A Travellerspoint blog

Chihuahua: Accommodation

Quality Inn San Francisco - Calle Victoria

sunny 28 °C

I stayed here for two nights. MX$1100 per night. Which is too expensive for the quality of the hotel (and two expensive for a mochilera like me!). The shower was terrible (like a fine mist that went everywhere except on me) and the bathroom needs a bit of an overhaul.

However, the bed was fantastic as was the airconditioning. There is also an excellent business centre and although I'm no longer staying in the hotel, the concierge has permitted me to use it to check my emails & write this post! If you need to do any online banking (which I needed to do today) this is probably the most secure place in Chihuahua to do it.

There is a restaurant downstairs called Degá where you can get a discounted buffet breakfast. They also do lunch and dinner, but I only ever ate a very light breakfast there.

This hotel is primarily for business people. I met Mexican rancheros from El Paso, businessmen and - the piece de resistance - a couple of Mexican Policía Federal Preventiva who were escorting the relics of a French saint around Mexico. Long story, but you can read about it on my other blog, here.

I moved out of here on Sunday morning to Casa Chihuahua which is a backpacker hostel, but has a nicer atmosphere than San Francisco Quality Inn - oh, and the showers at Casa Chihuahua are fantastic!

Posted by knowmad 10:25 Archived in Mexico Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Amtrak: LAX to El Paso, Texas

$92 one way on Number 2 train from Union Station

sunny 25 °C

I definitely recommend going with Amtrak to El Paso from Los Angeles. Trains depart from Union Station in LA. You can get a FlyAway bus for US$3 from the Airport to the Station. Note that the train doesn't run to El Paso on Thursdays. Make sure you book your ticket at least the day before. I did this in person at Union Station.

When I bought my ticket I was told that I couldn't have any liquids or electronic equipment in my checked luggage which proved to be a real problem for me as I have a lot of electronic equipment for my camera/iPod/CD player/Vosonic X drive. So I had to buy a separate bag and transfer all this stuff over and carry it on the train with me. However, when I arrived at the station on the day of departure (Wednesday 13 September) and after I had checked in my luggage and boarded the train I realised that no one does this! Very few check in their luggage and those that do don't take notice of the no liquids/electronic equipment rule.

There were very few people on the train so most of us had two seats to ourselves. The food on the train is pretty horrible. Pizzas & fatty fried food. I would recommend taking along your own food.

The train leaves at 2.30pm and is supposed to arrive in El Paso at 8.30am the following day, but we had a delay of approximately 4-5 hours due to a freight train in front of us!

The Number 2 train is cheaper than the Number 1 train. There is a difference of nearly US$100. I don't know why, but the Number 2 train is really comfortable...almost like first class in an airline

The scenery is absolutely magnificent and a really nice way to travel from LA to El Paso. It also gave me an opportunity to meet some interesting people on the train - especially a couple of elderly sisters from New Mexico who were sitting behind me whose conversations with each other were hilarious. Particularly when they were talking about me: "Oh, I think she's going to the Military Base in El Paso... she's probably a nurse or a teacher...oh she's so cute... oh look, she's wearing socks to keep her feet warm..." Hilarious!

Upon arrival at El Paso train station you need to take a taxi to get anywhere... but you need to ring the taxi company to make a booking.

Posted by knowmad 10:05 Archived in USA Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

LAX Arrival

"The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see." - G.K. Chesterton

overcast 25 °C

I arrived in LAX today, following a long flight from Melbourne, via Auckland.

The added US-government requested security turned into an interesting spectacle. At Tullamarine Airport we were requested to ensure that we had no liquids, creams or gels in our carry on baggage, however our carry on luggage was never inspected - so I was without lipbalm for no reason at all! I was however, thrown into a "Border Security"-style scene whereby I was searched for explosives using that same contraption that the Border Security folk use to test for narcotics!

The flight to NZ was interesting as I was seated next to a Melbourne lass on her way to Chile for a five week trip. It was great to have some good conversaton for the short flight.

At Auckland security was stepped up and our carry on luggage was searched when we re-boarded the plane. My empty drink bottle was confiscated, as was my half empty (half full) drink bottle. The rest of the flight to LAX was okay - even if I didn't manage to get any sleep.

I arrived in LAX on the same day I departed, although 15 minutes earlier (time difference!). There was about an hour and a half wait to get through US Customs which was more painful than the long flight from Auckland! When I finally was called to be finger printed and photographed the Customs Officer was intrigued that I was going to México alone for two months!

I made it through customs without a drama and caught a courtesy shuttle bus to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 5985 Century Boulevard, which is very near the airport.

