Tag Archives: Amtrak

‘Amtrak Downeaster’ From Dover, N.H. To Boston, North Station: Not Bad At All, BUT Slow & Expensive!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE.




We are not strangers to Amtrak. We have taken Amtrak — and even the Acela — from Boston to New York (and back, and even once from Philadelphia) many, many times. But, the ‘Downeaster’ was a mystery — a service that I had never previously considered. Plus, it is strange, it is not something that readily comes to mind because I rarely see ‘Downeaster’ trains in action.

But, this last Sunday, heading to Boston Chinatown for the Lunar New Year celebrations I decided to give the ‘Downeaster’ a spin. It came up as an option when I was Googling bus services. Yes, I normally drive to Boston. I have no problems driving to Boston, though parking can be slightly infuriating. But, I had done a lot of driving in the past month — which had included trips to Boston, Rockland (Maine) and a number of trips to the Portsmouth area. I wanted to sit back and let someone else drive.

Given that there are three of us taking the bus, either from Dover or Concord, would have been cheaper. With the 50% discount I can get as a senior the $28 return-trip fare is definitely fair. But, when you are talking of a family of 3 or 4, even if you can get 50% off on all the tickets, it is expensive. Cheaper to drive, especially on a Sunday when you can park in Boston for ~$11.

But, I wanted to go by train. We haven’t had a proper train trip in 4-years. It was time. It was relaxing. It was nice.

It was not fast. I clocked it using GPS. Was doing around 55mph. 98 minutes from Dover to North Station. In a good day I can drive from home to Downtown Boston in 90 minutes. So, faster speed definitely is not factor.

Nice scenic route. Through tons of undeveloped land. Much more scenic than taking I-93 or I-95. That was a plus.

Good trip. Enjoyed it. I will do it again — mainly just for the love of traveling by train.


Related Posts:
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by Anura Guruge

Brandon Bostian, Engineer In 2015 Deadly Philadelphia Amtrak 188 Derailment, Charged.

by Anura Guruge


Click image to access “The New York Times” article. Google ‘Bostian’ for more.


The Amtrak 188 train derailment outside of Philadelphia on May 12, 2015 had an impact on us — directly.

We had tickets to go to Philadelphia on May 14, 2015 — 2 days later — to pick up my Jaguar XJ8.

Amtrak cancelled service around Philadelphia for a week!

Ended up having to go to New York by Amtrak and then taking a Greyhound to Philadelphia. That actually turned out to be quite a fun trip.

But, Amtrak 188 and Brandon Bostian became etched into my life.

I had been wondering what would happen to him.

Read the story. Quite interesting. The ‘authorities’ were NOT going to press charges — willing to concede that it was an unfortunate accident. However, families of those affected had the option to insist. Neat.


Related posts:
++++ Search ‘Bostian for other posts >>>>


by Anura Guruge

Amtrak Came To Be This Day 46 Years Ago — May 1, 1971.

by Anura Guruge


Taken by me, in August 2016, in Mystic, CT, from the water, with a rented Nikon D500. Attribution will be enforced.



THIS is a MUST Watch!


For all its faults and shortcomings it is ALL we have!

We have taken Amtrak a fair number of times to New York City and it isn’t that bad. The furthest I have been in Philadelphia to Boston.

Just wish they were FASTER!


Related Posts:
++++ Check Category ‘Events’ for other related posts >>>>


by Anura Guruge

Sunset Cruise On Schooner “Argia” Off Mystic, Connecticut.

by Anura Guruge


Click pictures to ENLARGE.

Taken with a rented Nikon D500.

Evening of Wednesday, August 17, 2016.

Attribution WILL be enforced.







Teischan and I both like being out on the water, and doing so on boats. So doing a cruise or ferry crossing of some sort was definitely on the agenda for our 3-day jaunt to Mystic, Connecticut — primarily to visit the famed aquarium.

I had seen ads for the ‘Argia‘ schooner, online, even before we left. So I had made a mental note that it could be a possibility. On our first time into Mystic per se, as opposed to the aquarium which is situated just outside (right on I-95 (to speak)), we saw a sign for the ‘Argia Cruises’, pointing down a side road, just before we got into town. I turned in — and it was easy enough to find since they have their own wharf. The schooner (along with a couple of others) was at dock getting ready for its 10am morning cruise. It looked fun. Teischan liked it. It was a perfect day. The forecast was great for the whole day. So I got two tickets for the Sunset Cruise which departed Mystic at 5:30pm.

