This post is inspired by one that Rob at Go Forth and Blogeth made about a recent experience he had at the train station.
For those that have been reading for awhile, you know that I live in the northern Illinois area. This means that Chicago is not that far away, so at least once a year I go visit "the big city" (or "downtown" as I heard many refer to it when I was in college).
For anyone that's been in Chicago, or a large city like it, you know that driving in the traffic is hell - so many vehicles crammed onto each street, it's insane and you're better off not driving in it if you can help it. There's also not a lot of free parking in the city either, so if you take your car in for a full day, you're likely to pay around $50 at least on a weekday unless you get lucky.
So we've resorted to taking the Metra anytime we go into Chicago.
Throughout the eastern half of northern Illinois there's various Metra stations - the nearest one to my hometown is just over 30 minutes away, while the nearest one to NIU (where I went to college) was in Elburn, which I once got my roommate from our apartment to the station in 20 minutes (yes, I sped... it saved us like 5 minutes and we got there right before the train pulled out - the conductor saw her running up to the platform and waited!).
On weekdays, a roundtrip costs like $7-10, but on the weekends, you can get a weekend pass for $5, and parking at the stations are only a few bucks as well, so it's not very expensive - especially if you plan on mostly walking downtown or are just going to 1 destination.
The first time I took the train I was really little and it was Christmas time. It was nothing like what I was expecting, based off what I saw on shows like Shining Time Station. There was no food or snack car, and my parents wouldn't let me use the bathroom on the train as it was kind of gross.
Since then though I've taken various trips both with my family and with friends.
One time we took the train to Wrigleyville to catch a Cubs game, only we got off at the wrong stop, in what felt like a bad part of town and had to walk at least 20 blocks to get to Wrigley Field.
I took the train into Chicago the time I joined my former roomie for Lollapalooza a few summers ago. It was an interesting ride in, as they weren't allowing any alcohol on the train that weekend due to the increased amount of people riding that weekend, however, once the ticket-taker left the car, a group of older people (probably in their 40s or early 50s) opened up beer cans! That was also the weekend the last Twilight book came out, so there were several girls reading it on the train, and I also saw a pair of lesbians making out for most of the train ride. The ride back however... I got pretty drunk off the free vodka and vitamin water we were drinking all day, so my roommate wouldn't let me walk the 10 blocks back to the station and insisted I let her put me in a taxi. It took forever to find a free one though and I literally missed my train out by 2 minutes. Myself, as well as a ton of other drunken concert goers sat around in the Ogilvie train station and waited 2 hours for the next train out - we were pretty sobered up by then!
The most memorable train ride though was the time when I was still living at school, dating hubby and we decided to meet up with a WoW friend who lived near the city and spend the day hanging out together.
Nothing exciting happened on the way there, but on the way back... our train was a good 30-45 minutes late getting back.
We sat up top, since we had one of the last stops and across from us sat a group of college aged co-eds younger than us. They got pretty rowdy. They had some beer with them that they cracked open and were being very, very loud, with the guys jokingly making sexual comments to some of the girls. The conductor/ticket-taker came by and told them to quiet down, which they did for a bit... but then the volume went back up eventually. They were drunk. One of the girls tripped over a broken seat, falling over her friends and spilling her beer into the lap of one of the guys - it looked like he either pissed himself or came in his pants, the latter in which he decided to go on and joke about.
While they were entertaining hubby and I, some of the older people and people with kids sitting below us weren't too happy and I guess complained.
Halfway home, the train stopped at one of its stops and hubby and I saw a couple of cop cars just outside, on our side of the car. About 5 minutes later, 2 officers come upstairs on the side the rowdy bunch were on and order them off the train. Hubby and I had a great view! They put several of them in the police cars and spoke to a few - one of which pointed at us, which confused us, as all we did was laugh a few times at some of their ridiculous drunken antics - we didn't want to get pulled off the train and thrown in a cop car in an unfamiliar town for doing nothing wrong! Soon enough though, a pair of officers came up top and started asking us questions, one of which was "Did we see anyone get a blowjob or have sex?" We tried not to bust out laughing, as nothing like that happened! The also asked if we were offended by anything they had said or did - I explained, we're both college aged and honestly, neither of us is easily offended by things, so no, we weren't offended, but that I could understand how some people might have been.
The cops left us and went back outside, eventually the train started up again and we were on our way home, but that was definitely one of the most interesting, memorable moments I think I've ever had on a train before!
Do you have any interesting or memorable train stories?