RATINGS - Accommodations and Trains
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*Durango, Southern Colorado (2003)

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Amtrak and Accommodation Ratings (Sep 2005)

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RATINGS:   1 = disgusting   2 = bearable   3 = fair   4 = good   5 = superb

DURANGO & SILVERTON NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD TRIP

This is to date, the most spectacular train trip I have taken.  Although it's a one day trip, and not as long as some of the others I've done, it ranks right up there with the best for scenery.  $60.00 per person (adult) roundtrip.  Very worthwhile, and a must, especially for train enthusiasts.  September 2003.
Overall rating - 5


These are my Ratings of Amtrak Trains and Stations - seeing as though I spent a lot of time in train stations and had the time to check them out, I decided to assemble my own ratings system just to give you some idea.  Some of the stations left a lot to be desired but on the whole, they were pretty well-maintained.  The very worst restrooms were in New Orleans - drop-dead awful and I hope that I never have to see that again.  September 2002.

AMTRAK TRAINS

RATINGS:   1 = disgusting   2 = bearable   3 = fair   4 = good   5 = superb

LAKE SHORE LIMITED - Boston - Chicago
overall rating - 4

CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR - Chicago - Emeryville/San Francisco -
overall rating - 4 (the best scenery)

SAN JOAQUINS (California service) - Emeryville or Oakland
overall rating - 5

PACIFIC SURFLINER (California Service) - San Diego via Los Angeles to Paso Robles
overall rating - 4 (great scenery)

COAST STARLIGHT (west coast train) - Seattle to Los Angeles (also Vancouver, BC to San Diego)
overall rating - 3 (the scenery more than makes up for the low rating)

SOUTHWEST CHIEF - Los Angeles to Chicago
overall rating - 3 (the spectacular scenery makes up for the low rating)

CITY OF NEW ORLEANS - Chicago to New Orleans
overall rating - 3

SUNSET LIMITED - Los Angeles to Orlando - used the bus service so no rating

SILVER METEOR / SILVER STAR* / PALMETTO** / CAROLINIAN (most of these trains run from Boston to Miami in both directions)
* overall rating - 3
** overall rating - 4

WASHINGTON DC - NEW YORK - BOSTON CORRIDOR
overall rating - 4 (can become a little cramped on this long trip but lots to see)

THE DOWNEASTER - Boston North Station to Portland, Maine
overall rating - 4


STATIONS

These are my overall ratings of the stations at which we stopped.  September 2002.

RATINGS:   1 = disgusting   2 = bearable   3 = fair   4 = good   5 = superb

Providence - 4 (small, clean, efficient, cafe)
Boston, South Station - 4 (spacious and full of amentities)
Albany-Renssalaer - 4 (new with cafe)
Chicago - 4 (huge and efficient and a little disconcerting at times)
Denver - 4 (small and neat, cafe)
Reno - 4 (small station but neatly maintained - no cafe)
Sacramento - 4 (large, airy and neat - no cafe)
Stockton - 3 (quaint and clean - don't recall cafe)
Bakersfield - (never went inside but a rather large station from the outside)
Los Angeles - 3 (large and interesting but rather tatty and a somewhat smelly station)
San Diego - 4 (pretty location and neat and clean with cafe)
Eugene - 3 (small but clean - no cafe)
SanLuis Obispo - 4 (spectacular location and neat - don't recall cafe)
Oakland - 4 (neat, airy and clean - no cafe)
Albuquerque - (new station and didn't go in but looked like it's going to be great - food outside)
New Orleans - 2 (low rating because the ladies bathroom was a total disgrace - the rest of the station was fair)
Pensacola - 4 (new and immaculate - food stops nearby)
Jacksonville - 4 (small and neat - don't recall much food)
Rocky Mount - 5 (new and immaculately maintained - cafe alongside station)
New York Penn Station - 5 (despite its vast size this station runs well and is clean)
Portland - 4 (new and neat and tidy - no cafe)

On the whole the station staff were friendly and helpful, especially Oakland and New Orleans.


MY ACCOMMODATIONS RATINGS

RATINGS:   1 = disgusting   2 = bearable   3 = fair   4 = good   5 = superb


Durango and Pagosa Springs Accommodation Ratings - September 2003.

