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.|
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