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Old 02-05-2012, 11:28 AM   #21
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I took that trip in 2005, but in the opposite direction. Actually, it was an unescorted package including the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff, overnighting at a hotel in Kamloops. WONDERFUL! I call it a land cruise; each coach had a guide and lunch was served at your seat (this was the "red leaf" level), with snacks available all day.

The return was the VIA overnight train from Jasper to Vancouver, overnight. They use 1950s vintage rail cars, which were renovated a few years before our trip. We had a roomette, with two chairs by day and two bunks by night, with a private toilet. The shower was down the hall. We had access to the dome car, and took dinner in the dining car. It's been a few years so I don't recall exactly, but I have a recollection that we enjoyed the food. My wife remarked that she expected to see Cary Grant come around the corner at any time.

VIArail has photos of their accommodations on their web site with more info here.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:36 PM   #22
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Thanks RunningBum & Galaxy Boy for your link and sharing of experience on trains. Almost decided to go....I'm still struggling with the price tag of $9M+ for 9 days - but my DH says, can't take it with you so might as well enjoy! We did experience wonderful dome cars in Alaska when on a Princes land/cruise....if we do this, we'll experience what its like to 'sleep' on a train!! Thanks again everyone.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:32 PM   #23
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I went on an overnight train from Thompson to Churchill, Manitoba. I misread the train schedule because it didn't occur to me that the train only went 25 mph on the permafrost.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:36 PM   #24
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I took the Via Rail trip from Vancouver to Toronto a couple of years ago. It was FABULOUS! One of the best trips of my life!

I had a one-person sleeper, which was quite comfy. By day, I had a private lounge chair. The roomette also had a toilet and sink. At night, a murphy bed came down. It covered the toilet but that was no big deal.

The showers were spotlessly clean. The meals were incredible. Meals are included as part of the package.

Jasper is a great little town. I didn't get to stay there long because our train had been detained further up the line and they were in a hurry to get going. I've attached a couple of photos of Mt. Robson, which I took from the Panorama car.

If your travel plans are flexible, go to www.viarail.com and look for Express Deals. You can often get fares that are a quarter of the price.
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File Type: jpg Imgp0049.jpg (632.7 KB, 4 views)
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Old 02-07-2012, 06:20 AM   #25
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Yes. On my way to Arizona with my former girlfriend. Wanted to see the US from a different perspective than from a plane. We greatly enjoyed the experience.
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have you stayed overnight on a train ?
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:45 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by itsmyparty
Thanks RunningBum & Galaxy Boy for your link and sharing of experience on trains. Almost decided to go....I'm still struggling with the price tag of $9M+ for 9 days - but my DH says, can't take it with you so might as well enjoy! We did experience wonderful dome cars in Alaska when on a Princes land/cruise....if we do this, we'll experience what its like to 'sleep' on a train!! Thanks again everyone.
Although it may be a good decision to go on the trip, I find that phrases like "You can't take it with you," should not be given credence when deciding on spending. It is a non-argument that curtails rational decision making. True you can't take it with you, but you may later regret not having that money for something else when you are still alive.

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It's only money
What's the point of having money if you don't spend it?
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:34 AM   #27
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I have taken VIA from Toronto to Vancouver in a roomette and also from San Francisco to Seattle on Amtrak. I would recommed them both. The roomette offers privacy unlike sleeper cars. A nap during a boring stretch is easy in the afternoon.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:39 AM   #28
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For those of you who have traveled by train: our trip will be about 40 hours (two nights). I was thinking $20 tip (total) to the porter (that's probably not the new term). Is that too low?
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:39 PM   #29
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For those of you who have traveled by train: our trip will be about 40 hours (two nights). I was thinking $20 tip (total) to the porter (that's probably not the new term). Is that too low?

Depends on the service. The Viarail website used to recommend $5/day.

I will admit that I wasn't impressed by the on board service when I took the train. I was basically left to my own devices - had to set up my own bed (they usually do it for you) - never got the wake up service I asked for - had to beg for soap and shampoo and eventually went and found the supply cupboard.

I didn't tip for that trip.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:51 PM   #30
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Wow, not good service at all. Didn't someone else say they were threatened for using a pillow? Definitely no tip for that!!
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:05 PM   #31
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If you look at the ViaRail Express Deals right now, the fare from Vancouver to Jasper for an economy seat is $119.50. For a 2-room sleeper, it is $460.50.

There are usually deals like this available - if you can hold out for them.
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Old 02-08-2012, 05:51 PM   #32
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For those of you who have traveled by train: our trip will be about 40 hours (two nights). I was thinking $20 tip (total) to the porter (that's probably not the new term). Is that too low?
$20 is what I tipped the attendant at the end of a run. I believe that's what most others were tipping also. I also left a small tip at the diner with each meal.

I agree that it depends on the service. I found that service varied depending on the crew aboard a particular run. I believe you'll be catching the Heartland Flyer on one of it's southbound stops? I was a bit disappointed with the service on that leg. You'll be spending the first night at the San Antonio switching station. Overnight, your sleeper car will be linked up with the west bound Sunset Limited Train.
The attendants aboard the Limited were very good. The same group of attendants were also aboard the return leg. Once back aboard the north bound Flyer again, the crew had changed and were probably the best on the entire journey.
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:24 PM   #33
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All this talk of train travel makes me want to book a trip

Buried in all the various options, there are also North American Rail Passes and Canada Rail Passes. Also very good bargains.

