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Amtrak Travelogue
From An Amtrak Visitor

Subject: (no subject) Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 00:14:07 EDT From:

Recently took my first train trip in approximately 40 years. Won't comment on the Coast Starlight, since it was such a new experience that we were in rather a state of shock, but I think it was adequate. It is evident that train employees believe passengers are supposed to be all-knowing and are not very helpful. We were about 2 hours late arriving from LA to Sacramento. We finally got to our "hotel" about 2:45 AM. While the Delta King riverboat might seem an interesting experience under a normal situation, when the taxi driver doesn't know how to get the lobby, the space in the room is adequate for someone who is 50 pounds soaking wet... They did serve a nice breakfast and Old Sacramento is lovely to stroll.

The Zephyr has only the gorgeous scenery in Colorado to recommend it. The crew is surly, the food very poor and I learned that the upper berth in economy sleeping is not for someone with claustrophobia. I thought the latter was the cause for our utter loathing for the Zephyr until I talked to other people who have traveled it. The crew earns 0 points for anything.

The rest of the trip to Niagara was okay and the trees were very accommodating to be at a perfect stage of changing. The hotel in Niagara (also chosen by the Amtrak agency) was very pleasant. Nice view, more than adequate accommodations, and, of course, Canadians are always so very pleasant. The "free tour" was okay when one tuned out the guide and made allowances for the fact he was pushing certain gift shops and attractions. We opted off it at the butterfly conservatory which was a first for us. Was pleasantly surprised about how much we enjoyed it.

Meals out were delightful. One restaurant very close to our hotel had fantastic lobster soup and frog legs Provencal. A bar and grill had great spinach salad, and another restaurant had homemade pasta for dinner. Breakfasts at the hotel were okay and the waitress was correct to tell us to have the French toast, not the pancakes.

We had the usual long layovers in Buffalo/Chicago.

What a difference on the Chief. Smiling, helpful people. Are we still on Amtrak???? While I still can't sleep in the upper berth, our car attendant provides me with an extra blanket and a bit of TLC. Food is also much better except for our final morning, which was a disaster. My pancakes are burnt and the men's scrambled eggs (our only two choices for the morning--I normally prefer yogurt and fruit) are cold. Waitress is nice about it, however. (This certainly isn't the Zephyr!)

Met many very interesting people from Australia, England, South Africa, etc., as well as lovely people from the States.

It was an experience but I doubt if I can ever drag my husband onto a train again... and he was the one who slept in the sleeper while I slept in the lounge!

Some of the small things that really got to him were:

No baggage carts in most places. We had two bags each and it was a chore to carry them. ICEBERG LETTUCE. I hate it. The cooked vegetables were inedible due to overcooking (I did say we are from California, didn't I? We're veggie snobs!) and we finally got about one tablespoon of romaine in each salad on the Chief. Cold food. Nuke it a little longer.

But most of it was the bad attitude. Somehow I got the idea that the attendants, etc. were there to be of service. The crew on the Zephyr gave me the idea that our presence was offensive to them and they shouldn't have to be bothered with our concerns.

My ancient memories of the luxury of a private accommodation in Germany a million years ago are probably in the same area as the fabulous Orient Express. I'm glad I tried it once, but doubt that I will try to do it again. No w how do I unsubscribe to this train thing. Thought I had it down, but it rejected my entry.

Oh yes, thank you so very much for your marvelous site. It was so very helpful when I was planning the trip, as were the various Amtrak sites. You do a wonderful service.

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