Day 1 – Traveling to Saratoga

The first day of our trip to Saratoga Springs always begins with a trip on the Northeast Regional Amtrak train from Richmond’s Staples Mill Station up the East Cost to New York’s Penn Station. The first part of the trip follows the same route as on Day 1 of our spring trip to Manhattan: Washington (where the locomotive is switched from diesel to electric) then Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New Jersey and under the Hudson River to Penn Station.

If the train is on time, we have a 90-minute layover at Penn Station with enough time for a lunch at Friday’s before we take our luggage to the Ethan Allen Express to Saratoga Springs. This is the loveliest part of our trip, as once the train emerges from underneath the streets of Manhattan it hugs the Hudson River north to Albany. It passes through Yonkers, Croton-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff, Hudson, and Albany. Along the way there are beautiful views of the Hudson, plus glimpses of historic places up river from Manhattan, such as West Point and Sing Sing (thus the term being “sent up the river.” After Albany, the Ethan Allen leaves the river and passes through Schenectady and finally arrives at the charming Saratoga Springs Amtrak station, where we catch a taxi. Unlike Manhattan, it often takes a while to get a taxi, especially if the train runs late.

Soon we travel through the lovely town of Saratoga Springs and arrive at Circular Manor, where we have stayed every year since we first came to Saratoga ten years ago.

How did we first discover Saratoga and the Circular Manor? In 2010 we were looking to travel by train to a place we hadn’t been before. The choices were Amherst, Massachusetts, or Saratoga Springs, New York. Amherst had the Emily Dickinson house, but Saratoga had a storied race track, famous springs, a Revolutionary War battlefield, and many beautiful homes. Once we decided on Saratoga, we started searching the Internet for a bed and breakfast and came across Circular Manor. Their web site had some lovely pictures, and its location seemed perfect, in easy walking distance of the race track and the downtown restaurants.

In 2010 it was love at first sight with the whole Saratoga experience. Dieter & Michele Funiciello, the innkeepers, were delightfully gracious. They had beautifully restored the 1903 home and filled it with stunning antiques. In the first three years we stayed in several different rooms until we found our favorite, the Sage Room, which sits in the back of the house, a cooler and quieter part of the property. We have stayed there every year since. We’ll post more about the Circular Manor as our virtual trip unfolds.

After unpacking and enjoying a scotch and some cashews on the front porch, we walk three blocks to Osteria Danny, a small Italian restaurant that has become our first night in Saratoga tradition. After enjoying one of their savory pasta dishes, we usually walk to Broadway, the town’s main street with many lovely shops and restaurants. Then it’s back to the Circular Manor for a night cap and getting ready for opening day at the track.