Monday, May 27, 2013

The Long Train Ride - With Pictures!

Well. It's taken me way longer than the actual train ride to get this post going, although our trip was 35 hours each way! That's a long time to be in any vehicle, but if we had to be riding for that long, doing it on a train was definitely enjoyable.

As I reported in my first blog post (the one that I so publicly announced I would post from the train, but turned into a dismal failure!), we left Seattle around 9:30 on Friday morning.

The clock tower at the King Street Station in Seattle

The waiting area at the station

We arrived in Burbank, CA, outside the Bob Hope Airport, at a little past 8:00 Saturday night. What a lonely feeling to see your train fading into the distance as you stand beside the tracks!

I wanted to show you some pictures from inside the train. I just had to laugh when we first got on the train and saw how tiny our "roomette" was! When we sat down, we were straight across from each other.

I was sitting straight across from Wes as he talked to our attendant, Lorna

This was comfy!

This was my seat - I was standing in the hall
There was room between us for our feet, but we found we could recline our seats and prop our feet up on each other's seats, which gave us a little more comfortable option than sitting up straight, feet on the floor.

Another view of our roomette from the hall

The two seats fold down to make the bottom bunk, and the top bunk swings down from the ceiling. There's just enough room to stand between the bottom bunk and the door to change your clothes - but you have to be careful not to bump into the privacy curtains, which are closed with velcro, because you might not be so private anymore! LOL My 6'4" husband had just enough room to lie down comfortably in the bottom bunk, and I had plenty of room up top, except for being so close to the ceiling and having no window. If I had let myself really think about it, I could have gotten a little claustrophobic. I wanted to take pictures of the beds laid down, but found no convenient or easy time  to do that.

The Parlour Car: large windows, swivel barrel seats - very comfy

The dining area of the Parlour Car, just behind the sitting area

Our meals were included with the fare for the sleeper car, so we never had to worry about getting something to eat. We had the choice of eating in the Parlour Car or Dining Car, and we could have had our meals delivered to our roomette. We chose the Dining Car most often, because we had more choices from the menu - the Parlour Car had only two choices per meal - and because the tables had more room in the Dining Car. There was community seating in the Dining Car, which meant four to a table. So we sat with a different set of people for each meal. It was interesting to meet people and find out where they were from and where they were going!

The Dining Car

Between two trips, I never did learn to walk with almost falling on people when the train swayed! One time I almost fell right into the lap of a man sitting in the Parlour Car, but thankfully I was able to remain upright. I apologized for scaring him, but he said there was no problem! ;)

Each sleeper car had several restrooms, which were the same size and configuration of airplane restrooms. Each sleeper also had a shower room. This was a little larger than the restroom, with a place to sit both in and out of the shower, and a larger mirror for grooming. The shower was a decent size, about the same as the one in my bathroom at home. I had plenty of hot water, and both times I went down for a shower it was empty, so I didn't have to wait.

We followed the coast for a couple of hours - this was one of our first glimpses of the ocean

I have to mention our attendants! On the trip down, our sleeper car attendant was Lorna, and she was wonderful! She was very friendly, stopping by just to chat a few times along the way. She also put our beds down for us, made them up in the morning, and made sure we had something to drink or knew where to find it ourselves. She kept a styrofoam chest filled with ice, and there was juice, coffee, water, and sparkling cider available whenever we wanted it. On the way back, our attendant was Miriam. She was friendly and helpful, but not quite as efficient as Lorna. She didn't even ask if we needed help with our beds, and when Wes asked for sparkling cider, she said she'd be right back with it but never showed up. Little things, but not the service we had received previously.

I just loved these houses on a point of land all alone
The waiters in the Parlour Car and Dining Car were all efficient, but the trip north had a bit of a crab in the Dining Car! I'm just sayin'. She appeared to be joking sometimes, but overall, we felt we didn't want to do too much to get on her bad side. She acted like she was overworked and hurried for most of the trip. Just not as pleasant as the trip south.

Getting close to Santa Barbara - the sun was shining and the sky was clear down here

Overall, our trip was a good experience, but taking the train does take quite a bit more time. When we need (or just want!) to get where we're going quickly, we'll fly. I don't think we'd enjoy more than one night on the train, either. The food gets boring quickly after two full days, and even though you can move around the train freely, you're still pretty much sitting the entire time. It's great if you have a book to read or work to get done, or if you want to sleep a lot (you can put your bed down anytime you want to). The advertised free wifi was sporadic, so that might be a problem if you needed an internet connection and were counting on it to get some work done. We both enjoyed traveling without having to worry about finding hotels, restaurants, and rest areas, and without having to deal with traffic.

I hope that answered your questions about riding the train, but if you have more, just ask! Thanks for being so patient, too!


8 comments:

  1. Not as much room as Lucy had, hmm? LOL

    I enjoyed seeing the pictures and hearing more about your trip.

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    1. I don't think I've seen Lucy's train episode. I'll have to look that up!

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  2. Love the post and pictures, Susan! It was worth the wait! I'd forgotten about it, but we did that same thing with putting our feet on the seat opposite. That was indeed comfy. We spent lots of time in the dome car, however, which was even more comfy. We basically only sat in the roomette for our quiet times in the morning or whenever we wanted to be alone.

    You are so right that the car attendant can make such a huge difference in the train experience. Our attendant on the trip from Chicago to Nevada (on the California Zephyr) was amazing! She was so helpful and friendly and she would have coffee and other drinks available throughout the day. On the way back our car attendant was okay, but he sure didn't pay the same attention to detail as Gwendolyn had done. On the Lakeshore Limited (between Chicago and Albany) on our return trip, we also had an amazing attendant who had a little station all set up with snacks and drinks. On that trip there were some empty roomettes (and on those trains, the toilet and sink are in-room), so she had actually given us two roomettes across from one another, one to use as a bathroom/dressing room and the other to use as a bedroom. That was really thoughtful, and went above and beyond the call of duty, we felt. She got a nice tip!

    It was such fun to read about your trip. Makes me want to travel by train again soon!

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    1. I saw a few of those rooms that had a sink and toilet in them - they looked huge compared to our little room! We tried to upgrade to one with even just a sink, but it was going to cost $1,000 more. Can you believe that?! It wasn't even that expensive to have bought one of those rooms to start with! That was very nice indeed of your attendant to let you use two rooms. I think our trains were both sold out, so no chance of doing anything like that.

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  3. Thanks for this! I has wondered what traveling on a train might be like. The roomettes are really tiny. Sounds like it's workable for trips that are too far to drive but too expensive to fly. How did the price compare to flying? Did either of you get motion sickness?

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    1. Taking the train was about the same as flying from within Canada. It would have been a little cheaper to have driven to Seattle or Spokane, WA, but then we'd have added a hotel room for the night before the flight and gas for the car, so it came out about the same. We did drive to Seattle, but we had chosen to do that beforehand and take a few days there as a part of our vacation.

      Surprisingly, we did not get motion sickness at all, and we didn't hear of anyone else having a problem with it. The train doesn't sway constantly, but it's often enough that I would have thought that anyone prone to motion sickness would have a problem with it. Wes can't read and ride in a car, but he was able to study for his upcoming sermons on the train with no problem, and I read quite a bit.

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  4. Wow, the roomettes are smaller than I imagined them to be, but with your husband being so tall, it must be doable for most people. Thanks for sharing the pictures and your experiences...It was neat to see.

    Interesting about being able to read on the train, but not the car. I can read in the car as long as I'm turned in such a way that my eyes can't see out the side windows (peripherally) while I'm reading. Strange, I know..... LOL!

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    1. They really were much smaller than I expected, but proved to be fairly comfortable.

      I've known people who get carsick in one spot in the car but not others, so I'd think reading would go the same way. I can do anything in the car except read on a laptop computer. That makes me start feeling sick. My iPhone is fine, as is an e-reader and a regular book.

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Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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