We stayed in San Francisco and did the ferry across to Napa Valley Wine Train Station and we selected the Gourmet Lunch, here is our story.
The day before our Wine Train Trip I decided to 'dry run' finding the way to the Ferry Building (Gate B) from our accommodation (The Handlery Hotel at Union Square) just to be sure I wasn't going to miss the ferry to Vallejo. I already had a Muni (bus, tram, cable car) ticket, $33 for 3 days use as much as you want, this will get us from Market Street directly to the Ferry Building.
* We walked from the Handlery Hotel on Geary, down Powell and down to Market.Street.
* Once on Market, we waited for a Muni tram outside the Westfield and we caught the tram all the way to the Ferry Building. (approx 10mins travel)
* We arrived about 7.30am so we had time to check out some of the shops that had already opened, one served breakfast, so we had coffee and breakfast at the Ferry Building. (Ferry Building is now a food shopping complex - WOW!!)
* at 7:45am we saw the Ferry approach Gate B from across the bay.
* Once the ferry empties of people, I entered under Gate B arch, but stopped at the next locked Gate.
* At the next gate, the ferry operator will see the group forming and come over in due course. Not everyone travelling is going on the wine train, some do, some are just going to Vallejo.
* The ferry operator checks tickets of everyone. If you are going on the Wine Train, the ferry operator is looking for your paper copy of the Wine Train Reservation with the bar code on it.
* Once on the ferry, its huge and comfortable, seats have a tray table like an aircraft. There is a little shop on board and rest rooms. Our ferry didn't bounce around at all, great trip on the bay.
* We sat on the left hand side and had a great view of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and other lovely views along the 1.5hr journey across the bay.
* The next stop is your stop, Vallejo
* When you hop off, you may see one, two, three or more mini shuttle buses at the exit gate directly head of you. The Wine Train Bus driver on our day stood outside his bus with a big cardboard photo of the Wine Train shoing these words "Wine Train". We headed for that bus.
* The nice Bus driver checked our names off his list and then our party and others boarded the mini bus for the 10 mile trip to the Napa Valley Wine Train Station building.
* At the station, the bus pulls up at the steps leading up to the station.
* Once inside the station, approach the Counter and like checking into a motel, give the assistant your paper Wine Train Reservation, she/he will flick though a bunch of paper work and, find your name and explain a whole bunch of details very quickly!.
* You'll be handed your ticket. Make sure at this point the ticket you get is what you expected (eg I ordered Gourmet, my ticket said Gourmet, all good)!.
* There are several variants of trips, and different groups being called at different times, its a little unnerving because you think you may have missed your boarding call because there are several different boarding calls, for the different train carriages and on our day, two trains left close together.
* There is about a 1hr wait after arriving on the bus to hoping on the train. The station has a gift shop, (including HO locos and carriages of the train), wine sales and rest rooms. There is no food shop at the station. (you could walk 10mins to a nice store if needed)
* We bought some wine while we waited (your complimentary wine if you're entitled to one is on the train, not on arrival at the station).
* They called out on the PA system our carriage allocation and about 15 of us all moved out of the station and up to the train (Yay, on our way!).
* Our tickets were checked again, photo taken and shown to our beautiful carriage.
* We sat down, staff kept us in formed of arrangements, and welcomed us to explore the train. I headed straight for my complimentary wine and the last carriage where there is an observation veranda as the train got underway and we happily toasted several cars/trucks as we sipped Napa Valley Wine in the Napa Valley, while passing by the vineyards. Living the Dream now !!
* We booked our lunch on the return journey, so we eventually took our seats at our two seat cocktail area to enjoy our first course of grapes, cheese, crackers and all sorts of nice things.
* train travels about 20 mph which is perfect for viewing the lovely scenery- and wine does not spill!
* train stops about 75% into the journey and some guests hop off at a winery, this was their package. We then continued onto St Helena (end of the line) the locomotives run around the train and hook back on the opposite end.
* At this point, the staff now invited our carriage from the cocktail carriage into the dinning carriage.
* As the train moved off, they bought our lunch (and I bought more glasses of wine)
* We stayed here until we arrived back to Napa (oh yeah, we stopped to pick up those who visited a vineyard and we passed the other train too).
* Once back at Napa Valley station, its about 1.5hr wait for the mini bus to take you back to the ferry terminal at Vallejo. (If the bus came earlier, it would drop you off at Vallejo Ferry Terminal where you'd still have to wait for the same ferry).
* We passed the time by visiting the local market about 10mins walk from the station building and enjoyed the precinct.
* At the designated time, they make an announcement that the bus to Vallejo Ferry Terminal has arrived.
* Bus takes you the 10 miles back to Vallejo. About 30mins later the Ferry arrives.
We had an awesome time, but it was 12hrs from when we left our hotel until we walked in again.
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