Boston to Chicago on Amtrak 449.

CHICAGO–The ride here from Boston on the Lake Shore Limited was really enjoyable. For one thing, the train passes through countryside that starts all my old New England genes clanging around, especially the stretch from Springfield through Pittsfield to Albany and then west from there until it’s too dark to see much.


Furthermore, we had one of the new Viewliner dining cars and, like the Viewliner sleepers, they have a second tier of windows, giving a very bright open feeling to the interior. I asked one of the servers how they liked the new diners and got a big grin.
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And on this trip I asked the car attendant to make up the upper birth in my roomette instead of the lower. It was a first for me and I tried it because several of my NARP colleagues travel that way. They’ve said they prefer sleeping up there because it leaves the lower seating area open, making it easy for changing your clothes.


It does work well because there are windows for the upper berths in the Viewliner roomettes and that avoids the claustrophobia that you can get in the windowless upper berths in Superliner roomettes. It was perfect and that’s going to be the way I’ll spend nights in Viewliner roomettes from now on. (As long as I’m still able to climb up into the upper berth, that is.)

And I was once again reminded that one of the great pleasures of rail travel is meeting some of your fellow passengers. For dinner, I was seated at a table with a gentleman who is president of a company described on his business card thusly:

    PIPE ORGAN CURATORS, CONSERVATORS & CONSULTANTS

This exceedingly interesting man was recently in Switzerland and will soon be off to Australia attending to some of the world’s oldest, most treasured, and literally priceless pipe organs. With great pleasure I have added his name to my growing list of the remarkable people I have met over meals in an Amtrak dining car.

Finally, I’m beginning to get the idea that if I book a hotel room through one of the on-line travel agencies–expedia.com or hotels.com, for instance–the hotel may be more likely to give me a less desirable room than if I book through the hotel’s web site. I’ve stayed at the Palmer House here in Chicago several times and, as a member of the Hilton Honors program, I’ve always been given a very nice room. This time, however, I booked through the booking.com web site and I found myself in a small room on a lower floor with a small, cramped bathroom and paper thin walls. I shall consult with a bone fide expert about my theory and report back in a future post.

OK, time to get something to eat, pack up and head for Chicago’s Union Station. This afternoon I’m catching the westbound Empire Builder. Next post in two days from Seattle.