Monday, March 24, 2008

Salt Lake City - Day 1

My first day and first time in Salt Lake City...

I'll start w/ the rental car. I've decided to stop renting from Enterprise (I'll explain my reasoning in future posts about my previous trips...if that makes sense). In summary - I'm sick of the upselling, long wait times, and terrible cars at Enterprise. This time, I decided to rent from Dollar. Overall, it was a decent experience at the rental counter. The only problem was that I had to wait around ten minutes for my car to arrive. I ended up getting a Ford Focus. It is pretty much a plastic box on wheels. It does however, have power locks and windows which the two previous rental cars from Enterprise did not have. In my experience, Hertz and Avis are the best...but they are generally the two most expensive.

I'm staying at the Sheraton Salt Lake City. Note - I did not choose to stay at this hotel. On my previous trips, I've always traveled alone and decided on my own lodging. Not this trip though (another story). My colleague on this trip decided on this hotel based on her past stays.

My initial impressions - it's a dated hotel (guessing from the late 70s/early 80s) in need of serious renovations.

+ room (122; $110/night) is quite large
+ Bliss bathroom amenities
+ king bed w/ nice linens
+ huge bathroom

-- $10/day parking fee
-- no free internet in the room (I'm currently in the lobby)
- carpets throughout the hotel are worn
- public areas could use a facelift
- bathroom could use a facelift

Here are a few pics:
Sheraton Salt Lake City - room 122 bedSheraton Salt Lake City - room 122 work desk and tvSheraton Salt Lake City - room 122 bathroom
If I were on my own, I would have chosen to stay at the Spring Hill Suites, Hampton Inn, or Hilton Garden Inn (all newer places which generally include internet access, parking, and breakfast).

Today was an "off" day so I took the opportunity to wander around Salt Lake City a bit.

My first stop was lunch. I did a bit of research on Chowhound and found a place called Cafe Trang that seemed to get pretty positive reviews. The downtown location is a few blocks from the hotel. I walked there and was the only customer in the restaurant (arrived at 1pm). I ordered the Bun Bo Hue ($8.95) and a Thai Iced Tea ($2.50). Both were good. Here are two pics:

Cafe Trang - exterior of downtown locationCafe Trang - Bun Bo Hue and Thai Iced Tea
After lunch, I walked to Temple Square and decided to do a tour. Note - I'm not a Mormon...just wanted to check it out and possibly learn something at the same time. The Salt Lake Temple is massive!

Here are a few pics of various buildings in Temple Square:
Assembly Hallinside the TabernacleSalt Lake City Templelarge statue of Jesus
BTW - SLC has light rail!
SLC - UTA Trax
After the tour, I walked past EnergySolutions Arena (home of the Utah Jazz) on my way to the Gateway. Two pics:
statue of Karl Malone in front of EnergySolutions Arenastatue of John Stockton in front of EnergySolutions Arena
The Gateway is a large outdoor retail complex w/an attached residential complex. It looks very nice! A few pics:
The GatewayThe Gateway
For dinner, I choose one of the restaurants in the complex, McGrath's Fish House. Note - there is a location less than a mile from where we live but we've never gone to it before. I think my logic was, why not try it if I'm not paying for it! =)

I ordered a grilled snapper in lemon and garlic butter ($12.99). I also swapped out a garden salad for the Oregon Pear, Bleu Cheese and Walnut Salad ($2.99; it sounded better than a plain garden salad).

Probably one of the worst (and strangest) salads I've ever eaten. I though it would come on spinach or spring greens but it was iceberg lettuce topped w/ a load of tortilla strips. I basically ate the small cubes of pear and left the rest. Awful!

Here's the salad:
McGrath's Fish House - pear salad
The entree was even worse. The fish had no seasoning and the asparagus was a pale green (I think it was steamed to death). I thought it tasted like a frozen dinner or an airplane meal. Terrible.McGrath's Fish House - grilled snapper
It was a big mistake - my first and last visit.

A full day of work related activities for the next two days...

Salt Lake City - Day 2
Salt Lake City - Day 3 and 4


Jay said...

You might consider doing what I did and skip all of the rental car crap and just get signed up with Hertz #1 Gold. Since doing that I've never waited at a counter and my cars were always waiting when I got off the shuttle.

I got it as a benefit of my Amex Platinum, you might find you get it free or cheaply as well. Even if you have to pay the $50, it's worth it in my opinion.

Andy said...

agreed - hertz gold rocks! I've been a member for a while...since my intel days (and rent from them most frequently)...but sometimes their rates are way above the others. you do definitely get something for the added cost --> much better overall experience

i think i'm being too cost conscious in my work travel related expenses! =)