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I'm a 37-year old Seattle girl who was bitten by the travel bug on my first tour of Europe in 2004. This personal blog follows my attempts to visit as many countries as I can, as often as my budget will allow. Since starting this blog in 2007, I've also worked as a freelance copywriter for an online travel publication. This only served to add even more must-see locations to my already extended list.
Follow me as I try to balance "real life" with exploring the world, all while trying to conquer a wickedly ironic case of homesickness.



24.12.10

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas London Tube Map makes me smile!


Created by Max Roberts

13.12.10

What's in a name?

You know what I don't understand? Different city names in different languages. I mean, city names are proper nouns, right? Just like the name of a person. They aren't up to interpretation. It's a name! To me, it's the same as someone saying to me, "Your name is Lisa? I think I'll call you Lois."

But that's not my name.

At what point did someone somewhere say, "I don't like Praha; I'll call you Prague." Or "Je n'aime London; je préfère Londres."

Am I the only one who thinks that is strange?

15.10.10

More back door

A new season
of Rick Steves' Europe
begins soon!

I love this show!

7.10.10

Review: Boston, Philadelphia, New England

It took me awhile to form opinions on Boston and Philadelphia, but I think I've figured out why: we just didn't spend enough time in either of them.

We took a morning train into Philadelphia from New York, wandering mostly in the historic center of the city with a quick trip up to City Hall and the art museum before hopping right back on the train back to NYC. And while it is thick with history in those few blocks, there were a lot of lines to wait in over and over and over again. Both the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall were suprisingly smaller than I expected. I really liked the abstract outlines of Benjamin Franklin's house. I enjoyed eating a cheesesteak in the park behind Independence Hall. Elfreth's Alley was pretty. And Philly's City Hall is a beautiful building. I also liked the interior of 30th Street Station.

Boston...oh, Boston. First of all, I got sick in Boston, and that always makes traveling a bit tougher. Secondly, Boston was at the end of our whirlwind trip, and we were starting to get pretty worn out. Boston started out really well. I adored our hotel, the Omni Parker House. Our Freedom Trail walk started out well, too. I really enjoyed Boston Common, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and the Italian neighbourhoods in the North End. However, once we started crossing the river to the USS Constitution, I started spiraling downward. We completely nixed Bunker Hill, and by the time we got back to the hotel room, I was pretty sure I was getting sick. Other than venturing out for Chinese food, a quick trip to Harvard Yard and wandering around Boston Public Library and Copley Square, we stayed in the hotel room for the rest of our stay in the city. But, as stated earlier, it was a really fabulous hotel room!

New England woo'd me completely. We drove along the Atlantic Coast from Hampton Beach, New Hampshire to Kennebunkport, Maine, and I wanted nearly every single home I saw. Lighthouses, Cape Cod houses, expansive picture windows, cedar shingles, rocky shores...I was in love! I felt like I could live there. I'm a born and bred Pacific Coast girl, but I left New England pretty certain that I prefer the Atlantic Coast. Kennebunkport was fun, though a bit touristy, a bit overpriced, a bit crowded. I'd love to rent a car and just go wander through those little towns and old homes someday. Absolutely GORGEOUS!

6.10.10

Only in London

New York and Sydney,
you are good mates.
I enjoy spending time with you
and you make me smile.

But London...
she's my true love.
She feels like home,
Christmas morning,
or coffee with an old friend.
And I miss her terribly!

25.9.10

The Big Apple

I get it now. That mysterious love of New York so many people have while simultaneously unable to put that love into words. I get it in that way that you have to let New York introduce herself to you. Enough time to get past the initial shock of her pace. And I now see why so many people love New York, because New York got into my blood. Big time.

My first impression was a major culture shock. Cars screeching and honking, people pushing and yelling, people literally everywhere. I was simultaneously dazzled and terrified. The energy had me electrified and a little bit overwhelmed. But by the time I wheeled my suitcase back to the train station five days later, I didn't want to go. I'd found my spot amidst the chaos, and I liked it. I was thriving not only on the energy, but also the quieter personality of the surrounding neighborhoods, the peace of the park, the passion of the arts, the glamour of the architecture, the deliciousness of the food, the glitz of Park Avenue...everything.

