A Visit To The Bull City

“Major” – Durham Bull Bronze Sculpture in downtown Durham, North Carolina

Kathy & I fulfilled one of our goals yesterday – we rode the Amtrak “Piedmont” to Durham, North Carolina for lunch. It was our first-ever Amtrak trip, and while not exactly an epic journey, it was something we have wanted to do for a while.

Riding the Amtrak “Piedmont” from Charlotte to Durham, North Carolina
Riding the Amtrak “Piedmont” from Charlotte to Durham, North Carolina

We were impressed. Parking at the Charlotte station was free and convenient, the people were friendly and there is no arduous “security theatre” screening process. The train was on time, boarding was quick and orderly, and even though the seats were not reserved, everyone had a row to themselves (it helped that the Piedmont originates in Charlotte so the train was empty when we boarded). The seats were comfortable, comparable to first class airplane seats with plenty of leg (and butt) room. Bottled water and pretty decent coffee were available for free in the cafe car, and there were vending machines for those needing to buy a snack. The two rest rooms in our car were clean and roomy.

Downtown Durham, North Carolina

We arrived in Durham at 1:00 and had about 2 1/2 hours until the Piedmont returned from Raleigh to take us back to Charlotte. So we explored the downtown area a bit. Durham is known as the Bull City, and there were bull themes prevalent everywhere. We found a lunch spot that specializes in craft beer and burgers made from pasture-raised beef (the burgers, not the beer 😉 ), called, appropriately enough, Bull City Burger and Brewery. A good find for lunch!

Bull City Burger and Brewery in downtown Durham, North Carolina
Bull City Burger and Brewery in downtown Durham, North Carolina
Bull City Burger and Brewery in downtown Durham, North Carolina

As with most downtowns these days, there are not too many retail businesses, but lots of bars and restaurants. Many of the former tobacco warehouses have been or are being converted to residential buildings with street level commercial, which makes for an interesting vibe. I don’t know where all the people work, but Duke University is nearby, and Durham is the county seat, so those would be sources of employment.

It was kind of a dark and gloomy day in Durham, a little on the cool side. But it didn’t rain so that was a plus! Most of my photos are processed as black & white since there wasn’t much color to get excited about.

Downtown Durham, North Carolina

The return trip to Charlotte was uneventful. Since the train originated in Raleigh it was already pretty full when it got to us. We scored seats together, although they were facing backward. Not a problem but a little weird. We boarded at 3:30 and arrived back in Charlotte at 6:00, in time to be home for dinner. It was a long way to go and kind of an expensive lunch when including the cost of transportation. But it was a fun day! We’re glad we took the plunge and look forward to planning a longer trip in the near future. Perhaps to DC or NYC.

The “Piedmont” arriving at the Durham station

7 thoughts on “A Visit To The Bull City”

  1. We need day trips like that. My years working as a flight attendant was like that all the time. Have an overnight but not leave until late afternoon always gave us opportunities to explore. When I had an overnight in New York our hotel was in Rockville, NY so we would take the train into the city.

    1. Sometimes the simplest trips are better than the epic adventures. A lot more time to enjoy them instead of dealing with logistics.

  2. We took a day trip from San Diego to LA on Amtrak and enjoyed every moment, even the crowded station in LA. It’s a fun thing to do and I know it won’t be long before we find something like that here.

    1. Overall the atmosphere/attitude was much more relaxed than most airports I have visited. Hard to imagine that in LA any more than DC or NYC, but I also haven’t been in those airports, other than LAX, which was for one early morning departure and two connections – one very late and one very early!

  3. What a great day trip. I might have to do that myself.

    I’ve only been on Amtrak once, from McCook, NE to Denver, CO. Monte picked me up, we spent some time in Golden, CO, then he dropped me off at the airport, and I flew back home.

    1. Our next trip will likely be an overnight to Raleigh. Let me know if you are interested and we can set something up. We didn’t go all the way to Raleigh last time because the turnaround time to get back to Charlotte would not have given us enough time for wandering around and for lunch!

      I’d ride a train just about anywhere if I knew Monte was going to pick me up! 🙂

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