Archives For Amtrak

Now this is a story all about how my Saturday got flipped-turned upside down. Royalty and the west coast are not involved but Philadelphia serves as one of the backdrops.

The plan was simple: take an early afternoon Amtrak to Philadelphia, attend the wedding of friend/former intern/past-contributor Jessie Holeva, enjoy the reception and catch a train back to Penn Station that would return me to New York well before either last call.

Things went awry from the get-go. What should’ve been a 20 minute commute on the subway to Penn took over double that thanks to weekend construction. I missed my 2:05 train and rebooked for 3:07. But I wasn’t fazed; I figured I’d use the time to run upstairs to our studio, use the restroom, take a deep breath and then head back downstairs.

Right before I did, I went to the men’s room one more time. Our private restroom by the studio appeared occupied so I used the bathroom that the entire floor has access to. Everything was fine until I flushed the toilet. They’re brand new and so the flusher is electric. But it malfunctioned and wouldn’t stop flushing.

Thankfully I bolted out of the stall before any damage was done to me, but that’s not to say that by the time the toilet shut off the restroom wasn’t filled with a few inches of sitting water. I took the appropriate measure of alerting our chief engineer, put myself back together and made it just in the nick of time to my departing train.

The ride down was smooth, pleasant and scenic. If you’re wondering, Amtrak does have Bloody Mary mix; the food cart offers the serviceable Mr. and Mrs. T’s.

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Upon arrival at the 30th Street Station I was pleased to find out that the convenience store sells greeting cards, a perfect look for the single bachelor en route to a wedding without one. A few minutes after checking out I met my Uber driver, who drove me 20 minutes north of Philly to Cabrini University.

This was my first time on campus and I have to say, I was impressed. It is scenic and close to the big city yet feels somewhat secluded and tucked away, which I enjoyed. The ceremony and reception were fantastic; it was great to reconnect with a few old friends and meet a few more new ones. Jessie looked stunning and of course I’m very happy for her and Justin who fun fact, once put me up for the night after I covered a Young The Giant/Grouplove show in the City of Brotherly Love (another story for another blog).

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The reception wrapped at 11 and so I grabbed another Uber to head back to 30th Street for my 12:05 am departure. Upon my arrival I was greeted by a closed bar inside the station and then just before I thought we were boarding… a delay.

A two-hour delay.

So where did I go? Following a failed attempt to drink a pint next door inside a Irish pub, I ordered another Uber en route to The Franklin Bar, a speakeasy downtown. There I met a patron from Long Island City who was keeping the bartender, her on-and-off again boyfriend, company. I ended up becoming friends with everyone in the place, stayed until last call and eventually Uber’d back to the station where I encountered almost no food options and… you guessed it, another delay.

My train back to New York eventually left after 3 am. I arrived at Penn Station at quarter to 5 am. Following two Uber drivers cancelling on me and a random guy throwing water on me, I hailed a cab.

And I yelled to the cabbie “Yo homes smell ya later!” I walked in to my bodega; I was finally there. Turkey on a whole wheat wrap; Philly can’t compare.

I love tradition and routine but it was time for a break from both this past weekend: for the first time in recent memory, I took Memorial Day weekend off.

I remember spending Memorial Day weekend in 2010 at a Yankees game and I can’t recall how I spent the holiday in 2011. But I do remember 2012 because Syracuse was in the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four and I drove to Camden, New Jersey where I interviewed Niall Horan of then a burgeoning pop outfit called One Direction.

In 2013 I attended a wedding but on Memorial Day Monday and every subsequent one until this year, I would host my show in New York at its normal time.

And this year wasn’t a complete departure from work: I woke up early Friday morning and drove down the Shore for 95.5’s Pepsi Summer Kick-Off, chatting with Andy Grammer before driving back and doing my show Friday night.

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On Saturday I slept in, grabbed the new Jordan 11’s and met a friend for a drink in midtown. Then my buddy Danny visited for the weekend – we bar-hopped in the hood before hitting the East Village and calling it a late night/early morning.