New York is difficult to describe. Some of it makes sense, some of it doesn't. Some of it is brash, some of it isn't. Juxtapositions are everywhere. Farmer's markets and parks amidst skyscrapers. Art museums adjacent to construction sites. Shiny modern buildings next to elegant historic brownstones. Classically trained pianists playing on the sidewalk next to angry traffic. Tiny, unassuming restaurants serving some of the best food I've ever had.

Within four short days, I munched cannoli while walking through a street fair in Little Italy, swallowed back tears inside Paul's Chapel across from Ground Zero, watched a thunderstorm from a restaurant overlooking Times Square, witnessed the whole world pass by from the main concourse of Grand Central Station, listened to exceptionally good street performers on the steps of the Met and a bench in Washington Square Park, watched New Yorkers dance in Central Park, stood underneath the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge and on top of 30 Rock, shopped at Bloomingdales and Serendipity 3, eaten hot dogs at Grays Papaya and pizza at Lombardi's, looked Lady Liberty squarely in the eye, sang along with showtunes on 42nd Avenue, crossed the street in front of the Empire State Building, prayed in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, strolled dreamily through the posh lobbies of The Plaza and The Waldorf-Astoria, and the list goes on.

The only way to describe New York is New York. I've never been in any other city like it, and I think that is what makes it so fabulous; it's just New York. Sometimes you hate it, sometimes you love it. But the truth remains that you'll never find its qualities anywhere else. And if it gets under your skin, there is no other place that will scratch that itch.

From a traveler's perspective, there are a few things that caught me off guard. After countless anecdotes, I had mentally prepared myself for a dirty, nasty, dangerous city filled with danger around every corner. Warnings of muggings, rats, and disease, plus traveling during what has been called the worst bedbug infestation on record....to say I was trepidacious would be putting it lightly.

It was all for naught, however. No bedbugs. The city and subways were cleaner than many others I've experienced. No encounters with crime at all. Never saw a single rat. And every single person we engaged in New York was more than kind; perhaps even nicer than any other city I've visited so far, London included.

Speaking of London, it is still my true love; I don't think any city will be able to take it's place for me. But in addition to that flat in London and that house on Sydney Harbour, I'd also love a brownstone on the upper East Side, thankssomuch. This urban wanderer has added NYC to her top three favourite cities in the world. I will return, probably on a regular basis.

23.9.10

I think I'm in love!

London is still the ultimate love of my life,
but I've fallen for NYC just as much as everyone thought I would.

Full review to follow soon!






Review: Washington DC

It's true; the East Coast is different than the West Coast. I'm finally getting all the jokes and comparisons. And our first stop on our independent tour of the East Coast was our capital, Washington DC. Having already visited Paris, the similarity in city planning was obvious. The architecture is stellar. The history is palpable. Washington DC was clearly planned to be a formidable representation of American democracy.

I found myself simultaneously proud and ashamed of my country while wandering the halls of her capital city. While you can't help but admire what our nation's forefathers intended and fought to establish, their efforts also make the current corruption more angering. On one hand, the city represents a government for the people, by the people. On the other hand, the abuse of money and power is just as obvious. I left DC feeling even more torn about my country as I did before I arrived.

From a travel perspective, the word I would use to describe DC is potential. The city was planned and that fact is evident. It's beautiful and rich in architecture and history; there is so much to celebrate. However, instead of coming across as a celebration, the city feels more like an obligation. Everyone is SO serious, wearing only business suits, walking briskly like drones. In every other worldwide city I've ever visited, everyone is dressed uniquely, reading different things, listening to different music, having conversations about everything. Every conversation we overheard in DC, every ad we saw, every single thing had something to do with politics or finance. It was almost like the city MUST be about nothing but government; no other personality allowed. Even the Metro stations are bland and dark and blah. The neighbourhoods have occasional refreshing flair, but after four days, I found that I was psychologically exhausted from having to be so somber all the time.

My biggest beef with DC, however, is the Metro. Or more accurately, the lack thereof. When it was there, it was great. The local station near our hotel worked well, and I can see how the system services the commuters efficiently. But the lack of usable stations in and around the tourist core makes for some serious traveler frustration. I've never walked so much in my entire life with a valid unlimited Metrocard in my pocket.

DC is eye-opening; I think every American should visit once to gain perspective and appreciation of our young country. Overall, I did enjoy myself while I was there. But I'm comfortable checking the city off my travel list. I'm just not interested in money and politics enough to sustain a return trip.

