Sunday, June 10, 2012

Austin to Dalls on Amtrak

I was visiting my sister in law in Austin for a couple weeks but my flight to India is out of Dallas, so I needed to find a way to get from Austin to Dallas. For such a short distance plane fares seemed to be pretty expensive and I though about renting a car for the four hour drive but in the end I opted to take a train ride on Amtrak.  Cost wise it was really reasonable, $33 for a six hour trip seemed like a pretty good deal to me, and for a few extra dollars I even got a sleeper room called a Roomette.

Suzanne took me to the Amtrak station this morning. Check in was pretty easy as we got there way early. After getting my ticket we took off and got some coffee and then sat in the parking lot for an hour talking. The train, Texas Eagle #22, arrived on time at 910 am. By this time there were a lot of passengers lined up. The conductor took my ticket and pointed me to the last car. The Roomette is actually bigger than I thought it would be, and very comfortable. There are two very large chairs (folds down into one bed), a fold-away table, complimentary bottles of water, some storage areas, a hanger and plenty of space for two people (though I'm traveling alone today). There is an upper bunk too that folds down into a pretty large bed.


After getting settled into my room I walked two cars up to the dining car. One of the benefits of a sleeper car is that meals, coffee, tea, juice and water are all included. For me that would be breakfast and lunch. I was the only one in the dining car for breakfast, and technically it had closed just minutes before I got there but the server there was generous to let me eat anyway. I had the cheese and vegetable omelet, a biscuit, home fries and bacon. The omelet was great, the biscuit was very dense and heavy but had a good flavor, the bacon too salty and the home fries not good at all (stale). Overall it wasn't bad but it's not something I would have paid $11 for. The train is really clean, the restrooms too.

I walked through the coach car where the seats look quite comfortable. There are little kids beaming with excitement as they take their first train ride, a lady I met that is taking the train to the end of the line in Chicago. There is a park ranger from the National Parks that gave a presentation as we pass through the area between Waco and Fort Worth, a historical tour with talks about the history, the land and the animals. This was done in the upper deck of the observation car.

I enjoyed watching Texas pass by with it's vast fields of corn and other vegetables, longhorn cattle grazing, horses and buffalo, wind mills and barns, small towns and big cities. So it's longer than the 30 minute flight but so much more enjoyable.

I arrived in Dallas in the late afternoon, Shelley picked me up and took me back to the house. Bill was there waiting. We had a great time catching up, I think it's been four years since I saw them last. We were up till midnight last night, I think we could have stayed up all night last night if it weren't for my eye lids getting so heavy. It's really great to see them again. Below is a youtube video of the amtrak room. I have some photos but won't get them processed and uploaded for a few days.

Today is a day of rest. I'll get some laundry done, repacked and verify my flights.

Texas Eagle #22

The dining car

My omelet for breakfast, I've had much better

The left half of my Roomette, above (not shown) is the bunk bed

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