Tag Archives: Train

The Napa Valley Wine Train

Standard

004The Napa Valley Wine Train’s  track is part of the what was originally the Napa Valley Railroad founded by early California pioneer Samuel Brannan in 1864. Brannan established it to bring tourists to the resort town of Calistoga, California which he also founded. The railroad’s 42 miles (68 km) of track ran from Calistoga to Vallejo, California where it connected with San Francisco Bay Area ferry boat service. California Pacific Railroad Extension Company purchased the Napa Valley Railroad Company at a foreclosure sale on June 9, 1869. Later that same year on December 23, the railroad was renamed the California Pacific Railroad. The track was leased to Southern Pacific Railroad on April 1, 1885 and was soon connected to their main line in Suisun, California. California Pacific Railroad was acquired by Southern Pacific on April 14, 1898. The line was extended to Benicia, California in 1904.

california 390

The line was electrified and renamed San Francisco, Napa and Calistoga Railway in 1905 and carried passengers until 1929. The track was utilized by Southern Pacific as a freight branch line for the following 58 years until 1987 when the railroad petitioned for abandonment.

The NVRR operating company was formed in 1987 by local entrepreneurs and headed by Vincent DeDomenico. DeDomenico was a veteran of more than 50 years in the food business and was formerly the president of Golden Grain, a company founded by his father and famous for its Rice-A-Roni. DeDomnico purchased the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in 1964 and sold both it and Golden Grain to the Quaker Oats Company in 1986.

california 375

The NVRR acquired the right of way after Southern Pacific notified the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1985 of its intent to abandon the line. The new company’s plans to create a tourist-oriented Wine Train were strongly opposed by local community activists and several city governments. Some people disliked the noise and pollution of an active passenger train line in their midst, while others felt that the train would attract even more visitors to the Napa Valley, which they saw as already over-saturated with tourists…………well too bad….the Napa Valley Wine Train has been in operation since September 16, 1989 and has now carried more than 2 million passengers, the Tin Man being one of them.

california 371

The Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the most distinctive Napa restaurants, offering an authentic, memorable experience that echoes the glory days of train travel, with fine dining service, multiple course meals, Napa Valley scenery and ultimate relaxation aboard exquisitely restored vintage rail cars.

california 373

This top dining establishment is housed in a museum quality, antique train that runs on 25-­miles of track in the heart of the Napa Valley. The train itself has two engines, three kitchens on board and a collection of early 20th century Pullman rail cars faithfully restored with Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass partitions and plush armchairs that evoke the spirit of luxury rail travel in the early 1900s.

california 372

The Tin Man booked passage in the Vista Dome Car.  With promises of dining in elevated splendor. 

The observation style dining car is expertly refurbished using Honduran mahogany paneling and brass accents, perfect for the Tin Man.

Upon arrival……….a glass of bubbly and an exquisite menu….

california 374

Our 1952 Pullman domed railcar provided the most private dining experience as only guests with reserved seating are allowed in the dining area of this two-story car.

We had the most delightful server, Froy, ….who made the experience even more fantastic…

california 381

The Hors d’Oeuvre arrived….Grilled Shrimp on Crispy Wonton with Sweet Pea Pesto and Endive….

…..with Raymond Estates Vineyard Private Reserve Chardonnay….

california 376

The beautiful scenery passed us by as we noshed on these delights…

california 392

First Course…..Red and Green Apple Endive Salad with Cambozola Cheese, hazelnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette…yes, yes…..

…my companion had the Crème of Cauliflower Soup (regrettably so, me thinks……hahhaha)

…..more Raymond Estates Chardonnay….of course..

california 377

We so loved the Cambozola Cheese and our delightful server surprised us with some extra slices!!!

california 380

Meanwhile the beautiful vineyards continue to be our vista as we gently roll through the Napa Valley…

california 391

But yes, it is time for the Entrée ….Roasted Beef Tenderloin on Gorgonzola Toast with a Sauté of Vegetables in a Cabernet Reduction…

….OH MY……tooo much wine….the Tin Man forgot to take a picture of this course!

california 385 Well here we go ….might as well have some more wine….

The dining was marvelous as the dining room was above the kitchen and a dumbwaiter delivered the food directly to us…therefore our dining room was very quiet and peaceful…..it was quite the experience….

california 378

I so wished that this train would continue for days and days so that the experience could go on and on and on……

california 383

Some delightful sweets to end the journey….a Handmade Chocolate Truffle and White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry….

Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald prepared such unique menu for our dining pleasure, a culinary symphony we shall long remember…

california 393

But alas, our culinary journey has come to an end…..

california 388california 387

I hope you have enjoyed this trip aboard The Napa Valley Wine Train

and if you are ever going to visit Napa make sure you make reservations aboard this most delightful venue…..

CLICK HERE to visit The Napa Valley Wine Train site

 

Advertisements

Adirondacks – Leaf Peeping : Saratoga – North Creek Train Trip

Standard

New England 105

We decided to venture off to New England to do some serious Leaf Peeping…

Included in that trip was a stay in the Adirondacks and a Train Ride on the Saratoga – North Creek Railway

New England 295New England 296New England 293

This train is also known as the Polar Express Train.  It is extremely popular and we booked our seats months in advance. 

We booked the Diamond Class Service, which gets you a very comfortable seat in the Glass Domed Cars and access to Full Wait Staff and Food……..you know how important those two items are to The Tin Man….

New England 298

The Train Ride from Saratoga to North Creek takes about two to three hours and is an amazing adventure…

Bloody Marys and Omelets were in order…

New England 299

The Sights along the way were breathtaking…as the train traveled along the Hudson River….

New England 303

It was just marvelous to watch all the beautiful scenery go by..

New England 340 New England 321 New England 318 New England 315

The entire time the train staff was attending to our every wish and desire….

New England 380

Our visit to the Village of North Creek was quite fun……I went to the local hair salon, Trimmers, and got my hair cut while visiting with the most delightful characters…….in just one hour we had reimagined the entire town and designed all sorts of festivals!!

The train trip back was just as thrilling as the one up….

New England 370 New England 369 New England 336 New England 355 New England 354 New England 342 New England 341

Sorry for all the large pictures; however, the beauty was too great to insert small pics!

What a delight this train ride was………the day was just grand on all avenues….

New England 381

Until next time………bon voyage…..

Uncommon Journeys – Canadian Panorama – Across Canada by Train

Standard

Canada 106

 

It began as dusk approached and gathered us into her arms….we walked to Union Station in Toronto to begin our train trek across Canada.

Excitement abounded……..we were all a dither with expectations of a wondrous trip…

Outside the station was a beautiful sculpture of the Olympic Torch..

Canada 104

Passengers bound for distant points all converged together…

Canada 109Canada 105

The time drawing near for our departure…

Canada 110

Uncommon Journeys (click here for information) conducts this two week fully guided tour across Canada, but once a year.  We had decided that we would give it a go.  Never had we been on a guided tour before and therefore our apprehension of someone owning our time was great. 

The itinerary for the trip included the following:

Day 1: Arrive Niagra Falls

We had a terrific stay at the Sheraton on the Falls (Canadian Side of Border)

You can read about that part of the Journey by clicking HERE

Day 2: Arrive Toronto

We had a grand time in Toronto the Westin Harbor Castle.  We spent our free day exploring this wonderful city which was highlighted by a welcome dinner at the acclaimed Canyon Creek Grill, a favorite haunt of the great and near-great in Toronto.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

Day 3: Depart Toronto

 The stunning train is a perfect 1950’s time capsule with the famed Vista-dome cars, a real old- fashioned dining car and first rate dining and service.

Canada 156

The first night we joined for cocktails in the swank, end of train ‘Bullet Lounge’ before our welcome aboard dinner in the art deco diner as we roll west over the Canadian National Railway

We were given a private dining car to enjoy a most marvelous dinner..

Canada 135Canada 137

Canada 136

Day 4: En Route

We booked a Suite on the Train which gave us a king sized bed, two baths and two picture windows to enjoy the beautiful Canadian sights.

Canada 124

It was amazing crossing the Canadian Prairies aboard the Canadian.

Canada 113

Civilized amenities abound including hot showers, a special lounge just for First Class passengers and the best dining on any train in North America, deluxe train travel at its very best in a manner that has all but vanished. 

Each morning, the staff delivered Breakfast to our Suite…

Canada 143

We had no desire to leave our suite and the cabin staff was so very attentive to our needs.

We enjoyed reading and before dinner cocktails in our suite, unencumbered by anyone…

 

Canada 155

Day 5: En Route

We were overnight on train en-route as the Canadian sped across the great prairielands over the Canadian National Railway

The views were breathtaking…

Canada 120Canada 122Canada 118Canada 125Canada 126Canada 169

 

As part of booking the suite, the Canadians call it the Romance Package……and it was, we had Champagne and Flowers delivered to the suite each evening….

