Amtrak Denver to San Jose help please

Old Jan 30th, 2012, 08:13 PM
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Amtrak Denver to San Jose help please

My Dad is in his 80's and loves to travel. He and My Mom loved to drive from Denver to my home and have done it countless times over the years. My Mom died this summer so he has lost his navigator. I really don't want him to drive here by himself. He commented that he felt like getting in the car and driving out here. Air won't do as you don't get to see anything. So I suggested the train. He could practically travel right next to the road they drove on and he would finally get to look out the window! Well, he thinks it's a good idea so now I have to help him plan it. I have done some train research here and it seems like a sleeper room would be the way to go but could you please give me some pointers? Thanks so much.
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Old Jan 30th, 2012, 08:30 PM
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The California Zephyr takes you from Denver to Emeryville. From there you would have to take a connecting train / bus to san Jose.

On Amtrak you could get a coach seat which is pretty decent , however considering this is a long distance journey , you could purchase what Amtrak calls a "Roomette" ticket.
Visit Amtrak.com for detailed amenities. OR even call their help line , and the agents are very helpful.

From what I know all long distance trains have dining cars and Pantry with decent food supply. You could carry your own food how ever they do not let you use their micro wave.

They have a check-in facility for luggage , and plenty of storage on board.

Sightseeing Lounge - This is the lounge area and this is where you would want to spend most of your time for bountiful views of the sceneries the Zephyr takes you through.
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Old Jan 30th, 2012, 08:52 PM
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Well, started at the Amrak website. Looks like getting off in Sacramento would work for him since he has friends there he would want to visit rather than Emeryville.

Put in an arbitrary date in April and the one way price was $121 one way for a reserved seat and an additional $248 for a Roomette!! Don't know what he will think about that.
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Old Jan 30th, 2012, 08:57 PM
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Thanks Tina. My computer wouldn't refresh and so I didn't see your post until after I posted the above.

How is security and safety? I used to read when researching trains in Europe that people got robbed at night in their rooms.
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Old Jan 30th, 2012, 09:30 PM
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" I used to read when researching trains in Europe that people got robbed at night in their rooms."

That's weird - since the sleeper compartments on European trains have locks.

"How is security and safety? "

Couldn't be safer.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 03:44 AM
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Well, I do agree that prices for romette upgrades are very steep.the coach seats have plenty of leg room and are quiet comfortable. The only breaking factor could be that this is a 30 plus hour journey.
safety and security - there are attendants on board all the time, I ve travelled on Amtrak extensively. ,and did not feel unsafe.
That said you are responsible for your own belongings.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 05:31 AM
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Keep in mind (and tell your dad) that the fare for the roomette includes his meals while he is on the train. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable cost to me.

My mom took the Zephyr to visit us in the Bay Area from Omaha about 25 years ago and she LOVED that trip. One of the highlights was being seated in the dining car with other travelers and visiting with them. Your dad will probably really enjoy himself!
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 06:47 AM
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You do realize that it is $248 for the roomette and $121 equalling $369 so compared to airfare on SW it is about twice as much. I see there is about a $20 break for seniors. So I can see Dad having a little sticker shock but as you say, not a bad deal when you think about "room and board". There will also be the cost of a room in Denver because he lives about 1.5 hours away and the train leaves a 8:05 a.m.

Do you know what the cars are like? Does he need to request a reserved seat in a certain area? I know he will want to be in the observation car (they do have observagion cars on the Zephyr don't they?) so he can see as much as possible. Can he reserve a seat in the observation car or is it first come first served? Thanks again.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 06:53 AM
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I have ridden the CA Zephyr both ways from Sacramento to Chicago. I have never paid for a roomette. Sleeping in coach can be a bit uncomfortable but possible. Breakfast is my best meal of the day in the dining car.
There is also a snack bar on the lower level of the Viewliner car.
If dad thinks it is a good idea, go for it.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 07:00 AM
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Forgot to mention, the handicapped seating area is in the lower level of one of the coach cars on the same level as the restrooms. The conductors are nice enough to bring food if you can't make it upstairs and forward to the dining car or Viewliner. If my wife is carrying her cane, they assign us down there if there is room even if we could make it up the stairs.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 07:13 AM
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Sorry, Ronda, you're right, I did not add the two amounts together. I still don't think it's a bad deal considering how much more I think an 80-year old would enjoy a train trip instead of flying. In my admittedly limited experience, train travelers are relaxed and friendly and it is a much different "vibe" than flying.

