The Trip: New York City, New York Miles: 463 The Bonusette: Meals are included with a roomette reservation. The quality was far above what we were expecting and leagues better than airplane food. It’s the perfect start to a New York vacation.
The last time we took the train to New York, it rolled out of Cleveland at a miserable 3 a.m. But we had to give Amtrak another shot when we heard about its new 7 a.m. departure time. It’s a striking improvement, one that turns a tedious trek into a fabulous, old-fashioned journey. Book a roomette (it adds $180 to the cost of your ticket, but you won’t regret it — this is a 12-hour trip, after all), a cozy nook in the sleeper car with reclining seats, convertible bunk beds, a toilet, sink, panoramic-sized window and a great pop-out table that opens into a chess board. An electrical outlet and privacy curtains also come standard, as does a morning New York Times and a “rollette” of toilet paper. Looks like Amtrak has a sense of humor.
The real treat of the new schedule is seeing the private portraits of everyday life in upstate New York. The train follows the back routes of tiny towns and cities you wouldn’t see on a car trip. You’ll discover thriving swamps and marshlands in rural New York; we even got to watch a Blue Heron take off from its perch.
Once you pass Albany, the train travels down the Hudson River. The views are breathtaking — puffy clouds and bright white sailboats create a striking tableau against the lush valley. You’ll be on this leg of the trip between 5 and 8 p.m., just in time to see the sunset. 1-800-USA-RAIL, www.amtrak.com