30.8.10

The queue starts here

T minus one week and six days until we leave, and I'm really starting to get excited! There is one element to this trip, however, that is leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth.

I've been to my fair share of countries and I try to be pretty understanding in areas of tourism and safety, but never before have I had to wrestle with such frustrations to visit a nation's historical sights as I've had to wrestle with my own country. I've always felt sorry for international visitors when it came time for US customs forms on the plane. The announcement of which form they need from which originating country, and how the specific visa they hold corresponds to which line at the airport is always downright embarrassing. But now, my pity extends beyond the airport gate, because trying to piece together a holiday to the historical East Coast of the United States is proving to be far more complicated than necessary.

Did you know there is a website called recreation.gov? (I'm not entirely comfortable that I gave them all my information, either.) However, not all national US sites use that website. Some opt to use privately-operated Ticketmaster, and yes, they tack on that lovely service charge with each ticket. Oh sure, seeing our national documents and historical landmarks is officially free, just like other countries, but if they can find a way to sneak a fee in there, they have. The Statue of Liberty is a great example. The monument itself has no admission attached to it, but if you want access the only boat that will take you to the island, you have to pay at least $12 per person. It's going to cost us $36 to see a "free" monument.

There is also a fee attached to reserve a time slot to skip lines, something other countries do for free, and paying that fee is about as easy as paying your taxes. There are some sites whose wording on the matter is so confusing, I'm still not exactly sure what I've paid for, if I didn't give up altogether. Further reading of the fine print reveals that some of these "reservations" require you to pick up your tickets an hour before your visit, thereby negating the entire need for a reservation in the first place.

I suppose I should be grateful for the option to make a "reservation". During summer's high season, visitors are required to visit the individual ticket offices of each site early the morning of the day they wish to visit and hope to get one of that day's first come/first serve tickets or risk not gaining access at all. To me, time is money when you travel, and the idea of running around to every site's ticket desk before having to return later in the day is asking too much. Our other option, of course, is to just go with the flow and take our chances getting tickets when we arrive, but I'm just not that kind of traveler. If I've flown thousands of miles to see the Declaration of Independence, I'm going to guarantee that I'm going to see the Declaration of Independence. Otherwise, what is the point?

Now that we've managed to get this far, we then learn that, reservations or not, there are several security checkpoints per site that cannot be skipped at all. Forget that sigh of relief as I slip my shoes back on after having gone through TSA at the airport; it seems metal detectors are going to be a major component of this trip. Some sites have a separate security checkpoint on each floor! We're going to have to figure out how to carry our day's supplies without using our trusty backpack (they're not allowed), and we'll probably glow in the dark from all the radiation exposure by the time we get back home.

Part of me is upset at the sad state of the world that we feel we need this much red tape and protection around our national monuments. But another part of me is specifically upset at America, because I can't help but compare it to other countries, especially England. Despite being in a country that has been bombed far more than we have, I can walk through a single set of doors at the British Museum, drop my few pounds easily into the large donation box without skipping a beat, and be standing in front of the Rosetta Stone or the frieze of the Parthenon within a few minutes. If the English - with their reputation for impressively long queues and pissing people off throughout history far longer than we have - can house some of the world's most incredible historical artifacts - some of which are still considered stolen - without exorbitant fees, queues and red tape and having your day bag inspected every five minutes, why can't we?

Could it be our cultural difference in expectation of personal responsibility? Food for thought.

Okay, vent over. Back to pre-trip excitement!

1.8.10

NYC itinerary

Time to group together all the New York activities into the four days we'll be in the city. Some sites are missing deliberately. Others are just cheesy, but that's what being a tourist is all about! How am I doing? Any recommendations on which order we should see them in?

Day One:
Noon arrival to Penn Station
Cab and check into hotel
Times Square
Rockefeller Center
Top of the Rock

Day Two:
Empire State Building
Flatiron Building
Chrysler Building
St. Patrick's Cathedral
MoMA
Waldorf Astoria
Grand Central Station
Washington Square Park
NY Public Library
Fifth Avenue
Park Avenue

Day Three:
Central Park:
· Wollman Rink
· Bow Bridge
· Bethesda Fountain
The Met, Cloisters
Guggenheim Museum
American Museum of Natural History
Lincoln Center
Plaza Hotel
Upper West Side
Gray's Papaya

Day Four:
Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island
Trinity Church
Ground Zero
St. Paul's Church
Little Italy
Serendipity 3
Greenwich Village
Cross Brooklyn Bridge
Grimaldi's Pizza

30.7.10

University Rooms

College campuses always make me want to go back to school, especially Oxford and Cambridge in the UK. Come to find out, University Rooms offers the next best thing: room and board in British university dorms that are unused during breaks.

