Coast Starlight Amtrack

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May 6th, 2003, 08:07 AM
  #1
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Coast Starlight Amtrack

I'm considering using some FF miles on Amtrack in August. My daughter, 14, is interested in seeing San Simeon and a little of California.

For 45,000 Alaska Airline miles we'd get two r/t tickets in a standard room with meals. I'd be taking the Portland to Santa Barbara route,, but maybe would consider going on to Los Angeles.

Has anyone here done this? Any comments or tips about the Coast Starlight?
Did you enjoy your trip? Thanks in advance for any comments and opinions.

P.S. - Amtract website: http://www.amtrak.com/index.html
Alaska FF miles for Amtrack website:
http://www.amtrak.com/destinations/index.html
Giselle is offline  
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May 6th, 2003, 09:05 AM
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I have taken the CS to SLO from Davis several times.It is a beautiful trip, but slow and often late.
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May 6th, 2003, 09:12 AM
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Never took the Starlight, but I took the Sunset Ltd from New Orleans to Houston. Even with that small distance, Amtrak found a way to arrive in Houston 2 hours late. It was the longest, most monotonous, boring, and utter waste of 11 hours of my time in my life. Biggest vacation blunder I'd ever made.

I would avoid Amtrak if at all possible for anything other than short commuter trips. Well, unless you like stopping to watch every single freight train pass you by. (Freight trains have the right of way on the rails, which leaves Amtrak passengers high and dry - and waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting....it's endless!)
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May 6th, 2003, 09:57 AM
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I took the Coast Starlight from LA to San Jose in February 2002. It took ten hours and it was just awful. I had a private compartment, not a full room, but this little two-seater compartment, which was nice. I did see the actual rooms, and they were very roomy, with actual furniture, and even a shower.

The train rocks constantly, making it difficult to do anything, to sleep without bumping your head, to move around, walk down the hall, and especially eat and drink.

And the food! It's MAYBE a notch above airline food, and if it's just the two of you, they seat you with other travelers to fill up the table, which can be good or bad...I was alone and got placed with a young couple and their baby girl, whose eating habits turned my stomach and caused an already lousy meal to become completely intolerable, forcing me to actually leave in the middle of the meal. I totally boycotted all meals on the return trip.

There was a nice lounge car, reserved just for people with compartments and rooms (to keep the riff raff out)...they did wine tastings and showed movies and stuff...the views along the coast are magnificent, and it was nice to sit in the lounge for a while and snack and watch the coast go by...for a while. It gets old, and not all the scenery is exciting. I would never ever do it again for that distance, I cannot even fathom the distance you are going. As you stare down at your watch, you feel like for all the time you've put in on the train you should be further along and you're just not.

I originally thought the train would be fun too, but it ended up just being too long...and then you have the journey BACK. I think if you're interested in seeing the coast, maybe just take the train from LA to Santa Barbara, or maybe a little further, or some similar small chunk of coastline. It will be fun for a few hours, but to make it your main voyage will just be too long.

Kristin
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May 6th, 2003, 10:14 AM
  #5
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Thanks for the responses! I'm beginning to think this idea is not so hot. I can see my 14 year old being bored out of her gourd with a train ride that might just seem endless.
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May 6th, 2003, 08:25 PM
  #6
 
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I know that Amtrak has a deal where you can take the train one way and fly back in the opposite direction. Look at the link below.

http://amtrak.com/savings/avairail.html
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May 6th, 2003, 09:30 PM
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I have dne the Coast Starlight from Seattle to L.A. a few years ago and loved every minute of it!!! You hug the coast most of the way down...fantastic views vs usual train track fare, as I remember the food was okay. I was travelling in a double bedroom so we were comfy. I think you need to be in the train travel mindset to enjoy it.....most people just want to get there! I don't know where your starting point is, but if your daughter is interested in seeing San Simeon and a little of California, that's all she'll see from the Coast Starlight. You might get better value for your 45,000 points doing something else unless you have points to burn. Good luck on whatever you decide.
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May 7th, 2003, 05:12 AM
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A few years ago, we took the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle and back again. 1 kid, two adults, and, yes, we had a compartment, so we had access to the lounge and the wine tasting. I would not take this trip without a compartment. We loved the train ride, but if we had to do it over again, we would have opted going one way by train and flying back, because it IS a long trip!

The scenery is spectacular. Although they have magicians and other entertainment to pass the time, unless you and your daughter enjoy quality time together and board games or playing cards, it can get a little boring. It's more of a relaxing trip where you can spend a lot of time reading.
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May 7th, 2003, 02:17 PM
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Mom, brother and I went from Albany OR to Oxnard CA. We had a bedroom with private bath. I enjoyed it. I love to read and do cross stitch so I had plenty of time for that. The food was edible. The scenery was great. I particularly enjoyed seeing 'behind the scenes'. The train goes through people's back yards and it is interesting to see what they have - some weird stuff out there.

However, we were 5 hours late at one point, there isn't very much to do, movement is limited - not much exercise. It is important to think of the train ride as part of your trip - not just a way of getting someplace or you will be disappointed. It takes a long time, especially compared to flying but in the right frame of mind it is fun - just different.

I think the train down and plane back is a great idea.
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May 7th, 2003, 08:41 PM
  #10
 
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I took Amtrak last year from Denver to Sacramento. Everything they say here is correct...slow trains (my train arrived 6 hours late), bad food (pepper penne pasta - ugh), etc. But once it was over and done with, I looked upon the trip fondly. Being captive by Amtrak forced me to pause, read, look at the scenery, just sit and think. I think a 14 year old might go a little cuckoo, but you never know, you might be surprised.

I think the fly back option would be great. I could *not* believe that after my 6 hour delay going out, that I had no choice but to get back on that ding-dong train to go home.
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