Our Amtrak travel by bus and train to Los Angeles started in Monterey on a chilly but clear winter morning. After a speedy (hair-raising!) Uber journey we arrived at Salinas station far too early. It was chilling cold, misty and windy.
As we arrived a man of the road stumbled off a bench offering to help us with our baggage. We declined and he slunk off … disappearing into the mist.
We stood outside shivering. The warm waiting room looked so inviting but was locked. More passengers appeared and joined us.
The bus was on time at 7:30am. We checked in, loaded our baggage and set off on our way.
Bus travel turns up some interesting people.
The driver was friendly and engaging and it wasn't long before we stopped for "breakfast" at a MacDonald's.
The countryside of rolling hills was very dry. We traveled down through a valley.
After a few more stops to pick up passengers there was another short stop to get back on schedule. The four-and-a-half-hour journey passed quickly and we arrived in Santa Barbara. Here we would change to the train for the 3-hour trip into Los Angeles along the coast.
Amtrak Travel - 1 Pound overweigh bag
In the final stage of our Amtrak to Los Angeles journey we checked in our large bags in Santa Barbara. Only to be told by the officious clerk that “this bag is 1 pound overweight you’ll have to remove something”. Weird system. There is a 50-pound limit to checked in bags … but your carry on can weigh anything!!
The bureaucratic sludge was at work again! We removed the 1 pound, checked the bag and walked out onto a crowded platform.
Mudslides in California
Earlier in the week the Santa Barbara area had been hit by exceptional rain storms.
These caused massive mudslides resulting in severe damage to houses, businesses and a number of deaths. The mudslides were made worse as the earth had been denuded of its natural protection through devastating fires earlier in the year.
As a result of the damage to the area the train had to travel very slowly over some sections of track. This resulted in the train being about an hour and a half late. As we stood there we asked why there were so many people waiting on the platform. In addition to all the other storm damage a section of the main highway 101 between Santa Barbara and Carpenteria was impassable as a result of mudslides.
Taking the train (or riding a bicycle!) was the only transport option between these cities.
As we travelled towards Los Angeles we saw the damage that had been left by the mud. There were cars buried up to the roofs in mud. There were still deep patches of impassable mud streams. The train moved slowly through these unstable sections.
We arrived late in Los Angeles station. We were staying close to the Los Angeles airport so we bought bus tickets to get there. After joining a long line of people waiting for the bus we realised that we could have done it cheaper with Uber.
But after seeing the traffic at 6pm in Los Angeles questioned whether it would have been faster?
Our Amtrak travel by both bus and train had been an enjoyable event. There were incidents and delays but these can be expected.