A Trip To The South Bronx

Me in Chicago, IL

Well in the middle of October, I finally made it to New York after all these years.  My dad hadn’t seen his mother since he was around 20 years old!  So it was about time!

We decided to take a LONG train ride there because my dad isn’t getting on a plane unless it’s life or death—and even then we don’t really know.  I’m not a big fan of planes either—let’s get real.

I had never been on a train before—so I was looking forward to it.

The train ride on the way to New York wasn’t bad at all—especially if you can manage to get two seats to yourself to spread yourself out and relax.  The scenery out the window wasn’t much to write home about though.

The food on the train was even less exciting.  Not only were the prices outrageous as I would only expect them to be—but the food pretty much tasted just like it looked.  Thank goodness I brought lots of food and drinks from home, too.

I pretty much kept myself entertained on the Internet or texting friends on my cell phone.  Good thing the train had plug outlets for charging phones.  Other than playing on my phone, I slept a lot to help time pass quicker.

Now considering I paid for a TRAIN ride, I was a bit disturbed—well, ticked off actually—that we had to take a 5-hour charter bus ride from Chicago, IL to Toledo, OH because the connecting train had a habit of being too slow.  Which means we would not have made it to New York on schedule.

We ended up being only 2 hours late arriving to New York, but the crammed bus ride was my source of irritation.  From 9:30pm to 2:30am it was pure misery for me.  It’s NOTHING like riding a train!  And did I mention I paid for a TRAIN—not a BUS!  How is there any comparison?!

As you can see, I sat in the very first seat of the bus because I wanted to keep an eye on the bus driver to make sure he didn’t fall asleep while driving the bus or else I’d have to jump up and grab the wheel suddenly.

Thank the heavens I never caught the bus driver nodding off to sleep.  But what I didn’t anticipate and what turned out to be even more exciting for me was watching him texting on his cell phone while simultaneously driving a full bus load of people on the highway late at night.  FUN TIMES!

We safely made it to Ohio to connect to the next train.  And then finally we made it to the streets of New York safe and sound—and, more importantly, to Grandma’s house deep in the hood of the South Bronx.

Oh, to see Grandma and my titi (aunt) after all these years!  The picture-taking was endless.

The second thing I was looking forward to was the Puerto Rican food to be had.  Omg!  And you already know how I feel about food in general.  So—authentic food from my roots made my little eyes light up.  My two favorite things together—family and food.

Boy!  We also got a first-hand experience riding the New York subway.  Everything you’ve ever read about it, heard about it, or seen in print or on television—is exactly what it’s like.  Dirty, trashy, crowded, standing-room only, putrid smelling people—you name it!  It’s all alive and well on the New York subway system, folks.  And I think everyone should experience it at least once in life.

Can I just say—the train ride going back home was miserable to say the least!  We were on the train 11 (ELEVEN) hours LONGER than we should have been!  Oh, lordamercy!

I generally kept my window curtain closed at night because riding out in the middle of nowhere on a train in the pitch darkness, for some reason, reminded me of the “Jeepers Creepers” movie!  And I didn’t want that thing to suddenly pounce on my window from the darkness.  So, needless to say, my window curtain stayed closed at night.

But going home, I woke up at least three times in the middle of the night to find the train not moving on the tracks.  So I assumed we made a pit stop at a station somewhere.  But every time I woke up again and looked out the window—it looked like we were out in the middle of a wilderness or something (which isn’t a train stop).  And to wake up three different times and find it coincidentally stopped on the tracks at three different “rest stations”/wilderness each time—seemed a little too coincidental.

So I went back to sleep and woke up at sunrise.  Come to find out from the crew—we actually WERE stopped on the tracks in the middle of nowhere!  FOR FIVE HOURS that night!!!  Who knew we hit a car full of people on the tracks!

What in the world is going on, folks!  How and why are cars on train tracks to begin with?!  How do you NOT know a train is coming from way down yonder in plenty of time to save yourself?!

