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Old 23 Jun 19, 10:24 AM  
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Wordsworth
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Location: Auld Reekie
Day 12: Vancouver to Seattle (by train)

We breakfasted in the hotel again this morning, I went back to the banana coconut overnight oats I enjoyed so much on the first morning, and I finally remembered to take a photo of my second plate too!





After breakfast we headed back out to the shops. In Calgary Iíd spotted a bag in Coach I rather liked and Iíd seen it again in Vancouver yesterday. After returning to the hotel weíd checked the Canadian sale price (plus tax) versus the UK price and worked out it would be about £50 cheaper here. Obviously that was such a bargain I had to go back today and buy it!



Iíd also held off getting hand washes from B&BW yesterday as there was no multibuy on; this morning Iíd got an email announcing both the multibuy and a percentage discount, so I picked up some of our fave scents (DH has even started to have an opinion, at home pre-holiday we were using Black Cherry Merlot and he asked got more of that!).

We also popped to the supermarket to get snacks for the train later - I still had the Lays earlier in the report plus some granola bars, so I just got water, while DH got some crisps and a blood orange Diet Coke. No photos of those though!

We returned to the hotel, packed up our last purchases, and checked out shortly before 12. We left our luggage with the concierge and headed out for a walk around Gastown.

We started at the steam clock.



Then wandered the area a little, checking out some of the gift shops. Maple sugar was ridiculously expensive in them!





It was at this point that we inadvertently headed in the wrong direction and found ourselves in downtown eastside, the poorest area of Vancouver. I think there was a health clinic on, because there were lots of people taking what I assume was methodone in the street. I havenít seen anything like it before and it was sobering to see, given how rich the rest of the city appears in comparison. At no point did I feel unsafe, but we decided it would be best to quickly carry on through to Chinatown. (Speaking to others on our return, this is apparently quite a common Ďwrong turní for tourists seeing Gastown.)

Here we headed into the Chinese garden for a look around.







Then we made our way back to Gastown to get some lunch, knowing we would be spending the evening on the train. We ended up at a restaurant right across from the clock, where DH ordered pasta while I went for a burger.



My portion was huge in comparison to DHís and he was sure I wouldnít finish it...but of course I did!

We then had a final look around the shops before heading back to the hotel to collect our luggage and arrange a taxi to the station.

We got our luggage first and tipped the concierge who brought them out (which really excited the front desk guy for some reason - perhaps itís more unusual in Canada?) before both visiting the bathroom and retrieving the stuff we wanted to carry onto the train from the cases.

It was the friendly concierge who DH had chatted to who was on duty and once we were ready to go he called a taxi for us, but then he spotted the hotels shuttle driver and decided he would ask him to take us down instead, on the basis it would be free! Guess the tip worked we also tipped the driver, who was nice and chatty too.

Our Amtrak Cascades train was due to depart at 5.45 and all the info really said was that you had to be there an hour before, but Iíd read a few things suggesting that was the absolute minimum time requirement given you pass through immigration and get your Passport stamped for entry into the US before boarding the train. So we were there for 3.45 just in case, and we werenít anywhere near the first.

Boarding wasnít due to start until 4.20 and the security guard at the desk was advising people they couldnít queue up until then, so we grabbed a seat and filled out our white customs form.

The staff started organising the queueing area at about 4.10. There were two lines - one for business class and one for coach. Iíd booked the former basically the day the tickets were released to get the cheapest price. This gets you priority boarding, a bigger seat and a money off voucher to use on board - we didnít use ours.

Your seats arenít assigned until ticket check - I requested the ďwater sideĒ (right side of the train) as Iíd read you got the best views there. We were given our seats then we progressed to passport check - thereís a line for US passport holders and another for others. Fingerprints and photos were taken, customs form and passports stamped and handed back (the form is collected later at the border).

You could check your large bags into the baggage carriage on the platform (they have to weigh less than 50lbs, or you have to take them with you) so we did this and clarified that they should be collected from the carousel in Seattle.

Then we got on board!



Everything was very smooth and we were some of the first on board. The woman who assigned seats turned out to be the on board attendant and she was very good at her job - she assigned people going to the same place to the same coach, tried to give everyone waterside seats and explained what would happen when we actually crossed the border (the train stops in a siding, then US immigration officers board, check passports and collect forms. It took less than 10 minutes in total).

And, in something that would be unheard of in the UK, we actually departed a few minutes early! I guess everyone they expected was on board by then...

