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.
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!
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.
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.
(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?