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.
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.
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!
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.
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.