Sunday, December 9, 2046

Why Should You Read My Reviews And Subscribe To My Blog?



I served my country in the United States Air Force for over 20 years and have visited 41 countries over the last 35 years, most without spending over $75 per night for a nice hotel room and dining in excellent restaurants for well under $25 per person. How do I do it? Through diligent research, exploration, trial and error, and local knowledge.
Would you like to stay in a central, 3-star hotel in a major city for under $20 per night? How about a room with a balcony and view of the Himalayas while attending teachings with the Dalai Lama for just $5 per night? Or a beachfront hotel for $13 per night? Maybe a meal prepared by a 5-star chef for less than $20? Well, you have come to the right place ...


Having several popular travel blogs CombatCritic.com and received numerous accolades from several of the top travel and restaurant websites/apps (Yelp, TripAvisor, Zomato, Tabelog, Booking.com), you can trust my opinions. 
Unlike many reviewers who are either afraid to tell the truth or have personal relationship with businesses and biased views, I reserve 5-stars (10 Bombs on my blog) for only the most flawless restaurants, accommodations, businesses, attractions and destinations, those where you absolutely and without a doubt get the most “bang-for-the-buck”. 
CombatCritic.com

I try to remain as objective as possible in all of my reviews, providing the pros and cons as I see them and a rating based on the overall “value” as compared to similar entities in similar locations. I accept no "freebies" and only identify myself as a critic after having been a customer and paid the bill, so you can trust my reviews.

Here is a breakdown of my ratings both on my blogs (where I use a ten point scale) and on travel and dining websites (that all use 5 point Likert-type scales) ...

If I hate a place, they get 1-2 Bombs (1-star)

If so-so with numerous”issues", they get 3-4 Bombs (2-stars)

If average (the vast majority of businesses fall into this category if you look at the distribution of my ratings), they get 5-6 Bombs (3-stars)

If above average, they get 7-8 Bombs (4-stars)

If they are one of the very rare “best of the best” values in my experience, they get 9-10 Bombs (5-stars – I always round up from bombs to stars because I use a 10 point Likert-type scale in order to be more discernible). 

Now that you understand my philosophy and ratings, on to my reviews …

CombatCritic

The Leader In Getting Travelers The Most "Bang-for-the-Buck"

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CombatCritic's "TravelValue" Channel




Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Why Should You Read My Reviews And Subscribe To My Blog?

Key Words: combatcritic, travelvalue, travel, value, combat, critic, review, reviews, objective, restaurant, hotel, attraction, destination, Italy, USA, India, Asia, Europe

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Vancouver, WA: Quiet, Clean, Private, And Affordable Airbnb Apartment Or Room

Chris and Michelle's Clean, Quiet and Safe - No Cleaning Fee - Full Bed
Vancouver, WA
Airbnb Link
Prices: $$$$

I found this quiet, comfortable place on Airbnb short notice after "The Nightmare On Lombard Street" and Michelle and Chris were more than happy to oblige. They welcomed me warmly and I soon had a new home ... for five nights.
The house is in a residential neighborhood FAR from any restaurants or shops, so a vehicle is recommended. It is a nice 1950s home with lots of brick and wood floors. Chris and Michelle live in the mother-in-law apartment in the basement, leaving three bedrooms, a bath and a half, large living room, dining room, and remodeled kitchen.
There was just one other couple there, for one night - they were asked not to extend, during my entire stay, so with Chris and Michelle spending the vast majority of time downstairs, I pretty much had the place to myself. The kitchen is fully stocked with plates, pots, pans, silverware, Keurig coffee maker (and coffee), fridge. gas stove, microwave and dishwasher, everything you need to self-cater if that is your bag.
The living room couch has Lazy Boy style pop-out foot rests on each end of the couch, but the TV only gets over the air broadcasts (no cable/Netflix/HBO/Etc), but the Wi-Fi is fast and dependable, so I enjoyed Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO, CBS All Access, and Sling since we went cable free (like they did) on my computer or tablet.
Smoking is allowed (hey, it's Washington, so ANYTHING goes), but only on the back porch where you will find a table with ashtray and two comfy chairs overlooking a massive backyard.

I had the smaller of the three bedrooms, but it was plenty big for me with a double bed, small dresser, nightstand with light, and small closet (empty - I have stayed places where the hosts pack the closet with their own stuff, making it impossible to hang clothes). The bathroom was right across the hall, but is shared by three guest rooms if all are booked. 
I spent most of my time in the house spent in the dining room where I set-up my computer during most of the stay (Chris and Michelle had no problem with it) and living room where I watched the Super Bowl and news on Fox or streaming movies or series on my tablet.

It was very quiet, comfortable and relaxed. Chris and Michelle chilled in the basement most of my stay and had no rules other that you "smoke 'em if you got 'em" out on the back porch. Otherwise, I felt at home with no stress or interference from my wonderful hosts or other guests.

