- 1 29 Nov In a single day on Amtrak: California Surfliner and Pacific Coast Starlight Assessment
29 Nov In a single day on Amtrak: California Surfliner and Pacific Coast Starlight Assessment
Aside from a couple of brief practice journeys between Seattle and Portland, our expertise with Amtrak was fairly restricted. We have been actually intrigued by the potential for taking an in a single day practice journey, and eventually made it occur in October 2015 from California to Oregon. We took the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego, modified trains in Los Angeles, and booked a roomette within the sleeper automotive on the Coastal Starlight to Portland.
Replace: We favored the expertise of driving the practice from San Diego to Portland a lot, we sought out a chance to take the journey once more in November of 2018. We have now now up to date this publish with new info and pictures.
Right here’s a glimpse into what we skilled, and a few recommendation for first-time practice vacationers.
Our Free Journey to San Diego
On our first journey, we traveled from Portland to San Diego – and again – totally free. We took benefit of three key “journey hacks” that acquired us a free aircraft ticket from PDX to SAN, free Car2Go minutes to drive ourselves to the practice station, and a free in a single day practice journey from SAN to PDX (sleeper automotive and meals for 2 included).
On our second journey, we arrived to San Diego after a six week keep in Colombia. Once more, we used miles for the worldwide flight to California. And we used Amtrak factors so the in a single day practice experience was additionally free. On prime of free transportation, we have been visiting my brother and his spouse, so our lodging have been free as nicely!
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In a nutshell, we signed up for an Amtrak rewards bank card to shortly earn sufficient factors for the in a single day practice journey.
The enroll advantages of the Amtrak bank cards change sometimes. In each 2015 and 2018, we have been capable of cowl the complete value from San Diego to Portland with a enroll bonus from one card software. This features a roomette for 2 individuals in addition to all 4 meals on the Coastal Starlight. The bonus factors are earned after assembly the $1,000 minimal spend inside the first three months of opening the cardboard. (There’s additionally an annual payment for the playing cards with greater enroll bonuses.)
San Diego to Los Angeles – California Surfliner
Enterprise Class seats, consists of “snack bar” within the automotive (2015)
(Amtrak factors devalued, so in 2018, we solely had sufficient factors for Financial system on this primary leg)
Departs 6am, three hours 30 minutes
Stops: Oceanside, San Juan Capistrano, Anaheim, and so forth.
Los Angeles to Portland/Seattle – Coast Starlight
Personal roomette, consists of meals for 2 in eating automotive
Departs 10:30am, 1 day 5 hours
Stops: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Jose, Sacramento, Redding, Klamath Falls, Eugene, Salem, and so on.
Typical value for two from SAN to PDX:
$520 – $550 (roughly equal to flights for 2, plus a lodge night time), or:
15,000 factors (earlier than January 24, 2016)
18,000 – 19,000 factors (after January 24, 2016)
The Magnificence of Driving Amtrak
We started our journey at 6am from the downtown San Diego station on the California Surfliner. On our second journey, we left from Solana round 6:30am. Amtrak asks you to reach on the station about 30 minutes prematurely. You possibly can go straight to the tracks and present your ticket (printed or e-receipt in your telephone are positive) when requested by a conductor on the practice.
Very quickly, we had a fascinating and ever-changing view of the dawn, waves cresting towards us, and scattered dots of surfers out within the water. The journey to Los Angeles took about three hours.
Enterprise class on Surfliner
Early morning practice selfie
On our first journey, we have been hungry for brunch so once we arrived on the Los Angeles Union Station, I hopped throughout the road to Olvera Road market and grabbed us a plate of Mexican meals. On our second journey, we introduced our personal breakfast to eat on the practice from San Diego.
The layover was just a little greater than an hour. We tried the Amtrak ClubAcela lounge, which is on the market just for sleeper automotive passengers or rewards members with a cross. We opted to not take their shuttle cart to board the practice in order that we might stretch our legs and stroll earlier than the lengthy journey.
L.A. Enterprise Class Lounge
Boarding the Starlight
The roomettes within the sleeper automobiles have two giant chairs dealing with one another, a skinny closet to hold a couple of jackets, studying lamps, energy outlet, and pull-out desk. There’s a sliding door and curtains for privateness from the hallway. The attendant of our automotive defined the right way to flip the chairs right into a mattress and pull the bunk down above it.
For meals, we had the choice of consuming communal type within the eating automotive or alone in our rooms however with a restricted menu. A pair hours earlier than the meal, you select the place you’ll eat and make a reservation with an attendant who walks by way of the automotive. We all the time opted for the eating automotive.
