Varna Trip Report, day zero

[day −1]

2023-06-07 07:15 UTC−5

I checked a bag to New York and got let in to the Met. Lounge.  22 isn’t in the station yet…it usually is by now.  Dixielandsoftware shows it in southern Missouri, but doesn’t have a “status file”.  Amtrak’s own status page shows the train as “on time”.  We’ll see…

Amtrak’s status got later and later, but not my much; and we finally departed at 08:50, just :55 late.  I have no clue what the problem was.

The consist is really strange, the Cross-Country Café right after the engine, then a coach-baggage, an accessible coach, a sleeper, and a third coach.

This is my first trip using software called Maptitude.  The idea is that, given a GPS receiver plugged into a USB port on my laptop, it displays my current location along with some other information like latitude/longitude/altitude and my current direction and speed.  I didn’t like it at first because starting the GPS tracking requires going through several submenus with names that are not all that helpful.  I had to fire up my Verizon hotspot and use their on-line help to find the magic incantation; and it was almost 9:30 before I got it set up correctly.

The café attendant came by in the sleeper taking orders for lunch.  He said he had some cheeseburgers available, so that’s what I picked.

Lunchtime was supposed to be 11:00, so at that time I walked through the two coaches to the “dining car”; but lunch wasn’t quite ready yet; and it was around 11:25 before I got served.  I was expecting the “angus burger” that they have in the real diners, but what I got was a cheeseburger that was basically what one gets in the café on corridor trains, and it was served on a paper plate that was basically the same size as the sandwich.  I probably should have picked the ziti and meatballs.

The trip was mostly uneventful this time, so there’s not much to report.  We stayed about an hour late, give or take, all the way to Joliet; but thanks to schedule padding, we departed Joliet only 0:22 late.

It’s possible to lose time on the Canadian National between Joliet and Chicago, but everything went smoothly this time.  We had about a ten-minute delay waiting for a couple of trains to clear the 21st Street Bridge over the river; but we got on the bridge and entered Amtrak property at 14:10 and made our final stop at 14:16, just 0:32 late.  For Amtrak long-distance trains, that’s as close to on-time as makes no difference.

When we arrived, I had a layover of about 7:30 before the scheduled departure of the Lake Shore.  I checked in to the Met. Lounge, got caught up on my e-mail and FtB reading, and drafted and proofread this post up to this point.

At 18:00, I stopped by Sbarros and got a big slice of pizza for supper.  It was basically all dough, though, and I didn’t think it was any good at all.  I’ll have to rethink my choice of meals at Chicago Union Station for future trips.

I’ll make this the whole day 0 report.  Even though the Lake Shore will depart today, it’ll be late tonight, so I’ll save the whole trip to New York for day 1.

Time to get started on my Bernie Sanders book…


  1. Katydid says

    Thanks for your observations! It’s entertaining to read, and quite enlightening.

    It appears that even if the train is running late, you have a more comfortable wait than airplane flyers. A death in my family resulted in me taking an airplane to get to the funeral on time, and it was an unspeakably bad experience where everything that could go wrong, did. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe it’s just the way things are now.

    It sounds like your food options are not great on the train or off it. What is the policy on packing in your own nutritious food? Some healthy trail mix, or apples or bananas or some such? Would that be allowed? It would certainly be better for you than a wad of high-carb dough or anything else they seem to provide.

  2. says

    there’s this aspect of literature with a long history i like to call “the travelogue section.” remember the parts in frankenstein where shelley just describes travel? of the interesting places one can see when on the road, on a boat, whatever?

    there’s a much older example of the same in the english Faust book that directly inspired Marlowe’s play. faust is taken for a flight and sees the interesting highlights of europe, with an emphasis on architecture.

    my favorite “fact” from the travelogue section of the faust book is that there’s a statue in Wroclaw that grinds naughty children and lets the product drain into the river.

  3. billseymour says

    Great American Satan:  interesting that you mentioned Wroclaw, a possible site for my fall meeting in 2024.  We’ll see whether I last that long… 😎

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