The only negatives, if you want to call them that, are the remoteness of the house from restaurants and shopping (which I did not mind because I had a rental car) and the lack of cable or streaming video services. Otherwise, this Airbnb is top notch and an excellent value smack in the center of Vancouver and just a few miles from downtown, malls, restaurants and shopping.
CombatCritic Gives Chris and Michelle's Clean, Safe, No Cleaning Fee, Full Bed 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Nine Bombs Equates To:


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Vancouver, WA: Quiet, Clean, Private, And Affordable Airbnb Apartment Or Room

Key Words: Chris, Michelle, Clean, Quiet, Safe, Airbnb, room, hotel, accommodation, apartment, Vancouver, Washington, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH = "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

Washougal, WA: Our"Bar" Not Set Very High And Small Plates Left Me Somewhat Unimpressed

OurBar
1887 Main Street
Washougal, WA 98671
Phone number: (360) 954-5141
Website: our-bar.com
Prices: $$$$

Little place, little plates, a little more imagination. I met some friends in Washougal to admire the pouring rain and grab a bite to eat. I wanted to try a place in Camas, but they took me to OurBar.
Biscuits And Gravy?
The menu is very limited and you order at the counter, then fight for a table. I guess I missed the side of the menu with sandwiches, so I ordered the quiche. A bit too light and fluffy for my liking, the consistency and flavor was more like a souffle than a quiche, but it was not bad. The tiny plate held the not so big slice of quiche ($7) and a mini smattering of fried potatoes.
Quiche
My friends ordered the Sopa de Fideo ($9) and Egg in a Basket ($5) and we shared an order of biscuits and gravy ($8). I tasted the sopa and it was pretty good, but the basketed egg looked a little underwhelming, even on a small plate. The bacon and cheddar biscuits were good, but not what I expected with the wild boar (swine/pig) gravy. The biscuits were not big by any stretch and the brown (not white and country) gravy came in a teeny tiny little bowl.
Sopa de Fideo

Egg In Too Small A Basket
The food was pretty good and seemed fresh, but the service was non-existent, and the ambiance lacking any character. If you are hungry and looking for traditional breakfast fare, this is not the place to go. If you want something very different and on the lighter side, OurBar could be the place for you.

CombatCritic Gives OurBar 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!





Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Read Chris S.'s review of OurBar on Yelp

Our Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Washougal, WA: Our"Bar" Not Set Very High And Small Plates Left Me Somewhat Unimpressed

Key Words: OurBar, our, bar, Washougal, Washington, Main, Camas, Portland, Oregon, breakfast, lunch, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = "Continue Mission"

Monday, February 6, 2017

Airbnb Nightmare On Lombard Street

Albert's 2 Bed, 1 Bath, Kitchen, Pets OK!
North Portland (Arbor Lodge), Oregon
Price: $$$$

The place has potential, but it is severely outdated and dirty. The fridge, heat, hot water heater, and coffee maker did not work. The electrical is a mess, the blinds need to be replaced, the heat needs to be fixed, the kitchen needs a severe makeover, the plastic in the shower covering the wall needs to disappear, and the floors need replacing.  The blinds are old, barely work, rusty and dirty. The kitchen counters are stained and gross. There is a glob of something in the kitchen sink, but I did not want to find out what it was by touching it.





My Only Heat Source Other Than Small Wall Heater In Bedroom
Albert, the host, was fine before and during check-in, but then he checked-out and everything went downhill from there. With no heat and nothing working the first night, I tried to contact him at around 9pm, 10pm, and 11pm, but he would not pick up the phone or respond to texts. He sent an electrician the next day, but he said "I can't find anything wrong", even though there was not enough amps to run more than one or two things at the same time. When I returned the second evening, I expected the problems to be solved, but they were not. Again, I tried to contact Albert, but he said "there's nothing I can do". A guest, me, was freezing (temps in the high 30s during the day and 20s at night) and nothing worked, but there was absolutely no sense of urgency and even less communication.

The location is not bad, but it is an old building in a rather seedy neighborhood with little within walking distance except a couple dive bars and a 7-11.
Plastic Hiding Something In Shower

Bathroom Heater Hasn't Worked In Years




The apartment was uninhabitable and should have never been rented. I cannot believe that I was charged for the two nights I stayed there, freezing and unable to shower (no hot water), make coffee or store anything in the fridge. I feel that the host could have done much more to solve the problems or at least communicate that he could not. He had my phone number and knowing that there was still no heat and nothing working on day two, a simple phone call or text would have allowed me to find suitable accommodations. It is inexcusable for a "paying" guest to have to suffer and as someone with experience in the hospitality industry, he should have known better.

Thanks to Airbnb for your professional help and the $200 credit. Even though I had to suffer for two nights, your representatives were compassionate and very helpful.

Finally, I got this wonderful text (5:47AM - Friday) from Albert after he read my honest review online:








This is the kind of person you will be dealing with if you choose to stay with Albert. Your choice!

CombatCritic Gives Albert's Place 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME"
One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Portland, OR: Airbnb Nightmare On Lombard Street

Key Words: Airbnb, Albert, North portland, Portland, Oregon, apartment, room, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, accommodation, hotel, motel, guest, review, Yelp, Airbnb.com, Lombard, street

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair"