Getting on the train.
Deerfield Beach Travel Blog› entry 1 of 12 › view all entries
August 24th, 2009 – by: jdsgos
I got to the train station in Deerfield Beach an hour ahead of my departure as requested by Amtrak. Now my train was due to leave at 9:45 AM, so naturally I got there are at 8:30 only to find that the ticket office doesn't open till 9 AM. I was starting to get a little nervous. Since I was thinking this was gonna be like checking in for a flight - 2 hours in line, an hour for security and so forth.
As I was walking around the station, I noticed that it was listed on the historical heritage site. The station itself was built in the late 1920s. I was thinking "wow, I didn't know Deerfield Beach had been around that long". I was please to know that the train arrived on time and I was seated within a few minutes. It was nice to see that the seats were a decent size with plenty of leg room. I had like 2 feet of leg room and the seats also reclined all the way back so you could sleep in them. Now on the train, you can't pick your seats. They are assigned when you show up. As I was getting on the train, I asked the ticket girl for a window seat.
The ride up through Florida wasn't bad at all. I got a window seat on the right side of the train, thinking that we would hug the coastline a little as we traveled north. But that didn't happen. But it was really a nice scenic ride. You travel through some farmlands, marshes, and crossed some good sized rivers. Like I said, a pleasant scenic ride. And the seat next to me was empty most of the time.
My seat mate didn't show up until we were in Georgia. I'll get back to him later, but by then it was lunch time so I headed towards the dining cart. Since there are only so many seats in the dining cart, you pick your reservation time for when you want to eat. I was expecting some really bad quality food, almost like airplane food. But I was really surprised at what you get. I ordered the hot smoked turkey sandwich with cheese on pretzel bread. To be honest, it was not bad at all. And since there are no deep fryers on a moving train, you get a side salad instead of fries (which is better for you anyways). With the salad and drink, the sandwich was more then enough to fill you up.
Now about my seat mate. I don't want to some mean, but he really really really smelled bad. I'm talking hasn't bathed in days (maybe even weeks) smelly. And he had like all his worldly belongings with him. I didn't know that you could carry so much onto a train. There is no way in hell he would have had all this stuff on a plane, simply because the airline wouldn't let him. I mean he had crap spread out all over the place. Lucky for me, I don't think he like sitting still for long, so he was always walking all over the train. But when he did sit back down, OMG the smell.
By dinner time, I can't remember where the train was, people were setting up for the night. By now, the couch section was maybe 3/4 of the way full. Most of the seats were reclined all the way back and pillows and blankets were out every where. I'm thinking where did all this come from. I later realized that you could carry all this stuff on with you. I was kicking myself for not bringing a net-book along so I could do some writing and work. But I was thinking I'd be carrying too much as it was already. Next time I will.
So my dinner reservation was for 8 PM. I showed up and was seated with a rather pleasant man from Texas. We talked a little and then ordered dinner. He got the roasted half chicken with rice and veggies. It looked and smelled awesome. I decided to go with the crab cakes. I know what you're thinking "crab cakes on a train, is he nuts?". But they were really good. The rice was had a nice flavor, the roasted veggies weren't over cooked. And the crab cakes came with a smoked green chili sauce. The sauce was a little spicy. Even the guy from Texas was surprised at the quality of his food.
While I was eating dinner, I over heard the lady behind me say she upgraded to a sleeper car for $200. Apparently she didn't like her seat mate either. Now where Amtrak makes their money is on sleeper cars. When I was buying my ticket, I checked into this. A roomette would have cost me another $550. But you would have had this little room all to yourself. You fold the table up, the seats fold down to make a bed and you have your own little bathroom. Since I was only on the train for a little more then a day, I figured I would save the money and just sleep in the seat (which a lot of people did). I was thinking did I really want to spend the extra money or I could just sleep with some ear plugs stuffed in my nose to fight off the odor and just breathe through my mouth.
As I was walking back to my seat, I saw the ticket girl and asked if there were any roomettes left. She checked and said there were three available. Three?? I was thinking "man this is gonna be costly". So I asked how much to upgrade and she told me $130. I guess we were in a different location from when the lady got her room for $200. So we haggled a little and I talked her down to $100. Sweet!!!!!!!! I had my own room with no smelly guy. I ran back to my seat and grabbed my ONE bag and came back. Buy then, the room had already been turned down for bedtime. I was shown all the controls for all the lights and AC. The bed wasn't huge, a little smaller then a single. But it was roomy and comfy enough for me to stretch out and read. Afterwards, I set the AC control to as cold as it would go, hit the lights, and doze off. It took me a while to get use to the rocking motion of the train. And there were a couple of times during the night that I was awaken by the train's jerkiness as it was pulling out of some stops.
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