Today Kelly and I escaped the smoky, oppressive Sacramento heat and headed for the City by the Bay, a.k.a. San Francisco. Normally we drive about an hour to an East Bay BART station and head into the city. Today, however, we tried something different and took Amtrak from Sacramento to the Richmond BART station.
Let me start by saying that I am now convinced this IS the way to get to the Bay Area. As Kelly noticed the minute we walked in the door tonight, this is the first time that we have ever returned from San Francisco not exhausted. BART is easy, but the drive from the station to our house is always horrendous no matter the time of day or route we take. When you get home all you want to do is crawl in bed.
Today was completely different. Since we live close to downtown Sacramento, the Amtrak station is 10 easy minutes away. If the weather was a bit cooler we could have actually ridden our bicycles to the station.
There are however a few downsides to taking the train. First of all, its a bit pricey. For two people it was a little more expensive than filling up our RAV4 and driving to BART. We did learn that there are special rates for frequent riders and if we had booked three days in advance our AAA membership would have earned us a discount. Second, the train is a bit slow. While it would take us about an hour to drive to the Richmond BART station, it took an hour and 40 minutes to get there on the train.
On the plus side, the cabin was nice. Sort of like an airplane, but with a lot more room. On the way home we actually scored a table for four and had the luxury of putting our feet up. The train also had a snack car with surprisingly decent prices. They even sold $10 BART tickets for $8. The view from the train is pretty nice most of the way and definitely beats staring at the freeway from a car. One nifty thing I saw was the Baywood waterfront neighborhood in Hercules. A very nice community of new houses that looked old. My photo didn’t turn out so well, but I did find this one online. A nice alternative to the stucco boxes in every other new community.
If you have a chance, definitely hop on the train. Its worth it and fun way to spend the day. I’m trying to book our next train adventure as we speak…maybe Seattle.