AMTRAK Los Angeles to Santa Barbara

AMTRAK Los Angeles to Santa Barbara  |  California  |  So here is a funny story. After a week of work in Los Angeles for Rubin’s Special Appearances for Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills, we were invited by the new Orient-Express property El Encanto, to visit them in Santa Barbara. So we book our car to drive along the Pacific Coast on last Saturday morning, enjoying the lovely views and the amazing weather. Well not quite so. !!!!! A week before our trip, we realize that both of our Driver’s Licenses were expired. This shows we are both, although non of us are born in the United States, that by now we are two true New Yorkers – who needs to drive when you live in the heart of Manhattan right ?

So the questions was ? How to get from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, in time, not to miss our relaxing weekend at El Encanto.  We both knew that the drive was an experience itself, with all the lovely views of the Pacific Coastline… so we were disappointed to miss that. Luckily we found the right option, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. If you have read my previous reviews on Amtrak, I have not been one of their fans in the past, but I must say that this time, they brought the European Rail service flashback to us. Connecting San Luis Obispo and San Diego through Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the Pacific Surfliner offers a unique vantage on the Southern California seascape. To get a closer look, you’d have to be on a surfboard.
So went online and USD 95 Business Class Round Trip after, we were at the beautiful Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, ready to board our train, for our Hitchcock style weekend at El Encanto in Santa Barbara.
The ride was smooth, enjoying during the second half of the journey, lovely views of the Pacific coastline. The train did approximately 7 stops before reaching our destination, Santa Barbara, on time.
Onboard, you may enjoy some basic snacks – trust me, more than some airlines offer you these days, complimentary WiFi, bathrooms  and comfortable seats. reclining 45 degrees. The perfect, hazard free to driving, which in the end would have been useless, since all we did in Santa Barbara was sleep, eat and drink, therefore… no room for driving.
Trains, most of the times in the United States, are synonym or low class or ghetto. Although I can relate to that in some way, if compared to trains services in Europe, here is what I have to say about the Pacific Surfliner – practical, comfortable, punctual, quick, hazard free and with lovely views. We arrived to Santa Barbara in approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, right to head to El Encanto and enjoy our lunch out on the Terrace overlooking Santa Barbara from our view on the hills, on a stunning sunny day. CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends

(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email carlos@carlosmelia.com or phone # 917.754.5515. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of MLGTPP, IGLTA, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network.

(**) Follow me around the world by subscribing to my Facebook Profile, liking my Facebook Page, following me on Twitter. and/or pining me on Pinterest. Also check out my new page Carlos Melia Recommends.

ACELA Express Train All Aboard to Boston

ACELA Express Train All Aboard to Boston |  United States |  Trains are one of my absolute favorite ways of travel. So every occasion I get to experience them, it gets me really excited. I just love seating and watching through the window, looking at the small villages or towns, getting a grasp of areas I would never get to see otherwise… and not to mention if you get to enjoy a diner on a world-class train like Orient Express, sipping through wine or champagne, while the world goes by right in front of your eyes. I think most of you would agree with me, that trains are a much easier, sometimes quicker and most accessible ways to travel. Well today is my ACELA Express experience, and for those of you that follow my blog, you know that I am not a big fan of Amtrak Trains, but this time, although far apart from the European Regional Trains experience, I have to say that ACELA Express is a great way to travel. Continue reading ACELA Express Train All Aboard to Boston