I mean, who wouldn't want to stay here?

26.7.10

America's travel habits

I found this Bundle study very interesting. I'd be even more interested to see a comparison of cost of living, earned incomes and types of travel for those surveyed.
(click image to enlarge)



For even more information, read Bundle's full Travel and Leisure report. I find it interesting that my city comes in a number eight in all three polls.

23.7.10

Let's talk travel mags

I am such a sucker for travel magazines. I get lost in the expansive selections at the large bookstore chains, trying to justify $60 for a huge pile of glossy pages. This is even worse when you consider that I have subscriptions to four monthly travel publications, as it is. And I definitely have favourites:

Budget Travel: My favourite usable travel mag. The tips and articles in BT are entirely functional, and it is always full of clever ideas to stretch your budget and make travel easier. I usually rip into BT as soon as I see my copy in my post box; it's like talking travel with a friend. I especially love the traveler's tips and the humourous stories posted in every issue.

National Geographic Traveler: My favourite daydream travel mag. I know I won't be able to do half the adventurous things in Nat Geo Traveler, but I love to imagine myself trying. It is a wonderful inspiration for images and ideas! Daisann McLane's Real Travel column is quite possibly my favourite thing to read in the entire travel world.

Afar: I'm pretty sure Afar is relatively new to the scene, but I already really like what I see. Describing themselves as "uncommon travel" and "in pursuit of passion", this publication addresses how travel can change the perception of the traveler and how to travel while remaining conscious of those effects. I've only thumbed through a single issue, but my subscription slip is already in the mail.

Smithsonian's Travels with Rick Steves: Smithsonian publications have just begun to publish a proper magazine for Rick Steves; the premier issue is on newsstands now. I'm curious, but I hesitate purchasing a copy only because I already have every other newletter he has ever released. I'm curious to see how much new material there will be in this magazine, or if it is just more of the same advice he has already published elsewhere.

Lonely Planet Travel: When I can get my hands on an import copy from across the pond (which is just about never), this one is usually pretty useful. Lots of tips and ideas laid out in a very easy to read way. I just wish it was available in the States! (hint, hint!)

Travel + Leisure: I see T+L as the sort of old-standard travel magazine. Some usable information, lots of filler. They tend to run a lot of "Travel Awards!" and other similarly hyped campaigns, which end up making it not as useful as others. But the articles and photography can still be enlightening.

Condé Nast Traveler and Town and Country Travel: I confess, these luxury travel mags usually incense me. While their spreads are stunning and it can be fun to daydream that one day I could win the lottery and actually afford to consider these types of trips, I usually just end up closing the back cover painfully aware of how detached from the real world the rich can be. I mean, just how many ads for Rolexs and diamonds does a travel publication need, really?

21.7.10

London summer

It has been over a year since I've visited my beloved United Kingdom. (twitch, twitch) I've been managing my UK fever somewhat decently this year.
Or at least I thought I was.

Today, I opened the home page of the Londonist
to this lovely group of photographs:



Something about these pics.
Warm days. Green parks. The energy of the city.

Yep, there it is.
Raging case of I-Miss-the-UK now in full force.

19.7.10

My weakness: luggage tags


A suitcase for your suitcase


Perfect for a designer




Me gusta!

18.7.10

Boston itinerary

I'm slowly working out general itineraries for our East Coast trip in September. Here is how Boston looks so far. It is a lot to cram into a short period of time, but we're the kind of travelers that hit the ground running in the morning and don't come staggering back until the late evening, so I'm pretty confident we can achieve this list. However, I'm still wide open to advice, from tourist traps to restaurants and beyond.

