Joann’s first time on an Amtrak train ;). I wish it were the Acela but I can’t justify the premium you pay for the quick ride. However, the award I’m shooting for with Amtrak Guest Rewards points is either Acela Business or First class for 8,000 or 10,500 points respectively.
We were cutting it really close, getting to Newark Penn Station about 10 minutes before departure, but unlike the airport, you can make it from the curb to the boarding doors in about 5. We got there just in time, even had some time to admire how historic (read: old) this Penn Station is.
Anyway, this is a nice way to travel for 3 hours or less. Lots of leg room (about the same as domestic First Class on Continental) and fairly comfy seats. I think the biggest bonus of rail travel is the uninterrupted phone service. There is something to be said about signing on to Google Talk to IM your friends who are busy at work 😉
The ride was relaxed and uneventful, which is fine by me. One thing worth mentioning is that if you are headed from NY/NJ, you should try to board at NY Penn Station instead of Newark. By the time our train arrived, there were no open double seats so Joann and I had to sit separately for a few stops. We soon arrived at Washington DC Union Station and wandered around attempting to find the Metro subway system. After a Starbucks stop, we purchased some archaic looking ‘fare cards’ and were on our way. One thing that DC Metro has that NYC MTA desperately needs is air conditioning pillars throughout the platform – greatly appreciated during the record breaking heat wave in DC last weekend. New York needs to get on that ASAP!
20 minutes later, we arrived at the Woodley Park – Zoo stop and rode up the longest escalator in the history of man. Stepping out from the subterranean depths of DC, we saw the Marriott right across the street. Great location. The room was satisfactory; one can’t expect much from the Priceline rate room. The view from the 7th floor was horrendous as it looked into the middle of the large complex, but the room was clean which is my #1 priority.
Next up… sightseeing!