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Author Topic: 3 nights in coach class
Steve O.
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Well, the good news and the bad news.

First, the good news.

I'll be taking Amtrak all the way from NYP to EMY later on in the month, which is always cause for celebration. It will be my first time on the Lake Shore Limited, and my third time on the California Zephyr, which is always a great ride.

Now, the bad news.

I'll be in coach all the way. All of the roomettes and bedrooms were sold out from CHI to EMY, and the only remaining room on the train...a Family Bedroom...was running over $1,000, which is out of my budget currently. I do not have a choice of departure days so I guess the best I can hope for is an en route upgrade if I get lucky.

The previous longest ride in Coach i've taken was NOL-NYP last year. That was tolerable. I'm thinking that this one will be tolerable until maybe Denver or so, but I think the excitement of going through the Rockies again will liven me up a bit. I have the obligatory eye shades and ear plus for the overnight portions at least.

Expect a full report with lots of pictures when I get back.

I'll endure this all coach adventure as a show of support for America's rail network.

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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Geoff Mayo
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I know some here will advise against going coach - even to the extreme of not travelling at all unless they're pampered. But you'll be fine. As you say, the excitement of the Rockies will perk you up. A short nap in the afternoon should restore any lost sleep during the night. Just go in with an open mind rather than the "dread" of having to spend 3 nights in coach.

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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George Harris
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If you can sleep good in a recliner in your living room, you should be able to sleep good in coach.
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sojourner
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You'll be OK--esp westbound, saving the best (Denver to Sacramento) for the third leg of your trip. In addition to eye shades and ear plug, I recommend bringing some music too, and maybe a small pillow (they give one out but I like an extra). I use a walkman and for this particular trip I like to take (among others) one CD each of train songs, river songs for the Mississippi, mountain songs for the Rockies, and California songs for the final destination. I keep them in paper packets, which are lighter than plastic CD holders, btw. Also, whether you use CD player or iPOD or whatever, bring some extra batteries. Though they do sell them in the snack bar, they may not always have them in stock.

I hope your LSL is not too late and you have time for a walk in Chicago. I like to walk down to the lake and back for a refresher between trains. Sometimes I also have lunch; now that the Berghoff is a no-no, I go up Adams to Wacker and then down Washington or such to Marshall Fields (now taken over by Macys) to its Walnut Room, 7th floor, and get some of their tasty Frango mint ice cream, and/or crumb cake. OK, maybe have I have some real food too, but maybe not. . . . Anyway, then I head through Millennium park to the lake and back on Adams or the other one, I think it's Jackson? Also, if I happen to get in on a Tuesday, I try for the Art Institute, free on Tuesday. . . Well, this all assumes you have time. Lately the LSL and Capitol Ltd (I usually take the latter) have often been too late in to Chicago for any of this.

Good luck, and enjoy yourself.

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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff M:
I know some here will advise against going coach - even to the extreme of not travelling at all unless they're pampered.

Aren't you so right, Mr. Geoff M.

My advice is "keep trying' at the website (there is a set time each day - I believe it is 3AM ET - that they clear expired reservations; such would be a good time to do so) and if Roomettes open up on the Lake Shore and Zephyr, grab 'em and pay what you must.

Otherwise, if it were me, I'd just stay at home or use either air or auto transportation (presuming I HAD to go for reasons other than the apparent railfan joyride).

quote:
Originally posted by Native Son:
I'll endure this all coach adventure as a show of support for America's rail network

That's a new one; I guess passenger train advocacy has now become some kind of religion. Last time I checked passenger trains are supposed to be a means of transport between A and B for whatever lawful reason one desires.
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royaltrain
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Not surprisingly, like Mr. Norman, I will also strongly advise against such a long trip in coach. It's pretty grim sitting in the coaches for three days (even one day). Try at all costs to find a reasonably priced sleeper otherwise, if it were me, I would stay home.
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graynt
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I have taken many cross country trips in coach. These days I prefer a sleeper, if I can afford it, but its not as bad as some people make it out to be. The first night it s a little tough to get to sleep,especially if you are sitting next to a stranger, but the seats are comfortable and they recline. Never force sleep. It will come naturally, eventually. Of course, you ll be in a constant hazy state of mind the entire trip, but you don t have any driving to do, and you ll probably take many cat naps during the day and night.

As everyone points out, day 2 as you leave Denver and travel through the Rockies, you probably will want to spend most of the day in the Sightseer car, and the sheer beauty of that ride is enough to start the adrenaline flowing. The third day is nice too, after Reno and you go through the Sierra Nevadas..then its all downhill from there as you approach Sacramento and finally the Bay area, and of course you have that nice bed to look forward to.

As mentioned, it certainly is easier if you have two seats to yourself,but that isn t usually the case. I bring along DVDs and music to listen to and I m fine on a long coach trip. I prefer a sleeper, but I certainly enjoy a cross country train trip,either way.

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train lady
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I think that it is a matter of attitude and age. In the '70s I took my 3 children from DC to LA three times by coach. It was all we could afford and we wanted to see my parents. Itwas fine. We were comfortable in the seats as on long distance the back really reclines and the footrests come up. It was an adventure. Now that I am a bit older and have experienced the comforts of sleeping arrangements it would take dire circumstances for me to take coach again. But if it were a choice of going or staying home ..coach here I come. The way one looks at things makes a difference too. The year we drove to Denver we were in Waterton NY and the town had a big convention so everything was filled. We finally found a motel on the edge of town. To say it was terrible is an understatement. As I was complaining my husband pointed out that we usually hit one marginal motel and now this was it for this trip and all the rest would be good. He was right. My point, Native Son, if you can't get a sleeper enjoy the coach. And no my middle name is not Pollyanna Mr. Norman.
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DeeCT
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Native Son -

I admire your determination to "tough it out" rather than give up entirely on a great trip. I myself find the first nite of a trip done in coach "do-able" --- excitement keeps me going. It is the second nite that can become a breaker for me. I have met many, however, that do cross country train journeys in coach with surprising ease. I view them in the same way I do campers - some love a tent - some want a luxury RV. (One nite in a tent was fun - after that I wanted at least a pop-up trailer.)

Do make it clear to the Conductor that you are interested in any available room accomodation even if it is only for one nite. Sometimes nothing may be open for the whole trip but is available for one of the three nites. Perhaps even call Amtrak now and speak to a Service Rep and make clear that you are willing to move back and forth from coach to sleeper to coach if needed. Something might be there for you. Even one nite of a bed and more important a shower can be a definite plus.

If that does not work out then go prepared for an on-board camp out. Bring a sense of humor and enjoy the ride.

Dee

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wayne72145
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Three nights in coach is my limit and that was years ago. I didnt ride a train until '03 when I took a round trip EMY--BOS ride. It was new and wonderful. Then later that year I wanted to come back from Miami to Portland Oregon on the Silver Star, Capitol Limited and Empire Builder and when I got to Chicago I couldnt bring myself to do 2 more days of coach.

After enjoying a Roomette I cant do coach now, the exception being I will ride coach on the Silver Service if I'm alone. The big factor for me is if it's crowded and what kind of crowd it is to deal with. I've experienced everything from pleasant to unpleasant in coach however it has always been fun.

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Steve O.
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Well, as fate would have it, a Roomette became available from Denver to Emeryville today, so I scooped it up....as it was considerably less than the family bedroom to say the least. I figure by that third day, at the very least, a shower will be in order. [Smile]

So it'll be coach NYP-CHI, coach CHI-DEN, and roomette DEN-EMY.

BTW, does anyone know if the connection from EMY to S.F via the thruway bus is a guaranteed connection? My ticket is actually booked NYP-San Francisco/Union Square. I'm expecting the train to be considerably late into EMY, and if it is, will that S.F bus be there to meet the train's arrival?

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Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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wayne72145
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yes the bus is there for the train when it arrives----are you staying on Union Square??
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Steve O.
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Thanks for the info...

I'm visiting a friend of mine who lives a few blocks from Union Square. Just a short walk.

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

Posts: 135 | From: Atlanta, GA / New Orleans, LA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sojourner
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A good idea to take the sleeper. But I'm amazed nothing has become available on the LSL; and BTW, there it where I most like a sleeper, because it's the most boring part of the trip for me west of Albany, NY. However, as you are also going between NYC and Albany, that part is lovely; in coach, be sure to sit on the LEFT side facing forward for this very first part of your trip (but look at the Harlem River to the right when you cross there, leaving Manhattan). You can pay a few dollars tip to a Red Cap in NY Penn Station (go to the desk by the waiting area) to put you and your luggage on the train early and so get you the seat you like (and pick one with a nice window view).

As for the connection, it's a shuttle bus, guaranteed connection--and one of the good things about it is that buses can cross the bridge to SF in a special lane, avoiding much of the (really terrible) traffic at night. And expect it to be night--it't not unusual (alas) to be 3-5 hours late--I mean, because the Zephyr is often late getting in to Emeryville and so the shuttle, waiting for it, will be late to SF. Also, I believe the shuttle bus from Emeryville stops at the Ferry Building first, then Fisherman's Square, then loops around to Union Square. So you might want to get off at the Ferry Building . . .it's really not so far from Union Square. If it's dark, wherever you get off, you probably want to take a taxi; maybe you will want to phone one in advance. Unless your friend is meeting you, I mean. Ask your friend what he or she advises. At Fisherman's Square I got in last August at 10-PM (we actually lost another 1/2 hour at Emeryville because one shuttle passenger lost his suitcase!!!) and got a taxi, but there was a line. I got to my hotel around 10:30.

I think I may be making all this sound more complicated than it was; I had little trouble. Also, no trouble at all catching the shuttle back when I left.

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Steve O.
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sojourner, thanks for the input! It'll be my first time catching a train from NYP and i'm sure they get a lot of pasengers on #49 from there pretty much everyday...i'll be getting there nice and early, and I'll find one of those Red Caps, that's a great idea!

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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DeeCT
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Native Son,

As all have said - shuttle bus waits until train comes in.
I would recommend staying on shuttle until you get to Union Square. Why pay for a taxi? Also I have gotten on the shuttle bus at Ferry Bldg and it is pretty deserted and I saw no pay phones in area and no taxis there. (Was 5 or 6 in morning.)

Dee

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City of Miami
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Since I life in SF I have taken this bus many times - in March from #5 same as you. The bus does not go to Union Square. It does go to Fifth St. and Market (you can google map that) which is about 4 blocks south of Union Square - this is right at the end of the Powell St. cable car line where the turntable is. Just walk up (slightly uphill) Powell St. to Union Square. The last time I was on it the driver was hitting folks up for $10 each to take them to their hotels.
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Steve O.
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City of Miami, that's better for me actually, since my friend lives near Market and Fifth...I'll just walk it. Thanks for the info.

Thanks again everyone for the info...it's appreciated.

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

Posts: 135 | From: Atlanta, GA / New Orleans, LA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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