There are several answers to this question. One might be that it is more fun. I can walk around, without that damn seatbelt light coming on. And I can see out of BOTH sides of the train. Mealtime is at an actual table with waiters, something even a premium seat in First or Business Class of an airplane cannot match. The quality of the food is somewhere between coach class and first, however.
Two, it is much more relaxing. I can nap whenever I want, with nobody to bother me. I can stretch out on two seats, with several pillows and blankets if needed. I can open or close the shades, adjust the airflow and light, and it is much quieter than an airplane.
Three, the people I meet on the train seem much more willing to talk, and share travel stories. I have met so many interesting people on my five previous Amtrak trips.
Four, the Coast Starlight is considered by many to be the most beautiful train ride in America, even as far back as the 1940s. Not only is the obvious, the Pacific Ocean, but we will see mountains, valleys, and forests. Specifically, you see the Santa Barbara Channel, majestic Mounts Shasta, Hood, St. Helens, and Rainier, the beautiful Cascade Range, several national parks, and some Pacific coastline not normally accessed by auto. And the old, inner cities not normally seen by air or land (automobile on a freeway).
Five, the Superliner roomette ticket comes with a bed for overnight trips, and three meals a day, plus a steward, free coffee, and on-board wine and cheese tastings. And if you are over 62, you get an additional 15% off!
Train traveler and website owner, Derek Low says: The American railroads are reminiscent of a bygone era. These were the trains that tamed the Wild West, fueled the Gold Rush, and served as the backbone of the Industrial Revolution. At its peak, it was the most luxurious mode of transportation that money could buy. Alas, the golden age of American railroads came to an end. Automobiles arrived and the airplane industry took off. Soon, many railroad companies had to cut losses and ceased their passenger services.
So, here are some interesting tidbits garnered from my trip, in no particular order.
San Diego is a most pleasant place to start or end any trip. The weather is almost always great, the seafood fresh, and the city is easy to navigate without a car. But I heard they recently experienced a huge Hepatitis outbreak.
Seattle is the best place to start or end any trip, as it is one of our favorite cities in the world. We have many friends, favorite hangouts, and really enjoy walking the city. Again, we use public transportation or just walk. Who cares about the rain or the Seahawks!
Not everyone takes the train to relax and enjoy. Some are getting away from problems, turning off their smart phones, and just stare out the window for hundreds of miles. One young man recently found out he was going to be a father, and needed time to absorb it all into his life. Was he running away from the problem, or trying to find some resolution?
Our average speed is only 40 miles per hour.
Roomettes, which I always reserve, are the BEST option for one or two passengers who would like some privacy while traveling. Two reclining seats facing each other with a small table in front of a window will be converted into a bed at night. But be warned, the upper berth is rather difficult to navigate. It pays to be a Romanian gymnast when entering the upper berth!!!
Oakland’s stop features Jack London Square. It is one of the most underrated places to visit. Many nice restaurants line the square, while Chinatown is a block or two away.
Another under rated place is San Luis Obispo. Once a European mission, this town is home to Cal Poly (aka California Polytechnic University), voted the West’s best public, master’s-level university 24 years in a row. San Luis Obispo contains unbelievable hills that reach straight to the ocean and is home to some of the best wineries in the world.
The sleeper car is an American invention. The original sleeper car was developed back in 1857, then spread to Asia and Europe.
The Pacific Parlour Car is only used on our route. It is a wood-paneled lounge with armchairs, sofas, and table seating, perfect for the wine and cheese tastings. It also has a full bar and library. Only six of these cars remain! I found out they are out for some needed maintenance this month.
Amtrak allows BYOB in their sleeper cars, but not in any of the remaining places on the train. I always bring a bottle of bubbly, trail mix, and some other snacks.
Travel experts say that rail travel is for the retired folks like me. But often times, it is the best and only way to get from point A to point B.