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Amtrak California Zephyr - Eastbound or Westbound?

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Photo from Amtrak Website


Long time ago I read a blog about Amtrak -California Zephyr. I tried to find the blogger to give him credit but can't find his blog any longer. Anyway, thank you for taking time to write about California Zephyr that I was able to remember it and hence the reason I was able to present the idea to my hubby. 

We are booked for next year,2021!. Yay! My hubby is not a fan of flying so when I suggested for us to take the train, he said he'd rather do that than to be on a plane. 

Honestly, I planned this trip for a month or two and within that timeframe I changed the plan like 3 times. The original plan was, we'll start our journey from West to East because they said it is prettier to go that way. For some reason, after I finished our plan and presented it to my hubby, I read more reviews and found out that if we start West there might be a chance to missed the best views. 

Here is the California Zephyr Schedule -https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/temporary-timetables/California-Zephyr-Schedule-100520.pdf

Photo From Amtrak

Upon checking the schedule, I changed our plan to Westbound (East - West) because I considered the fact that we are planning this trip around winter time which means longer nights. Even if there will be delays we won't miss the best scenic views of our train ride. They said Colorado is where the train ride gets interesting so I want to be sure we'll be there daylight and that's only possible if we take Westbound (see schedule). 

That's the only factor why I changed from Eastbound to Westbound and oh! (I lied) also because we are just doing a one way trip that's why I want to be sure that we will see everything and won't missed nothing! 

I am reading a lot of reviews that either route will be beautiful and it all comes down to your preference and what will be the best for you. So, to some of my readers that has the same factors to consider same like mine, hope this helps a little bit to plan your train trip a bit easier. 

Keep you all posted after our Amtrak California Zephyr Train adventure. Who knows, we might end up doing both routes. Haha!



California Zephyr - Superliner Roomette or Bedroom?

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Photo from Amtrak


Straight answer - IT DEPENDS.

Which can you afford? Superliner Roomette is cheaper and Superliner Bedroom is pricey though you'll have your own private bathroom.

I decided to booked the bedroom but I did some adjustments to afford it. Instead of doing roundtrip, I only booked one way and since I fly for free, we'll just fly back home. 

Also, even after you booked your train ticket, please do check the Amtrak website from time to time because Amtrak sometimes change their pricing. I was able to save about $300 because there was a price difference when I checked their website. I just called Amtrak customer service and told them about the price change. The customer service then refunded the difference back to my bank account. 

$$Cha-ching!$$

For more details about Amtrak Accommodations - https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/onboard-accommodations-for-all-your-needs/sleeper-car-accommodations.html

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Part 5 - How To Travel To Manila, Philippines During Pandemic

 

MARCH 9, 2021 - IS IT OVER YET?

*take note. I am checking and refreshing my emails every second for the Covid-19 Result πŸ˜‚ and lots of prayers

5:00am - packed all my stuffs. Ordered Breakfast for the Champ.

5:30am - Breakfast / Watching Filipino News

6:30am - Showered. 

7:00am - Bored because I just want to be out of the room and see my Fam!

12nn - Checking my stuffs twice and cleaning up my room

1:30pm - Decided to order Lunch

 

2:00pm - Checked email and test result is out! Almost spit out my Sinigang sa saya! 


but I realized I have another thing that I need to do. Certificate from Bureau of Quarantine so the hotel will be able to release me. EEERRR! *panicking! I remember my friendly neighbor told me to let the Front Desk people do it for me. So, I went downstairs, super kilig because I am actually out of my room! 

I asked for help but the this specific person at the Front Desk don't want to help so I was like... okay then, I won't be upset no one can ruin my day. 

I just went back to my room. I emailed the Bureau of Quarantine at 2:33pm with my negative result. Some people said that... they got their certificate in 15mins and some over an hour. 

3:30pm I emailed Bureau of Quarantine because it's taking them a long time to email me back, I don't want to stay another night in the hotel!

