None of my family members have experience riding train overnight, as I have. In my quest to have another family bonding trip, I thought why not take the northbound Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle. My research on Tripadvisor forum helped me decide to go ahead and booked this trip. Contributors on the train travel forum consider Coast Starlight train as the nicest of the Amtrak train, and its journey to Seattle to be the most scenic route..
I’ve never been to Union Station in Los Angeles prior to this trip. Located in the heart of Los Angeles (across from Olvera Street and near Chinatown), it serves as the transit hub for Metrolink, Amtrak, buses and other train companies.
I’m amazed how beautiful this building is. Union Station is an art deco-loaded, 1939 Spanish revival historic building. It retained much of its original furniture, benches with each seat, high ceilings, chandeliers, and architecture with pre-World War II aesthetics.
Our train departed from Los Angeles at 10:25am, stopping briefly at every train station all the way thru Seattle. The trip takes 35 hours, and on occasions are delayed, arriving late at its destination. We found out, the reason is at times the train has to wait for other trains to pass in towns/areas where there are only single tracks. We lucked out for our train arrived in Seattle 45 minutes earlier than scheduled.
There are several options when booking on this train, the cheapest one is booking a coach seat, on lower or upper deck. The seat reclines when you want to sleep, but there is no privacy nor storage for your luggage. When you buy a coach seat plus a sleeper be it a roomette, family bedroom or bedroom then you are elevated to a 1st class category. Our seat converts into bed at night; afforded some privacy when doors and curtains are closed and can store our luggage in our room (altho’ we cannot lock the doors to our sleeper); plus all meals & beverage (coffee, tea, sodas) are included. Alcoholic drinks are extra. We booked 3 roomettes, the cheapest of the sleepers, with two bunk beds, shared toilet and shower facilities. If you want more space, a private toilet and shower then book a bedroom, an expensive option for it cost about three times a roomette.
After we settled in our room, Harold our attendant offered us a choice of champagne or sparkling cider. After that, he never came back to check on us if we need anything. He did set up our beds while we were having dinner. Nothing to rave about his service, but nevertheless, tipped him at the end of our trip.
We begun to explore the train to find out where things are. The Parlor Car Lounge, exclusive to 1st class passengers, has a bar, few dining tables, and eight swivel chairs to enjoy the view in all directions. This is a good place to meet, mingle; and chat with other passengers; relax and/or enjoy the fantastic views; work on your computer or read a book. Whatever your heart desires!
Farther ahead is the Pacific Dining car open to all passengers. The meals we had during our trip included 2 lunches, 2 dinners and one breakfast. You order from a menu, and you pay cash only if you’re not on 1st class category. Their foods were surprisingly good, especially the steak which was so tender, melt-in- your mouth and tasty. In fact, we ended up ordering same for dinner the next day. It was the most expensive item on the menu priced at $28.95.
My only complaint was at lunch the portions were very small, not enough to fill you up unless you order the Angus hamburger, which is huge and served with chips. However, they made up for it with large portions of desserts. The frozen lime-berry cake and the chocolate cream puff were my favorites. Breakfast was superb with choice of omelette or crab cake served with hollandaise sauce and choice of french fries or grits. Coupled with view of sunrise, perfect ambience!
On the lower deck, they offered more options for lunch, such as pizza. Before each meal, an attendant goes out to take reservations in the dining car. You can opt for room service and eat in your sleeper. The dining car tables sit a maximum of four people per table, so our group of 6 was split. If there’s only two of you or you’re traveling alone, you’ll share the table with other passengers. I supposed a good way to meet other passengers on the train.
On the very front, passed the dining car is another Lounging Car, larger and opened to all passengers. It offers large picture windows to maximize viewing. As passengers disembarked, we found it easier to find a chair for everyone by the 2nd day.
Time to post more pictures in Facebook for sharing with family and friends. Show me your best shot. My sister Bella was in charged of posting.
Coast Starlight offered two complimentary Wine & Cheese Tasting to 1st class passengers every afternoon at 3:00pm, featuring four varieties of wine from the regions we passed by; Paso Robles, Oregon & Washington. Each wine Cabernet, Merlot, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Each wine paired with a different cheese. Truly an enjoyable experience, sipping wine, munching on cheese & crackers while passing thru spectacular views; and chatting with fellow passengers .A perfect social event.
There were fewer passengers on the 2nd wine tasting, and we noticed the bar attendant pouring more wine into our glasses…the more the merrier, which made us a little more tipsy. By the way, on lower deck there is a “theater” where you can watch movies. Supposedly, there’s also an arcade room, but we never went.
In Portland, Oregon we stopped for an hour which gave us an opportunity to disembark; walked around the station to stretch our legs.
Without a doubt, my favorite part of this journey are the breathtaking views we saw while passing thru different towns in California, Oregon, and Washington all the way to Seattle. Simply beautiful, simply gorgeous, simply stunning, simply amazing. Simply takes your breath away.
There were so many spectacular views; landscape and terrains changing as our train drive thru many towns of Oregon and Washington.
Surely, pictures I posted don’t do justice to all the sceneries shown here. But as you can see, you snooze, you loose and will miss out on splendors only nature can offer. In other words, you better stay awake on this journey to enjoy and take advantage of the opportunity. I think going in the fall is the best time to take this trip. The trees and its leaves showing fall colors adds visual interest and excitement.