• Day21

    New York to Niagara Falls by Amtrak

    May 10, 2015 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    New York was wrapped in a cool smog as we walked to Penn Station to take our Amtrak train upstate to Niagara Falls. Now we know our backpacks are heavy but when do you really appreciate how heavy? Carry them for over 1 mile on a mostly up hill gradient. A good morning workout.

    Fighting fit entering the station, we caught our breath standing in line with some very large Americans before filing down into the depths of Penn Station and onto our train. The train's distinct aluminium carriages gave the impression we were boarding a silver bullet to our destination. However this analogy ended when our conductor informed us that we'd be running an hour late due to speed restrictions of 25mph in places due to track regulations.

    As we left New York the smog lifted and the skies opened. Conifers and maples clipped past as we bobbed along the tracks. We rolled through towns of timber clad buildings and farms with traditional red barns.

    Despite the journey's length it was a clean, comfortable and friendly experience, contrasting somewhat with UK train travel. The conductor even performed a magic trick. I never saw that on Southeastern rail but maybe that's a good thing?

    There was an amusing interaction between with the conductor and a neighbouring passenger, which we will not be able to do true justice through this blog. However the passenger was possibly (but not certainly) Indian with a heavy accent (think Goodness Gracious Me/similar stereotypes) who became confused by the very helpful but perhaps over-informative conductor regarding the number of stops, direct of the train and arrival time to Niagara Falls. This led the conductor having to repeat the whole saga several times as the passenger became more confused 'how many stops? An hour late yes? Turning around? Not back to New York no? Oh dear. But going to Niagara yes?' to the point that the conductor, clearly exasperated, simply said 'we'll get you there' before making a hasty retreat. Meanwhile we were quietly giggling away. Recalling it now, it might have been at this point that the conductor did his magic trick as a likely distraction tactic. Kudos to anyone who can confuse a Southeastern rail conductor to the point that they have to perform a magic trick Paul Daniels stylee to get away.

    As the day was ending as we arrived at our motel but Kim still felt like she was still in motion from the repetitious roll of the train.

    When you have a long train ride you have time to listen to lots of music so here is a New York and upstate inspired playlist with a song for each hour on the train (if you've got Spotify or download it for free then click

    Ryan Adams - New York New York
    Beastie Boys - No Sleep Till Brooklyn
    The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
    Run-DMC - It's Tricky
    Stevie Wonder - Living for the city (full version on Innervisions album)
    MGMT - Electric Feel
    Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
    The Rapture - No Sex For Ben
    Big Country - In A Big Country
    Trevor Jones/Last of the Mohicans soundtrack - The Kiss (the film is set in 18th century upstate New York)
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