It worked out well. Very pleasant and educational. Though we had taken the Amtrak from Boston to New York many times I had not realized that when crossing the Mystic River the train goes over a ROTATING (beige colored) bridge. [See pictures above.] This is just beyond the Route 1 drawbridge in Mystic — more or less the first thing we had to negotiate on the cruise.

The name refers to a water nymph on the Tiber River in Rome.

100hp diesel engine is used while going through the river and Mystic harbor. It is only under sail, for about 30 minutes, when it is in the ‘Sound’.

You go past “Mason’s Island”, “Sixpenny Island” (famous for its clams) and “Noank“. Lots of other islands. The crew does a great job mingling with the passengers, doing running commentaries and answering questions. There is a complimentary platter of cheese, grapes and crackers as well as an endless supply of sharp lemonade. You can also bring your own tipple of board — though we didn’t.

Very relaxing. Just over 2 hours. We had a great time. We would gladly do it again. I recommend it, highly.


Related posts:
++++ Search ‘Mystic‘ & ‘Connecticut >>>>


by Anura Guruge

The NEW Greyhound Website Has Major Issues — Healthcare.gov Redux.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>>
Amtrak baggage check at Penn Station.

++++ Search ‘Philadelphia & ‘Jaguar’ for other posts >>>>


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Click at YOUR peril. Best call 1-800-268-9000 though they have issues too.


greyhounderror


Until May of this year, when we had to get to Philadelphia to pick up our Jaguar XJ8, and Amtrak had had its Amtrak 188 Brandon Bostian crash, I had never been a great believer in buses as a means of long distance transport. Yes, we had taken an airport bus to Boston a few times but we really considered that a shuttle rather than anything else.

But the trip in May, when we used two bus services, one from Dover, NH to South Station in Boston (C&J), and then Greyhound from New York to Philadelphia, made a believer out of me. I am now convinced that Greyhound is THE BEST way to get from New York to Philadelphia. It takes exactly 2 hours (barring mishaps). That is about 30 to 40 minutes longer than by train. But it is less than half the price. $44 vs (say) $16 for 30 to 40 minutes — given that you have to hang around stations anyway.

Well I was trying to make a reservation on Sunday. The NEW system kept on giving me the above ERROR message or crashing. WOW. How could Greyhound have gone live with that? That is STUPID. I had no choice but to call the 1-800 268 9000 number. She was helpful enough. She admitted that the new system was NOT working. But here is the crazy part and I was NOT amused. Her system crashed TWICE while she was doing my reservation and she initially quoted me a price that was 50% higher than what it proved to be — because that was what the system told her.

Not good. If Greyhound can’t process reservations they will run into trouble quite quickly.

In my days as a BIG system consultant this was our golden definition of what a MISSION CRITICAL system was — any major airline would go belly up if there reservation system was down for 72 hours. I can’t see that that has changed much over the years and as such Greyhound is flirting with disaster.


The Female Nipple Is ‘Free’ In Times Square, New York — As New Hampshire Gears Up For Aug. 23 Hampton Emancipation.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>>
Nude beaches Acadia (Maine).
>>
Nude beaches in New 
Hampshire.

** NH — “Free The Nipplegoals.
**
New Hampshire — “Free The Nipple“.

>>Free The Nipple‘ movement.
>> Deanna’s contributionTopless Tour.
>> Topless Tour.

>> Brazil breastfeeding poster.
>> Topless in New Hampshire.

**** Refer to ‘Acadia’ master index page at TOP ↑ ↑
++++ Do a SEARCH on ‘topless’ for my other posts  >>>>


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From the U.K. Daily Mail on August 17, 2015. Click this image to access original coverage.


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More coverage in the U.K. Daily Mail, this one replete with a video. Click image to access.


When I saw the above article in the U.K. Daily Mail on Monday morning it got me thinking. Next Sunday, August 23rd, 2015, is the New Hampshire “Free the Female Nipple” movements emancipation day at Hampton Beach, N.H. As I have already told you they have received a huge amount of media coverage and that is on the ascend as Sunday looms closer.

