OK, so you decide to use Amtrak, and why not? You have some travel options. You can chose 'coach' travel, or 'business class', and a sleeper for your overnight travel if you wish. I opted for the straightforward 'coach' class. Unlike the British trains, there was ample leg room, with reclining seats, and a foot rest. The allocation of seats is rather different than in Britain. On departure from Portland, you will be allocated a coach. You will have been given a boarding pass, with (for instance) 'SAC' on it (Sacramento). It's then up to you to find a vacant seat, and you place your boarding pass above your own seat. This enables the Conductor to see who is going where on the train!
At Klamath Falls we disembarked from the buses, and were allocated a coach on the train, and verbally given a seat number. Something went terribly wrong with this simple system, and people were allocated seats that were already occupied. I'm not sure if this was the fault of the staff, or just people sitting in the wrong seats. I think perhaps it was a bit of both. Personally, I would have thought Amtrak would have handed out a boarding card, as at Portland, but with a seat number written on it. There was plenty of room anyway, so no one was left behind! Oh, and don't forget, if you break the journey, jou must take your boarding pass with you, and display it again when you rejoin the train.
This may not be typical of all Amtrak journies, but it's worth noting if you do use the service. and it was still a great way to get around!
Sacramento was not on my list of 'must see' places, but in actual fact I had no such list anyway! My intention was to leave Portland, Oregon by Amtrak, and travel in the general direction of Los Angeles, and stop off in a couple of 'nice places' en route. The trouble was that I didn't know of any such places, and the train doesn't stop very often anyway. Cutting a long story short(er!!), I took the advice of Phil and Deni, my VT hosts in Portland, and decided to go to Sacramento, and out to Lake Tahoe.
Booking the train ticket was easy, and I actually did it the day before travelling, at the Union Station in Portland, although you can book on the internet. You need to produce evidence of ID (passport in my case) when you collect your ticket.
The train left Portland, on time at 2.25 pm for Eugene, where we transferred to a bus (coach) for the 5 hour journey to Klamath Falls. I'm not sure just why this is necessary, as the rail line runs all the way through from Eugene to Klamath Falls, and to Sacramento. It may have something to do with freight trains using the line, as these usually have priority. Anyway, arriving at Klamath Falls at 10 pm, we again boarded the train for Sacramento, arriving at 6.15 am next morning. The fare for this journey was $101, and I think well worth the cost. Unfortunately, the nicest part of the journey seemed to be through the night, when you couldn't really see anything!
I took the Amtrak train from Los Angeles to Sacramento. My trip was actually divided into three legs. The first leg was a bus ride from Los Angeles to Bakersfield. The second leg was a train ride on the San Joaquin from Bakersfield to Stockton. The last leg was a bus ride from Stockton to Sacramento.
It sounds more complicated than it really is. The bus rides were also provided by Amtrak so the coordination between rides was near-perfect. I traveled in comfort and, to top it all, I had a nice view of Central California.
By the way, you can take an all-train trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento via Amtrak's Coast Starlight but it usually is more expensive and it takes a lot longer.
With Sacramento as my base, I took Amtrak's Capitol Corridor train to San Francisco which I toured for a day. I also made another side trip to Reno via Amtrak bus.
If you are a train buff or just want to see the suburbs of Sacramento, you should try Sacramento's light rail train. When I was there, they only had one line. They opened another line in September 2003. If you want to ride both lines end-to-end, you may get a daily pass for $3.50 from any of the ticket vending machines found at the light rail stations.
Car, bus, train, boat or plane. Sacramento is accessable by all forms of transportation. It's a very car friendly city, with pretty good parking. Sacramento is the hub to all five of California's major highways, which means you can get pretty much anywhere from here. The airport is a scant 11 miles from the central city and is generally not overrun with people. The train station is located right outside of Old Sac and is also a little known tourist attraction. The Grayhound bus terminal is located down the street, within walking distance of the train station (if you think 8 blocks is nothing, you're in luck). And Sacramento has always been a river city, so it is also accessable by water.
If you're staying within the central city (Old Sac, Downtown and Midtown) it's pretty easy to get away without having to use a car. Everything is within walking distance. If you are staying outside the central city, a car may come in handy, particularly if you like the freedom of picking up and taking a roadtrip to San Francisco or some other locale. The public transit is decent, but I'm not fond of buses to begin with. Sacramento is also very bike friendly, being a popular place for cyclists to train for races due to it's level terrain.
Sacrametno has a great airport, and I've been to quite a few. Either fly into SMF or fly into Reno Nevada and drive down, it is about a 2 hour drive through the sierra mountains and it is gorgeous.
Rent a car.
Although our airport is called 'Sacramento International Airport' it's really just wishful thinking at this point - there are no international flights to or from Sacramento. You may find it easier and/or cheaper to fly into San Francisco and drive to Sacramento.
Public transportation is poor to fair in the area. The busses run infrequently, and the light rail system only covers a narrow corridor. To get around in the area you'll really want a car.
Fly unless you live nearby. We flew into San Francisco and made the drive to nearby Sacramento.
This picture is of my friend, Kyle and I as we were flying to San Francisco.
It definitely helps to have a car, or in our case 15-passenger van!
The Sacramento Bike Trail covers 30 miles from Old Sacramento to Folsom dam. It follows the river and is a great place for picnicking, swimming and fishing. The river is popular for rafting, kayaking and canoeing. Bicycles can be rented at various hotels or in Old Sacramento
Sacramento is the closest big city to Bullard's Bar, that's why I listed it under Sacto.
To get there from Sacto.:Take I-80 East to HWY49 northeast until you get to a Small town called North San Juan. From there you should see the signs. It will be on your left. My time estimate from Sacramento would be around an hour. From my hometown of Reno, it's about 2-2 1/2 hours.
While Sacramento has a fine airport (jokingly called international even though there are no international passenger flights or facilities) it is remote and not served well by public transportation. It is usually faster and more convenient to come to Sacramento by car.
Sacramento is an auto-oriented city and visitors will probably need a car to get around.
The airport is fairly easy to be directed around the aisles and pathways. Claims for baggage is in the bottom of the facility.
The tram is convenient for people getting around the city. The buses take many down to the center for work and return