Chicago to San Francisco – Southwest Chief Route: Departure at 3pm on 17th Feb. Total journey time approx. 60 hours.

Chicago to San Francisco – Southwest Chief Route: Departure at 3pm on 17th Feb. Total journey time approx. 60 hours.

5 min read

And so our grad-visa blogger, Tom, continues his journey on to San Fran.

If you missed the last leg of his trip you can read it here.

The train

The train had two floors and I got a great seat at the front of a carriage with more space than the last time. This was the leg of my trip I was most anxious and also excited about. Two days on a train is exhausting but some of the towns we stopped through I would never have visited even if I had driven.
We left Chicago at 3pm so there was only a few hours of daylight left. As we were literally in the middle of nowhere in Illinois somewhere, I managed to get this shot of the sunset.

During the first night, we made into Kansas. I woke up the next day as we were just passing  into Colorado. 

After Colorado, we made our way into New Mexico which was one of my favourite sections of the journey. We witnessed beautiful landscape and desert and my camera was being used  frequently.

We then stopped in a remote little town called Raton. We were there for about 30 minutes and I got to explore a little bit. I loved the different desert colours throughout the town and it had a lot of character for such a small place.

We passed through California and then we were on our last haul to San Fran.

Arriving in San Francisco

After 60 hours, I made it to San Francisco. There were short stops along the way but I should have stayed a night somewhere as it was too long to be traveling. It was a beautiful trip and well worth doing though.

Day 1

I was there 5 nights. The first day was Irish weather all day so I couldn’t get up to much so I had some much needed rest to catch up on after the long train journey! I grabbed some dinner in Japan Town, it’s a great little street full of Ramen and noodle places.

Day 2

For my second day, I first checked out the famous Lombard street  and then went to San Francisco’s Chinatown. It is one of the most famous in America. Having lived in China myself for a previous job, I always enjoy experiencing their food and culture wherever I am. There’s so many restaurants and stores which you can visit to experience the Chinese culture.

After Chinatown, I made my way to the Giants baseball stadium, AT&T Park. I managed to get a tour of the park and if you’re into baseball or sport in general, definitely check it out if you have time. I had a blast! [Price for tour – $22]

Day 3

The next day I designated my time to the Golden Gate Bridge, probably the main tourist attraction in San Francisco. To get to the actual Bridge itself was around a 90 minute walk from my hostel so off I went! There’s a beautiful park area before the bridge called Presidio. Here there are various walking and biking trails that lead up to the Bridge. It’s packed with people coming and going and there’s a great atmosphere.

Once you get over the bridge, there’s a little town called Sausalito. It’s by the bay and again, there are incredible views and the town itself has a great selection of restaurants and cafes to enjoy.

Once you’re finished in Sausalito, you can then get a ferry back to San Francisco. The journey from when I left my hostel to when I got off the ferry back at San Francisco is probably the best thing I’ve done on the entire trip (so far). It’s essential you do it if you are visiting this city. [Price of ferry – $11.50]

Day 4

One reason I wanted to come to San Francisco was to see a Golden State Warriors basketball game. I’m a big fan so to say I was excited is an understatement! Even if you don’t like basketball particularly, it’s a cool cultural experience to partake in. The game I attended ended in a Warriors victory so I  was a happy man! [Ticket price – $120]

Day 5

I visited Alcatraz which is a must do also if you’re in San Fran. It’s a really enjoyable, detailed and historic tour. You get a ferry to the island and back included with your ticket. Highly recommended! [Alcatraz ticket- $35]

Don’t forget to follow Tom’s adventure on Instagram and Snapchat (tburkey91) as his time in the US winds down. Got any questions for him about his time in NY, the Grad Visa program or his East to West Coast trip? Drop him an email