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On the Ferris Wheel at “Toys ‘R Us” Times Square.

But, the Topless Ladies in Times Square had piqued my interest for awhile — since Saturday, May 16, 2015 (i.e., 3 months ago), when ‘two’ quite literally walked into me and I nearly had a mouthful! Yes, I was in Times Square. The two kids were with me too, and I had Teischan by her hand, which might explain why there was this slight collision in the crush of Times Square — right outside of “Toys ‘R Us“. The three of us were in transit to Philadelphia, during the Amtrak crash, to pick up our Jaguar XJ8 from ‘Car Cheer‘. We had a few hours in New York before boarding the Greyhound to the ‘City of Brotherly Love’. Kids wanted to go to Times Square & “Toys ‘R Us” and I had to take Teischan to the “American Girl Doll” store. We had ‘done’ “Toys ‘R Us”, or more specifically ridden the Ferris Wheel inside, and were now trying to get to the “American Girl Doll” store which was about 10 blocks north. We come out of “Toys ‘R Us” — and then ‘SMACK‘. Wasn’t major. Just a glancing blow.

There were two of them. In body paint. I think they were supposed to be some female superheroes. Given that I used to be known as ‘eagle eyes’ I tend not to miss too much — especially topless breasts, painted blue, inches from my mouth. Took me a second to register that they were indeed topless — though I think they had painted decorations around the nipples to deemphasize their protuberance. Once the ladies left, after a giggle, I had to check with the kids that I hadn’t hallucinated. They were google eyed. They confirmed, breathlessly, that the women where nude and that I should have taken a picture to show Mom. Well I knew that taking the pictures would have involved a financial transaction and I wasn’t going to pay money, for the first time in my life, in my 60s, to be seen with a pair of uncovered breasts.

BUT ….

So it works in New York. NO LAW against topless women and women are exercising their right in Times Square.

So we do have a precedent. There is also no law against female toplessness in New Hampshire. Same as New York.

So …

Think about it. 


The Best Kept Secret In New York City — Amtrak Baggage Check At Penn Station.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Wyndham Hotel
, Philadelphia Historic District.
>>
Philadelphia ‘Zooballoon’.
>>
Running up “Rocky Steps”.
>>
Orangutan at Philadelphia zoo.
>> 
Got Jaguar in Philadelphia.

>> Anthony Melchiorri responds.
>>
‘Woodstock Lodge’ on ‘Hotel Impossible’. … …

++++ Search ‘Philadelphia & ‘Jaguar’ for other posts >>>>


Temporarily storing some of your luggage while you sightsee in New York City can be a bigger problem than you would typically expect. It all has to do with heightened security. Luggage lockers in New York City are basically a thing of the past.

Yes, of course, if you have a hotel reservation it is not a problem. You can check in the luggage at the hotel — even if it means going out of the way to first get to the hotel.

Penn_Station_concourse

Main floor on Penn Station.

Well we had a different problem when we went to NYC, on our way to Philadelphia in May, to pick up the Jaguar XJ8 from “Car Cheer“. Thanks to the antics of Brandon ‘bloody’ Bostian we could go all the way to Philly by Amtrak. We could only get as far as NYC — and then take a Greyhound. Well the kids wanted to do a bit of exploring in NYC, since it was 4 years since we were last there, so I got the Greyhound tickets to give us 6 hours in NYC. We didn’t have much luggage BUT we did have one big bag for the three of us. I did not fancy lugging that around New York, in the hot humidity of a May day. Deanna was sure that there were lockers. I knew better.

Trying to get or find a definite answer as to whether Amtrak provided a baggage check at Penn Station was HARD. It appears that it is security again. People just don’t want to talk about it. YES, I found one commercial service, outside of Penn and not that far from the Port Authority (from which Greyhound departs) which did what I wanted for $10+ an item. Bit its biggest drawback was that it really was neither HERE-or-THERE; i.e., it wasn’t at Penn or at the Port Authority. I persevered. I was sure that Amtrak MUST offer some kind of baggage check. Then I was told that it was ONLY for outbound passengers — and I did NOT have a outbound ticket. I was coming as far as Penn with Amtrak and then doing the rest by road.

