on his birthday
Four years ago, our family booked a family reunion in Orlando, Florida. Some of the family went by airplane, but my son and I decided to book onto a train that would take us from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Orlando Florida. The cost was right and we would be on the upper level with the option of watching the sights go by and not having to keep the foot on the pedal or pull over to see the scenery of our country.
After we booked our trip we told my second son about the great prices and they decided to book the same train for his wife and two children. The plan was hatched. Double deck train to Washington DC and then in the regular Amtrak cars from DC to Orlando.
Everything was fine until the my oldest son had a foot amputated and we had to change our e-tickets for handicapped seating. My son and I sat on the bottom deck and the other son and his family sat in the upper deck. He boarded with his wheelchair and was seated in a front seat. This was a shame because he missed the opportunity to get to the dining cars and to the observation car.
|Bill relaxing on the way to Orlando|
I did get to see the observation car it was nicely laid out with seats that faced out the windows and tables for larger groups to sit.
Other than that the trip from Pittsburgh to DC was great. We left about 15 minutes behind schedule but ended up getting to DC about 45 minutes late which cut us back to a much smaller time to get into the station and onto the platform for the train to Orlando. The Amtrak personnel were very accommodating by giving us a ride from the upper deck to the lower deck to get onto the next train.
|handicapped lift provided at each station|
My sons are smokers and the younger boy was able to hop off the train on the longer stops and grab a quick puff or two from a cigarette. If he lucked out and there was someone being loaded by the lift then it took longer and he got two cigarettes. The oldest boy though was confined to the inside of the car and was not able to get out for a cigarette. The conductor offered to get him out at one station because they had four people who were going to need to be lifted onto the train. That was very nice of them since they are not obligated to offer that service. He refused the courtesy though because we were so close to Orlando by this time and we were well over an hour behind schedule.
We were behind schedule because we had to sit on sidings and let freight trains pass by. That is because Amtrak uses Conrail tracks and Conrail has preference if there is a conflict on a one track section. At one point the freight train passed us and then another Amtrak train whizzed past us going like the wind. That held us up from getting into the next station even longer.
Even with the cost of the car rental my round trip only cost the two of us $750 total. That was the full train ride from Pittsburgh to Orlando. The Train ride back from Orlando to DC and the car rental. I don't think we could have flown for that price and at least I had the opportunity to get up and walk around.
All in all, I enjoyed the ability to move around during the ride and even though it took a longer time to get where we were going, I got to see places and things I would never see from the air.
It is my recommendation if your travels allow enough time for taking the train to give it a try. Our check in was for Saturday at 4 pm. We left Pittsburgh on Friday at 5 am and arrived in Orlando well before our check in time at around noon on Saturday. Of course, coming home was more of a hassle but would have gotten us home by train before the end of day on Sunday.