Then Sunday it was up to the Bronx to watch the Yankees beat the A’s and witness Aaron Judge’s first career grand slam. We followed that up with a celebratory drink at Stan’s and then a trip to hang in Yonkers with John Foxx for dinner and drinks.

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The bad news for Monday is that I had to set an alarm for 8 am. The good news was that Danny and I were up early because we were driving to Baltimore to see the Yankees and Orioles face off at Camden Yards. The weather was dreary until we reached the DMV area. First pitch was 75 and sunny. The Yanks lost (although Judge hit another homer; he leads the league) but we linked up with friends old and new in the stadium, across the street at Pickles and across town around the Inner Harbor.

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By the way – the people of Baltimore are fantastic. We ate dinner with our buddy Rob at the Oyster House Sunday night. The lobster gnocchi and lobster mac and cheese were out of this world. Everything was super-fresh.

We wrapped up the night with a trip to Horseshoe Casino where I left with a few extra dollars in my pocket and retired to the Hilton by Camden. It was an early-ish night because I had a 10 am train back to New York on Tuesday morning.

And of course, it should come as little surprise that I missed it by about 10 minutes because I accidentally typed in “Penn Street” in to Google Maps as opposed to “Baltimore Penn Station.” But the good news was that 20 minutes later, an Acela departed and dropped me off at New York Penn just before 1.

The timing was perfect: I arrived at the studio with just enough time to interview an old friend… Niall Horan.

My first trip of 2017 involved both people and places that I am quite fond of along with a method of transportation that I find very enjoyable.

For me, an outing on Amtrak that is four hours or less is one of the best ways to travel. You don’t have to deal with TSA, the departure and drop-off in the city is right below the radio station, the ticket is usually relatively inexpensive and the trip is pretty comfortable. Amtrak offers decent Wi-Fi free-of-charge, you’re allowed multiple carry-on baggage items and it’s not a hassle to bring food or drink with you on the train, especially given that you’re departing from Penn Station (Don Pepi’s is my go-to and in my opinion, makes one of the best quintessential NY Deli sandwiches in the city).

With that, I grabbed my normal order (2 eggs on a wrap, prosciutto and mozzarella on a roll, bottle of water, small coffee) and walked over to check-in. Amtrak offers e-tickets via an app but I opted for the antiquated paper ticket. Thanks to a complimentary upgrade, I rode in business class on the trip; not the same as a first class plane upgrade. The seats are a bit bigger and more comfortable but not measurably more than coach. You also receive free non-alcoholic beverages with the upgrade, a note I found out after I made my purchase at Don Pepi’s.

My itinerary started at Penn and ended for Friday in New London, Connecticut. Then I hopped a ride to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville to spend the evening, see a few old friends and naturally, lose a bit of money. To be honest, the only thing I left the property upset about was that for my second consecutive trip, I failed to dine at Todd English’s Tuscany, my favorite restaurant in the resort.

Peak-boughieness right now on this blog.

Caught a Connecticut vibe this weekend. @mohegansun, the real MVP.

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Saturday a car trudged through the snow and brought me back to the train station, where I rode Amtrak up to the Kingston, Rhode Island station. An Uber brought me across the Pell Bridge to Newport where Cumulus Media was having its annual holiday party.

This party is fantastic for a number of reasons: it’s scheduled after the craziness of the holiday season, it’s held in the Newport Marriott which is gorgeous (just like the rest of that beautiful town), the food is delicious (I love seafood) and most importantly, the crowd is lovely.


A different Uber brought me back to the train station on Sunday morning and I encountered perhaps the most New England Uber experience ever. It had stopped snowing at this point but there is almost no one on the roads; some areas are plowed more than others. I notice there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on the way and I could really go for one of their coffees (especially given the alternative was to buy one aboard the train; no offense Amtrak). I ask the driver if he’ll stop and he obliges. I then inquire if he wants anything.

“Yeah, you know what? I could go for a coffee,” he responded. “Medium dark, no sugar. Team work, getting the job done.”

You’re damn right. And just like the other people, places and methods of transportation I encountered over the weekend, what’s not to enjoy about that?