Well here is the good news. Amtrak has a very competent, affordable (I think $6.25 a piece) baggage check on the ‘Main Floor’ of Penn Station. You can use it both INBOUND and outbound. All you need is a valid Amtrak ticket for THAT day. They staple your baggage tickets to THAT ticket. That is there security measure. Worked great. I gather that it can get busy and they suggest you get there with 30 minutes to spare. On the Saturday afternoon we were there it was ’empty’. When we came to pick up our bags there was no line.

It really worked well. We had to ask a few people BEFORE we found it. But it is well SIGNED if you look for the signs.

The folks that worked there agreed that it was NYC best kept secret. That is why I am sharing it with YOU.

So if you are going to New York City by Amtrak do remember that they do have a GOOD baggage check facility.


Reconciling Acceleration Of Philadelphia Amtrak 188, by Brandon Bostian, With Possible Projectile Is Hard To Do.

Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail.
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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:amtrackday2
>>
Brandon Bostian: political statement?
>> 
Brandon Bostian mental status?
>> Brandon Bostian doing a Germanwings?
>> Philadelphia Amtrak 188: Business Class car.
>> Amtrak handling of crash ….
>> Philadelphia, Omni Hotel Independence Park …

≡≡ Was Germanwings Lubitz on antidepressants?
≡≡ 
Lufthansa to file Bankruptcy to avoid Germanwings liability?

++++ Search on ‘train‘, ‘plane‘, ‘cars‘ & ‘automobile‘ for other related posts >>>>


 Click images to access original coverage.

 

** ** ** ** ** ** 


One could, and lawyers will, argue that Brandon Bostian accelerated, per his ‘flee or flight’ instincts, when he heard, saw or felt a projectile hit the train. And in the end it would be just his word on that.

That he can’t remember anything is so convenient to him and his lawyers.

But is it the normal the thing to do — accelerate a train to THAT EXTENT IF one believes one is under attack?

I, like others, are fairly sure that NO PROJECTILE on its own caused the acceleration.

The acceleration was done by Brandon Bostian — by the use of the accelerator lever. No projectile was involved in that.

So the only argument is whether the prospect of more projectiles is what caused him to accelerate. I am sure his lawyers will milk that to death.

I personally think the projectile or projectiles were a coincidence and now a Red Herring.


We Got Our Jaguar — A Burgundy Red XJ8 (From ‘Dave’ at “European-Cars”, Outside Philadelphia, On eBay)

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 2015:
Green 1968 MGB breaks hibernation.
>> MGB: Dec. 30, 2014 in 18°F.
>> ‘The B Hive’
for MGB parts.
>>
MGB gets Steve Barlow treatment.

>>Brit Bits” in Rye, N.H.

++++ Search ‘MGB many other posts >>>>


Click to ENLARGE.



A Jaguar has been on the cards since last September — once we got the 1968 Green MGB. Our lease on the KIA Sportage was expiring in May/June 2015 and Devanee and I prevailed that we should get a Jag as the replacement. Initially it was going to be a ‘practical’ AWD X-Type. ‘We’, Devanee & I, looked at quite a few, online, over the winter. We were going to get a British Racing Green (BRG) to match the MGB. But, lets face it the X-Type is not a quintessential Jag.

And then a couple of months ago Deanna let it slip that she would quite FANCY a V-8 Jag. The die was cast. We would get a XJ-8 — because now we had at least a partial vote from Deanna.

I started looking. The KIA goes back May 29. Not many GOOD, ‘low-milage’ Jags for sale in New England — especially NOT New Hampshire. Found a few in Maine and Mass. I waited until we got back from Arizona. Then we were in May and it was time to act.

I checked out various online sites including eBay. I ‘really’ wanted an XJR with the turbos. Could have had one shipped from Houston, Texas BUT getting a car shipped, sight unseen, did not appeal.

Started looking at eBay in earnest. There were a few Jags I liked and they were ALL from ‘European-Cars‘ outside Philadelphia. I had spoken with ‘Dave’, the person listed in all the ads. , preliminarily, about shipping options, before we went to Arizona. A few days after we got back from Canyon de Chelly, and with my latest book published, I felt I had the time to get this done once and for all. I kept on coming back to this 2002 Burgundy XJ8, with ’57K’. Showed it and a few others to Devanee and Deanna. Tesichan didn’t really care one way or another. I knew what Devanee would pick. Deanna is also liked the Burgundy.