So the train/car wreck was a 5-hour delay.  So why 11-hours total in delay, you ask?  I’ll tell you why.  Because passenger trains have to give freight trains the right-of-way every time they’re a-comin’—and that happened A LOT!

I was SO irritated after sitting on the tracks for so long at different intervals, that I swore up and down I’d never get on a train again in life!!  (But you never know.)

Needless to say, we missed our connecting train in Chicago.  So the train station put us all up at the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago for the night and gave us money for food.

Oh, I wanted nothing more than to finally take a nice long hot shower after being on the train for SO LONG!  But instead, I went straight to sleep in that nice bed because I was SO exhausted and tired by the time we got to the hotel at 10:00pm.

So the nice shower happened the next morning after I woke up from a good sleep.  Because, as you know—you can’t really sleep all that great on a train even when you have two seats to yourself and lean them back as far as they’ll go.

Then we decided to take a cab that morning to a restaurant called Yolk for breakfast in Chicago since we had plenty of time before having to be at the train station that afternoon.  And delicious it was!

So, if you have nothing else to do today, take a fun train ride on a trip across the country to get first-hand experience on how fun those trains can really be.

Take-Away Life Lesson:  Either take an airplane to your destination—or prepare your brain that you might be on the train way longer than expected; expect to hit a car load of people along the way; always keep your window curtain closed at night due to the “Jeepers Creepers” factor; and take a chip-clip for your nose in case of putrid-smelling people if you’re ever on a New York subway.

37 thoughts on “A Trip To The South Bronx

  1. A most wonderful pictorial and story of your escapades…and your horror story of the Orient Express. After riding in trains in Japan for a total of six years of my life, no thank you…and your story tells it like it is here!

  2. On my only trip to USA, I went by land: bus and train from New York to Chicago, they ran on time, I guess I was lucky. The train was better than the bus and I only went one way. I flew back to London from Chicago O Hare.

  3. Just in case I don’t get back here before Christmas. I am wishing you and your family a happy and joyous holiday. 🙂 I know there will be lots of good food at your house!! xo

    1. Oh definitely, Lulu. Loved seeing my gran and aunt after all those years! And glad my dad got to as well. I went more for his sake.

  4. I take it you are going to fly next time. LOL But you did get to visit your family and that sounds like it made the trip worth while. America puts a very low priority on passenger trains. Train travel in Europe and other regions can be a much more positive experience. -Curt

  5. Sounds like the train travel was a real life experience, Cita! Delays aside, happy to hear you reached your destination AND returned home in one piece. 🙂
    Looking forward to hearing more about Grandma’s food…just one of her meals surely had to be worth the hours of travel! (Good to see you back at your blog!)

  6. I took the train from NY to Vermont a couple of times – not as long as your trip, but just as annoying. It’s such a shame the trains in the US are so bad.
    As for your impressions on NY subway, all I can say is – it used to be MUCH worse! What you see now is such an improvement… 😀

  7. Wow Loving, that is quite an experience especially the bad and expensive food ! Must have been hell for you ! It’s also amazing that I have just posted about London Underground. It didn’t smell though ! Have a lovely Sunday my friend xox <3

  8. I’ve wanted to take a train ride too, but stories of possible delays due to the freight trains & accidents stopped me. Everyone I know who’s taken a long train has pretty much said the same thing that you have. The consensus is: Even with the delays they really liked it & suggested everyone should do it once but most won’t do it again. It’s the delays that get them, and the Chicago – NY route is notorious for delays.

    I think I’ll stick to flying or driving. A possible bus detour with a texting bus driver? Absolutely not.

  9. Sooooo . . . was wondering what had happened to you . . . so long, no see!!! Hope you had fun while you were NOT riding on the train! Will you be regaling us with tales of Puerto Rican food real soon?

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

      1. Lol, Joseph Nebus! Oh my heavens! I was on vacation a couple of different times and it sounds like it was a good thing. You know those mathematical things scare me. Lol. 🙂 And I hope to stay around more frequently if my busy life stops getting in the way. 😉

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