So, I can't take it any longer! I called the front desk just to voice out my concern and this lady at the front desk told me she'll do it for me and she'll just need details so she can communicate with Bureau of Quarantine directly. I was like, okay I will come down right now.

She took a photo of my result and viber ( I repeat VIBER! πŸ‘€) it to Bureau of Quarantine. In less than 10mins she got the Certificate. I was like... so thankful and at the same time, this is the exact reason why I came down to ask for help 4-5hrs agooo!

I wasn't able to check-out until 5-530ish. What an ordeal! And that's the reason my friend, you need to book for 7 nights!

PS
My thoughts about this Quarantine? I am okay with it since I want to be sure that my family will be safe too but this πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘ŽπŸ‘ŽBureau of Quarantine Certificate πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘ŽπŸ‘Ž though... I don't see the point for it! so that's a BOO for me! πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘ŽπŸ‘Ž

I could not wait to hug my Family that I have not seen for 

SIX YEARS!



Part 4 - How To Travel To Manila, Philippines During Pandemic

 

THE QUARANTINE. 

Warning: All Rules and Restrictions are based on this dates -March 03 to March 09 of 2021

At this time, Philippine government requires all entering the country to have swab test on the 5th day and have a booked quarantine facility for six days. 

Here is the thing, it is so confusing about this 5th day swabbing because the time of your arrival is not counted as day one. Let me explain, I arrived March 3 but my first day of quarantine does not start until the next day which is March 4. And this is all according to Philippines rules and restrictions. 

It is easier for me to just think I'll be swab on the 6th day that's why

*I booked my hotel for total of seven nights plus I look at it also how will I budget my money if in case, you know... they didn't have my result on time and I need to extend my hotel stay.

This timeline is according how it will be easier for me to navigate through all the Philippine rules about quarantine.

MARCH 3, 2021 (DAY 1) - Check-in at the Quarantine Hotel. I stayed somewhere in Pasay. YUP! I ate Jollibee. 

MARCH 4, 2021 (DAY 2) - Jetlag. I ate Tapa for breakfast. The best! and I ordered more Pinoy dish through out the day. FUN!

MARCH 5, 2021 (DAY 3) - Jetlag. So much love from Family and Friends. Hindi ako nagutom! 

*received an email from Padlab to confirm my information. Please make sure you reply asap to this email. 

MARCH 6, 2021 (DAY 4)- Slept all day. Bawi from Jetlag.

MARCH 7, 2021 (DAY 5) - This day is getting into my nerve. Parang ayoko na dito sa room but the next door hotel guest kept me entertained. Grabe! Pang teleserye and comedy! Na aliw talaga ako!

*Called front desk just to let them know that, it's my fifth day and if there anything I need to do to make sure that Padlab won't forget about my swab test. Front desk assured me all was good.

MARCH 8, 2021 (DAY 6)-  THE DAY! Swab test! 

I was up so early because I was expecting that my hotel will be the first stop since their lab is just around the area or I am just sooo excited to be out of this room!  I know it my mind that I am so done with this quarantine and I want to see Pilipinas na! 

6am  -I was telling myself... too early for them to start. I ordered brunch nalang. lol

7am -called Front Desk. Just because I want to.

1030am -Worried.

1130 -Super worried! Still no call from Front Desk that Padlab people are here. *Heard the next door neighbor that she'll be leaving today. That she got swabbed yesterday!

12nn -I can't help it. Went out of my hotel room, checked the room number next door, went back to my room and picked up the phone and called her. LOL. She said she got swabbed yesterday at 8am! (Oh my gee!)  PANICKING! and she got the result this afternoon plus the Certificate of Quarantine! 

2pm - checked out PADLAB FB page. There's a forum there. People who are waiting to be swab this very day. I chat with them. Hala! parang friends kami agad! na-aliw ako. Sabi nila PATIENCE is the key daw. OKAY.

3pm - Crying. 

