I think one of the Best Travel Deals now is to travel by train. In fact, as I write this I’m sitting on board Amtrak train #513 from Vancouver BC to Portland,which is an 8 hour trek through the state of Washington. I was in Vancouver to attend this years TBEX (travel blog exchange) and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take the train. I have to mention something you get by traveling by train that you don’t get flying is the amazing views of the scenery here on the ground. To see bald eagles flying around for five minutes off the shores.. amazing. The sunsets, even better.
First, let me say that I am traveling in business class, and though there aren’t many perks on this particular line, my seat is a lot larger than those in coach class. So, my comfort level should be metered as such. I was also just as comfortable with the fare. From Vancouver to Portland, in Business was only $74. The coach fare was $55. To me, the extra space and minor other perks are well worth the minimal fee.
This particular line is known as the “Amtrak Cascades” and features a Bistro
car with a decent variety of food including breakfast, lunch and dinner options. They also serve alcohol, soft drinks, complimentary water and have a separate dining car with seating much like that of a stationary diner to enjoy your purchases.
Each row in Business class comes with decent leg room and a power outlet to keep your electronics charged. That comes in handy because each car on board offers Wi-Fi! (I guess I never thought that if an airplane could do it, why not a train?) That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to take Amtrak. I wanted to try it out, get a tour of Washington and sit on the internet the whole time. Mission Accomplished.
Some funny, quirky things I’ve noticed from never being on a train ride such as this: It’s strange to not have seatbelts. It’s weird. There’s none attached to your seat. I think after flying for so many years it gets ingrained in your head that if you’re on board a moving vehicle that you need to wear one.. well, not on a train!
Also, when you approach the border of a country to clear customs, it’s just like driving through. I almost expected us to have our own little toll booth location. You can see in the photo that the cars were clearing border patrol right next to the train.
There is a visible presence of staff on board, but there’s no one devoted to your every need like flight attendants are, which is interesting to me. Why do you people expect a ton of service in flight, if you don’t even get it on the ground?
And finally, there’s no TSA! I was shocked! How can they have such a concern for and presence at airports and not our rails? Sure, it was nice to walk right on board, no questions asked (other than for my passport of course) but other than that — nothing!
Anyway, it was a great ride.. that’s still ongoing. We just cleared the border and are approaching Bellingham, WA. We’ve got about five hours to go!