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Author Topic: Short Surfliner Trip
HopefulRailUser
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Surfliner to San Diego

Finding out how fun it is to travel with the disabled spouse. Dropped him and the bags off at the front of LAX (Union Station I mean) and I drove around to long term parking.

Had to go down into the depths of the lot. Luckily when I reached the elevators I noticed a sign saying there was no longer a parking person and I needed my ticket to use on return for paying and exiting. So back to the car I went to get the ticket.

Found Art in the main Red Cap assistance area. He had been asked for a dollar by a young African man. Art said "I will give you a dollar if you will cart these bags inside while I carry the oxygen equipment on my walker seat. " Lucky for Art the fellow didn't just take the bags and run but he did help him move the bags.

So Art gave him two dollars. But once I arrived the young man came back looking for more. He needed $.89 more for a "chocolate energy drink". Takes nerve to come back for more money. Art told him that drink wasn't good for him. Bye, bye.

Found that the Red Cap area is an AT&T Hotspot, I guess because of the Starbucks.

Red Cap took us to train 572, Surfliner to SAN. Surprise, all single level cars with five steps to enter. Car attendant took care of the bags and we were seated in our BC lovely leather seats. Snacks and drinks delivered, oxygen concentrator attached to power plug and off we went. Art managed the steps. The car is comfortable but the cafe part gets a little noisy.

Intriguingly I spent a lot of time on the phone with the AGR guy trying to get the lower level reserved seating. He kept trying to tell me I might not be guaranteed the lower level and might have to sit separately upstairs. Since it is a one level train that was a large waste of time. I should have just booked online and then my eticket would have been available on my iPhone app.

Got an email from Amtrak during the trip that there was a problem with my reservations. I tried Julie but she ran me around in her multiple choice circles. Saw the Conductor and she checked. Turns out she assumed the two reservations were linked even though I gave her the two separately. So she only scanned one. She got it fixed. Another gift from the way the AGR person set this up.

Arrived safely at SAN and managed to drag all the stuff to the curb. Used the rickshaw fellow to the hotel, only about three blocks. The W Hotel, obtained via Priceline.

Hotel is beautiful. Restaurant is ridiculous but found microbrewery around the corner for dinner and deli for breakfast. We leave tomorrow for eight days to Mexico. Might never leave the ship, just love the cruise.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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smitty195
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I wonder why it was single-level equipment? I thought the only single-level train was the one that rain from SLO to SAN? Is there a second trainset that is low-level now?

At least you're at an awesome hotel! I've stayed in several W's, but not the San Diego one yet.

Enjoy the cruise!!

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Smith, I simply cannot agree with you regarding "W" hotels, it seems like their model is to acquire older properties, do nothing you don't have too to them, turn down the lights and raise the hemlines of the cocktail waitress' uniforms.

One of the outlets here is the former Midland Hotel at Wells and Adams (convenient to CUS). This used to be the hotel at which the RailRoad Club of Chicago (RC2'd) met. They had a rack well stocked (pre-Amtrak) with both railroad and airline timetables, and they even had "railfan rates", which as late as 1995 were only $89.

I think this entire forum knows "I'm not cheap", but for their obnoxious room rates today, go to their site.

Now the place strikes me as "chambre' noir" - and be it assured that Chardonnay brought to you by the "cover the private parts only" uniformed waitress will be $15 for which anyone could buy the whole bottle at retail for less than that.

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palmland
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Vicki, glad you are back riding the rails. Bon voyage!
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Henry Kisor
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Vicki, what ship is that? HAL Zaandam?

Debby and I also took a Surfliner from LAX to SAN in February. Wish we had those in Chicago. (I believe the high-speed CHI-STL line will get very similar equipment before long.)

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smitty195
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GBN: I totally understand where you're coming from. The "W" chain is definitely not for everyone. They tend to cater to a younger, "hip" crowd (of which I am neither). I always go to TripAdvisor first to look at the REAL pictures of the rooms before I book. For example, I have stayed in the Seattle and one of the two NY W's, and they were simply awesome. At the time, they were brand spankin' new and squeaky clean with the most modern of everything, with super comfy beds and great service.

However, I do know that there are other W Hotels out there that are just as you describe. Not only that, but the put their emphasis on two things: 1) A night club atmosphere (which I hate), and 2) Furnishing their rooms so that it looks as if you're walking through an Ikea Store. I'm not a fan of Ikea. So your point is well-taken.

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HopefulRailUser
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Yes Henry, the Zaandam. Yes Smitty, the W furniture was rather Ikea. But the service was great. The concierge paid for our taxi to the port as their free SUV got behind schedule. And he wouldn't accept a tip.

Got to go. We are leaving port right now.

Also, the low level train is every other day per our attendant.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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notelvis
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Leafed through a copy of the 'Arrive' magazine yesterday while waiting for a delayed (and sold out) #79 in Raleigh, NC and remember thinking much the same thing looking at hotel advertisements from various NEC establishments -

1) They are fishing for a younger and hipper crowd & 2) Do they really get their furniture from IKEA?

