Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Amtrak Adventure 2019

"It's gonna be Load 'n' Go!"

We had breakfast at a branch of Einstein Bros., just a two-minute walk from the Westin. I had an 'avocado toast' bagel with coffee, which wasn't just fashionable, but actually very tasty as well. Exactly in line with the weather forecast, the city had undergone a complete change in temperature. It was already warm and sunny, with a promise of more to come, which would result in a 20C increase on the previous day's conditions - an astonishing change in less than 24hrs! We headed out for an all-too-brief walk in the lovely sunshine and increasingly balmy temperatures. Most of the views were so much better now, with sharp definition replacing the previous day's greyness. Our initial route took us south of the river and into the city's attractive Theater District, before we turned eastwards and headed towards Millennium Park. This is home to the much loved Cloud Gate, better known by its popular nickname, The Bean. With everything looking so good in the fabulous sunshine, it was no surprise that the crowds were already starting to build.

All too soon, we had to return to the hotel (via the Wrigley Building this time) for final packing and preparation for departure. It seemed strange to be going already! We decided to walk to Union Station, and managed to get a few more photos on the way, despite having to deal with luggage. While the station looked grand and impressive, the lounge was mediocre and overcrowded. We learned of multiple delays due to 'switching problems' (points failure, in UK terminology), as a result of which trains were having difficulty accessing the station.

And boy, did we have a lounge announcer with attitude! Trains xx, yy and zz currently have a delayment [sic]. When I call your train, it's gonna be Load 'n' Go, so PLEASE DO NOT DELAY! Yes, ma'am - message understood! In all honesty, we were raring to go; all we needed was access to the train.

She eventually made the call for our train, which departed out of the dark and dingy bowels of the station nearly two hours late. Much worse was to come: for the gory details, choose Trains from the black menu bar and look at Train 1. We arrived in St Louis more than 3.5hrs late, took a local tram to the Marriott Grand and quickly settled down for the night.

Saturday 18 May

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