Evan Genest's Learning Log

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We Rode the Amtrak Sleeper Car to New Orleans

travel

We Rode the Amtrak Sleeper Car to New Orleans

Summary

We took the City of New Orleans from Chicago Union Station to Louisiana's New Orleans.
I would do it again. For me, the excitement was similar to the first time I ever flew: totally mind-blowing. But it was also deeply relaxing, spiritual. It took me somewhere in my mind where I hadn't been in awhile.

The cost was not prohibitively higher than flying. I think a one way flight (Chicago - New Orleans) was ~300 dollars and one person in the berth was ~400.

Getting on the train

The Chicago station has a special waiting lounge adjacent to the Great Hall (where they filmed Kevin Costner's The Untouchables). Its entrance is a little beyond the "privacy pod for breast feeding", which looks like a small arcade ride.

The sleeper car has no seats, it is all "rooms". The manager of the car circulates, checking on everything, well into the night, and early the next morning. I think he was up until 1am and then awoke at 5am as far as I can tell. You shouldn't say "Oh, there's no need." Let him do his thing. He pops into your berth around 10pm to do the sheets. He visits again around 9am to put the bed away. We tipped $15 for our one night; I don't know what is customary.

We had the smallest room (maybe called a Sleep-ette?). It was like a bunk bed in a submarine. The mattress is the width of a really wide lounger chair. The top berth has a safety web so you are less likely to roll out. It was a bit acrobatic getting into the top bunk -- not sure what older folks do, especially since 60% of the sleeper car passengers were old folks.

Sleeping

I slept great: woke up a few times when we hit Louisville or St Louis.

Reading

I brought a good book. If you like to read, a one day train trip is heavenly. It's great to pass a whole morning or afternoon reading in the sky car, drinking hot beverages and saying Hi to people.

Eating

The food was fine. They definitely try hard. It is similar to eating on an airplane 20 years ago. The cost is included with the sleeper car fees.