Took the Amtrak Acela from NYC to Boston today for the first time. First time on the Acela. First time to Boston. Most of the time, I think that Penn Station is a bit intimidating. People move fast. And everyone - except for me - looks like they know exactly what they're doing, where to go, and where to get the best coffee.
But today, I was ready. I prepared a lot of things last night, got up early, took my time, made sure I knew where I was going (and asked a very nice attendant when I had a question about the special Acela Waiting Area location). I stood in line to get to the correct gate (8W) with people who looked bored or tired or impatient, while I felt excited and very awake and a little nervous. I was even smiling. I boarded the train, sat in a seat next to a man who looked nice, got out my laptop (thanks, AmtrakConnect!) and settled in for the 3 1/2 hour trip (with traveling speeds up to 150 MPH).
There's a Cafe Car. And a 1st Class Car. And a Quiet Car. I sat in one of the many Coach Cars, and still I thought it was one of the best traveling experiences I've ever had. Beyond that, it was by far the nicest in terms of employee personality. Among other kind announcements were:
"Thank you for choosing Amtrak and let's have a positive day today. Once again the cafe car - that has no line - is open." (Cafe Manager, over loud speaker)
"You're all set. Have a good trip, Jack. Ellen - this ticket is perfect. Thank you." (Ticket Taker, in person)
"My name is Nathanial. I am the Passenger Service Representative. Please let me know if there's anything I can help you with." (Passenger Service Rep, over loud speaker and in individual cars)
Although I've only been once, I'd venture to say that the Acela to Boston is the best way to get there.