Day one:
Arrive by train at South Station at 11:30am
Cab to Omni Parker House hotel
Boston Common
All 14 sites on the Freedom Trail
Observation Deck of the Custom House Tower

Day two:
Boston Public Garden
Copley Square and Newbury Street
Trinity Church
Boston Public Library
Town of Cambridge
Harvard Square
Charles Street Meeting House
Louisburg Square
Charles River Esplanade
Beacon Hill, Acorn Street

Day three:
Spend the entire day out of the city
at a TBD Atlantic coastal town

Day four:
Check out of Parker House by 12N
A small handful of free hours, any suggestions?
Must be at the airport at 4pm


One of our biggest ponderings is which transportation option to choose within Boston. Should we do the more affordable LinkPass for the T or the more convenient Hop On/Hop Off trolleys? And finally, does Boston really live up to its walkable reputation?

11.7.10

Itch to roam

"I had an itch to roam.

I wanted to wander through Europe, to see movie posters for films that would never come to (my country), gaze wonderingly at billboards and shop notices full of exotic umlauts and cedillas and No Parking sign O's, hear pop songs that could not by even the most charitable stretch of the imagination be a hit in any country but their own, encounter people whose lives would never again intersect with mine, be hopelessly unfamiliar with everything, from the workings of a phone box to the identity of a foodstuff. I wanted to be puzzled and charmed, to experience the endless, beguiling variety of a continent where you can board a train and an hour later be somewhere where the inhabitants speak a different language, eat different foods, work different hours, live lives that are at once so different and yet so oddly similar.

I wanted to be a tourist."

Bill Bryson
Neither Here Nor There

3.7.10

Just in time


My favourite travel DVD series just came out with a NYC version, just in time for me to sit in front of it and drool. My must-see list just became challengingly longer, and I'm now frightfully aware of how large this city really is. And if I thought my excitement was hard to contain before...

26.6.10

Olympic View Cabins

To everyone that has requested a link to the cabin I highly recommend on the Olympic Peninsula, click here. In addition to great communication before our arrival and a brilliant experience while we were there, I've also received my security deposit refund a mere four days after our departure, along with a very sweet note from the owners.

I highly recommend not only this property, but any of Olympic View Cabins properties. Suzann and Martin are wonderful!





23.6.10

City Walks, Architecture versions

You may recall me previously mentioning
City Walks card packs.

Well, looky what I found
coyly smiling at me on the bookstore shelves yesterday:

AN ARCHITECTURE VERSION!


I will absolutely be purchasing this,
and probably many more cities to come.

Laughterful

Dhani tackles Sam and Tony

Did Dhani's Italian episode have anyone else giggling?

"Samantha....FIVE STAR HOTELS ALL THE TIME!"

It's good to know we all have moments like that.

21.6.10

Travel by color

Click here.
Get hooked.
Daydream.
Add destinations to your list.

Believe me,
it's worth it.

20.6.10

Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

I've just returned from a perfectly lovely and entirely relaxing weekend mini-break to my state's Olympic Peninsula, and I'm still on a bit of a high from it.

I've previously mentioned being ashamed that I hadn't yet visited Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site mere hours from my home. The land is protected because of the wide variety of ecosystems - including rainforests, glacial peaks and old growth forests - as well as the longest undeveloped wilderness coastline in the contiguous United States. I finally picked a weekend and decided to just go, though I didn't really have huge expectations, to be honest. I've grown up in a city surrounded by mountains and water; after awhile, appreciation wanes. Besides, this kind of trip is way outside my comfort zone, a tried and true city girl who finds herself misplaced when romping through nature. Add to that the overwhelming international inundation of fans from a book series I'm not terribly fond of, and I honestly wasn't sure how well this weekend was going to pan out. But as it turns out, this may be my new favourite part of my home state.

In a mere three days of wandering, we visited ocean sea stacks in La Push, historic Victorian houses in Port Townsend and Scandanavian bakeries in Poulsbo, WWII bunkers at Fort Worden, lighthouses at Point Wilson, a turn-of-the-century general store in Port Gamble, mystical forests dripping in moss everywhere you look, long spits of land in Port Angeles extending far out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, deep green glacier waters of Lake Crescent, distant Canadian shores across the water, and snow covered peaks at Hurricane Ridge. We watched silently as marmots watched us on steep mountain slopes and deer grazed precariously on mountain crags and lazily through our front yard. We experienced stunning blue skies, swirling misty fog, and brilliant orange sunsets. Even my admittedly pedantic self found herself without words many times.

The best part? We've found the perfect cabin for a city girl. It included a pool, a hot tub, internet access, a surround sound entertainment system, a full kitchen and a huge stone fireplace, all nestled peacefully in a valley with its own pond and the giant snow-capped peaks of the Olympics overhead. This is how I go camping!

