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Questions about travel from Orlando to Vegas, Niagara Falls, weekends, etc.

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snljamie0518

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Aurora, Colorado
ORL = Orlando, Florida station
SM = Silver Meteor train
SS = Silver Star train
WAS = Washington, D.C. station
CL = Capitol Limited train
CARD = Cardinal train
LSL = Lake Shore Limited train
CHI = Chicago, Illinois station
SWC = Southwest Chief train
KNG = Kingman, Arizona station
LVS, LAS, or LVT = Las Vegas, Nevada bus stops
CZ = California Zephyr train
RNO = Reno. Nevada station

The times are 24 hour clock times, just like most every other country in the world uses for printed schedules, as it avoids any confusion between am and pm. Any time greater than 1200hrs is between noon and midnight, so if it says 1606hrs just subtract 1200 (12 hours and no minutes) and add a pm: 1606hrs - 1200 = 406 pm or 4:06 pm.

Most Americans (except GIs and ex-GI's) are Neanderthals when it come to these sorts of things, including dates. Here in the US and a small handful of other countries, our next Independence Day is said to be on 7/4/21 or perhaps 07/04/2021 which leads to the ambiguity "is 07/04 the 4th of July or the 7th of April?". Long ago the US military avoided all ambiguity by adopting this format - 4 Jul 2021 - but I don't know if this is still used in the computer age. The ISO 8601 date format of YYYY-MM-DD or 2021-07-04 eases computerized sorting and also has a logical sequence of sized units of time.

But heck, this is America: the land of the free and the home of the brave, eh?
Thank you for your help on this!
 

snljamie0518

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Aurora, Colorado
Even when the rules in Illinois were at their strictest and only take-out was allowed, some restaurants in Chicago Union Station were open as an exception. Not the full selection, but at least McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Chik-Fil-A.

That's good to know. Where would you be allowed to eat the food?

But Illinois is allowing indoor dining right now, so you should have choices outside CUS as well. Looks like famous Lou Mitchell's is closed temporarily, but a few stands at the excellent Chicago French Market (link) a few blocks north of CUS behind Ogilvie Station are holding on for lunch service. A long enough layover allows you to go into the Loop and maybe as far as Michigan Avenue.

We don't drive. We would walk to wherever we are going. Do you watch any of the Chicago shows?
 

snljamie0518

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Messages
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Location
Aurora, Colorado
According to this... Spring Break 2021 Dates - STS Travel ...colleg Springs breaks start on 20 Feb and end on 10 Apr, so it looks like you can safely avoid that unpleasantness.

Thank you for those dates. I'm sure we will hear about it once it starts because that will gather crowds again & have another super spreader especially since people in TX & the other states want to get out of the freezing cold right now.

As far as going to Niagara Falls, you can train there from Orlando without an overnight stay in New York City (NYC) by leaving Orlando any day from Sunday through Wednesday on the Silver Meteor for maybe $326 in Coach. That's because the train from New York City to Niagara Falls, New York (Maple Leaf) runs twice daily and you arrive in NYC in time to catch the last Maple Leaf to the Falls. You'd have 2 hours and 20 minutes between trains in NYC and then arrive in The Falls at 10:11pm any day from Monday through Thursday.

However, that same train route back home from Niagara Falls does require an overnight stay in either New York City or Washington D.C. because the earliest train from Niagara Falls gets to New York City at 3:45pm which is 30 minutes after the last train departs for Orlando. If you wanted to avoid staying overnight in NYC, you could take any one of several trains from New York City to Washington D.C. and spend the night there instead. After a night in either place you'd then take either the Silver Meteor or the Silver Star back home.

We would probably do an overnight in NYC so we can walk around. We used to live in NYC so we know it well. We also have friends in NYC & our favorite restaurants.

Finally, consider that the average high/low temperatures in Niagara Falls in April are 56/35°F.

That explains why it was snowing when we went there on our 1st Anniversary.
 

snljamie0518

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Messages
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Aurora, Colorado
My husband informed me today that we are on a tight budget right now & if I can find anything for a budget trip to let him know. Do any of you know of any place we can go that is cheap but not too cheap? We don't want to stay in a run down hotel/motel. We don't drive. We would want something close to the train station & if there is anything free to do so we don't have to spend money that would be great. He told me to wait until the pandemic is over to go to NYC or anything else like that because we can celebrate our anniversary/birthday anytime, it doesn't have to be THAT day. Any kind of ideas would be a great help.
 

jiml

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Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Out of curiosity how does the closed border effect the Maid of the Mist? Is she still allowed in Canadian waters without making landfall?
It's seasonal anyway, but earlier in the pandemic there was significant news coverage of it operating with social distancing, masks and limited capacity. The season would have ended prior to more recent lockdown and stay-at-home orders.
 

NS VIA Fan

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Nova Scotia
Out of curiosity how does the closed border effect the Maid of the Mist? Is she still allowed in Canadian waters without making landfall?
Just don't make landfall. That's how this couple held their wedding on the border between New Brunswick and Maine last summer with guests from both countries.

