Built in 1939, Los Angeles Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the West. Unknown to many passengers, Union Station occupies the historic area that was once Old Chinatown. This area included the Calle de los Negros (Alley of the Black People) and extended east across Alameda Street. On the other side of the station, Little Tokyo was founded in 1884. It is the largest of the three official Japan-towns in the United States. During WWII, the incarceration of Japanese Americans emptied the area and for a brief time it was known as Bronzeville, after African Americans moved into the vacated area.
According to Amtrak, traveling in Business Class is a premium experience. It was my only option, on my trip from Los Angeles to Vancouver. All the sleepers were sold out. Business class was also pretty full. So, there went my idea of staying COVID-19 free, by booking a seat in business class. From the very start, the train was never going to arrive in Seattle on time. This was important, because the connection bus to Vancouver needed to be picked up at the train station in Seattle. While still in Los Angeles, we waited over an hour, for sixty people on a train running late, to arrive and transfer over to Coastal Starlight. By the time we reached Seattle, the train was four hours late. Luckily, the connection bus waited. Once at the train station in Vancouver, which was long since closed for the night, I called for a taxi. In less than fifteen minutes, I arrived to my hotel. It was 3:30 am.
I read somewhere that the Vancouver Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront offered guest a vibrant waterfront with unobstructed views. You can’t believe everything you read. When booking a room with a view, the listing says: Partial Views of Coal Harbour. I was lucky enough to get a room directly in between the harbour and two large apartments buildings on either side. As an Expedia VIP member, I was awarded a twenty percent discount off drinks and food, from the hotel’s restaurant. The food was great and the service was amazing. By my third and final day, my waiter (I always had the same one) just walked over, grabbed me from the line, and sat me at the only vacant table, during the breakfast buffet.
Three days of sleeping in a bed almost made up for the 40 hours of sitting upright on Amtrak. I finished my breakfast, at the Pinnacle, and grabbed a taxi for the airport. Due to my late arrival (11:00 pm) into Mexico City, I booked a sleeping pod at the airport terminal. izZzleep Aeropuerto Terminal 2 is located directly outside of the arrival hall, upstairs from the bus terminal. At check-in, you’re given the WiFi password, socks, earplugs, a towel, and earbuds for the tv in your pod. Larger luggage and shoes need to be placed in your locker. The key also opens the door to your locker, the bathroom, (with sinks, showers, and toilets), the door the pods and your pod. Do not lose that key card. Once inside your pod, you’ll find a pillow, blanket, and a bottle of water.
My first pod, in the 200 area, was warm. My pod in the 100 area was cold. I slept better in the 200 area. In the 100 area, my pod was right next to the door. And, although the area is marked as a quiet space, the person above me kept their phone on vibrate. Each time they received a call or text message, I could hear it. I could also hear people coming in and out of the area, since my pod was the first one from the door. Luckily, I had taken a nap, earlier in the day. Still, I hardly slept the night before my flight from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido. I didn’t even think about the earplugs. More on that later.
By the time that I arrived in Puerto Escondido, I really needed a bed. Casa Losodeli features dormitory and private rooms. I opted for a suite. It was on the third floor of the property and I wasn’t quite sure about the stairs. Turns out, I didn’t really have an issue. The cleaning staff was great, along with the front desk staff and everyone working in the cafe. I must admit that I wasn’t very social, with the nomadic digital working types. I’m retired. Sure, I worked on a few post for Instagram and Facebook, while I was there, but it’s not like I actually have a job and I wanted to be respectful of those who did.
By the end of seven days, I really I was pretty chilled. My life of having a late breakfast, walking to the beach, parking myself at a cafe, and ordering a Coke, was on daily rotation. Plus, any purchase also came with being able to sit in a chair, at the cafe, out of the sun. There was no real time limit. From my YouTube channel research, for the trip, I decided to only go to the same beach as the locals. A few vlogs didn’t like them and said they were too small and/or had too many boats. Being more of a sit by the beach, rather than swim at the beach, kind of person, the boats were OK by me. Puerto Angelito and Playa Manzanillo are connected by a walkway. Both beaches were a short ten minute walk from my hotel. I settled in and felt right at home.
After seven days of bliss, I reversed my travels and returned to Mexico City, then Vancouver and finally back to Los Angeles via Amtrak. The Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport is located in Richmond. The city has an immigrant population of 60%, the highest in Canada. Over 50% of Richmond residents identify as Chinese, making it the city in North America with the largest proportion of Asians. I was looking forward to the weekend night market and the large variety of Asian restaurants near the hotel. After checking in, my room had to be changed. The refrigerator hadn’t been checked and the food in it had started to smell. The second room simply has dust growing on the soap. I had my own, so no harm done.
I took a taxi from Richmond to the train station in Vancouver. I settled into the connection bus and was prepared for the first stop, at the Canada/USA Border. After the bus made its way out of Vancouver, the surrounding area became very familiar. We were in Richmond. The outgoing bus makes a stop at one of the hotels there. I had no idea. We then made good time to the border and on to Seattle. Once in the station, I was ready to ask if there was a lounge for the sleeping car passengers. I was in line, when the announcement to board happened. I made my way to the train and the bedroom where I would spend the next thirty six hours.
It’s hard to believe that I slept better in business class, on the way up, but it’s true. There was a crack in the metal door separating my room from my neighbor’s. I could look in and see him. When I heard him addressing the issue with our attendant, I joined in the conversation. I offered to undress closer to the toilet/shower combo in my room. We all had a good laugh with that one. After two nights in the sleeping pods, I’m not sure why I didn’t remember to sleep with earplugs. I woke up at almost every other stop, from Seattle to Los Angeles. Sleeping aside, the highlight of sleeper class is supposedly the three daily meals. The breakfast choices were ok, lunch was to be avoided, and dinner’s saving grace was the fact that it came with an alcoholic beverage.
Still, that view, once you hit the California coastline, is pretty darn amazing. I’m currently back in Seattle. I flew in from Burbank, to do my Global Entry interview. The flight was less than three hours and that’s including the 45 minute delay, due to bad morning weather in Seattle. Once here, I sat around the airport for three hours, before my interview. I’ve now doubled that time, waiting for my redeye flight. Almost twelve hours in an airport, but still faster then that Amtrak train. It’s amazing how easy it is to sit for twelve hours, after doing forty one way and thirty six on the return.
Next up, finally visiting all fifty states. Mississippi and South Dakota, I’ll be seeing you! XOXO — GGT