Rooms at the Crowne Plaza start at US$189 including breakfast. The hotel is close to the bus terminal where you can get a ride Down Town. There is also a "Flyaway" bus service from the airport to Union station. Cost is US$3.00.

If I were wanting to see the sites in LA I wouldn't stay at this hotel as getting Downtown is not so simple without a car and the bus journey with the locals takes about 45 minutes (cost is US$1.75). However, if you need a hotel just for one night in between connections, I highly recommend the Crowne Plaza.

The food is excellent at the Crowne Plaza if you are interested in stereotypical rich-carbohydrate-fat-loaded American food. There's no bircher muesli here! However, the buffet breakfast is good as it has a whole array of fresh fruit and even porridge! Alternatively you can do what I saw most of the guests doing - loading up plate after plate of crispy fried bacon, sausages, greasy scrambled eggs and something that looked like a potato tortilla. The dinner menu is virtually the same type of food - rich & heavy, but excellent. I simply couldn't stomach such heavy food after the long Qantas flight. In addition, the heat and humidity removed my appetite fairly quickly.

Posted by knowmad 16:39 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (0)

México Lindo: itinerario

"We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment" - Hilaire Belloc

overcast 14 °C

The final itinerary for my Mexican Pilgrimage is as follows:

12 September - arrive LAX
13 September - LAX to El Paso, Texas via Amtrak
14 September - arrive El Paso, Texas
15 September - El Paso, Texas to Chihuahua, México
16 September - Chihuahua
17 September - Chihuahua
18 September - Chihuahua to Creel (Copper Canyon train)
19 September - Creel to Batopilas (Copper Canyon train)
20 September - Batopilas to Creel
21 September - Creel to Los Mochis (Copper Canyon train)
22 September - Los Mochis to Mazatlán
23 September - Mazatlán
24 September - Mazatlán
25 September - Mazatlán to San Blas
26 September - San Blas
27 September - San Blas
28 September - San Blas to Guadalajara
29 September - Guadalajara
30 September - Guadalajara
1 October - Guadalajara
2 October - Guadalajara to Zacatecas
3 October - Zacatecas
4 October - Zacatecas
5 October - Zacatecas to San Luis Potosí
6 October - San Luis Potosí
7 October - San Luis Potosí
8 October - San Luis Potosí to Guanajuato
9 October - Guanajuato
10 October - Guanajuato
11 October - Guanajuato to San Miguel de Allende
12 October - San Miguel de Allende
13 October - San Miguel de Allende
14 October - San Miguel de Allende
15 October - San Miguel de Allende to Vera Cruz
16 October - Vera Cruz
17 October - Vera Cruz
18 October - Vera Cruz to Puebla
19 October - Puebla
20 October - Puebla to Oaxaca
21 October - Oaxaca
22 October - Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas
23 October - San Cristobal de las Casas
24 October - San Cristobal de las Casas
25 October - San Cristobal de las Casas to Ocosingo
26 October - Ocosingo to Laguna Miramar
27 October - Pyramids - destination yet to be decided
28 October - Pyramids - destination yet to be decided
29 October - San Cristobal de las Casas
30 October - Taxco
31 October - Taxco
1 November - México City
2 November - México City
3 November - México City
4 November - Depart México City & arrive LAX
5 November - LAX
6 November - Depart LAX for Melbourne
7 November - lose a day flying
8 November - lose another day flying
9 November - Arrive home in Melbourne

Posted by knowmad 16:22 Archived in Mexico Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Travel Preparation: Travel Gear

Best ever travel gear online retailer!

overcast 13 °C

With only two full days to go before I fly out to LA to start my México trip I have just discovered the greatest online travel gear retailer on the planet. Even better is they are located in my home state of Victoria in Kilcunda!

Tim & Janine run a tight ship at Travelgear.com.au and have been super helpful beyond all my expectations of customer service!

I have been attempting (unsuccessfully) to find a 50w step up transformer and adaptor for use in México. The transformer has been near on impossible to find and although I have found adaptors for use in México, they only accommodate 2 pronged Australian electrical appliances, not three pronged.

Anyhow, having found Travelgear.com.au by Googling, I contacted them and spoke with Janine & Tim. Tim advised me that he can supply me with the required multi-use adaptor (for use with 3 pronged Australian electrical appliances), but has no transformers left in stock. However, he gave me the contact details of his transformer supplier who is located in Beaconsfield - I promptly called him and will pop over to see him on Monday to pick up my long sought after 50w step up transformer! Coincidentally enough, Janine at Travelgear.com.au will be in Frankston (my home town) on Monday and so will deliver my multi-use adaptor in person!

So, if you are on the hunt for some obscure travel equipment, I highly recommend Travelgear.com.au.

Posted by knowmad 00:56 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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