The train itself was a bit dated, but the views made up for it!

















The journey was uneventful and we arrived in Seattle a few minutes early, just after 10pm. We had a short wait at the luggage carousel for the bags, then we grabbed a taxi from the ones waiting outside to our hotel, the Hyatt at Olive 8. Check in there was also smooth and soon we were in the room and ready for bed.

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Old 23 Jun 19, 01:41 PM  
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OB1LukeLucas
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Views from the train look lovely, shame you didnít get a surprise Disney Cruise! Iím going to try to make a banana & coconut overnight oats they look lovely...
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Old 23 Jun 19, 03:12 PM  
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#43
Wordsworth
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Originally Posted by OB1LukeLucas View Post
Views from the train look lovely, shame you didnít get a surprise Disney Cruise! Iím going to try to make a banana & coconut overnight oats they look lovely...
I need to work on DH a bit more on the cruise front, I suspect heíd get bored as heís not a lounger or a social animal!

Remember your chia seeds.
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Old 26 Jun 19, 09:11 PM  
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Join Date: Sep 18
Location: Auld Reekie
Day 13: Seattle

Our last full day on holiday

We werenít in a huge rush to get up and about this morning, so it was just after ten when we finally left the hotel. We had already decided that food-wise, we would head to Pike Place Market, so that was our first destination.





Apparently itís tradition for the fishsellers to throw the fish being purchased to each other, rather than walk across to hand them over, so they were all surrounded by a big crowd of tourists waiting to see this happen! We inadvertently found one of those happenings while walking around, so we can say we saw someone chuck a fish too



We spotted a doughnut stand cranking out freshly fried doughnuts (reminding me strongly of walking along Blackpool front as a kid!) and decided this would be a good start to the day diet-wise. We shared a half dozen, dipped in cinnamon sugar - and there was no disappointment with the level of cinnamon here!



Then we explored the market a bit - there are lots of nooks and crannies and many different kinds of shop. I particularly liked the secondhand bookstore and was really tempted by a book of food-based stories by different chefs, but I didnít want to carry it around all day.

We found what is badged as the original Starbucks, but the queue was long enough that we, as non coffee drinkers, werenít particularly inclined to wait. Beechers handmade cheese was also tempting me, but again DH didnít want to wait in line.

The market is also set over several streets so we started to make our way back up the hill. Iíd read about Pike Place Chowder being award-winning online and DH loves chowder, so we went there - it wasnít opening for another ten minutes but a line had already formed! Again DH refused to wait.

We then walked around fruitlessly for another ten minutes, not finding anything in particular, before I had a slight meltdown and told DH we were going back for chowder - I was hungry and in the middle of a major tourist attraction, everywhere was going to require a wait of some description!

I just never learn that DH canít be trusted to make food decisions.

In the end, the line for chowder moved really quite quickly. We shared a 4 chowder sampler - clam, scallops, the market special of halibut, and the seafood bisque. We also shared a shrimp roll.



In all honesty, it was mostly just ok. The seafood bisque was by far my favourite, while I thought the other chowders all tasted fairly similar and the shrimp roll had barely any taste. We agreed we much preferred our chowder and clam experience on Marthaís Vineyard a few years earlier.

We wandered the market a bit more, then decided we would walk up towards the sculpture park.

On the way we decided that when in Seattle you really do have to drink in a Starbucks, so we stopped in a much quieter store for chai lattes!



We then carried on to Olympic Sculpture Park.





(Thereís a statue of a young boy within the big fountain, but you can barely see it!)







It was lovely in the sun, so we found a spot to sit and just relaxed for a while. I also checked us in for our flight home on my phone.



Then we decided to walk up towards the Space Needle.





We already had tickets for the Space Needle closer to sunset, so we werenít going up just now. When booking them Iíd thought DH might like to do the combo ticket with Chihuly Garden and Glass, as we saw some of Chihulyís work on our honeymoon, but DH didnít want to commit then. Now he decided that we might as well go in, so we bought tickets for immediate entry at the outdoor machines.

I loved the colours of the glasswork! Iím really glad we spent time here in the end.

















After a quick browse of the gift shop, we headed back to the hotel for a short rest, but not before a quick look in Old Navy (purchases made) and Sephora (still nothing!).

While in the hotel, we browsed the Internet looking for somewhere for dinner. Again we fancied seafood, so we ended up booking a table at Ettaís restaurant near Pike Place Market, which is apparently one of a number of restaurants owned by a ďfamous chefĒ Iíve never heard of.

