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
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
Dramatic GoPro video shows backpacker Alexander Hennessy warding off armed robber in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Best Place To Be Today shows 365 of the world's most amazing places - and the perfect time to visit them
Watch a man race the Circle line - and win
The 10 Best hiking boots
Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 'Necrophilia-obsessed' girl among double murder accused in three-way sex case
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...