I'm now seriously considering making this an annual trip. Anyone traveling out to Seattle needs to make this journey across the sound. It's is completely worth it. If anyone is interested in our itinerary or a link to our highly recommended rental cabin, leave me a comment; I'm happy to share!












16.6.10

London, 1946

This is just incredible.

I'm not sure what impresses me most:
how much London has changed,
or how much it has stayed exactly the same.

It's interesting how the narrator describes bomb damage
as having been "blitzed".

And to know that their hope came to fruition.

7.6.10

Childlike wonder

"That’s the glory of foreign travel. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses."

Bill Bryson

5.6.10

Spitalfields tango

Note to self:
my next trip to London will include
the free tango and salsa events
in front of Spitalfields.

29.5.10

My home

Sometimes, we need a little reminder
of the beauty of the place we call home.

This guy gave me a little perspective of mine.



I will admit:
we do have the best apples in the entire world.

27.5.10

Choosing East Coast hotels

In case you haven't picked it up already, I'm a unique sort of traveler. I prefer a ridiculously comfortable hotel, but I refuse to pay too much for it. The ability to find the best possible accommodations for the best possible price is a skill I've worked hard to perfect. I'm in the middle of that hunt right now for our trip to the East Coast in the autumn, and here's what I've found so far.

It is official: we'll be staying in two different Omni hotels in September. After such a brilliant experience with them in San Francisco, I've become a fan of Omni. And you get fabulous perks and sale prices when you sign up for their loyalty program. We'll be able to indulge ourselves in a bit of luxury for far less money than even less-than-comparable hotels.

The Omni Shoreham Hotel in DC comes very highly recommended, backed up against quiet Rock Creek Park, and I snagged a great price just before it skyrocketed for a number of conferences going on at the time. Then, the Omni Parker House in Boston also offered us a fabulous sale price on a junior suite, only after which I realized the hotel comes with a bit of history. And the loyalty program gets us free wi-fi and complimentary coffee and juice delivered to our room every morning in both hotels.

NYC, however, has proved to be a worthy opponent to my budget travel instincts. I always told myself I'd stay at The Library Hotel if I ever went to NYC, but that was before my lesson in just how mind-numbingly expensive NYC square footage really is. Finding a room that fit three people was my first challenge. Trying to include a kitchenette was the second. Finding the right neighbourhood was the third. Finally, finding it all at a price that didn't leave us completely broke has proven to be the ultimate test.

I've finally settled on a Marriott Residence Inn near Bryant Park that comes with a full comp'd breakfast and afternoon snacks. I'm currently playing the waiting game on a high-floor package to see if prices don't take a bit of a dip as we get closer to the end of the high tourist season. I'll admit, though, that I'm nervous, because it has become crystal clear that you can easily spend a small fortune on NYC lodging. Stay tuned!

26.5.10

Salish Lodge

For our anniversary, Hubs and I escaped to The Salish Lodge (yes, this is the hotel in "Twin Peaks"). I mentioned this briefly on my personal blog, but I thought I'd leave write a proper review for anyone actually considering a stay at the hotel.

Overall, we had a lovely time. It is a nice combination of pampered luxury in the midst of a rugged, woodsy landscape. Here is what I liked:

The food is good. Really good. You'll eat A LOT.

The average-sized rooms offer many unique amenities, like a huge, jetted tub and a wood-burning fireplace.

Comfortable beds

The staff is very friendly and accommodating.

Now, a few warnings. First of all, while planning this weekend, I kept reading the phrase, "Seattle's premiere luxury resort and spa" everywhere. That is so misleading, and as a frequent traveler and travel researcher, it really bugs me. The Salish Lodge is not in Seattle. In terms of accommodations, I wouldn't even qualify it as convenient to Seattle. It's a thirty mile drive over bridges and an island, through several cities and up into the foothills of the mountains that could easily translate into an hour of driving in ugly traffic. Don't think you're going to have a view of the Space Needle from your window. Also, it's a quiet mountain area with limited tourist resources versus the plethora of the options in the city. Don't stay at Salish if your goal is to see the sites of Seattle; stay at Salish if you want a quiet, spa-like escape up in the mountains.