We started, as always on this holiday, with a relatively local wine.



Alongside this we shared:



Salt and pepper fried calamari with chili aioli, jalapeŮo, crispy garlic. This was my favourite course of the meal - the calamari was tender, crisp and well seasoned, with a good kick from the chilli elements.

For main, I ordered one of the classic dishes. Etta's "Rub with Love" Salmon - grilled bristol bay sockeye, cornbread pudding, asparagus, mushrooms. The spice rub is apparently also famous, again this was news to me.



I liked this, but it came in two portion sizes; I went small thinking thatís usually more than enough in the USA but it was smaller than I expected, and particularly compared to DHís meal.



Looking at the menu I believe this was the Northwest seafood stew - Coconut laksa, mussels, clams, rock shrimp, salmon, cod, crispy squid, chili oil, fried roti. If not that exact dish it was certainly very similar in ingredients and flavour. DHís dish only comes in large at dinner and it showed!

The good news about my smaller portion was that I had room for dessert. We ordered two to share - coconut cream pie and rhubarb crumble. I preferred the former - it was surprisingly light - while DH enjoyed the latter more.



After settling up, we strolled towards the Space Needle again.



We arrived around ten minutes before our ticket time slot; it wasnít a particularly busy evening so we found ourselves at the top almost straight away.



We always try to time our visits to really high places to sunset, for maximum Ďpretty skyí photo opportunities!







We wandered around for more than an hour, just watching the light change and the nighttime city skyline emerge.







Once it got too dark for photos, we went down a floor for an interlude on the revolving glass floor, before making our way back to the ground!



We then walked back to the hotel, past the oldest automated car wash, and packed most of our things up ready for check out tomorrow.

Travel home day will be my next and final post of this report.
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Old 29 Jun 19, 02:41 PM  
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Day 14: Travel home

Our flight home from Seattle to Heathrow was at 1.30pm, so this morning we werenít aiming to do much - showering and packing up the final things were as far as we went!

I was actually happy with this flight timing as I am not a huge fan of having to while away hours between checking out and going to the airport - if I absolutely have to go home, I just want to get it done!

We checked out of the hotel around 10 and got a taxi to the airport. The traffic was fairly busy but it took around 30 minutes as predicted. Checking in our luggage was quick but we had a longer wait at security - even the premium lane was backed up. Once we finally made it through, we caught the train to the right gate area, and made our way to the BA lounge. There were only a couple of other people in the club section when we arrived, but we were more interested in grabbing food for breakfast.

There was a selection of sandwiches in order (some hot, some cold) as well as cheese and crackers, crisps and soup. The coffee machine was being fixed while we were there, and there was a bar area where you could order alcohol, but in light of the relatively early hour we stuck to the water with lemon and sugar syrup on offer - this was delicious!



I went back later for more cheese and crackers - they had Beechers cheese from Pike Place market so I got to try it without a wait, hurrah! It was good cheese.

Boarding started on time and despite what I said earlier in this report about pre flight drinks, this time I did take a glass of champagne! We were also given menus and a card to order breakfast.



After a brilliant crew on the outbound flight, the crew on the inbound werenít as good. The people serving us were certainly nice enough, but didnít seem particularly experienced service-wise.



Case in point - it was announced no nuts could be served due to a person with a severe allergy, which is fair enough, but this seemed to be used as a reason not to serve pre dinner drinks at all. Instead, the first drink was just served with dinner. As youíll see from the photo below, I had a G&T (iíd normally have one then switch to wine with my food).

Both DH and I ordered the scallop starter. This was fine but we were both surprised it was served cold.



I had the ravioli. No drinks top up was offered, but I requested a second G&T (which then led to DH being offered a wine top up, so he was happy). While it didnít look great on the plate I actually enjoyed the pasta, as the sauce was nice and spicy.



DH was less enamoured by the beef, but he liked the potatoes.



I ordered the cheese plate for dessert, Iíve really started preferring cheese to sweet desserts these days! Oh and somehow a Baileys snuck onto my tray too, I wonder how that happened...



DH loves key lime pie but that was not exactly what Iíd say turned up - I swear weíve now been served identical desserts on our last few flights, but each one has been described differently and each one has been disappointing.



I always think the food coming back from the USA is worse than that going the other way, but I definitely ordered the best options this time!