 

joelkfla

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Oct 16, 2018
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
The bathroom may be too tight for his chair.
I haven't seen it myself, but someone said the toilet in the accessible room on the new Viewliner II's is in the main compartment, not in a separate enclosure. There are currently one or 2 of the new cars on each Florida train. See this thread for more info: Reserving a Silver Meteor Viewliner II Sleeper

The Superliner accessible room toilet has always been in the open, with a curtain for privacy.
 

me_little_me

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Doesn't the Capital building have Lincoln statue outside of it? We don't drive so we would be walking everywhere. I don't know if they would have a free shuttle to take you to some of the places?
Once you get to the "mall", everything is around you, one after another. W.H., Capitol, Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, Vietnam Vets Memorial, etc.

Washington Mall

Everything is within walking distance. Note Union station in upper right. And when the Smithsonian Museums re-open, you can spend days in each one of them and not see everything and all free!
 

snljamie0518

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Joined
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Messages
127
Location
Aurora, Colorado
Once you get to the "mall", everything is around you, one after another. W.H., Capitol, Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, Vietnam Vets Memorial, etc.

Washington Mall

Everything is within walking distance. Note Union station in upper right. And when the Smithsonian Museums re-open, you can spend days in each one of them and not see everything and all free!
Oh Wow! Thank you for describing everything.
 

snljamie0518

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Messages
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Location
Aurora, Colorado
Thank you for your help everyone. Please keep it coming. I should be writing all these things down or emailing it to my husband & myself for future travels.
 

me_little_me

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Thank you for your help everyone. Please keep it coming. I should be writing all these things down or emailing it to my husband & myself for future travels.
Threads here are like sleazy lawyers - they'll be with us forever (well, not quite as long as the lawyers, given that so many of them are now in the "other place"). Just bookmark a link to your initial post and you have a reference that can be passed on to him or anyone else.
 

snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
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Location
Aurora, Colorado
Threads here are like sleazy lawyers - they'll be with us forever (well, not quite as long as the lawyers, given that so many of them are now in the "other place"). Just bookmark a link to your initial post and you have a reference that can be passed on to him or anyone else.
Good idea! Thank you!
 

snljamie0518

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Messages
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Aurora, Colorado
Does anyone have any other suggestions for future reference on places to go for travel by train? Any of them go near lighthouses? Dollywood? Nashville? Ben & Jerry's in Vermont? Does AMTRAK go to Mexico or Alaska?
 

me_little_me

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Does anyone have any other suggestions for future reference on places to go for travel by train? Any of them go near lighthouses? Dollywood? Nashville? Ben & Jerry's in Vermont? Does AMTRAK go to Mexico or Alaska?
Some answers - and I'm sure you'll get more:
Dollywood: you could take the Crescent to Taccoa or Clemson and drive there but it's 3+hours. Lots to see in that area.
Ben & Jerry's: Train to Exeter, Vermont. Not a long car drive from there or possibly local tour package.
Mexico, Alaska: NO

Some other places we have gone:
Train to Wilmington, DE and rent car too drive to Jersey Shore beaches and boardwalks
Train to Philadelphia - see historic places
Train to NYC - see so much
Train to Richmond - see Southern history
Trains to Chicago - lots to do (change at WAS from Florida)
Trains to NOL - see French Quarter (Change at Raleigh for Florida)
Trains to Albuquerque or Denver - see the west (Change at WAS & CHI)
Trains to Flagstaff then to Grand Canyon (Change at WAS & CHI)
Trains to Glacier Park (Change at WAS & CHI)

There is so much more.
 

jiml

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Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Does anyone have any other suggestions for future reference on places to go for travel by train? Any of them go near lighthouses? Dollywood? Nashville? Ben & Jerry's in Vermont? Does AMTRAK go to Mexico or Alaska?
Look up Glenwood Springs, CO. Lots of participants here have gone there on Amtrak and there are reviews and pictures posted. I've been twice and would go again in a heartbeat.
 

snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
127
Location
Aurora, Colorado
Some answers - and I'm sure you'll get more:
Dollywood: you could take the Crescent to Taccoa or Clemson and drive there but it's 3+hours. Lots to see in that area.
Ben & Jerry's: Train to Exeter, Vermont. Not a long car drive from there or possibly local tour package.
Mexico, Alaska: NO

Some other places we have gone:
Train to Wilmington, DE and rent car too drive to Jersey Shore beaches and boardwalks
Train to Philadelphia - see historic places
Train to NYC - see so much
Train to Richmond - see Southern history
Trains to Chicago - lots to do (change at WAS from Florida)
Trains to NOL - see French Quarter (Change at Raleigh for Florida)
Trains to Albuquerque or Denver - see the west (Change at WAS & CHI)
Trains to Flagstaff then to Grand Canyon (Change at WAS & CHI)
Trains to Glacier Park (Change at WAS & CHI)

There is so much more.
The only problem is we don't drive.
 

