Pacific Surfliner Locomotives in Los Angles Union Station
How I Got There:
Amtrak Train #763
Fullerton, CA 8:16 a.m. Thursday
No train change or delay in LA.
Santa Barbara, CA, 11:40 a.m.
209 State Street
Leave: Amtrak Train #784
Santa Barbara, CA, 2:03 p.m., Friday
No train change or delay in LA.
Arrive Fullerton, CA, 5:39 p.m.
How I Traveled While There:
Downtown/Oceanfront Electric Trolley 25 cents one way - up or down State Street, Along the Beach on Cabrillo Blvd. to the Zoo.
Personal cell phone and
Free wireless Internet on the Pacific Surfliner and in the lobby at
Hotel Santa Barbara
Where I Stayed:
Hotel Santa Barbara
533 State Street
(www.hotelsantabarbara.com click 'Accommodations' )
Where I Ate:
Breakfast: Amtrak Cafe Car
Lunch: Enterprise Fish Company
225 State Street
Dinner: Joe's Cafe of Santa Barbara
536 State St.
Breakfast: Hotel Santa Barbara
Lunch: Amtrak Cafe Car
Dinner: Santa Fe Cafe, Fullerton Station
Amtrak Round Trip
Fullerton to SantaBarbara to Fullerton
Full Faire: $62 per person,
10% discount for AAA, ($55.80) or
15% discount for Age 62 and over ($52.70)
Hotel Santa Barbara: (Mar./Apr.) $219+tax (Thursday night) Double-Queen
AAA saves $10
Two-night minimum Fri.-Sat.
Complimentary Breakfast Buffet.
(If website says 'sold out' - call them. Some rooms are saved for call-ins and walk-ins.)
Amtrak Breakfast: $7.25
Enterprise Fish Co. $12.95, plus a glass of Chardonnay.
Joe's Cafe: $12.30
Amtrak Lunch: $8.50
Santa Fe Cafe supper: $6.25
For More Information:
Your comments are welcome at:
Fullerton, CA, Amtrak Station is a great local station for starting a train trip because of all the train activity. Don and I arrived about 1/2 hour before our departure on the Pacific Surfliner for Santa Barbara. Since the Southwest Chief No. 3 had not yet arrived, many folks, including Fred Dunn and Lloyd White, were enjoying refreshments from the Santa Fe Cafe at the station while awaiting the arrival.
While chatting with them and checking one suitcase apiece through to Santa Barbara, we enjoyed 4 BNSF container trains, as well as Metrolink trains pass through. Finally, at the appointed time of 8:15 a.m. a freight pulled up to the station and awaited our Surfliner which had to cross in front of the freight at the wye east of the station. We boarded and were ontime for LA. The seats were nearly full after Fullerton, but in LA, 35 minutes later, we moved to vacated seats that would be facing forward, and on the ocean side. The train heads into the LA Station and leaves going in the opposite direction for Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara weather was predicted to be 70 degrees and mostly sunny. It was overcast leaving Fullerton, but as we arrived in LA, the sun broke through and we had high clouds heading north. Back on the coast at Camarillo, it was overcast again.
Breakfast choices on this trip from Fullerton to Santa Barbara included getting something before boarding at the Santa Fe Cafe at the Fullerton Station (which has free Wi-Fi - ask the cashier/cook for the password). I chose to wait until after LA then go to the Cafe car (lower level of Car 2) and get a sausage/egg/cheese English muffin and orange juice for $6.50. Sandwiches on the Surfliner are microwaved as opposed to freshly cooked at the Santa Fe Cafe.
Free Wi-Fi Enroute
Free Wi-Fi is available on the Pacific Surfliner. Just connect to "Amtrak Connect" (amtrakconnect.com) and agree on the startup page to the conditons of use. One nice feature of the sign in page is "Tracking Current Location" which shows your train on a map. However, the map is from such a high elevation, not all cities show, but it does show the track, which many auto GPSs do not show. This would be exellent for long-distance trains, but as far as I know, the Pacific Parlour car on the Coast Starlight is the only Wi-Fi available on any long-distance trains.
A couple of disclaimers on the Wi-Fi page are interesting:
Internet availability and speed may vary during your trip. Why?
AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi relies on available bandwidth supplied from cellular carriers with towers along your route.
Internet speeds will vary during your trip and are influenced by:
Number of passengers on the train using AmtrakConnect.
Peak or off-peak usage times.
Availability and strength of 3G and 4G networks through the area of travel.
Some websites or files might not be accessible. Why?
Restrictions are in place to ensure more bandwidth is available to all passengers, and in consideration of the public environment. Limits include:
Blocking access to streaming audio and video.
Blocking file downloads over 10MB.
Preventing access of potentially offensive websites.
For the most current information regarding AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi service, including the latest list of routes and stations equipped with Wi-Fi, please visit www.amtrak.com/wi-fi.
To prepare for travel, you are advised to download any large files prior to boarding the train.
