly pushed me down the stairs!)
2. When getting aboard or de-training (yes, they really call it that), you'd better be quick. They don't dilly dally at the station.
3. Food in the cafe car is definitely of the cellophane-wrapped variety. On one of our later trains, we will have a "dining car." Can't wait to see what that's like!

We walked past a couple of cars, a "cafe car", and boarded a passenger coach. The inside of a train looks pretty much like the inside of a nice tour bus, and, like the bus, there are no seat belts. (I kept thinking that I had to put one on.)

After the train pulled out, the conductor came down the aisle and asked to see our tickets. He punched them with a hole punch, thanked us, barely glanced at our ID, and we were off.

The train proceeded to stop at other stops--Alexandria, Ashland, Richmond, and other places, and I loved the little town of Ashland. I'd never heard of it, but it was picture-postcared pretty.
Just before noon, we pulled into Williamsburg, where we lugged all our suitcases off the train and hailed a taxi--a nice Greek man who used to be a jockey, has formerly owned a Greek restaurant, and who now drives a taxi a few months a year. He's lived in Williamsburg for about 20 years, and described the city as "beautiful, no crime, nice people." :-)

Our room wasn't ready when we checked into the hotel, so I didn't have my camera with me as we started exploring. So I don't have pictures of Williamsburg today, but will post some tomorrow.

LOL--the TV is on, and since beginning this train adventure, I've begun to notice how many movies involve trains of some sort. Ha!

One thing I did notice--traveling by train is definitely different. Instead of billboards and the things you see by traveling by car, you see lovely sites that are definitely off the beaten path--forest that looks primeval, lots of farmer's back porches, lots of fields, "natural" gardens in bloom around ponds and lakes. In one manicured field I saw a tall pyramid made of stones piled atop one another--sitting out in the middle of nowhere, without explanation. Definitely odd, and interesting.

And Williamsburg IS lovely--crape myrtles in bloom all over the place, and all those lovely colonial buildings.

And so I'll leave you with a few more pictures of Washington, D.C. And I'll report back tomorrow!



Joyce H said...

Hi Angie,
How was the train ride? Fast or slow? Shakey? Did you feel like it was going to tip over? I want to take a train to Connecticut but I chicken! LOL!
By the way, my in-laws come to Florida on the Auto train and love it! They said the food in the dining car is wonderful. We got them one of the rooms once but they like riding in the regular seats better.
I'm loving your blog! Thanks for sharing!

Kay Day said...

You should get a sleeper car. Now that is an adventure. They are NOTHING like those glamorous things in the movies.
When I got one I put my two kids, (2 and 5) on the bottom bunk foot to foot and I took the top. There was a net to keep me from falling out but the train rocked and jolted so much it was very difficult to get any sleep.
Your trip sounds like fun. I'm jealous.
Oh, you are supposed to go at certain times to the dining car. I didn't know that and went at the wrong time.

Lori said...

Growing up I lived in the the Washington D.C. area and in Newport News, VA near Williamsburg. Both areas are delightful. I loved seeing your pictures of Union Station. My parents would take us there every year around Christmas.

Thanks for sharing your trip. I am of course looking forward to your train novel. It sounds intriguing!

Angela said...

LOL--no, Joyce, the train is VERY smooth. It didn't go all that fast (for a long time, we had a freight train in front of us that slowed us down, and the only movement I noticed was a very SLIGHT side-to-side rocking movement. It's very easy to fall asleep--in fact, people were snoring all around us. :-)

It seems very safe and sound.

Kay, I'm not sure any of our trains even have sleeper cars, as most of those are shorter "day trips," but if they have one that's available, I'd love to get one (I understand you can get them cheap at the last minute). We'll see!


Mocha with Linda said...

Every post I read makes me green with envy! Sounds like such a fun time.

You'll post pictures of the train won't you?!

Williamsburg may be my favorite vacation spot I've ever been.

Kathy Cassel said...

What fun you are having!

Kay Day said...

The train I was on through Kansas went about 55 or 60 mph, I guess. It frequently paralleled a highway and we were going about the same speed as the cars. Sometimes they passed us.
It took as long to travel by train as by car, so it's not a time-saver. But fun!

Anonymous said...

If you are still in Williamsburg, have a meal at "FOOD FOR THOUGHT" it is on Richmond Rd, across from the Hilton. The food is wonderful and the setting will leave you wanting for a "good read".