For lunch the day of my arrival in Flagstaff I ate with a retired Army veteran named Henry on the train. We had a very lively and fascinating discussion about his service, his life, and his thoughts about the direction of the country. All of that was quickly forgotten, however, when I stepped off the train onto the streets of downtown Flagstaff.
I had two hotels to choose from for their proximity to the station: The Weatherford and Hotel Monte Vista. The Weatherford has a more luxurious feel to it, but I chose Hotel Monte Vista because it screams old-town downtown Flagstaff like no other. The hotel’s sign blazed above the Flagstaff skyline to welcome me.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hotel Monte Vista is a blast. Unfortunately I fell down with a minor sinus infection during my stay and was thus unable to fully take advantage of the hotel, but it’s rather obvious how much fun can be had. Hotel Monte Vista boasts two bars and special offerings every night. If you’re visiting the area and are anywhere near Hotel Monte Vista I highly recommend going out for the day and enjoying whatever you want to and then returning to the excitement of the hotel. You’d have a day packed with fun and, if you have some drinks at the bars, maybe some relaxation as well. If you don’t drink and don’t care for the bar scene—I approve of your decision—you can still appreciate the atmosphere of the hotel. Each room has a name; mine was the Anthony Hopkins Suite. And each room, as well as the entire hotel, the entrance especially, will transport you back in time to about the 1920’s. Modern amenities are also included, too, so you can pretend to be in the early 20th century and still want for nothing. Hotel Monte Vista is not overly comfortable, but if you’re checking out the attractions then you’ll be too tired to notice.
The city of Flagstaff is also rather cool. I think that I could live here forever. It’s certainly one of those cities built for artists that don’t like the bigger cities of New York, Boston, D.C., or L.A. I count myself among those artists. (My girlfriend would like to hear that Burlington, Vermont is another one of those small cities built for artists). You can’t possibly look out any window of any building and not see something beautiful. Plus, there’s lots of culture, lots of history, and an incredible amount of day-trips that one can take. Some pretty sweet street art adorns the city as well. It’s a college town, so you’ll see a lot of young people flaring up city-life, and also some fairly wealthy folk. Since it’s so darn cheap to live here I don’t know why anyone who has any sort of small fortune who visits Flagstaff would ever leave.
I rented a car from Hertz, located in the Amtrak train station; when I walked in the service representative was being harangued for something out of her control. It was then up to me to put a smile on her face. Besides, she was quite helpful. Why anyone would be angry with her, I don’t know. The moral here is to be nice to people.
Also, you can’t go wrong dining out in downtown Flagstaff. I didn’t wander out of historic downtown, mostly because there are numerous tempting restaurants. I ate at San Felipe’s Cantina which serves the best salsa I’ve ever had; I also ate a couple of times at Mountain Oasis. The waiters there seem to be all college students, which, for a person like me who enjoys supporting students, is nice. It’s one of those international restaurants that offer menu items from a whole variety of cultures. I had an Italian and a Greek meal, and both were fantastic.
All in all, Flagstaff rocks.