Travel special 2014: The train journey from Memphis to New Orleans passes like a dream
Trains aren't really my thing. Yet standing on the platform of Memphis Central train station – my breath hanging before me in the chill October air – I'll admit I was awestruck by the waiting 6.50am to New Orleans.
Everything is bigger in America, as the old saying goes, and locomotives are certainly included. From the cool steel exterior of the carriages – each the size of a terraced house – to the reclining leather arm chairs – as luxurious, I imagined, as BA first class – I couldn't believe the ticket had set me back just £35. Footrest up, complimentary blanket on, we took the first heave forward on our eight-hour-40-minute journey.
Quite literally, it passed like a dream. I dozed, I read, and soon, in a homely Southern tone, an announcer told us lunch was being served in the dining cart. With curved leather banquettes and folded linen napkins, this was to the limp sandwiches and over-priced, under-sized mini cans of a British buffet car what McDonald's is to Claridge's. I ate an Angus steak burger with Swiss cheese and applewood-smoked bacon followed by a triple chocolate mousse parfait.
Then to the lounge car to watch the mangroves glide by through windows that curved overhead. I kept an eye out for the crocodiles that it was rumoured had eaten survivors from the worst Amtrak accident over the border in Alabama, 15 years previously, but saw none. And then I drifted off again, to be awoken as we pulled into The Big Easy with little to care for other than where I might get my first drink of the evening.
One-way ticket, £35; tickets.amtrak.com
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 5 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
It's Italian, but it's definitely not Italy: Stephen Wood visits Lampedusa, an island beyond the map's edge, where North Africa meets Rome and even the sharks are poets
How double-decker trains would improve Britain's railways
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
French air-traffic strike: Planned industrial action called off
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...
Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...
£25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...