Pros and Cons of Taking Amtrak for a Weekend in DC

The first time I took the Amtrak between Alexandria and Richmond, I wasn’t thrilled with the experience.  The train was about 30 minutes late leaving Alexandria and it was crowded.  On the way back from Richmond that evening, you had to practically fight for seats.  The one I ended up with was broken, which I didn’t realize until after I claimed it.  The stations were unattractive and needed updating (still true). I thought trains were supposed to have some element of glamour!

My subsequent rides have been much better–quieter and much less crowded.  I’ve actually had productive train time.  While taking Amtrak is more expensive than driving for me, is being able to reclaim that few hours for myself worth the price of admission?  Consider looking out from the train window and seeing that 95 is completely swamped.  Even if your train is slow or not moving, at least you can do something else like watch a movie or read.  You could even nap!

What should you do when you’re stuck in traffic, whether on 95 or on a delayed train?  Relax, because there is not a damn thing you can do about it.  Just make sure that if you’re on the train, you have plenty of reading material/entertainment and snacks.

I’ve been hankering to get back to Alexandria and hang out in Old Town, and this weekend I got to, again staying with friends who live there.  This weekend was Old Town’s sidewalk sale, so a lot of the boutiques and stores had great sales running–my friend and her coworkers got some fantastic steals at the consignment stores!

Saturday night, some friends and I went to see Carbon Leaf at The Hamilton Live, a venue none of us had ever been to before.  (You may remember my friend Amanda and I have a history with this band…)  A friend and former roommate of mine used to work in the restaurant that houses the venue and he raved about it.  We made plans to get dinner at the restaurant before the venue doors opened.  Dinner was fabulous (pricey, sure, but that’s DC for you; Amanda balked at the fact that my cocktail was $13) and the service was fantastic.  Our waiter was very personable and accommodating.  Our tickets at the venue were standing room only, which naturally was right in front of the stage, in front of all the people who had paid more for actual seats and tables.  (You can order food and drinks in the venue, and their menu is different from the restaurant’s.)  The venue was very cool and posh-looking.  I saw TVs in the back for people who couldn’t see as well from where they were sitting.  Not only was the venue outstanding, but the band put on a legendary performance, and the crowd ate it up.  Carbon Leaf has a very devoted following, and it’s easy to see why!  Their opening act, The Christian Lopez Band, were also excellent and I recommend that if you live in NoVA that you go see them Saturday night at 10 p.m. at Jammin’ Java in Vienna (another cool venue)!

I also had a craving for an overpriced brunch from Le Pain Quotidien, a place my friends and I sometimes went in Old Town.  I went there Sunday morning with my friends Mileva and Aaron (you may know her from Capital Fit Geek) and I got the amazing avocado toast summer special (I have to figure out how they made that citrus cumin salt–sooooo delicious) and liberally slathered any bread available to me with the chocolate hazelnut spread (I still regret not buying a jar of it even though it’s $10).

So all in all, another great if short weekend in Northern Virginia.  Until next time…

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