13 January 2010

First Amtrak Experience

After two bus rides in Malaysia (one in the back of a doubledecker bus with hot air blowing down my back), a long air trip (didn't remember that the air is so dry in airplanes - I felt like one of those dried fishes in the Chinese markets...) and surviving US immigration, we arrived happily to California. A few days after we got on a train again, which is always exciting in a new country.
To begin with, we had to take a bus because there's no train station in San Francisco. It took us over the bay bridge through thick fog to Oakland station. Getting on a train here is a bit like boarding a plane. You have to check in your large baggage, for example. When the train arrived, our tickets were checked first by a guy on the platform, who then directed us towards a lady who was responsible for one or two coaches. She assigned us our seats, and when the train had left she went through the coach checking the tickets again and sticking a note with the destination above each pair of seats - all this while talking loudly about anything that came to her head, and calling everybody "sweet", "honey" and "love", regardless of sex or age. During the rest of the trip we would learn about her lifestory which she told in several episodes to different passengers, as well as her complaints about her colleagues. After each stop, she would welcome the new passengers as the "new members of the family, please have your ticket ready!" She replaced the need for any TV entertainment! And to be sure we would not get bored, the train conductor gave regular comments about the scenery ("and to your left now, you can see some exceptional cows grazing in the fields...").
Around 9 am, there was another announcement: "Hello, this is Jane from the cafe, the cafe is open now and I'll be happy to see you...". Imagine someone saying this in a Swiss train!
(I did buy a coffee at Jane's cafe, and she was indeed very nice.)
For lunch we went to the dining car at 1 pm, our assigned time. We were seated with two other travellers, both american, and about 10 seconds after being seated we started a conversation, which went on until we had finished eating, then "ok guys, was nice talking to you, have a nice trip". Interesting.
I'm looking forward to our next trip tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. hi guys, in this post you did not say where you were going, with this train ride... one can understand you've been on the train for long time. I see from the map that you also reached Chicago _by_ train from Memphis... wow... how is Chicago treating you? Do you love it?
    Sending love, Gio

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