Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Love Starbucks

As much as people complain that it's terrible that there is a Starbucks on every streetcorner in most urban centers of the United States, I LOVE IT. I love it because it is the only thing that is allowing me to update all of you lovely people out there on my status.

The status is... it's SNOWING in Detroit. I love snow. It's so pretty. It does make it a bit hard to find my way through a somewhat strange city, but it's still nice. Speaking of Detroit, I would like to send a shout out to my friend Matt, THANK YOU SO MUCH for showing me around Detroit Halloween weekend. If I had not spent that weekend in Detroit I would have been a crazy person on the city bus coming down Woodward from the Amtrak station at Grand. I would have been hovering over the driver, "Where do I go now? Do I get off yet? Here? Now? When?". However, having spent some time in the lovely metropolis of Detroit, I knew to relax and get off once we got to Jefferson. Then I walked into the Comerica building and asked the nice man at the desk for directions to the nearest Starbucks and here I am. Aren't you all lucky.

So, the train only got more interesting after I typed up that last post. I'm not exactly sure where he got on, but we got a really, and I mean REALLY, drunk Georgian (as in Russian Georgian) guy on the train. He was seated two rows in front of me and one row in front of a woman with two young children. The conductor kept telling him to go to sleep. But George (yes, that was his name) would have none of it. He was going off, it was so amusing. Here are some quotes (all spoken with a Russian accent):

- I'm a very rich man.
- My father's a king.
- I'm a lord.
- Bless you all, God bless you all, everyone on this train.
- I love children, I am the godfather of your children, no one can hurt them.
- I love you brother.
- Please get me to Pennsylbania safely. (not a typo, that's how he said it)
- I have to get to my father, 245 Pine Street (anyone have any thoughts as to what's at 245 Pine?)

Each of these was repeated at least 4-5 times while I stuck around in the car. It was at once amusing and troublesome. I was a little worried he'd vomit all over someone at any moment. He kept going on and on begging someone to get him a Heineken since the cafe car wouldn't serve him. Thankfully no one obliged. Eventually his begging and incessent talking got on the nerves of the guy that was across the aisle from me and he started very calmly and sternly saying "Sit down, be quiet". Then George proceded to call someone on his cell phone and speak a bunch of Russian. (Honestly, I'm not 100% sure he wasn't just having a conversation with himself but thinking he was on the phone) Then he called someone named Carlos and proceded to tell Carlos that "these people are strange" and "a man with a dark mustache just threatened me" and "no one can threaten me". He told Carlos that he'd called the Embassy and that he wasn't sure he was going to make it to Pennsybania safely and that Carlos should call his father. It was so vastly amusing. However, George's antics were not likely to be conducive to sleep and the train car was really crowded, so I decided to investigate upgrading to a sleeper car.

To anyone who ever has to (or just decides to) travel a long distance by train, I highly recommend getting a sleeper car. They are pretty expensive if you book them in advance, but because I bought mine on the train, it was only $166 to upgrade. Personally, it was well worth it. I had a quiet place to read, watch a movie and then sleep. Most importantly I was able to sleep lying flat. The coach seats recline pretty far, but not flat. The other nice thing about the sleeper car is that meals in the dining car are free. That's a nice bonus, cause the food is really good. I had dinner with three guys who ordered the steak and it smelled wonderful. They all said it was good. My ravioli was really good too. I slept in too late in the morning and missed breakfast, but I ended up getting lunch because we were so late.

So, we got into DC 3.5 hours late. That meant that my lovely 4 hour layover to check email and post got cut to a half hour of trying to find a place to put things down for a bit before piling on to the train. I got on the train and my car was fairly empty. I sat alone and read more of The Chronicles of Narnia and made a 7pm dinner reservation. I was really hungry, so I decided to eat a full meal. I'm glad I did too, because in the process of waiting for dinner I met Al Smith. Al is exactly like Turk's friend Russell. He was so funny and cool. We had a great time talking and hanging out. We ended up hanging out in the cafe car and watching Blues Brothers and playing You Don't Know Jack. He is really fascinating. He spent a month wandering around Pakistan. He had gone over there to climb K2, but there was some kind of problem with the guide or something, so he ended up just exploring Pakistan. He was in the Navy for 14 years, ran two different motels (one in San Diego and one in northern Michigan) with his wife and now he's retired and lives on 120 acres in southern Michigan. He said "It doesn't know when to quit snowing up north, so we moved south".

That train ride ended rather poorly though. Once Al and I parted ways to get some sleep I got back to my seat to find it had been hijacked by some woman watching a dvd and wearing excessive amounts of bad perfume. So, I knew I wasn't getting any sleep there, so I went and tried to sleep in the lounge car. Not much luck there either, so I'm currently running on a gross lack of sleep, just one more reason to love Starbucks. Between the snow and the lack of sleep I think I'm going to have to save the Detroit Institute of the Arts for another day. Right now I'm going to try and venture over to Canada and see if I can switch to an earlier train to Toronto. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Todd Tyrtle said...

Good luck with the earlier reservation!

Oh - and once you get here - I highly recommend Second Cup over Starbucks - similar idea - slightly upscale coffee. They're a Canadian chain and the coffee tastes less burned to me. While you're here you should check out Bulldog Coffee, though. They have the best espresso in town and the barista does latte art as well. It's a bit of a long walk (but not that difficult and it can be interesting) from where you're staying.