Secondly, Salish is expensive. In all the cities of all the countries I've ever stayed in, including some really ugly currency exchange rates, Salish is officially the most money we've ever spent on a hotel room. Part of that expense is the delicious, award-winning food; it's not as if you don't enjoy it. But it's certainly not budget-friendly. For example, bubble bath to enjoy that aforementioned tub costs $45, $65 if you'd like them to draw the bath for you. Dinner in the dining room is $95 per person. All vehicle parking is by valet, and while the cost of valet is included if you're staying at the lodge, the gratuity is not.

Overall, The Salish Lodge is one of those worth-it-once experiences. I especially recommend that you have breakfast in the dining room and request a table overlooking Snoqualmie Falls. We really enjoyed watching the water peek out through the fog.

16.5.10

Le printemps

(Pardon the delay in this post. I wrote it nearly two months ago. Must remember to press the "Publish" button.)

Spring is my favourite travel season; I've been to some part of the EU every spring for the past three years. And now, the spring season represents something entirely new and different. After all, the last spring I encountered was last November in Australia. To me, spring is meant for journeying.

But not this year. We're saving money for a house this year.

For this entire past spring season, I've been going about my life here in Seattle feeling like I'm late to something, that someone is waiting for me somewhere else and I'm not there.

Surprising inquiries from friends and family don't help either. "Why are you still here? Isn't this the time you usually go to Europe?" YES, I should be overseas. NO, I don't know why I'm still here.

I'm trying not to already resent this massive financial burden of a house we're saving for; this overwhelming travel-resistant anchor to our little city. I'm trying to focus on our amazing trip to the East Coast coming up in September. I'm trying to count all my tremendous blessings and realize that most Americans don't travel at all.

But the feeling I can't shake is more than just a feeling of nostalgia. It is more than just memories of good times. It actually feels wrong not to be there, mucking it out with other Londoners or other Sydneysiders. Somehow, I feel like that is where I belong.

But that scares me even more, because the answer staring me in the face is such a massive undertaking. Should Hubs and I actually try to expatriate? How terrifying of a word is "expatriate"? And how unbelievably difficult is it for two people with absolutely no legitimate ties to a country at all? And if we did, would that eventually ruin the appeal? Would we go through all kinds of immigration difficulties only to find ourselves sitting in London daydreaming about Seattle in October?

Or did my stork just get lost and I've finally found home?

7.4.10

Airfare booked

It's official; we're definitely going to the US East Coast in September! Flying into DC, flying out of Boston. In between, we're seeing Monticello, Philadelphia, Amish Country, New York City, and Kennebunkport. T minus five months and counting!

For the first time, our airfare is entirely mileage redemption. Six open-jaws tickets for three people. Grand total came to 120,000 miles and $15 USD. Of course, it took us literally years to earn all those miles, but it's good to know it eventually pays off!

Like a crack addict taking another hit, I'm giddy knowing I officially have a trip to look forward to. Buying airfare does that to me. Besides, there's a delicious freedom about nothing other than the flights being planned right now. I think I'm going to sit back and enjoy the feeling for awhile...

16.3.10

Sinking

Last spring, I was more nervous than usual to leave my husband for a couple weeks to head off to a German-speaking country. Realizing my nerves, Hubs stole my mp3 player and recorded himself saying the punchline to one of my absolute favourite language-related TV commercials. Not only did that sound file keep me smiling through my time in Austria, it's been making me smile ever since.

12.3.10

Gutted


I'm pouting this weekend. Why? Because I'm gutted that I won't get to see Illuminating Hadrian's Wall in person on Saturday night. I mean, what a unique site that will be! A step back in history, almost. And a 1,600 year anniversary?! As an American, I can't hardly fathom that. There isn't a single man made thing around me that is even a quarter of that in age.

Add to that the fact that all the media coverage isn't available in the US, darn region encoding laws!

I tried to make it happen; I did. I researched flights and accommodations. I tried creative budget spending. But when it came down to it, we just didn't have the extra money.

So while I wish the UK a flawless commemoration, I go on pouting, 4,000 miles away.

25.2.10

East Coast is calling

We're starting to plan our 2010 autumn holiday to the East Coast US. So far, we know we're flying into Washington DC, then take the train to Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. We also want to spend some time in one of those "quaint" New England coastal towns. So, East Coast natives and enthusiasts, TALK TO ME! Recommendations, warnings, favourites, advice...bring it on!
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