(As long as you have the time) traveling via train is the way to go. Rather than flying to San Francisco for our Spring Break getaway, Jon suggested that we take the Coast Starlight Amtrak. Now, some people would scoff at the idea of spending over 20 hours to travel to a location that would only take two hours by plane, but we relished the opportunity.
We boarded the train on a rainy Saturday morning in Tacoma and were immediately greeted by our porter, Bobby, who handed us two mini bottles of champagne before he directed us to our "roommette" in the sleeper car. Yes, it was tiny, but it's not as though we would spend our entire trip sitting face-to-face twiddling our thumbs. Bobby would have probably kicked us out, anyway, just like he admonished our neighbors--two young single guys--for not running around the train looking for prospective wives.
We each brought plenty to do for the long trip. I had several books and I was sorely overdue in writing in my journal. Jon planned to work on our taxes, as he so enjoyed doing them on the train to Portland last year. Seriously. However, despite the best laid plans of mice and men, we spent a large chunk of our afternoon napping. Our vacation had clearly begun.
Booking a room in the sleeper car involves several perks. First and foremost, all of your meals are included in the dining car for which you have automatic reservations. You have access to the posh parlour car and are invited to various activities such as a wine tasting or a movie or a nightcap of chocolate and cocktails.
Sure, this whole deal was expensive, but when you factor in what we would have spent on a hotel and food, I think we made out pretty well. Plus, we were able to score some killer deals on a hotel and rental car once we got to San Francisco because of our trip on the Amtrak.
The coolest part of the whole trip, though (besides going to bed in one state and waking up in another), was the people we met. Due to space limitations in the dining car, you have the privilege of sitting with whomever has similar meal reservations. Sitting with strangers is very European and proved to be pretty interesting. How else would we have met a woman who used to live in San Francisco eager to give us "off the beaten path" travel tips?!? I know we certainly never would have had the opportunity to meet her husband who was stationed in Germany--coincidentally in Bamberg--when the Berlin Wall fell. If only for the people watching alone, traveling by train is the way to go.