Look, American trains aren’t all bad; just mostly.
On the positive side it took us less than ten minutes to get from our apartment to Union Station and a similar time at the New York end to get to our hotel – centre to centre is fabulous. On the other hand the queuing system to get on the train at Union Station is an absolute joke. The crowded nature of the train is a direct consequence of reserving a seat meaning that you will get a seat somewhere on the train rather than in a specific place with friends and family. And the lousy track and suspension means that the train ride is akin to being on a plane flying through constant turbulence. Pretty Winter countryside for much pf the trip though.
After a couple of weeks in the relative countryside and the wide open spaces of Washington the crowded canyons of New York were an immediate shock to the system. There’s no question we’re somewhere different.
After checking in, we ventured out into the cold, clear day to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. The heart of the Museum is the decommissioned aircraft carrier, the Intrepid. Seeing the aircraft carrier was really interesting, but we were even more intrigued when we realised there was a direct tie-in to the things we’ve been seeing over the last week. It was the Intrepid that retrieved several of the Mercury and Gemini capsules.
The Museum also houses many planes including a Concorde and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The Enterprise never went into space, it was a prototype used to prove the Shuttles would be able to land. The most interesting thing about it was that it was originally named the Constitution, but after a petition was organised by Star Trek fan clubs it was renamed by the President.
The last major part of the exhibit is the USS Growler, an early nuclear equiped submarine. It’s an utter toss-up whether you would have more space in one of those submarines or in a space craft. Technically the submarines are bigger, but you are in them for longer and with far, far more people.
By evening the cold was really settling in and we charged back through the New York rush hour. Apart from almost losing Callum to a driver running a red light, we pretty much fitted into the flow with our determined stride and refusal to give way. Five hours in the city and we’re like locals already.