My Life as a Traveler

Alaska Jun 2011

Sightseeing in Seattle

Off to Seattle this morning! Susie came over last night to sleep over because we have an early flight the next day. Do you know what time you need to get up for a 5:30am flight? Let’s just say early. Breezed through security and off we were to Charlotte.

I’m fortunate to have a USAirways lounge pass this year again. When you are flying and it’s mealtime, it’s nice to stop in and grab a bite instead of haul food with us. Food and drink are free in the lounge. This is good and bad. We really have to watch our time in here; it’s easy to hang out and end up arriving at the gate after they started boarding. Because we carry on luggage, it is imperative to be at the gate the minute they start boarding, or else there won’t be room in the overhead for our luggage. This is especially true when we’re flying first class. Almost every one of the frequent fliers up there has carry on luggage.

With no breakfast this morning, we really needed a stop in the lounge for a quick muffin, yogurt, and coffee. We tried to watch the clock, but our breakfast cost us too much time and we arrived during Zone 2 boarding and found almost all the first class overhead full for our carry on. No worries, though, Susie found a place for her bag in the first overhead in coach and all was well. She will just have to jump up quick at landing and scooch back there before everyone else gets up. We settled down to a Bloody Mary with breakfast. (This is not a drink I usually have… could this be a precursor for later in the trip???? Hmmm….)

Anyway, the best thing about leaving early is arriving early — we were in Seattle a little bit after 10am, took the $2.75 per person light rail to downtown, rolled our luggage a couple of blocks to the Sheraton and checked in.

Besides seeing the glaciers, one of the goals of this trip was to get some good walks up and down hills. Susie (and our friend Mary) and I are planning a 500 mile walk across Spain next year and we’re in training. I’ll tell you more about that in future posts. We have at least 5 miles to walk every day we’re not at sea. Our first big walk is today. We’re only in Seattle one day and I want to give Susie the best tour of downtown as possible. Here are the places we stopped:

  • First we head to the International District (formerly known as Chinatown, but so many other Asian nationalities have moved in). The community gardens in Seattle are called P-Patches and one of the most interesting is located here. Here were plants even Susie couldn’t name!
  • My favorite store in all of Seattle is Umajiwaya (pronounced just like it sounds). I love the different foods, the variety of Asian wares, and the fact that we’re definitely the minorities here. We got a box lunch and shared it by the fountain outside.
  • Did you know there was a waterfall in downtown Seattle?
  • Pioneer Square has some amazing shops and art galleries. Nearby is the Klondike Gold Rush museum, which is a great place to get some background for our upcoming visit to Skagway.
  • The touristy Seattle waterfront is always fun. The sun came out and the weather was just about perfect.
  • You haven’t seen Seattle until you’ve seen the flying fish at Pike Place Market. Sooo many shops and people.
  • Just down the street from the market, we found a tea shop, where a lively guy was offering free samples and tea teachings.
  • On the way to the bottom of the Space Needle, we stopped at the Olympic Sculpture park, then continued to Lake Union to see the small boats.
  • Last, but not least, we ended up at the flagship R.E.I. to buy some good hiking socks.

Whew! After 7 miles we get back to the Sheraton just in time to get a snack from the lounge (more free food!). We’re tired after a long flight and some stellar sightseeing, plus we have a train to catch tomorrow. Good night!

What’s the opposite of Back to the Future? Ahead to the Past?

Back to the blog!

Ok, I know it’s been a while. I could give you the usual excuses… been busy (well, who isn’t?)… no time (right)… too tired (menopause!!)… family stuff going on (always), but the bottom line is that I just haven’t had the inspiration to gather up my mojo and share it with you here. Until today.

Actually, I’ve been meaning to resurrect this blog since the last trip. That was the one where we flew to Toulouse, drove to San Sebastian, Spain (look it up on the map) for a short sightseeing siesta, then  back to Toulouse where George had his meeting, by way of St. Jean Pied-de-Port (why? That’s another blog entry coming soon.) Before that we were a week in Seattle and Portland visiting family and friends (a wedding!), Brussels for a week in April, most of March was in Miami with George and Morgan or the panhandle with Susie (manatees!!), and before that…who can remember?

The main reason that I let the blog slide was that I just felt I didn’t have anything new to say. Well, folks, that has changed. I really want this blog not just to chronicle my adventures, but to exist as an instructive manual of sorts on how to handle the types of things that happen when you travel. “Expect the unexpected” is my usual travel attitude and I find it interesting to deal with the various types of joys and calamities that occur when I’m not at home.

Since my last blog entry there actually have been plenty of joys, but nothing inspires like a humongous calamity. Sooo… without further ado, I’m going to keep the next few paragraphs that I wrote on the eve of the last big trip and try to share my experience in the hopes that they will advise you as well as entertain you. Here goes:

You’ll never guess where I’m headed off to tomorrow. Alaska! On a cruise! This is a trip that never interested me in the least before. I’m from Oregon, lived in Washington state, so why would I want to cruise just to look at more trees when the clear, warm waters of the Caribbean beckon? However, my travel buddy Susie had some free time this summer and wanted to see some glaciers before they melt. We had some denied boarding compensation from our trip to Florida in March, and first looked into Glacier Park, Montana. USAirways doesn’t get us closer than Spokane, and that makes for waaaayy too much driving.

So where else would you find glaciers? ALASKA. And what’s the best way to see them? CRUISING. So, even though Susie does not have fond memories of her last cruise (25 or so years ago), she really wanted some quality glacier time, so off we go.

Here’s the amazing part: after a bit of research, I found a seven-day cruise from Vancouver to Whittier (2 hours south of Anchorage) for….. $541 per person.  An inside cabin, and we have to add $70 each for tips, but that’s our cabin, all the food we care to eat, entertainment, etc., etc., etc., and tax. In fact, on the invoice, the cruise part of the amount is only $232, with the balance as tax.. How do they do it? They must expect us to buy lots of souvenirs, drink their expensive drinks, take their expensive shore excursions, and gamble our money away in the casino. Sorry Princess, not us. And with our airfare credit, we have cruise and airfare for well under $1000 per person.  Can’t stay home for that!

So, come join us on our Alaskan adventure! I’ll do my best to keep you posted with pics and prose. Time to finish packing, for tomorrow morning we fly to Seattle for a little pre-cruise sightseeing. See you then!

Again, I wrote this in July. Due to a busy schedule and a crazy calamity, the writing stopped. So I’m going to resurrect this trip in real time. Enjoy.