4pm - Iritang walang magawa!

5pm - called front desk. Lol. Told me they can go late - 7pm for swab test.

530pm - Phone rang! Hello! Ma'am, they are here for your swab test! My heart talaga! *kilig na mi halong iyak.

6pm - GOT SWABBED! 


==== Next day naman! Result + Certificate of Quarantine! 


MARCH 9 (DAY 7) - Would I get everything on time or will I need to add another night?


FOR PART 5 - https://www.xoxohannahmichael.com/2021/04/part-5-how-to-travel-to-manila.html






Part 3 - How To Travel To Manila, Philippines During Pandemic

 

Part 3 - Documents you need to bring as a "BALIKBAYAN" (former national of the Philippines) and etc. 


March 8, 2021 / Monday / Quarantine Hotel / Swab Test Day


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These are the documents you need if you are arriving to the Philippines as a former national or BALIKBAYAN


 

1. US Passport 

2. Original NSO  Birth Certificate.  (not photocopy)

-In my case, Guam gate agent asked for my original Birth Certificate. It's one of the requirements to board the plane to MANILA, PHILIPPINES.  

Funny story, I have all the original documents in my backpack, properly tucked in my folder so there won't be any crease to it and all photocopies are in my mini bag, folded and I can easily access to. That's the reason I am asking the gate agent if I can just show her the photocopy. #lazy                                                          

3. Expired / Current Philippine Passport - In my case, I just recently got my US citizenship so I still do have my up to date Philippine passport. When in doubt, I brought two Philippine passports with me. Expired and current.

4. Confirmed Hotel Booking for 7days (Affiliated Quarantine Facility) - I booked mine in advance. Why not? Most of the hotels you can cancel your booking a day before your booked date without a fee and booking in advance, you'll be able to steal a great price. 

5. Face Shield (plus face mask) - before I can board the plane GUM-MNL gate agent will require you to wear face shield before you can board the plane and all throughout the flight.

6. QR code for Covid-19 Test - My aircraft uses terminal 3 in NAIA. The available testing lab there, is either Philippine Redcross or Padlab. In my experience, I register for Philippine Redcross (because it is cheaper) but when I was doing the steps of the things needs to be done at the airport. The person told me to just use Padlab and register online to provide them QR code. It's a bit of a hassle. Actually, the reason I do all the paperwork beforehand because the details that's needed to fill out the form entails me to check my passport number, flight number, address of the hotel, etc... but yeah! I just did what they told me to do... Anyway, I arrived safe and sound. I am super thankful and no one can ruin that for me.

7. Original Court order of Change name - I got it with me in case they'll ask for it. I followed to have an American name. Meaning, I didn't include my maiden name in my legal name. So, the US passport I am using is not like the Philippine passport that spelled out your maiden name. 


SUMMARY: After all the steps that needs to be done then off I go to Philippine Immigration. Honestly, the two officers who were there, they were the saddest and snob face on Earth I saw! Grabe! I greeted them, wala man lang hi back or maski taas man lang ng kilay (you know like Pinoy way).  I was about to narrate the nakakairitang encounter with them but bakit pa? Don't highlight the irita nalang. There are so much irita na in the world and I do hope you'll get a Philippine Immigration Officer that's not like them. Wala naman masama to be nice but still be able to do your job as protector of Philippine border to illegal entry when need to. #justsaying. 

I hand my expired Philippine passport and US passport to the Philippine Immigration Officer, I initiated to let her know that I am balikbayan. Finally, she asked a question... Magtatagal ka ba? I told her no and then she stamped my US passport with BB and dated it. I thank her (just kill them with kindness, dba?) after she hand me the passport. Wala pa din eh. Nganga! Saya nuh?

Then, Philippine breeze kissed my cheeks! All the irita was gone! HELLO PILIPINAS! πŸ’“πŸ’ 

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P.S.

Please make sure that you have photocopies of all your documents and also soft copy that you can access it anytime you need to.