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My First Big Train Adventure - Portland to San Francisco

Earlier today I found this post on National Geographic on 10 of the best European train trips - I really want to go on more scenic train journeys and have now added all 10 of them to my bucket list.

Reading the post also reminded me of my first big train journey from Portland to San Francisco. While doing a little bit of travelling in the Pacific North West area of America a few years ago, I needed to get from Portland in Oregon to San Francisco, California to start a tour I had paid for with G Adventures.

I looked at both flights and trains but although the train would take over 16 hours compared to a flight which would take less than 2, I thought 'which one is going to be more of an adventure?' 'Which one will I remember in years to come?'

So I opted for the train and I'm so pleased I did. On a budget I just bought a ticket for a regular seat as opposed to a bed or a private room. Even that though was impressive. The seat was huge, made of leather, had massive arm rests and reclined almost completely vertically, kind of like a La-Z-Boy - so even someone like me who really struggles to sleep on public transport was able to get a few hours sleep.

To be honest though, most the time I didn't want to sleep. The train journey was great! We passed so much beautiful scenery. Hills, woodlands, lakes, I got to watch the sunset - it was beautiful and I would have missed all of that if I had chosen to take a flight instead.

There were observation or relaxing/lounge carriages with huge, panoramic windows, where you could just chill out, play card games or just admire the views and I spent most of the time here just admiring the landscape.

There was also a restaurant carriage where I went for my evening meal and then breakfast. It really was like being in a restaurant, with fancy décor and good food.

As I was by myself I joined other tables for both meals. It wasn't awkward at all though as on each occasion I met really lovely, warm, friendly people, we had a real laugh and heard some interesting stories about their lives. It was fantastic!

I am so pleased I took that 16 hour train ride rather than that flight, which would have been just like the many other flights I've taken. I'd have sat alone, listened to music on my earphones and not spoke to anyone.

Sometimes the easiest or fastest way of doing things isn't always the best and adventure can even be found while travelling from one place to the next.

Have you been on any amazing train journeys? Comment below and let me know and maybe I'll add that to my bucket list to.



Chris Gouge
Chris Gouge
Apr 06, 2019

Haha, I've thought I would like to do something similar while in India as well but the tiny space and stuff and not being able to sleep doesn't sound fun :/


Lee Walker
Lee Walker
Apr 05, 2019

One of my best memories from India was a 3 day train journey i did there - From Delhi to Darjeeling (Stopping absolutely everywhere!).

It wasn't the biggest mission ever to even get the ticket booked! After a few days of trying managed to get a spot on this train - it was a bed (... kind of) in a cubical (which had 6 beds - 3 on each wall). I was on the top right, couldn't sit up (no space) just managed to fit lying down!

Every now and again an Indian sweet seller would wander by, stick a bar of chocolate under my nose baiting me to constantly buy from him, lol.

The randomnest food i got during…

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