Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Train 5: First call for dinner

As with all the trains I've taken so far, I've done a lot of self catering prior to depature. I have two boxes for two meals on board, with such delightful meals as herby couscous and tuna (with a hint of lemon) or an instant pasta meal cooked, cooled and boxed. For this, the longest run so far, I've tried to make sure I have a chance to also sample at least one of each of the three meals offered by the Amtrak restaurant car.

So far, I've found the breakfasts to be very good. They're good value, well cooked and come with juice and plenty of coffee. Breakfast is also a good time to be in the breakfast car, as waking passengers return to the world of socialising on board the train, and we compare notes about sleeping, how the scenery has changed and what has brought us here.

I've yet to try an Amtrak lunch, but will hope to do so in a few days time when I head north on the Coast Starlight to Seattle. So along with Fleur, who also feels like a treat, we make a reservation for dinner. During the afternoon, one of the restaurant attendants makes a call for reservations, and she begins a tour of the train, starting in sleeper class, then coach class, before finally checking in the Lounge Car for us tourists. Unfortunately, the latest time offered for dinner in 19:30, which seems about normal for the USA but annoys the hell out of me. There are, however, plenty of spaces, so we take a slip of paper and return to our lazy afternoon activities.

I am invited downstairs to the smaller lounge on the lower level of the Sightseer car for a game of bridge with some of my coach class companions. I haven't a clue how to play this game, and I must admit that I doubt any method of teaching bridge will help me much. I tried a few games and ended dummy at least once (I don't know what this means), underbid my hand at least one (again, no idea what that means) and won once (no idea how). As late afternoon slipped into early evening, we passed into Utah, and suddenly the landscape offered another change. I suspect my mind wasn't on the game, because again we had another beautiful landscape rolling past.


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