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« Good morning, Alaska | Main | The erosion of tolerance and the freedom to choose »
Monday
Aug122019

Notes from abroad

I am currently aboard a cruise ship, Celebrity Eclipse, with my wife and two friends, sailing to Alaska.

We left Vancouver yesterday evening and will be at sea until we arrive at Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island tomorrow afternoon.

If you follow me on Facebook you would be forgiven for thinking I have done nothing but eat since we arrived in Seattle last Wednesday.

I can neither confirm nor deny it but if I come home less than half a stone heavier it will be a miracle.

Another miracle is that we arrived in America almost on schedule having missed by minutes the “temporary systems issue” that hit British Airways last week and led to 25,000 passengers having their flights cancelled.

Although our flight was delayed it was a relatively minor inconvenience. However, when we landed in Seattle nine hours later, the friends with whom we are travelling were short of two suitcases.

Given that we were due to embark on a seven-day cruise a few days later it wasn’t good news but they took it remarkably well and were rewarded when their ‘lost’ luggage turned up the next day.

Meanwhile our first full morning in Seattle was spent visiting a ‘scenic wine-producing estate’ just outside the city. This included a short tour followed by a tasting session that, combined with some serious jet lag, left me feeling more than a little woozy.

In the evening we made our way downtown where we found, quite by chance, a rather wonderful restaurant that served some of the best food - including octopus and fried chicken - I have ever tasted.

After dinner we explored Pike Place Market, a tourist trap during the day but quieter after dark. The original Starbucks coffee shop can be found here but it was closing time when we walked past so we didn’t go in.

On Friday we drove to the Boeing factory north of Seattle. We were booked on the 90-minute ‘Future of Flight’ tour but it was a bit of a letdown, to be honest.

It began with a short promotional film that offered no insight into the ‘future of flight’ beyond what is already on the production line.

Thereafter, in between jumping on and off coaches as we moved from one part of the factory to another, all we saw - from a distance - were a handful of planes in various stages of production but it was a bit underwhelming.

The tour finished, naturally, with visitors being ushered into a gift shop where, inexplicably, I bought a dark blue rain jacket with the word ‘Boeing’ emblazoned on the front.

Back in Seattle it turned out that our hotel was a only short walk from the Seattle Center that features the famous Space Needle, opened in 1962 for the World’s Fair, and other attractions.

The 1962 World’s Fair also saw the opening of the Monorail that connects Seattle Center to the Westlake shopping mall in the city centre.

Running every ten minutes it’s only a mile long but I’m surprised more cities haven’t built something similar and on a larger scale. There must be a reason but I’m struggling to think what it is.

Anyway, I started writing this aboard the Amtrak train that took us from Seattle to Vancouver on Saturday night - a journey of four hours - but there was a technical issue that meant I couldn’t post it.

The taxi driver who drove us to our hotel said it had been very hot in Vancouver the previous week but yesterday it was cool and wet.

It cleared up though after we boarded the ship in the afternoon and we had a good view of the city as we set sail at 7.00pm.

It’s now 7.55 on Monday morning and I am sitting in bed with the balcony door open listening to the sound of the waves.

The Internet connection may be intermittent but if I can post any updates I will. Watch this space.

Below: View from the Seattle Monorail

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Reader Comments (1)

Have a great time Simon, Alaska is on my bucket list.

Monday, August 12, 2019 at 16:04 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Gleeson

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