Trip report introduction: Trading wings for rails

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01. Introduction: Trading wings for rails
02. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner business class San Diego to Los Angeles
03. Sofitel Hotel Beverly Hills
04. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner business class Los Angeles to San Diego

My wife and I are very similar in many ways, and our most prominent similarity is the way that we get really excited about something and then take action without thinking things all the way through. My recent trip to Miami is a perfect example of that – I was so excited to find such a good deal that I booked the trip without actually realizing that I didn’t really have any desire to go to Miami in the first place. It wasn’t a disaster of course, because I love traveling, but it was a struggle to figure out what I was going to do once on the ground in southern Florida that weekend.

My wife had a similar spur-of-the-moment goof several months ago. She and I are huge Jason Mraz fans, and we really enjoy attending his concerts whenever he comes to San Diego. Back in February of this year, she discovered that he would be playing single concert for his local Southern California fans in late June, and she immediately purchased tickets without taking notice of the date, time, or location. That totally sounds like something that I would do, so it was hard to give her grief for acting so spontaneously.

She was so excited when she told me about the concert, and my first question was about which venue he was playing at. The Civic Theater downtown? Viejas Arena? A blank look washed over her face like a waterfall, and she turned to her laptop to check the confirmation email that had all the details.

“The Hollywood Bowl” she informed me, following up with the question of “where’s that?” Keep in mind that she is not from Southern California, and she’s also a bit geographically challenged. “That’s LA” I said, and her eyes got big once she realized that she goofed. Suddenly this turned into something much bigger than a nice and simple evening out in San Diego. A trip to LA was now involved, which wasn’t part of the original plan. Her immediate thought was to sell the tickets and forget about it, but I wasn’t so quick to give it up.

Los Angeles is two hours north of San Diego, which isn’t far, but traffic can be deadly thick at times and it is not uncommon for that two hour trip to stretch out to four hours sometimes. That’s never fun.

But what if we took the train? Amtrak goes between San Diego and Los Angeles several times a day, and I’ve known plenty of people who have said nothing but good things about it in regards to being an excellent alternative to sitting in traffic on the 405. I’ve been living in San Diego for 20 years now, and I’ve never once taken the train to LA. This would be the perfect opportunity!

My wife was totally on board with that idea (no pun intended), so we booked round-trip tickets on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in business class for the weekend of the concert. It was relatively cheap as well! Business class for two people was only $230 round-trip, which is much less than I expected considering that we payed double that to ride the Shinkansen in economy class from Hiroshima to Kyoto the last time we were in Japan.

Here’s the exact itinerary for the trains:

  • 06/23/17 Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 579 business class San Diego (Santa Fe Depot / downtown) to Los Angeles (Union Station)
  • 06/24/17 Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 774 business class to Los Angeles (Union Station) to San Diego (Santa Fe Depot / downtown)

Hotels, on the other hand, we’re not as much of a bargain. It was very difficult to find any decent hotel in LA for that weekend under $300, but we ended up settling on the Sofitel Beverly Hills, which wasn’t far from the Hollywood Bowl.

Jason Mraz hollywood bowl concert

Jazon Mraz always puts on a great show, and this concert at the Hollywood Bowl was no exception.

Turning lemons into lemonade is what I love doing best, and what started out as a simple and cheap night out here in San Diego quickly turned into a slightly expensive (but much more fun) weekend jaunt up to LA.

And I realize that train reviews aren’t necessarily my shtick, but I thought it would be fun to document the experience and post it all here to this blog. To be honest I am feeling a bit of pressure though, because I know that train enthusiasts can be a lot more hard-core about their hobby than airline enthusiasts and I want to make sure that I document this experience in a way they can appreciate. I’m going to try my best though, so here we go.

All aboard the Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles!

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    1. Josh Walton August 7, 2017
      • SANspotter August 7, 2017

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