I called up Dave on May 8, 2015 — the first Friday after Arizona. We agreed on a price. It was more than double Kelley Blue Book but Kelley really doesn’t have a clue as to what low-milage Jags sell for.

Deanna, with her bad back, would not have been happy driving up from Philadelphia. So the plan, all along, was to go down with the two kids, pick up the Jag and drive it back. The kids had never been to Philadelphia and they have, of late, become avid tourists. Then came the the Brandon Bostian Amtrak 188 crash. We were going to go Thursday, after school, and drive back Friday. Well the best laid plans of mice and men.

The kids and I left at 3:15 am on Saturday morning. Coach to Boston South Station. Amtrak to New York City. Times Square. 6pm Greyhound to Philadelphia. Get there just before 8pm. Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District. All day Sunday and Monday morning to explore. Betsy Ross house, Art Museum, Zoo, Balloon ride, Liberty Bell, horse carriage ride, Rodin exhibit, Chinatown for Dinner, Reading Market for Breakfast, a tour of the Mint AMONG other things. Picked up the Jag, from Dave, at 1pm. Drove back 390 miles. Traffic, in places was horrendous. One spectacular van accident. WOW! We stopped. The car was wonderful. Devanne adores it. Teischan likes it. I am very pleased. No buyer’s remorse at all, at all.

“European-Cars” (also known by at least 2 other names, including “Car Cheer”) is OK. Dave is OK.

You can dismiss most, if NOT ALL, the negative reviews you will find online about them.

I will write separate posts on “European-Cars” & Dave. But, trust me, they are OK. I would buy from Dave again — and there is a pretty good chance that this might happen sooner than you think. SMILE. We are still one car short. Devanee and I both feel that we really must have an Jaguar XJS to drive around in the Summer/Fall. SMILE.

Bottom line. We are very pleased with the XJ8 we got from Dave at “European-Cars”.


Expedia: A CONFIRMED Hotel ‘Reservation’ From Expedia Is MEANINGLESS! Not Worth A Damn.

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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Omni
(Philadelphia) & Amtrak crash …


++++ Search on ‘reservations‘ & ‘hotel‘ for other related posts >>>>


expediaconifrf

Click to ENLARGE and study. Actual Expedia hotel conformation.


A CONFIRMED hotel reservation from Expedia means NOTHING.

NADA.

All it means is that Expedia ‘accepted’ your reservation. It has NOTHING to do with whether the actual hotel accepted and CONFIRMED that reservation.

Got that?

Let me explain that to you again, and use the above as a real-life example.

Though I had the above Expedia hotel confirmation, with a confirmation number, the hotel, i.e., the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District, had NEVER received my reservation let alone confirmed it.

wyndahmaconfassadfad

Click to ENLARGE.

The Expedia reservation number has NOTHING to do with the Wyndham. It is BUT an Expedia reservation number.

Wyndham confirmation numbers are much shorter, such as this.

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Though I do not travel that much anymore I used to travel much, much more than most. For about 15 years of my life I used to travel, out-of-town, 3 to 4 nights a week. So I am no stranger to travel. Unless it is a hotel that knows me by name (and that used to be the case with many of the major hotels in Raleigh, N.C., since I was there every week) I never arrive at a hotel BEFORE reconfirming my reservation. As I have stated before I have contingency plans for my contingency plans. So …

This trip, to Philadelphia, blighted by the Brandon Bostian Amtrak 188 crash, was the first time, ever, that I personally have used Expedia. Never again.

Though I had the Expedia conformation, I was NOT going to arrive at a Hotel, with the two kids, until I knew that everything was OK.

So, I called up the hotel. They did NOT have the reservation. Never heard of it.

I called back again about 4 hours later. Same result. The Wyndham Philadelphia did NOT have a reservation for me.

I called Expedia.

I got to the bottom of it — BUT NOT thanks to Expedia.

The Wyndham was outstanding. I was very impressed.

Expedia, from what I can see, based on this experience, sucks.

So, be AWARE. Be VERY AWARE.

A confirmed hotel reservation from Expedia could have YOU sleeping on the streets.