After reading that "Blocking access to streaming audio and video" above, I switched from listening to Internet Radio, MartiniInTheMorning.com, to using my own iTunes.
(Double-click any photo in this report for a double-sized image; Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)
Hotel Santa Barbara
The ultimate rail trip, in my mind, is when you look forward as much to your destination hotel as you do to the train ride. This trip to Santa Barbara is just such an ultimate trip. Sue and I stayed at the Hotel Santa Barbara back in March 8 - 10, 2004. (Link to that Report at the end of this report).
In each room is a nice brochure - Guest Directory Hotel Santa Barbara. I particularly like the section - Past and Present. In the directory I learned:
In 1925, a major earthquake destroyed much of Santa Barbara's downtown area, including the spacious Saint Barbara Hotel. Vowing never to lose another bulding to an earthquake, the owner built a new hotel to specifications far exceeding those required at that time. The name was changed to The Barbara Hotel and the entire building, including all floors and stairways, was constructed of reinforced concrete; tied together by hundreds of steel beams. Boasting exterior walls over a foot thick and a foundation more than five feet wide, the entire structure was built on rollers to allow for movement in the event of an earthquake, a unique innovation in those days.
The Barbara soon became the hotel of choice for many of Hollywood's brightest stars. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard were frequent guests and eye witnesses claim Leo Camillo rode his horse into the lobby on several occasions.
Following World War II, the downtown area, along with The Barbara's popularity, gradually declined. Eventually, the doors were sealed shut.
In 1975 the building, then mainly a residential hotel, was purchased by local residents who began the long process of restoration and renovation.
By the mid 1990s, the downtown area had improved so dramatically that the owners concluded it was time for the hotel to undergo an extreme make-over.
In November 1996 the hotel once again closed its doors, emerging nine months and millions of dollars later as Hotel Santa Barbara--a classic, reborn. Hotel Santa Barbara has once again become the hotel of choice for discerning travelers everywhere.
Check in begins at 3 p.m. and check out is at noon. Rollaway beds, DVD/VCR players, refrigerators, and cribs are available for a nominal charge.
Continental breakfast of fresh pasteries, bagels, cream cheese, waffles, cereal, seasonal fruit, coffee, team, and juice are served from 7 to 10 a.m.
Internet access is wireless at no charge. The front desk will provide the user name and password. They even have wireless laptops or a free wireless card for your laptop. (Use HSB to go online, but if you have a Starbucks account, since they are downstairs, you will see their connection available at least on first floor of the hotel.)
Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Dining near the Hotel Santa Barbara
An alternative to the Enterprise Fish Company is the FisHouse where I had eaten lunch 2 weeks earlier while on the Vino Train. For supper, we went to Joe's directly across State Street from the Hotel Santa Barbara.
Carfree sights in downtown Santa Barbara
We walked down State Street to Stearns Wharf and took theWaterfront Shuttle east on Cabrillo Blvd. to the Santa Barbara Zoo and Bird Refuge. This was a test run to see if when Don brings his grandson up for an overnight, they can get to the Zoo without a car nor a cab. It worked and we even noticed a stop on the retun to Stearns Whard at the Carousel - another great place for grand kids.
Next I took the Downtown Shuttle north on State Street to Anapamu St. where I walked a half block to the Library where I always enjoy the two rooms devoted to local art. Then I walked another half block to the Courthouse.
A few blocks north of the end of the Downtown Shuttle is Cantwells Market, 1533 State St. - nice place for deli sandwiches and other groceries.
The Downtown/Waterfront Shuttle heading down State Street.
A very reasonably priced shop for resort wear is at Mason and State...a couple of blocks from Stearns Wharf. I got a 'Santa Barbara, California' sweatshirt for $10, and a long sleeved tee shirt for $12.
Also at Mason and State, I see that "The Californian" Hotel is being refurbished.
The founder of TrainWeb.com was onboard our train back to Orange County, as well as Bob Manning of SWRail. When we went online using the Surfliner's Wi-Fi, it said we were onboard the Acela Express and showed the map above. Hope no one took this seriously because it is about 3,000 miles off and April 1 was not until the next day.
It was overcast again, but still a beautiful sea-view ride back to LA.
Many students have Spring Break this week, from the California Universities, and were camping along old Hwy. 101 which is now a seaside campground of sorts.
The California farm workers, however, were not experiencing Spring Break as they continued to harvest food crops near Oxnard.
Orange groves were ripe for picking near Simi.
This school group had just detrained and were 'squeezing in' for a final photograph for the day with the Pacific Surfliner as their backdrop.
Not a scene you would expect in Southern California.
This is the new Amtrak Bus from Fullerton to the Imperial Valley. It leaves at 6:20 pm and we got back at 6:15. Bob Manning (pictured above) made the connection, but we noticed nearly an hour later that the bus had not yet left. It was to meet both 784 and 785, but we heard 785 had been delayed by an accident in Anaheim.