Canada 140

Day 6: Overnight Jasper

After lunch the Canadian begins its ascent of the eastern slope of the Rockies, a not to be missed spectacle.

Canada 163

This afternoon, we arrive in gorgeous Jasper and transfer to the Amethyst Lodge for our overnight stay in this magical and unspoiled mountain hamlet. All evening free to relax in this glorious setting

Wandering about the town were Elk…….what fun..

Canada 191

We had a delightful time wandering about and visiting with locals…

Canada 172

We dined at Papa George’s and had some of the finest French Cuisine…

Canada 176Canada 175Canada 177Canada 181Canada 178Canada 180

 

Day 7: Overnight Banff

We spent a stunning day of sightseeing as we traveled to Banff via the Columbia Icefields Parkway

Canada 581

 We were thrilled to get a ride on the Glacier itself on a ‘Sno- coach’  before our arrival in Banff for our overnight stay

Canada 325Canada 349Canada 346

Day 8: Overnight Banff

We enjoyed a full day in Banff beginning with the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain

Canada 451Canada 453Canada 455Canada 456

followed by a visit to the Banff Hot Springs that have made this village famous.

Canada 436

Later that night we had a special dinner at Le Beaujolais….

Canada 459Canada 460Canada 461Canada 462

Day 9: Overnight Banff

Another magical day with a sightseeing tour to Yoho National Park that takes in Bridal Veil Falls, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise with all afternoon at leisure to further enjoy Banff

Canada 213Canada 228Canada 238Canada 292Canada 301Canada 535Canada 208Canada 618

 A fun “selfie” with our great tour director, Patrick…

Canada 212

Day 10: Overnight Banff

Our final day in Banff we planned to sleep in and to enjoy Banff at our own pace

Canada 426

 

Day 11: Depart for Vancouver

We depart this morning after breakfast bound for Jasper with a special sightseeing tour north over the Icefields Parkway stopping at Peyto Lake and Sunwapta Falls en route….

Canada 151

Canada 421Canada 399Canada 419Canada 418Canada 417

Later we board the westbound CANADIAN, featuring spectacular views of the Rockies from its many vista-dome cars, one of the great travel treats in the World.

Canada 114

Drinks in the classic Observation Lounge are a highlight tonight followed by dinner in the diner as we roll west over the historic Canadian National Railway.

Canada 139

Day 12: Overnight Vancouver

Canada 624Canada 608

The CANADIAN arrived in Vancouver after breakfast time…….we had the most marvelous Duck Confit Eggs Benedict on the Train…

 

Canada 154

 We enjoyed a brief sightseeing tour of this beautiful city, Canada’s third largest.

Canada 631Canada 635Canada 639Canada 652Canada 605Canada 623Canada 666Canada 627Canada 658

The balance of the day was leisure…. we found a delightful Japanese Restaurant, tucked away on a side street….

Canada 663

We are anxious to get to sleep, because the next day we would meet Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog

Day 13: Spend the Day with Virginia

We spent a grand day with Virginia and the Good Husband…read about it CLICK HERE…

Canada 675

Day 14: Journey Home

Alas, our incredible Canadian Adventure has come to an end….aboard the plane…….

Canada 721

Home Sweet Home

Canada 730Canada 737

I must admit that as I close my eyes each night, the vision of our nightly Champagne comes to mind…

Canada 609

Hope you enjoyed this trip across Beautiful Canada with us…

St. Lawrence Market – Toronto – Canada

Standard

Canada 053

After our marvelous morning at Clafouti’s Patisserie it was time to explore more of Toronto

We are just in day two of our two week journey across Canada with Uncommon Journeys train exploration known as Canadian Panorama..

We hopped the Trolley to head back downtown……we exited the trolley early to walk about a bit and enjoy the sights…

Canada 052Canada 100Canada 089Canada 094Canada 090Canada 091Canada 096Canada 098Canada 087

Our destination was the Famed St. Lawrence Market

Canada 086

This market has achieved the status of Number One Food Market in the WORLD

……..well you know the Tin Man…..if it is about food, it must be explored…..

Canada 084

We enter the Market and the World of all Culinary Delights embraces us….

         Canada 076 Canada 075

Canada 074

Canada 073 Canada 072

Canada 068

Canada 071  Canada 069

Okay…..Okay…..Okay…enough temptation……..time to eat (again)

Canada 056Hey, it is Home of the Oink…….gotta be good………

Canada 058Canada 057

Oink……….Oink……….it was good!!

Time to explore some more….