These are #2 and 3 on my bucket list.
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:50 PM   #34
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$20 is what I tipped the attendant at the end of a run. I believe that's what most others were tipping also. I also left a small tip at the diner with each meal.

I agree that it depends on the service. I found that service varied depending on the crew aboard a particular run. I believe you'll be catching the Heartland Flyer on one of it's southbound stops? I was a bit disappointed with the service on that leg. You'll be spending the first night at the San Antonio switching station. Overnight, your sleeper car will be linked up with the west bound Sunset Limited Train.
The attendants aboard the Limited were very good. The same group of attendants were also aboard the return leg. Once back aboard the north bound Flyer again, the crew had changed and were probably the best on the entire journey.
Thanks for the information. Our train is scheduled to leave HOS around 9:50pm. We've made arrangements to park in a secure parking garage in the Theater District.

I need to remember to take $1s and $5s to tip with the meals. Even though meals are included in our room rate, we're going to tip them the same way we would in a regular restaurant.

Hopefully we'll be going through the mountains during daylight. Does this train parallel closer to I10 or I40?
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:32 PM   #35
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Thanks for the information. Our train is scheduled to leave HOS around 9:50pm. We've made arrangements to park in a secure parking garage in the Theater District.

I need to remember to take $1s and $5s to tip with the meals. Even though meals are included in our room rate, we're going to tip them the same way we would in a regular restaurant.

Hopefully we'll be going through the mountains during daylight. Does this train parallel closer to I10 or I40?
Sorry, not sure what 'HOS' is. Houston?

It runs south of I-10 by quite a bit. You'll cross the Pecos river gorge near the Mexican border. Somewhat unnerving since they slow the train for photo ops as they cross. Amtrak usually sends booklets showing the exact routes. This may help as far as the Sunset Limited run.
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobSe...er=image%2Fgif

I should add that west of El Paso, there will be places where the train will parallel I-10 for short distances. For the most part though, it's cross country.
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Old 02-10-2012, 09:47 PM   #36
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Sorry, not sure what 'HOS' is. Houston?

It runs south of I-10 by quite a bit. You'll cross the Pecos river gorge near the Mexican border. Somewhat unnerving since they slow the train for photo ops as they cross. Amtrak usually sends booklets showing the exact routes. This may help as far as the Sunset Limited run.
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobSe...er=image%2Fgif

I should add that west of El Paso, there will be places where the train will parallel I-10 for short distances. For the most part though, it's cross country.
Houston. You said Amtrak "sends" booklets - do I need to request one or are they provided on the train? I'm happy to hear we'll be away from the interstate west of El Paso. I've seen enough of the countryside from I10.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:05 PM   #37
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It runs south of I-10 by quite a bit. You'll cross the Pecos river gorge near the Mexican border. Somewhat unnerving since they slow the train for photo ops as they cross.
ETX, to give you and idea of what Avalon is referring to, here is a photo of the Hwy 90 bridge across the Pecos. This bridge is a few miles south of the railroad bridge.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:41 PM   #38
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Houston. You said Amtrak "sends" booklets - do I need to request one or are they provided on the train? I'm happy to hear we'll be away from the interstate west of El Paso. I've seen enough of the countryside from I10.
I requested any info I might need when I made reservations, and received three booklets by mail. One was general info on Amtrak car options and room layouts. Another was a time schedule of all stops on the route. The third shows all Amtrak lines and general info on those.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:31 PM   #39
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We just got back from California. This was our first time on Amtrak and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We had a bedroom both ways (from Houston to LA and back again) and decided that was the only way we would ever travel. We had the privacy of having our own room with our own ventilation and temperature controls, the comfort of a larger room (bedrooms versus roomettes), and the convenience of having our own lavatory, toilet, and shower. The meals were outstanding and included in the price of the room. We tipped at each meal and also gave the room attendant $20 when we got off the train in LA and again in Houston. We were fortunate enough to have the same room attendant both directions.

The train ride was wonderful. Going to LA we kicked back and enjoyed the scenery or read books. Another benefit of having our own room was no one was sneezing or coughing on us. That being said, we were both sick with bad colds and slept most of the way back to Houston. Our car attendant brought us meals so we didn't have to worry about being out in the general public and infecting anyone. Bedrooms are definitely the most convenient way to travel whether sick or well.

I was surprised at the difference in train stations between Texas and California. The Houston train station is a shabby little temporary building erected in the 1950s and Amtrak has not made any strides to improve it. The parking lot is a pothole disgrace. None of this is the local station's problem to solve - it's for the Amtrak honchos to fix. We left our car at a parking garage in the Theater District because we didn't feel comfortable leaving it at the train station. Even though several passengers got on and off in Houston, Amtrak could improve their ridership numbers if they put a little effort into this station and the parking situation.

The California stations were large, nice, modern, attractive, and offered overnight parking in a wrought iron fenced area at most stations. Security cameras were everywhere.

I booked the train reservations about six months before our trip. We had a bit of flexibility in our travel dates so I was able to get pretty good room rates. The prices start going up as the rooms get sold. There is a discount for age 62 and up on seats; but, not on rooms.

This was a very pleasant experience and we will take the train again.
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Old 04-15-2012, 02:06 PM   #40
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I've not traveled on VIA so no info but I have traveled on Amtrak in roomettes and also overnight trips with just a seat, and it is just "borderline" to me whether the additional cost is worth it. But never, EVER, get in the last car of the train, it get's whipsawed around like crazy and sleeping is impossible.
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