A few months ago, I watched the movie Murder on the Orient Express and it made me want to do a long journey on a train. It turned out that I wanted to go to Philadelphia to visit my friend Marie later this year and that a scenic train, the California Zephyr, was going from San Francisco (at Emeryville Station) to Chicago (view the route here).
I never really think twice about things and my friend Jorge is quite the same so we both booked a one way ticket to Chicago on that train a few days later. We boarded yesterday.
It departs on Friday at 9:10am and is scheduled to arrive on Sunday 2:50pm – at total of 51 hours 20 minutes – but at the time when I’m writing this (Saturday at 11:51am), we already are at least an hour late.
We booked a tiny sleeper cabin that has two seats facing each other that can be turned into two bunk beds during the night. The train is composed of three sleepers cars, one restaurant car, one lounge/scenic car, and three seaters cars, mostly for people who don’t travel the entire trip but just do a leg. It is hauled by two General Electric P42DC locomotives.
The trip costs $770 for two (I believe this is the cost of the cabin whether you’re two or one but I’d have to double check on this). The food is included, and so far, it has been good. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner and every time the service was perfect, and the meal themselves pretty good for something you’d get on a train.
The best part about this trip though, is not about the food.
It’s the scenery. The United States have some of the most beautiful landscape, especially from the west coast to the midwest as they are less people settled there. You get great views of nature miles ahead and you sometimes forget that you’re on a train and not in a movie.
It’s the perfect desk for a remote worked. There’s network often enough (although not all the times), all-you-can-drink coffee and really, the only thing you need to think about is how to occupy your day. Bring a book and great music (Aretha Franklin is a great start, followed by Nina Simone).
The train over-all is pretty well maintained and clean, there is a shower and four restrooms per sleepers car. I don’t think the bed can be described as comfortable but they’re good enough to fall asleep. Last night, we had a stop at Salt Lake City which woke me up.
I would recommend this to everyone. It is so beautiful especially at that time of the year because you can see the trees getting into their fall colors. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or tweet them at me.