In order to attend the genealogy conference in Fairfax, Virginia we had to figure out the best way to get there. Obviously, driving is an option but there is the traffic issue of both NYC and DC to contend with. We, Cindy and I, decided that taking Amtrak would be the less stressful way to do this.
In Connecticut you have lots of options for stations. We decided the Old Saybrook works best for us. We took a train from the station there that drop us in Burke, Virginia. This was about 12 miles from Fairfax. We could have opted for Manassas, which is where we departed from but given the traffic in this area on a weekday, I felt Burke would be a better option.
We had three different crews on the train and in both cases, a very long stop at Washington DC's Union Station, by long I mean 40 minutes. Seems crazy to me but what do I know?
We paid for business class seats in order to have roomier seats and leg room. The difference in the price was not high enough to make it a bad idea. With business class seats you can go and get free basic drinks in the cafe car.
Was it better than flying. In my opinion yes, more comfortable, less stressful and about the same price. It takes longer than a flight but when you consider how long you need to be at the airport in advance of a flight I am not sure it is all that much longer.
Cons: Were there things we didn't like, yes. Seats are not assigned so even in Business Class it can be hard to find two seat together. When we choose to upgrade we should be guaranteed a seat together. Having to pull out our tickets to show at least three times seems excessive.
Pros: The bathroom was bigger than a plane bathroom and you can walk around and go to the cafe car. The view was interesting from the windows and we met some very friendly people.
I would certainly do the train again even though we were delayed for 2.5 additional hours at Penn Station. We were not getting a lot of information but more than we ever get from the airlines in a similar situation.
Sorry I don't have any photos from that time except for the restaurant. We spent the time talking with some great people and trying to keep abreast of what was going on and I never thought about taking pictures.
I did learn a lesson though, make sure you can handle your luggage by yourself. I never thought about what buying books at the conference would do to my suitcase. I had a suitcase, a backpack and my purse and it was too much for comfort.