Its 10pm and the Amtrak train has just pulled out of Oakland – only 12 mins late (I have been warned it can be hours or even days late!) The attendent Cruz was extremely warm and welcoming and has introduced me to what is on offer and made up my bed in my tiny sleeper car. Two can sit and sleep in this roomette, but it would be a bit claustrophobic in the top bed – although a hundred times better than even premium economy air.
I am travelling a lot by train on this trip, and though it was a lot more expensive, I was keen to try it out, as I believe that train travel is the way of the future, because of the cost of fuel, but also I think it is a little like the slow food movement – trains enable us to slow down, enjoy the scenery along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to here that all the meals are included, so there was no need to pack that left over Chinese from Chinatown.
One thing I already notice about trains is that it is less convenient – fewer transport connections, less road signs directing you to stations, trains that run late and usually rougher facilities on the whole than airlines. But this seems to be changing. This roomette is great – it even has a power point to charge the phone or computer. One thing to remember is that your bag is stored elsewhere, so like a plane, all you need should be in your day pack. Live and learn, I left my toiletaries and power chargers in my bag – I will know for next time.
Time to sleep to the gentle rocking of the train, and the sound of the train’s regular whistle. As the old song goes “Rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay…”
I awoke this morning to sunrise in Northern California painting the mountains pink in the distance and nearby a dry landscape of redwoods and pines cut by tracks – looks like great biking country. Those in sleeper cars have access to a beautiful old fashioned Parlour Car where you can sit and relax and take in the scenery. I sat there for a while before heading off to a lovely serviced breakfast in the Dining Car.
The journey is just as I thought – slow and contemplative, with lots of time to take in the scenery – the mountains, snow capped volcanoes, lakes and rivers (I just saw a beautiful white heron).. Its like the ‘Slow Food’ movement – an emphasis on enjoying and savouring the journey rather than rushing on to the destination. I love it.l