Hold on tight to your printed Ticket with Amtrak

Hold on tight to your printed Ticket with Amtrak | Philadelphia | Amtrak, Amtrak.com and specially the Philadelphia base, simply this is all I have to say about you and your customer service, you guys are a JOKE. In times of E-Tickets, Apps, Emails, when everyone meaning airlines, trains, buses, ferries, hotels… all over the world use E-Tickets or even iPhone Digital Tickets, you are holding customers hostage of your own archaic ways of doing business in 2011. Please Amtrak time to grow up and to stop charging customers for your lack of technology. Shame on you.!!’
To make the story short, since I hate writing bad reviews and it is rarely my style, but hey maybe I should right…. how about – The Chronicles of a Bed Bug, back to the subject next time you travel on Amtrak be carefull and hold on tight to your printed Ticket (old fashion I hear you boys). Yes that ticket that nobody uses anymore, that ticket that when you check in at the automated Amtrak Quik-Trak self-service ticketing kiosk they print for segments you wont be using until your return (that let’s be honest there are 90% changes you might loose, yes Amtrak extra money for you right, smart move in times of tough economy), that ticket – now I know – that if you loose regardless of having your useless confirmation number, the Amtrack Quik-Trak self-service ticketing kiosk bla bla bla will no longer recognize directing you to an Agent (thank God for human beings), whom after welcoming you to the fabulous Amtrack family and with a pearl white smile will tell you …” Oh no worries Mr. Melia, just pay for a new Ticket and you will be set to go and in New York in no time…” WHATTTTTTTT .? You must be joking right.

Hell no.!!!! Your email confirmation, your booking code, your Amtrack Rewards and your pretty smile, shove it where the sun don’t shines… Because as the Agent put it to her Supervisor …” He is trying to get a Ticket for Free…” Well Ms.Debbie Montgomery – Manager of Station Operations, I am not trying to get a ticket for Free, I already got one, the original Round Trip paid by the Tourism Office of Philadelphia, Round Trip as it shows on my confirmation Email and Booking Code # 00CCAB… OK.!!! Trust  me Ms. Montgomery, you were saved by the bell and not exactly the Liberty Bell, since all this happened 5 minutes before my train was leaving and to be honest I was not in the mood or interested on hanging there longer to chit-chat with you or your staff. Just because your system is not capable or advance enough to REPRINT a ticket purchased online, I hold hostage, punished and had to buy a new ticket (USD 50) to be able to get on the train. Nice way to get extra income from your customers Amtrak way to go.!!!
Amtrak – Enjoy your journey they promote, what a JOKE. Maybe I should have taken the ACELA that is business friendly and they would have taken care and helped me right away right… Mmmmm wait a minute, OH nooooo it is the same company and being that they charge over (USD 150) each way, I would have had to pay three times more than I did for my lack of responsibility and for trying – as they said – to sneak in and get a free ticket. Well now I know next time I will take Megabus or one of the cheap chinese Bus services, even THEY can reprint your tickets. CM

(All documents avaible for those interested to check this case further, or if any Amtrak representative wishes to fix this nonsense)

Philadelphia here I come

Philadelphia here I come | Philadelphia | Hey Philadelphia here I come. Invited by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. and PIFA – Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, I will be visiting the city from tomorrow Monday 7th. February till Thursday. So stay tuned for my blog posts. During this visit I will be reviewing Amtrak Trains, SOFITEL Hotel, The Independent Hotel, LOEWS Hotel. Also I have been granted a VIP Philadelphia Pass meaning I will have full access to all the Museums and Attractions of the city. Philadelphia is only 1 hour and 20 minutes from the city of New York… With Love Philadelphia XOXO. !

(*) Special Thanks to Jeff Guaracino and Bruce Yelk from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. for making this trip possible.

(**) For those interested on learning more about PIFA, please check my previous post on this HERE.

New York to Washington in a budget

New York to Washington in budget • The best way to get from New York city to Washington DC or ViceVersa is by Bus ( approx. 5 hours ) with modern, comfortable units with WiFi access. There are multiple options and companies but MVP Bus is among one of my favorites. USD 20 each way. Buses depart right from the heart of Manhattan at Penn Station.
Other alternative options are the speed train ACELA by Amtrak and of course the non-stop flights, but  with a considerable price difference. Washington DC is a perfect destination to be combined with New York City for 2 nights quick gateway. If interested contact me for options including Tranportation + Hotels. Cheers. CM