RATINGS - Accommodations and Trains
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*Accommodation Ratings (Sep 2005)

*Amtrak & Accommodation Ratings (Sep 2005)

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West and North on Amtrak (September 2005)  Train Story

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

The trains were nearly always clean and welcoming - these are my ratings in the order in which I travelled on Amtrak.  September 2005.

(Chicago) La Junta to Los Angeles - scenery is gorgeous through New Mexico.  Bathrooms the next morning were in a state and quite disgusting.  Staff were courteous and friendly.  History and scenery Commentary on the train.
overall rating - 3

Los Angeles to Monterey (Seattle) - got to Salinas one hour late - train was clean and staff helpful.  Lovely coastal scenery to watch out for - incredibly neat farmlands as you get nearer to Salinas.  This is one of my favorite routes.
overall rating - 4

(Los Angeles) Monterey - Seattle - this was the trip from hell.  Train arrived an hour late (nickname the Coast Starlate) as is so often the case on this route.  We plodded along until Chico in northern California where we came to a standstill and because of a freight derailment up ahead, were delayed by 12 to 14 hours.  Passengers were eventually bused to Redding (the southbound "Starlate" bused their passengers south to our train), the trains were turned around, and we proceeded on our way.  Instead of taking us all the way to Seattle, and because supplies were low (nowhere to stock up) on the train, we only went as far as Portland, Oregon.  We were then herded onto buses at about 5.30 am and driven to various points between Portland and Seattle.  We were given a box with a muffin, a napkin, a wetwipe and some orange juice.  The ride was scary as the fog came over the interstate and we were hurtling along to try and make up time.  We got to Seattle at about 9.30 am exhausted and peed off that I missed my overnight stay in Seattle - well-received at Seattle's King Street Station.  Considering the horrible delays, I have to take my hat off to the staff - they were extremely professional and tried to allay our fears and worries - thanks to the attendent with the white hair - sorry I don't recall her name!  I think it started with a C).  I never heard one passenger gripe about the delay other than a few passing comments - I was pleasantly surprised.
overall rating - 3

Seattle to West Glacier (Chicago) - simply magical and exquisite and superb - unbelievably beautiful scenery with a commentary until nightfall - good food and a wide range of friendly people on board.  This train is probably the best Amtrak train I've been on and I highly recommend taking it the entire route (you can stop off like I did) as there is so much to see.  It's no wonder it's so highly thought of - a week after I returned home, I watched this trip on a PBS program.
overall rating - 5

(Seattle) West Glacier to Chicago - luxuriously clean train with a fanatical Carleen who kept things impeccably clean - thank you.  Varying scenery and more commentary which was interesting.  Very pleasant trip to Chicago.
over rating - 5

Chicago - Denver (Emeryville/San Francisco) - quick journey to Denver but this train is also often subject to delays because of work on the tracks and rerouting.  Friendly passengers and good food.  Train wasn't as clean as it should have been and although I barely set eyes on the coach attendent (I have no clue where she was all the time or what she was doing all the time - she wasn't the most friendly and we didn't get our pillows until a good few hours into the trip - she was abrupt and could hardly raise a smile), it was tolerable and we arrived on time in Denver.
overall rating - 3

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

I didn't spend as much time waiting around in train stations as I have in the past, thankfully, so these ratings are much more concise.  They are in the order in which I travelled to them.  Sometimes there just wasn't enough time to wander far from the train.  September 2005.

Albuquerque - 4 (new station and I didn't go in - looks brand new and neat - food, sodas, blankets, jewelry, and souvenirs are available for sale on the platform)
Los Angeles - 3 (large and clean and very busy - interesting)
Santa Barbara - 4 (pretty from the outside - I didn't go inside)
San Luis Obispo - 4 (spectacular location and neat surroundings)
Salinas (for Monterey) - 3 (small and neat - bathrooms were out of action)
Seattle - 4 (large and efficient - luggage can be held at $2.00 per piece for 24 hours - courteous staff.   They have recycle bins for paper, plastic and cans which I thought was great)
Whitefish - 4 (pretty Tudor style train station building)
West Glacier (Belton Station) - 4 (small but exquisitely maintained)
Havre - 3 (small - has vending machines)
Chicago - 4 (huge and efficient and a marvel - very busy with friendly staff)
Denver - 4 (small and neat - construction in progress - vending machines)

Generally, station staff were friendly and helpful most everywhere I went.