We have been seated with a Norwegian-American gentleman at lunch, a pair getting off at San Jose at dinner, and one other single gents at breakfast the next day. All of them had executed a variety of practice journey already and proceed to take action as a result of they completely benefit from the expertise and consider within the significance of mass transit.
Breakfast within the eating automotive
The spotlight of our journey was staring out the home windows. The California shoreline was completely beautiful, and – in contrast to our current street journey by way of the identical space – we didn’t have to fret about navigating! We noticed numerous surfers among the many breaks. Because it was December, the “golden hour” got here within the early afternoon and gave our ocean views a magical glow.
By dinner on the primary night time, we have been nearing San Jose and the solar had set. I didn’t thoughts lacking out on seeing Northern California, however was stunned once I awoke at 5:30am, cracked open the curtains, and noticed snow-covered evergreens and a starry night time sky! We have been passing via Shasta. (Though our second journey was a month afterward the calendar, that point, there wasn’t any snow till we received additional into Southern Oregon.)
At breakfast, we pulled into Klamath Falls the place there was nonetheless a little bit of snow on the bottom and ice forming over the close by lakes and streams. Persevering with up towards Bend, we made use of the (sluggish) wifi within the parlor automotive whereas the winter wonderland continued outdoors.
Replace: Amtrak has apparently eliminated and bought all their Parlour Automobiles. The Coastal Starlight had an Remark Automotive however indicators indicated that it was reserved for Enterprise Class passengers.
As I discussed, the perfect a part of our Amtrak journey was staring out the home windows on the altering surroundings – from the sunny California coast to the snowy mountains of southern Oregon. Driving within the practice itself was like a blast from the previous. Touring by Amtrak is probably not for everybody. However in case you have time to maneuver somewhat slower, favor surroundings over battling visitors, and worth “public” transit choices, then it’s value a attempt.
Though our potential to work on-line was restricted, we have been capable of make amends for numerous studying, writing, reflecting, and enjoyable. All in all, we completely loved the entire expertise!
A Few Cons of Practice Journey
Though we have been completely delighted to see the countryside roll by and to expertise journey by practice, Amtrak definitely confirmed some room for enhancements. When you’re contemplating a practice journey, it’s good to concentrate on this stuff so that you don’t have unfair expectations.
For one, the restricted funding for Amtrak enhancements is clear. Put on and tear within the passageways was noticeable and the electronics in our sleeper automobiles have been undoubtedly from an earlier period.
There was open wifi on the Surfliner route. On the Starlight, the Parlour Automotive had sluggish wifi, however these automobiles have since been eliminated. We didn’t verify the widespread areas, however our roomette didn’t decide up any wifi alerts.
The refrigeration on the primary practice was additionally out, so their ordinary breakfast gadgets have been unavailable for the day. On the primary Starlight journey from LA to Portland, the coffeepot for our sleeper automotive didn’t work and the movie show room had been out of fee for 3 weeks, ready for repairs. On our second voyage, every little thing appeared to be in higher order.
Movie show out of fee
Shared bathe for roomette passengers
As soon as, once we pulled right into a “recent air cease” the place you possibly can step off the practice for about ten minutes, they found a twine between automobiles had been dragging on the bottom, sparked, and shredded. Luckily, they have been capable of repair it and return energy to the practice in lower than 30 minutes. Prior to now, we’ve skilled delays on Amtrak since they needed to give precedence to freight trains, however on each of those in a single day journeys, we have been truly on time or forward of schedule more often than not.
Lastly, in the event you’re in search of a luxurious expertise or don’t take pleasure in interacting with different vacationers, an in a single day on Amtrak is probably not for you. Roomette passengers have a number of shared loos and one shared bathe room per automotive. The “full” bedrooms every have their very own personal “moist” loos, nevertheless, which features a rest room and bathe in a bit compartment of your room.
For meals, you can organize to deliver your personal meals, order scorching canine from the cafe, or eat from a restricted menu within the Parlour automotive. However for the perfect choice of scorching meals (which is included together with your room reservation), you’re required to eat group type within the eating room. As a pair, I didn’t thoughts being seated with a stranger or two, however as an introvert, I don’t assume I might have been very enthusiastic about that if I have been touring solo. In order that’s one thing to think about.
We’re able to do it once more! We’re significantly contemplating placing extra factors into our Amtrak account to do a fair longer journey – perhaps to Chicago… Or perhaps we’ll save up for a cross-country Canada voyage (which isn’t Amtrak however we’ve heard it’s superb).
Have you ever ever completed an in a single day journey on Amtrak? What do you think about to be the professionals and cons of practice journey? We’d love to listen to your ideas within the remark under.
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