snljamie0518

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Messages
127
Location
Aurora, Colorado
Look up Glenwood Springs, CO. Lots of participants here have gone there on Amtrak and there are reviews and pictures posted. I've been twice and would go again in a heartbeat.
I was born & raised in Denver. I went to Glenwood Springs when I was a teen. It was very nice. I went horseback riding for the first time. We wouldn't go now because my husband uses a power chair & is not to big a fan of water.
 

zephyr17

Conductor
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Jul 22, 2009
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Location
Washington State
Does anyone have any other suggestions for future reference on places to go for travel by train? Any of them go near lighthouses? Dollywood? Nashville? Ben & Jerry's in Vermont? Does AMTRAK go to Mexico or Alaska?
There is no physical rail connection between Alaska and the general North American rail network at all, so no trains, freight or passenger. Freight is barged. The Alaska Railroad is an isolated island.

While there is not Amtrak service to Mexico, you can get to Mexico easily by taking a Pacific Surfliner to San Diego, and catching a San Diego Trolley across to street to San Ysidro, where the end of the line is right by border crossing to Tijuana. Whether you would enjoy TJ is another issue.

BTW, Mexico terminated almost all intercity rail passenger services decades ago. There remains service in Copper Canyon, and there is commuter service in Mexico City, at least. I do not know if other cities have commuter rail.
 
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niemi24s

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Feb 11, 2015
Messages
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Here's one idea:

• Take the train to Tampa on Saturday, 1 May 2021 ($18 Coach, 2 hour ride on the Silver Star)
• Board the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship Brilliance of the Seas for a 5 night cruise to the Cayman Islands and Cozumel Mexico ($1,850 including gratuities) returning to Tampa on Thursday, 6 May 2021
• Then take the train back or Orlando that same day (another $18)

While that total cost for the cruise of $1,850 sounds like a small fortune, here's the way I look at cruise costs. This one works out to $93 per night per person and that includes room & board - all the board you can eat!

There are other cruise ports in Florida, but to me Tampa has the advantage of being able to handle only the smaller ships (due to clearance under one bridge) and the train station is only 1 mile from the boat dock. And if you wanted to play it safe (and daily Silver Star service is restored by then), you could get to Tampa by train a day before the cruise (30 April 2021) and stay overnight in one of the two hotels located between the train station and the boat dock. Let the Amtrak engineer, the cabbie and the ship's Captain do all the driving.

Map showing how compact the Tampa port is:
Map - Tampa Port & Train Station.png
 
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snljamie0518

Service Attendant
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Messages
127
Location
Aurora, Colorado
Here's one idea:

• Take the train to Tampa on Saturday, 1 May 2021 ($18 Coach, 2 hour ride on the Silver Star)
• Board the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship Brilliance of the Seas for a 5 night cruise to the Cayman Islands and Cozumel Mexico ($1,850 including gratuities) returning to Tampa on Thursday, 6 May 2021
• Then take the train back or Orlando that same day (another $18)

While that total cost for the cruise of $1,850 sounds like a small fortune, here's the way I look at cruise costs. This one works out to $93 per night per person and that includes room & board - all the board you can eat!

There are other cruise ports in Florida, but to me Tampa has the advantage of being able to handle only the smaller ships (due to clearance under one bridge) and the train station is only 1 mile from the boat dock. And if you wanted to play it safe (and daily Silver Star service is restored by then), you could get to Tampa by train a day before the cruise (30 April 2021) and stay overnight in one of the two hotels located between the train station and the boat dock. Let the Amtrak engineer, the cabbie and the ship's Captain do all the driving.

Map showing how compact the Tampa port is:
View attachment 20888
Going on a cruise would be nice but I would rather take a Disney cruise. Besides, cruises are not happening right now.
 

niemi24s

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While there are no cruises right now (in March) some cruise lines start up in May. Disney begins cruising from Port Canaveral in June and the cheapest (shortest) Disney cruise in June is a 3 nighter that would set you back $2,528 or $421 per night per person! That's 4½ times the nightly cost of the one from Tampa!! And, it's 55 miles from the train station in Orlando to the Disney Cruise Terminal (#8) in Port Canaveral. Disney also has cruises to Alaska from Vancouver, BC, Canada but that's a 5 night train trip for you. [reason for this deletion: Canada extends cruise ship ban to 2022. That's bad news for Alaska tourism, too. ] That 100 passenger limit on cruise ships eliminates all but the smallest and priciest cruise boats.

.Just between you, me and the lamp post I'd never take a Disney cruise: Way too much $$$$$; Way, waaaay too many little screaming kids; Constant playing of It's a Small World After All in the public areas (so some say). The only thing worse than a bunch of screaming little kids is a bunch of drunk college kids on Spring break or maybe obnoxious teenagers.
 
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me_little_me

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Just between you, me and the lamp post I'd never take a Disney cruise: Way too much $$$$$; Way, waaaay too many little screaming kids.
You mean those little brats, future juvenile delinquents and otherwise nasty, little things that don't even make good shark bait?
As opposed to my wonderful, highly intelligent brilliant, personable, forthright grandchildren who kick the smaller brats around.
 
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