Surfliner- Laid back train with an attitude
When I think about train travel, I think Western Europe, I think the Eurostar from London to Paris, I think anywhere but California! Not many people I know have been a passenger on a train in the U.S. Actually, until recently the last time I took a train in the U.S. was in fifth grade when we took the CSX from Jacksonville, Florida to Washington D.C. on a patrol field trip to the Capital. (Yeah, I was a patrol!)
Well, last month while trying not to take too many cars down from Los Angeles to San Diego, I decided I would just take the train home, limiting the need for one more car. I looked online first, the prices were reasonable with prices I paid while taking the train around Italy. Without much thought, it was a go and I was training it back to L.A.
My parents dropped me off at the Solona Beach train stop. It was very clean and scenic (you could see the beach from the ticketing office!) and not too many people around. I arrived super early since it was my first time, but just like my experiences with train travel in Europe, no one else really started lining up until a few minutes before the train was going to arrive. And, it was right on time!
First impression was how nice it was inside. I was surprised by how clean the train was and by how many people were riding it, yet I still had plenty of space to spread my laptop and bag on the seat next to me. Quickly after boarding, a conductor stamped my ticket and attached a Burbank slub above my seat. Each conductor had a section of the train and kept a very close eye on everyone coming on and off.
Since the train rides along the coastline, the ocean views are pretty amazing. If you are heading north from San Diego to Los Angeles, sit on the west side so that you’ll have great views of the Pacific Ocean. (The east side is basically city or field views- nothing too pretty.)
After the first hour, the train starts heading inland and the views weren’t as pretty. Luckily there are two plugs in each row for a laptop or cell phone charger. I was able to join in #TNI while riding the train, fully charged!
All told, the train took about the same amount of time as it would for me to drive, if there was a lot of traffic (which is pretty common). Not having to stress and worry about delays on the road made the train ride super relaxing and easy to recommend for a solo traveler. More than one person and you might be before off driving- especially if you are debating whether or not to rent a car. Car rentals are fairly inexpensive in the U.S. compared to the $27 dollar train ride per person in your party.
The Surfliner was an enjoyable way to travel between the two cities, allowing me the comfort to relax and reliability of arriving to my destination on time. Have you experienced the Surfliner? When was your last train ride?