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Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers Part 1

When we decided to make the long haul trip to visit our daughter in Alaska, it was with some trepidation.  The only time I had flown overseas was to Singapore, no more than a 6 hour flight (so not much further than flying to Brisbane).  The only time hubby and I had traveled overseas was on a cruise back in 2001.

So the thought of flying for 4 hours to Melbourne, then over 14 hours (to get to LAX) and then another 2.5 hours to Seattle and a further 2 or so hours up to Sitka was nothing if not daunting!!

We decided to beak up the trip by flying to Melbourne on the 4th, the day before the long haul trans-Pacific flight (rather than taking the red-eye midnight horror) and staying at the Park Royal at the Melbourne airport before leaving at around 9.15 am on the 5th.  As an aside, if you are very doing this, the Park Royal is nice and close (we could walk over to the airport) but it is really in need of some revamping.  The rooms are tired (the worn out frayed carpet especially) and not particularly large, the foyer cafe/bar has very stained fabric chairs (and I mean yuk worthy), the food we had for breakfast was at best mediocre and I'm being generous there.  On a positive note, our evening room service meal was not too bad, the bed was okay, the hotel quiet and as mentioned earlier very close to the international terminal. But in hindsight, we wouldn't stay there again.

When we originally were talking about heading off, there was no mention of a wedding, that came a little later, but also allowed us to further break up the trip by only travelling as far as Seattle and spending a few days there. On the way back we travelled all the way from Sitka to Melbourne with only short stops at SeaTac and LAX, around 27 hours worth of travelling and I must say I wouldn't do it that way again.  The more relaxed broken up travel on the way over meant we suffered no jet lag at all, while it has taken nearly a week for both of us to get back into the routine once we got home and that was with us having a 2 night stay in Melbourne at the fantastic Quay West Suites in Southbank.

I struggled to sleep on both long flights, in fact I got none on the flight over and no more than 3 hours broken sleep on the flight back, next time drugs may be the order of the day.  Hubby fared a little better with his dozing, but the sooner the 'Beam Me Up Scotty' technology becomes a reality the better.

When we reached Seattle rather than stay in hotel accommodation we shared a rental house with the girls and K's family, a lovely roomy 2 storey home in West Seattle, in easy reach of everything we needed including the fantastic Easy Street Records/Cafe where we had breakfast every morning (if you are ever there I can recommend the Easy Rider Breakfast Sandwich on egg bread - yummmm).  There were 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a gym-office upstairs and downstairs a lounge room, a great room-kitchen area, a downstairs powder room and a deck out the back.  We got to see (but not photograph) our first squirrel, while not a big deal for our American family it was a squeal worthy event for me!!

The Great Room-Kitchen area were we spent most of our time

Looking back up to the front door, beautiful wooden floors throughout.

There was some shopping for moi at Lane Bryant at one of the hugest shopping malls I have ever seen!  A wedding to attend and only a couple of days before we headed off to Sitka, so not a lot of sightseeing happened, but we did Ride the Duck (an awesome and recommended experience) and took in a Seattle Mariners baseball game at Safeco Field (I wanted to see an America baseball game on this trip).  Hubby and my daughter B also visited the Seattle Experience the Music Project but we missed out on the Space Needle, something for us to do next time we are travelling through.

While we both loved all the parts of America we visited, we both struggled with the way tax is added rather than included like our GST, the individual states set the tax rather than the Federal Govt and it is different in each place we visited and in Sitka is changes seasonally (higher when the visitors are there, and lower on off-peak times).  So when you saw a price it was not what you paid, but that didn't stop me from spending in the least!!  The other thing we struggled with was how much to tip, something we rarely do here in Aus, and it seems I was a little over-generous sometimes, but when I found out how much the hospitality staff are paid I felt bad if I tipped any less.  Hubby really found the 'over the top' personalities of some of our wait-staff difficult to deal with, but it would seem to me that they are just trying to do a good job and hopefully be rewarded with a good tip at the end of the service.

Another thing that was vastly different to us was the difference between the information the flight staff give you prior to disembarking the plane, when flying with Qantas you get all sorts of useful information and that is not the case with the American airlines we travelled with.  In fact if it hadn't been for a fellow Australian traveller who took pity on us in LAX on the way home I think we would have missed our flight connection.  I was also a little concerned that you use your bottom seat cushion as a floatation device on American airlines, no life jacket is provided, just another little quirky difference I suppose.

So as not to do one huge post, the trip will be broken up and I will continue with a Ride A Duck and a Take Me Out To The Ballpark post in the next couple of days, before covering the amazing time we had in Sitka.  So the fun stuff is still to come, along with the pictures, lots and lots of pictures and the odd video if I can get it to work.

Thanks for popping by xxxx


  1. I am loving this - and really looking forward to continuing the adventure with you.
    And yuk to long flights. Coming back from Argentina to Aus was a 25 hour flight - broken by an hour in Aukland. I was completely exhausted.
    Drugs next time for sure. Rather a lot of them.

    1. Thanks EC, it truly was a wonderful trip and I could have stayed much longer, but hubby was ready to come home, he was getting homesick and missing the cats (well I was missing the cats too). We will have to get back there again, hopefully in the next year or two and maybe spend a little longer and travel through Canada as well. Drugs will be the order of the day next time we take the long flight, I could not do 25 hours on a plane!!! At least we have 2 hours in SeaTac and nearly 2 hours in LAX to stretch our legs on the way home. Thanks for popping by xxxx

  2. If I could I would strap a few squirrels to one of those flotation worthy bottom cushions, set their GPS to Aus, provide them with introductions to you and throw them in the ocean....or I could tie them to a Canada Goose and tell them to 'Ride A Duck' lol. I can't wait to hear what THAT is.

    1. Oh I would love some squirrels, but not sure our border protection would be thrilled. The Americas staying with us were all, it is just a squirrel, but the one we had in our backyard in Seattle was massive with the longest tail I have ever seen. Too quick for a photo though. I can't wait to see a Canadian Goose sometime in the future when I eventually get to Canada, that is still on my travel wish list. Thanks for popping by, the Ride A Duck post should pop up tomorrow morning my time if the scheduling thingy works.

  3. I too am looking forward to the story of your fabulous journey although I did enjoy some of it with pictures via Facebook. Had hoped to see you and hear about it from you but now you both have this damned cold I can enjoy it on here. Hope you will both be cured of the cold soon as it seems so long since we saw you both. Get well soon. xxxx

    1. Glad you have been enjoying the pictures on FB there will some repeats in these stories but some fresh new ones as well. xxx

  4. I've never flown longer than four hours at a time and always economy. Now I'm a small person but even I felt uncomfortable in economy. If I ever fly again, I should say when, I will spend the extra dollars and go first class.

    1. It was well worth the extra money, but still a long long time in the air. Nice to see you back visiting River. x



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