Sunday, November 16, 2008

Riding the rails

Trains hold a bit of nostalgia for me. At a very early age I rode between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia to see the relatives. I don't remember much but a sense of excitement and snacks from the food car. I have been threatening to ride a train for some time now. The final motivator was a segment of Eye on the Bay promoting public transit day trips, one of which was a trip to Old Sacramento. I booked two tickets.

I had never experienced the Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains. It was an extremely pleasant first experience. The trains are comfortable, clean, and run on time. We left Emeryville and less that two hours later we arrived. This trip could easily be a day trip but we decided to turn it into overnight. During the week these trains haul commuters between Sacramento and San Jose and include amenities like desks and electrical outlets for computers. This made April happy as she watched one of her favorite old movies on her computer. I busied myself watching the views along the bay up to Martinez. The moth ball fleet looms like ghosts in the misty bay and new cars arriving by ship line up like colorful puzzle pieces. After Martinez we turned inland through some marshes where bird watching drew April away from her movie. Egrets and great white herons stood majestically seeking food. I balanced my way back to the snack bar for my food and also scored a small bottle of wine to share as it was an excursion and no driving was needed.

There are several options for lodging in old town including the Delta King, a paddle boat turned hotel. Our choice was the Embassy Suites Riverfront, a twenty minute walk from the station. After checking in we scouted the Old Sacramento where one could spend to their hearts content. We window shopped and looked for lunch. We ended up at a restaurant whose real identity escapes me because it said Brickhouse on the board outside and the receipt says Cantina Del Rio. What ever it is named it is located at 106 J St. and offers good food and a laid back atmosphere. I had the burger and April had the fire prawns and then we shared.
Old Sacramento

Unnamed restaurant

Back at the hotel we made plans to patronise the nearby Laughs Unlimited or the Backdoor Lounge piano bar but after the hotel managers cocktail hour we decided to eat in house at the Tower Bridge Bistro and were amazed by the great food and very professional service at wonderful prices. Back in the suite we rented Mama Mia and ended the evening is a wonderful mood.

Next morning after breakfast we headed back to reality, gently, courtesy of Amtrak. I can see more train rides is my future.


cookiecrumb said...

You gone touristy!!!
God that sounds like fun. If only I could bring my little doggie.

Zoomie said...

MB and I have taken the train to Davis just for the day and we loved it, too. They have a great farmer's market in Davis, plus galleries and shops. I understand you can also swim in the college pool for $1 on a hot summer day - it's an outdoor pool. And their old city hall is now a very nice restaurant. If you're in the mood for another jaunt...

kudzu said...

These stories are leaving me with a sense of wanderlust and a yearning for the truly great days of rail travel. It would be fun to take a certain 8-year-old boy on one of those excursions. Thanks for the nudge toward adventurous train rides.