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Then:

http://www.cardcow.com/99366/midland-hotel-172-west-adams-chicago-illinois/

Now:

http://www.wchicagocitycenter.com/gallery

It seems as if the same business model is used by Intercontinental with its Indigo brand. I stayed at one last Thanx in Indianapolis "on the cheap" owing to "mechanical problems" at the Express at which I was booked. Sorry volks, but it was a "turn-off" to this 71 year old guy, who is "uh not exactly" part of the "hip" immediately noted by Mr. Presley..

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sbalax
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Vicki--

I have been following your adventure via input from your "Words" friend. You should be enjoying a wonderful, relaxing sea day about now! (Two weeks from today we'll be at sea headed for Tenerife and points East.)

Frank in sunny and warm PSP where we're doing some "chores" at our rental unit.

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smitty195
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Tenerife----I'll bet you know what is famous (or "infamous") about the runway at Tenerife Airport several years ago!
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Gilbert B Norman
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"What was it the '47's said, touching radomes head to head?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYdqQegmmWY

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Railroad Bob
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Right Smitty- the greatest disaster in commercial aviation history @ Tenerife. 2 jumbos collided on the takeoff roll. One of the survivors (a crew member, IIRC) wrote a small book about it, using a minute-by-minute writing style. Raised the hair on the back of my neck...I'm a mildly fearful flyer; it was to be expected.
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smitty195
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Yup! I think it's "Seconds From Disaster" that did a good recreation of the incident. To this day, the FAA has not addressed the situation that contributed to this accident---the "heterodyne". It's the squealing sound that is heard when two people transmit on the radio at the same time. As a former 911 supervisor, we had it happen all the time when "Unit 1" and "Unit 2" talked at the same time. There is a fix to this, but for some reason (probably money) it has never been done. If one pilot would have heard the other, instead of the radio squeal, it probably would not have happened.
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HopefulRailUser
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Home again after a great cruise. The Surfliner from SAN to LAX was on time and an easier to board Superliner. The redcap at LAX took us all the way to our car in the bowels of the long term parking lot. Great service. Sunday afternoon freeway traffic was ugly, the bane of this city.

Booked two more cruises which means another Surfliner trip in the fall and next year the Starlight to Seattle. Great to be back on the road. And the tracks and the sea.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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Geoff Mayo
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A couple of years ago there was a revisit of the site at Tenerife - maybe it was some anniversary of the event (1977 - maybe the 30th in 2007). Anyway, the reporter was wandering around the airfield (with permission) and found numerous fragments from the disaster just lying on the surface of the ground. I guess they took away the bulk of it back in 1977 and the restricted area meant there hasn't been much disturbance since.

--------------------
Geoff M.

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sbalax
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Welcome home, Vicki! It's good to hear you had a great time and made the best of things.

We fly to FLL on Friday on Smitty's favorite airline and board Celebrity Reflection in Miami on Saturday headed to the Canaries (Tenerife and Lanzarote), Barcelona, Toulon, Livorno and Rome. We'll be in Rome for four nights before flying home.

I've never gone to the memorial at Los Rodeos. I have seen pictures of it and it looks to me something like the spiral staircase on the 747. Appropriate in this case, I think.

Frank in sunny and clear SBA

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smitty195
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Enjoy your trip on my favorite airline! My parents just flew them on a special charter for a senior's trip to Mexico. My dad is a 1K United guy, and this was his first trip on VA. He loved it! I told him he's been missing out all this time.

Glad you have a nice trip, Vicki. When you and Art take the Starlight to Seattle, give me a heads-up so I can swing by either San Jose or Oakland to say hello.

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sbalax
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Smitty--

I upgraded us to Main Cabin Select. 10AB (C was taken). It was more than last year but certainly worth it for the extra leg room, checked bag and all you could ever possibly eat or drink.

Frank in sunny and warm SBA but soon to be in Florida and at sea.

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smitty195
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Nice!!! Enjoy! [Smile]
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HopefulRailUser
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One more Surfliner trip for me yesterday. LAX to SBA and back to visit a friend. All staff were excellent. Saw the same Redcap who took us all the way to our car three weeks ago and had a nice chat with him.

The Starlight was sitting there next to us in LA calling my name. Plan to take it to Seattle next summer.

We used Business class northbound and coach southbound for flexible train time. Got that darn one level train again southbound. The entry steps were hard for my friend who uses a cane. And the seating is certainly not as roomy, legs in particular, as a Superliner.

Sadly Frank is still cruising so we weren't able to see him in SBA. The Sapphire Princess was in port and the cruisers were wandering State Street. We went out of town for lunch so they didn't bother us.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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sbalax
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Vicki--

Frank (and Norm) are now back in SBA after a fantastic cruise on Celebrity Reflection and four wonderful days in Rome.

Today's passengers on Sapphire Princess were not so lucky. The Captain cancelled the port because of dense early morning fog. I could hear the ship's horn but not see her. Friends were on board so we had to cancel our lunch date.

I think the restaurant you went to was The Boathouse at Hendry's Beach. We love it and will go there anytime! Hint! Hint!

Smitty--

We enjoyed our flight on Virgin America but they have cut back on the quality of the onboard product. Service was still excellent.

Frank in NOW sunny and warm SBA

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HopefulRailUser
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Yes Frank. We were fogged in here too yesterday. And it was the Boathouse. Next time we visit we can go there again.

I see that the Surfliner 790 that we rode home spent the next two days running 30-90 minutes late. Lucky for us to be nearly on time.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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