I think the observation cars are first-come first-serve, but I'm not certain.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 08:08 AM
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If cost & time are the main factors then it makes sense to fly, otherwise you are comparing apples to oranges. My parents always take Amtrak (with sleeping compartment) even though it can cost 2 or 3 times as much because they enjoy the experience. They have a lot of free time so it doesn't matter that it may take days to get to their destination. As musicfan mentioned they love eating in the dining car, talking with other passengers and watching the scenery.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 12:08 PM
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The Zephyr observation car is first come- first served. It is very popular. However, the windows in the roomettes and coach cars are large and there is no problem seeing the scenery through them, if the observation car is full.Restrooms in coach are downstairs with regular coach seats on the upper level. The handicapped section on the restroom level would not be my choice. It sits too low to get the really great scenery and is rougher being close to the tracks. Restrooms for roomettes are closer to the rooms.
I have done both several times. I will be traveling from Grand Junction to Iowa soon and will go coach, I think. The price of the roomette just bugs me. I am 69 year old woman who and a stroke 3 years ago and I have no issue with coach seating for safety or anything else.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 03:00 PM
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Observation cars are first come. First serve,however unless you are travelling during peak season, you shouldn't have a problem finding a vacant spot
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 04:09 AM
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Amtrak is fine.

Took a round trip alone few years back from Tampa to New Orleans in a sleeper. The train was late both ways by couple of hours but so what? The sleeper accomodations included sit down restaurant service. This train is no longer in service.

Couple of years ago took a short ride from Chicago to New Buffalo, Michigan (R/T again). No issues.

This year we're taking the Car Train from Sanford, FL to Lorton, VA, R/T for our 2 weeks vacation to DC, Philly and NY. Since our car will hold all our stuff and we will only carry on our overnight bag we decided to just do a regular seat. The car train includes the restaurant/lounge food in the price. The car is $169 each way, worth every penny when you consider gasoline prices and wear and tear after about 1500 miles each way. The trip is scheduled for 4pm departure and 9:30am arrival, both ways. We believe that we can survive and save about $400 R/T for not booking the sleeper room.

The coach seats are pretty close if not better than domestic first class airline seats. Great legroom, recline, power, Wi/Fi, etc. etc. They do provide a pillow and a blanket as well.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 05:38 AM
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Hi Ronda,

I'd recommend the roommette, as it's nice to have your own space at night... as well as during the day should he choose to take a nap.

The scenery is gorgeous from Denver to Sacramento and was worth every penny to me; I took the California Zephyr in 2006 and it's a trip that I treasure to this day (despite its being 4 hours late in both directions, a lateness by the way which is quite common). Do note, the rail is not always by the "road", so he'll be seeing something different than from the highway as well as not having to worry about driving.

But as you say, with a roommette, the experience is not cheap and certainly going by long-distance train is not for everyone. Some people can't handle the delays, can't sleep on trains or find the food/facilities not up their standards. Some people though, and I include myself in this category, just love taking long-distance trains (I find the food ranges from at worst passable to occasionally surprisingly good in the dining car). My suggestion is to propose the train to him mentioning both the negatives & the positives and go from there.

Best wishes, Daniel
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:15 AM
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Thanks all. Dad has decided to come on the train so will let you know how it turns out. Your comments are reassuring.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:40 AM
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Anyone know of a hotel close to the Denver station he could stay the night before leaving at 8 am?
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 07:08 AM
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The Monaco and Embassy Suites are close but quite expensive. the Ramada Downtown is about 1.25 miles and about $55.
At the bottom left on the Amtrak website they have a link to hotels, rental cars etc.
There are no guarantees that the Zephyr will be on time since it starts in Chicago. There is a tab to check on the status of a train to see if it is running late. If a train arrives early it always stays until the schedule time to leave the station.
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