We spent a couple of days in Los Angeles and then took the train back to San Jose on Saturday, New Years Day. Our train status claimed it was on-time so we left a bit before 9:00am to catch the 9:51am train. The metro station was open but we had a slight snag when all of us, with the exception of Calvin, went through the fare gates and then Calvin confessed he’d somehow lost his Metro card1. This required me to hop back out and get a new card. Once we arrived at Union Station, Jaeger got coffee and then we proceeded to our train’s platform. Unlike San Jose, Union Station does show the platforms for each train which was very useful.
We had decided not to check our bag this time and instead use the luggage rack in our train car. We arrived a few minutes before departure and successfully boarded. However, this time Julian and I ended up on the top part of the car and Calvin and Jaeger ended up on the bottom. Our compartment was slightly different from the way down but mostly the same. The biggest change was there was a tiny hidden closet to store coats rather than a small closet hanger with a strap to keep the coats from swinging into a passenger’s face. Overall, I preferred not having the dedicated coat closet as it made things a little bit more flexible with bag storage. Plus, I was afraid I would forget the coats. To hopefully prevent this, I decided to put our shoes in the coat closet. Presumably I would notice if I tried to leave the train without shoes. (In the compartment I just had socks. I brought slippers to wander around the train but put those in the coat closet also so I wouldn’t be tempted to leave the train just in slippers.)
Fairly soon into our train ride Julian decided he wanted the seats made into a bed so he could lounge better. However, we shared the bottom bed. I moved the soft carry-on that had his sleeping bag and my pillow against the wall and used it as a large cushion so I could stay sitting upright with my legs out.
Julian spent a little time coloring, a little time filling out an activity book, a little time playing Catan on his iPad and then asked if we could play a game. I had brought along the dice version of Catan and so we played that until it was lunch time.
Because the train left on time we ate both lunch and dinner on the train. The menu was the same going back as it was on the way down so on a longer trip vegetarians may end up eating the same meal again and again. Though, possibly they’d let one order from the kids menu which has a “classic” grilled cheese sandwhich (the adult one has bacon) as well as a mac & cheese option. For lunch I got the one adult vegetarian option: chili with a baked potato. It was fine but I thought the vegetarian dinner option was better.
Unfortunately, our roomette ended up on the opposite side from the ocean. However, we had pretty decent views during lunch in the dining car. When I booked online, I didn’t see a way to request specific rooms. I read online that if you call, some Amtrak staff will take requests. Anecdotally, people felt the west coast staff were more open to requests so they suggested calling after the other offices had closed for the day.
Between lunch and dinner I read, wrote a bit, and started counting up how many books I had read in 2021. We went to dinner at 6:00pm and at that point I was tired of the vegetarian options. We finished dinner around 7:00pm so we only had an hour before our train was scheduled to arrive in San Jose. I spent another half hour reading and then got the compartment ready for us to leave, including pulling everything out from under the seats and the coat closet.
The train didn’t line up perfectly on the first try with the San Jose platform but eventually we were able to get off the train. It was really nice we had parked in the Amtrak lot as it was a quick walk from the station before we were on our way home.
I enjoyed the train trip. It was certainly an experience. However, I’m not completely sold on it for future vacations. I really enjoyed the ride down but I got a little antsy coming back from sitting in one place for so long.
- Jaeger had double checked before leaving the hotel that Calvin had it so I’m not sure how it disappeared. ↩