After this the lights in the cabin were dimmed, which was a bit strange as it was still only about 3.30pm Seattle time. This is where the early flight timing didnít work so well for me - I was in no mood for sleep at all, because even on landing at 7am in the UK it was only midnight in Seattle.

I would normally read a book or two on the kindle app, but I couldn't get my iPad to charge, so instead I passed the time watching films. I liked The Favourite (Rachel Weisz was as deserving of awards as Olivia Colman IMO) but thought Bohemian Rhapsody was a bit bland - at least the soundtrack was good.



At one point a passing crew member noticed I was awake and asked if he could get me anything - I said no but then almost immediately decided I was in fact hungry, so I visited the Club kitchen and picked up crisps, mini Cadburyís bars and Diet Coke cans for me and DH. It was too dark for pics though.

Breakfast was served with an hour and 40 minutes to go and the slightly dozy crew were back. Perhaps serving it in the dark made it tricky but despite the order cards having seat numbers they gave DH my tray (I could smell the peppermint tea Iíd ordered as it was passed over!), and once we swapped I realised the smoothie Iíd ordered was nowhere to be seen.



I couldnít be bothered asking for it so just ate what was on the tray - I enjoyed the pastry and yogurt with compote, and ate about half of the bacon roll, as well as a pain au chocolat from the bread basket.

We landed a little early then had to wait a bit for our stand to become clear - luckily we were on a later connection to Edinburgh rather than the earlier one you sometimes get, as we would have had to rush to make that.

We deboarded at the C gates so got the train back to T5a. We used the passport machines to enter the country (no wait at all) then cleared security via the fast track lane. There was a massive queue to get into the north lounge so we went to the south lounge instead, where there were a lot of seats. I had some porridge, and treated myself by adding a brown sugar topping LOL. No alcohol though - it was time to start the post holiday detox!



The flight to Edinburgh also boarded on time and was uneventful - we declined the food on offer and I just had some water.



We landed on time, collected our luggage and some milk from M&S before jumping into a taxi home. And we all know what that means...

Itís time to start planning the next holiday!

(Oh and Iíve also convinced DH to add a Disney Cruise to our Yacht Club week next year. )
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Old 29 Jun 19, 04:36 PM  
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I've really enjoyed reading your report and it's inspired us to also do the train from Vancouver to Seattle as part of next year's road trip Looking forward to reading your next one!
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Old 29 Jun 19, 06:08 PM  
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Originally Posted by anji View Post
I've really enjoyed reading your report and it's inspired us to also do the train from Vancouver to Seattle as part of next year's road trip Looking forward to reading your next one!
Thank you for reading!

I thought the train was a nice easy way to cross the border, and the views were lovely.
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Old 29 Jun 19, 08:54 PM  
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Thanks - a lot of memories from our BC and Seattle trip! We stayed at the Blu hotel too!
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2016 Quebec - Kuala Lumpar - New York City 2017 Dubai - Eurocamps France - Ontario and Quebec - So-Cal 2018 Montreal - Bangkok - New England 2019 Argentina - Quebec City - Hong Kong
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Old 29 Jun 19, 08:55 PM  
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Just caught up with your last few days and once again fantastic scenery, lovely food and enjoyed reading along. I visited friends in Ottawa with my Mum last year and their grandson stays in Vancouver and she was encouraging me to do a road trip with the family. Orlando won again this year but the more trip reports I read the more I think anadventure in Canada will be on the cards in a few years. Thanks for sharing

Edited at 08:56 PM.
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Old 30 Jun 19, 10:00 AM  
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Wordsworth
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Thanks - a lot of memories from our BC and Seattle trip! We stayed at the Blu hotel too!
Thanks for reading. did you like Seattle? I was surprised to find I didnít like it as much as I thought I would; there are other cities in the US Iíd go back to first! I love Vancouver though and would definitely stay at Hotel Blu again.

Originally Posted by Mel49 View Post
Just caught up with your last few days and once again fantastic scenery, lovely food and enjoyed reading along. I visited friends in Ottawa with my Mum last year and their grandson stays in Vancouver and she was encouraging me to do a road trip with the family. Orlando won again this year but the more trip reports I read the more I think anadventure in Canada will be on the cards in a few years. Thanks for sharing
Having done this road trip twice now, ten years apart, Iíd definitely recommend it! We saw more wildlife overall on our October trip but no bears, so Iím glad we saw two bears this time. Thank you for reading and commenting
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