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

September 2005

Motel 6 - Los Angeles, California
This has to be the bargain of the year.  $56.99 per night (incl. tax) in the heart of Hollywood.  A few blocks away (0.38 m) from the Red Line on the subway (Hollywood & Highland), this is the perfect location for a tourist in Los Angeles.  The hotel is a little rickety but just fine.  Hollywood Boulevard is within spitting distance and so is Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Kodak Theatre, souvenir stores, the walk of fame, the subway station, bus lines, and so much more.  The Red Line on the subway will take you to Universal Studios and is just a stop or two away.  I highly recommended using this Motel 6 - this is the third time I've stayed there and it's so central.  You also get complementary coffee in the morning downstairs in the foyer.
Overall rating - 4
$56.99 per night (incl. tax)
1738 N. Whitley Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028
Telephone: (323) 464-6006
Fax: (323) 464-4645
Toll-free: 1-800-466-8356
Web address: www.motel6.com

Motel 6 - Monterey, California
A little far out of the center of Monterey but on the bus route.  Quiet setting with a pool.  More expensive than Hollywood but adequate with friendly and helpful staff.  Complementary coffee in the foyer in the mornings.
Overall rating - 3
$69.99 (excl. taxes) Sunday to Thursday; $99.99 (excl. taxes) Friday and Saturday.  Two Adults $75.99 (excl. taxes) and kids 17 and under stay free.
2124 North Fremont Street, Monterey, CA 93940
Telephone: (831) 646-8585
Fax: (831) 372-7429
Toll-free: 1-800-466-8356
Web address: www.motel6.com

Belton Chalet - West Glacier, Montana
Only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Amtrak station, walking to the hotel shouldn't present any problems but you can request to be picked up upon arrival.  The hotel is beautiful and has been restored to its original state.  No television and no telephone in the rooms make it a peaceful and extremely relaxing hotel.  Tours to Glacier National Park can be arranged and you can be picked up at the Belton Chalet.  Rooms are sparsely decorated in keeping with the theme.  Lots of history which you can read about in the reception area or take a walk around the grounds and see the beautifully landscaped gardens.  You can sit quietly and enjoy your breath-taking surroundings, or, take a short walk into "town" for tour information or to get something from the little store.  Peaceful and elegant with their exquisite restaurant on the premises.  I had buffalo meatloaf wrapped in apple smoked bacon and served with smokey chipotle gravy, roasted garlic and whipped potatoes and savory creamed corn.  The cheesecake for dessert (I know!) was wonderful.  Breakfast is served downstairs in the chalet and is also wonderful.  There are also two cottages you can opt to stay in, Lewis or Clark.  There are also seasonal spa facilities which you should enquire about beforehand.
Overall rating - 5
from $130.00 (excl. taxes)
P.O. Box 206, West Glacier, MT 59936
or 12575 Hwy. 2 East, West Glacier, MT 59936
Telephone: (406) 888-5000
Toll-free: 1-888-235-8665
E-mail: rooms@beltonchalet.com
Web address: www.beltonchalet.com

Red Roof Inn - Chicago, Illinois
What a wonderful location in the heart of Chicago.  Lovely building a block off Michigan Ave (Magnificent Mile) and on many bus routes and within walking distance of so many attractions such as the Hancock Center Observatory and the Water Tower and many top-of-the-range department stores.  Go the other way and you'll see the Wrigley Building, the Chicago River, and I even saw Alan Alda being interviewed on radio at the viewing window of the WGN Radio 720am building!  Handy and fabulous Apple computer store just a block and a half away where you can check your e-mail - a godsend.  All rooms have a hairdryer and iron and ironing board.
Overall rating - 4
$109.99-$139.99 and $129.99-$149.99 depending on when you visit.
162 E. Ontario Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: (312) 787-3580
Fax: (312) 787-2354
Toll-free: 1-800-733-7663
E-mail: i0281b@redroof.com
Web address: www.redroof.com

Both Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn accommodations are part of Accor

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.

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