Be Our Guest Bed and Breakfast - Pagosa Springs.
I spent a night at Be Our Guest Bed and Breakfast in Pagosa Springs.  It is the delightful home of Pam and Tom Schoemig who are the charming hosts.  Nestled quietly at the beginning (driving west) of Pagosa Springs, there is very little to bother you in the way of traffic noise.  A tour of their establishment revealed cozy and comfortable rooms that slept either singles, doubles, or up to five.  Every bed is covered with a quilt which I found rather quaint.  Three levels of rooms with an all-equipped lower level should you want to do your own cooking.  Breakfast deliciously began with fresh apple, walnuts and cranberries, followed by eggs, potatoes and sausage, hot biscuits and jams, and the customary orange juice and coffee or tea.  They have a huge lounge/family area where you can read in peace or take a little nap in a comfy chair.  The balcony offers a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains as well as facilitates an outdoor breakfast.  Even though they are on the highway, I wasnít disturbed in the least.  There are six loft beds in a communal-type setting, used a lot by skiers and single travelers.  They even have a laundry room if youíre so inclined.  All-in-all, a most hospitable and welcoming home, and Iíll definitely be going back.  Rooms with names like "The Cowboy Room", "The Rustic Room", "The Indian Room", and "The Victorian Room", add to the charm of this beautiful house.  A superb place to stop and rest in peace and quiet.  Close to Pagosa Springs as well as Wolf Creek Pass for skiing.  Extremely pretty and beautifully decorated.
$27.00 for a loft bed.  Visit their website for rates of the other rooms.  Very well worthwhile checking out and highly recommended.
Overall rating - 5
N.B. Be Our Guest Bed and Breakfast do not take credit cards, so make arrangements beforehand.

Website at beourguest-bnb.com
19 Swiss Village Drive, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Telephone: (970) 264-6814
e-mail: info@beourguest-bnb.com

Budget Inn - Durango
Neat and clean rooms, and courtyard, and not too far from the Durango & Silverton train station.  Noisy air-conditioner.
$31.00 (excluding taxes) per room per night.
Overall rating - 3
3077 Main Avenue, Durango, CO 81301
Telephone: (970) 247-5222
Toll Free Reservations: 1-800-257-5222
e-mail: budget@pagosa.net


Road Trip Accommodation Ratings - September 2002.

Evenox Motel - Altoona, Wisconsin
Nice and clean and spacious with a good shower.  $39.38 (including tax) per night.
Overall rating - 4
2067 S. Hastingsway, Altoona, WI 54720

Thoroughbred Lodge - White River, South Dakota
Cozy and comfortable.  Friendly and helpful hostess.  $34.24 (including tax) per night.
Overall rating - 3
Hway 83-44, White River, SD 57579
Tel: (605) 259 3349


Amtrak Trip Accommodation Ratings - September 2002.

Although I didn't stay at many hotels or motels, the ones I did stay in are covered here.  Not once was I hit with a single supplement so that's something to remember.

My first stop was in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the Motel 6.  This chain offers reasonable rates with clean and tidy rooms, usually easily accessible to the center of town or the station and usually, on a bus route.  This one was somewhat conveniently located near a once-an-hour bus into town.  A little far out of the way perhaps but not totally cut off from the rest of the city.  $37.79 (including taxes) per night.
Overall rating - 4
Motel 6 - Cheyenne, Wyoming  - Tel (307) 635-6806  Fax (307) 638-3017
1735 Westland Road, Cheyenne, WY 82001
Toll-free telephone number 1-800-4-MOTEL6 (1-800-466 8356)
www.motel6.com

The second motel I stayed in was the Cabana Motel in Reno which was dire.  Rickety old furniture in a seedy setting with only one light bulb and that was in the bathroom.  There were none in the other four light fittings.  The loo blocked up and backed up all over the place and the bath looked as though it needed a good scrub.  It was the only room I could find that I could afford and wasn't booked to the hilt because of an airshow that weekend.  $50.00 (including taxes) per night.
Overall rating - 1

The third motel I stayed in was another Motel 6 in Los Angeles right on Hollywood Boulevard and really convenient.  A few blocks along the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame from the subway station (Red Line and left at the Grauman's Chinese Theater).  The motel has an elevator which is great especially if you have cumbersome luggage and you're tired.  $56.99 (including taxes) per night.
Overall rating - 4
Motel 6 - Los Angeles - Tel (323) 464-6006  Fax (323) 464-4645
1738 N. Whitley Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028
Toll-free telephone number 1-800-4-MOTEL6 (1-800-466 8356)
www.motel6.com

The fourth place I stayed in was the Redwood Inn in San Francisco.  Friendly and helpful staff and neat and clean.  $67.26 (including taxes) per night.
Overall rating - 4
Redwood Inn - San Francisco - Tel (415) 776-3800   Fax (415) 928-1934
1530 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

The next was a guest house in New Orleans called St. Vincent's Guest House which was simply delightful.  Very helpful and courteous staff and exceptionally pretty and well-maintained house and a great breakfast too.  $38.76 (including taxes - A Bargain!) per night.
Overall rating - 5
St. Vincent's Guest House - New Orleans - Tel (504) 523-3411
1507 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

Try and plan your arrival in the city in which you are spending the night, at a reasonable hour.  You don't want to be trudging around in the middle of the night, tired and laden with luggage, trying to find your way around.  Choose either a chain of hotels or motels, for convenience and where possible, ask if there are any discounts for staying in more than one hotel/motel in more than one city/destination.  Worth a try.
Prices may have changed since writing this so please check beforehand.

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