Canada 061

Canada 060Canada 064

Canada 062Canada 063Canada 067

 ….and then before us …….. WHAT….THEY ARE GRILLING OCTOPUS…..my favorite….

Canada 066

Canada 079Canada 065

We find a table out on the patio and place our order….

Canada 078

Soon the Delights of the Sea are before us……the aromas exotic and marvelous…

Canada 077

Oh, Pure Heaven, this is the place to visit when in Toronto……but it is time to take to the streets again…

We do need to meet our Tour Group for Dinner Tonite…………ha….

Canada 092

A quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and have a cocktail….

Canada 095

Then it is off for our last meal on solid ground for the next four days…….so excited about getting on the train…

Excited about Dinner at Joe Badali’s Italian Restaurant…..

Canada 101

We are a large group, so an Italian Restaurant is the perfect place…..the service is great and the food fantastic…

Canada 102Canada 103

Now that Dinner is done……we being the train trip…..stay tuned for that exciting adventure…

Hope you enjoyed our stay in Toronto…

Canada 093

Paris, France

Standard

We took the early (ONLY) bus out of Penalver, Spain, to Guadalajara and purchased tickets to Madrid  Once in Madrid we spent 3 hours in lines only to find out that we must take a train to another station, Chamartin, in order to purchase our Eurorail passes.  We take the train and spend another hour waiting in lines and finally purchase our passes and our tickets on an overnight sleeper car from Madrid to Paris………….the city of lights.

We are in a sleeper car that will hold four persons, upon arrival we find there will be only one other occupant.  His name is Trakhed, a very nice man from Morocco.  He speaks French and a little Spanish, we leave the station at seven in the evening.  We have been lugging suitcases, standing in line and fretting since eight in the morning!  We go off to the dining car and enjoy a light dinner and some wine.  At nine in the evening the attendant lowers the beds and I promptly climb into the top bunk and our Moroccan friend leaves the quarters.  I fall asleep immediately and sleep rather well throughout the rest of our 14 hour journey across the Great Pyrenees Mountains.  Before the sun sets we enjoy the sites of the Spanish Country side filled with castle after castle.

 We arrive in Paris at 9:30 A.M. and find the weather to be cold and rainy. We stumble upon a most wonderful cab driver who takes us to hotel after hotel as we find no rooms at any inns! He then suggests a chain of hotels called the Ibis, off we go. The hotel is walking distance to Notre Dame and has a very large room with a comfortable bed and full bath — a bath we desperately need after now 27 hours without one! We wander the streets of Paris, just enjoying being here again…………..and being clean!

Saturday, we awake to the city coming to life. The streets are being set up with the Farmer’s Markets throughout this beautiful city. The stands full of fresh meats, herbs, cheeses, flowers, vegetables and even socks and underwear! We so enjoy strolling about and tasting all the delights.

Off we trot to Notre Dame and marvel, once again, in her magnificent art and architecture. We sit in her shadow and enjoy a coffee and parisesane hot dog.


We purchase metro tickets and off we go into the belly of Paris — our first stop the Eiffel Tower, where we stop and help young lovers by taking pictures of them in front of the tower. A young Russian couple returns the favor and takes a photo of August and myself…..how fun!

We rest at the Museum of Modern Art and dine on the patio. Soon back to the metro to continue our exploration.

Our day ended at the Arche de Triumph on the Champs de Elysees

We visited many of our favorite places in Paris and so enjoyed dining at the outdoor cafe with the gracious and fun French wait staff. It seems that whenever we are in Paris that we have returned to Oz.

Sunday May First………..May Day!
The streets are full of flower vendors celebrating this day! We feast upon local meats and cheeses accompanied by croissants — of course and then venture off to the North of Paris for the next leg of our journey…..Belgium! Oh, my mouth waters for the rich beer and a plate of local mussels – and one must not forget the chocolate!!!

The train station is a true representation of all the cultures of the world. People from Africa, in the most beautiful clothes, Germans, Russians, Indians, Pakistani. I found a delightful woman in the tobacco shop who assisted me in purchasing stamps for our post cards and located a postal drop for me.

I am amazed that in the midst of all this chaos and activity when someone stops to be so kind and patient. Our train comes in 45 minutes and we are anxious to be on our way. On the train now in our first class seats, so comfortable and ready to see the sights on this next leg of our voyage. I so marvel at the efficiency of the transportation system here in Europe. Should we have this in the U.S., I believe many more would engage in exploration of our beautiful country. We change trains in Brussels and move on to Gent — watching the charming countryside as we move along.