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Old 16 Jul 19, 08:26 PM  
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Melanie R
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Glaciers & Glowtinis - the further adventures of the Duchess!

Hello and thanks for joining my pre trippie for my next solo adventure - and this one is so far out of my comfort zone itís on another planet!

Iím Mel, soon to turn 50 and happily separated, hence the solo adventure.



As many of you who have listened to the Dibbcast and followed any of my posts will be aware, when it comes to holidays I am a planner. Iím talking serious planning here Ė planning sessions in the local Starbucks, post it notes, spreadsheets all the way through to lamination and woe betide anyone who suggests tweaks Ė my plans are perfect (in my opinion ) and canít be improved on!

This year, I have a big birthday. However much I may try to avoid thinking about it, I canít get away from the fact that I will turn 50 in July 2019.



Iím not entirely sure how this is possible as itís only 5 minutes since I was celebrating my 21st, but my mum assures me that my birth certificate is genuine, and I have to face facts. I will be turning 50 whether I like it or not, so I need to get used to the idea!

So, about a year ago I decided that given it was inevitable, I needed to embrace the fact and turn it to my advantage Ė I would book a big holiday and see if I can tick off some items from my bucket list. I spent several thoroughly enjoyable evenings debating all the possibilities Ė the world was quite literally my oyster and almost anywhere was a possibility. I thought of the obvious Ė Florida for a Disney fix, California or even Japan as I have never visited them, but there was a big part of me that didnít want to do a Disney trip, as in many ways I still associate Disney with holidays with my ex and this trip was going to be all about me, so I decided (with some regret it has to be said!) to rule out Disney on this occasion.

I finally narrowed down my options between a trip to Washington DC and New York or a cruise to Alaska to see the whales in their natural environment combined with a scenic trip on the Rocky Mountaineer Ė and after various consultations with family and friends I decided on Alaska.

I then set about researching my cruise options Ė I particularly wanted to visit Glacier Bay National Park on my cruise, and discovered that not every cruise line has a permit to cruise there, and those that do were restricted to when they could visit due to the wildlife breeding season. So I finally decided on a Princess cruise in September for 7 nights. Then I saw the prices and had to have a very large gin and tonic to recover!



Cruises are very pricy for solo travellers, and given the scenery I was expecting to see, in my opinion a balcony cabin was a necessity. In the end, I opted for a junior suite Ė the price was not much more than a balcony cabin, and at least I felt I was getting some value for my money, so with only very minor misgivings, I booked! I was going to be cruising on the Coral Princess for 7 nights, sailing from Vancouver on September 18. I popped the dates in my calendar and as flights were not yet available to book, forgot all about it for a couple of months.



As the darker evenings began to draw in, I spent more and more time researching the Rocky Mountaineer as I wanted to add a few days to my trip by taking this train ride through the Canadian Rockies, but I couldnít commit to it at this stage as it was also proving to be very expensive and I wasnít sure if my budget would stretch, so at this stage in the planning it was at the top of my maybe list, but I started to look into other things to do in the area Ė and then I realised how close I would be to Seattle, another place I had always wanted to visit and so this became my second option on the maybe list.

As the winter months passed by, Christmas came and went and in the new year I was heavily into planning to move house Ė and all the challenges that his brings along with it, so holiday planning took a little bit of a backseat, but I did realise it would be a good idea to at least get my flights sorted, so one evening, sitting on the sofa surrounded by boxes, I started to research my flight options.

I decided on Air Transat as they offered a direct flight from Manchester to Vancouver, but didnít fly every day so I needed to finalise my itinerary before booking. The move then took priority and before I knew it, I was sitting in a different location, surrounded by the same boxes and still had no flights booked! I knew I had to get something sorted, so one evening (while I was supposed to be prepping to record the final ever Dibbcast) I pulled up the Air Transat website and booked the flights. I was flying out on Monday 16 September and flying home on Sunday 29th, so I now had fixed dates to work within to finalise my itinerary. We then had a very jolly evening recording the Dibbcast and I put the holiday to the back of my mind!

April and May passed so quickly sorting everything following the move and planning my new kitchen installation Ė before I knew it I was in June and was looking forward to a visit from Anna & Rachel, (the other 2 thirds of the Glowtini Girls) to have a house warming weekend! Lots of prosecco was consumed and we had a very pleasant weekend making lots of new friends



My new kitchen was installed the following week, I still had 6 nights of my holiday with nowhere to stay, no firm plans and I was well under 100 days before travel - time to get my backside into gear and get everything sorted once and for all.

So, at the beginning of July, I decided enough was enough and it was time to get the rest of the trip booked and paid for.
I started with my first 2 nights before the cruise Ė this was always going to be easy as I had no plans to leave Vancouver and there were lots of things I wanted to see and do in the city, so it was just a question of finding and booking a hotel. I wanted somewhere reasonably close to the cruise terminal, so did some research online and finally settled on The Blue Horizon hotel for 2 nights. I was expecting city pricing, but it was more expensive than I was expecting - concerning as I still had 4 nights to sort following the cruise!



I had already abandoned the idea of the Rocky Mountaineer by this stage Ė it was going to push the budget further than I liked, but also the dates of the journeys just didnít tie in with the flight dates available, so I had reluctantly decided this was a no go, and I would come back another time to do this trip (still on the bucket list!)

So, back to plan B Ė Seattle. I had done some research and knew there was a train which ran from Vancouver to Seattle, so was planning to get the train on the Wednesday after I got off the cruise ship Ė or at least this WAS my plan B until I discovered that Vancouver hotels were budget level prices compared to those in Seattle!

I had 4 nights to plan for, I had no intentions of sleeping on a park bench, so needed to get my thinking cap on. Thatís when my iPad came to my rescue! I know some people donít like the targeted advertising that modern technology brings along with it, but in this case I have no complaints Ė an ad appeared at the side of my screen promoting 3 night cruises Ė and that got me thinking. Was there by any chance, a short cruise leaving Vancouver within my 4 night window Ė and once I got researching, there was indeed such a cruise. 1 cruise fitted the brief Ė a 3 night cruise, sailing from Vancouver on Wednesday 25th, the very same day my Alaskan cruise docked back to Vancouver! I almost didnít care where it went, I checked out the price, it was extremely reasonable, there was still availability and I had booked it before I could change my mind! I now had a second cruise booked, and was heading for San Francisco on the Golden Princess to visit the Golden Gate Bridge Ėanother place to tick off my bucket list



I will be arriving at San Francisco on Saturday 28th and have a whole day to take in the highlights of the city before I had to think about how to get back to Vancouver for my flight home the following day. I soon had a hotel booked close to Fishermanís Wharf so that I could get rid of my luggage once I left the cruise ship, then sorted a flight back to Vancouver for the following morning.

I plan to take in Alcatraz and the Walt Disney Family museum on my unexpected day there, both of which I will book tickets for a little closer to the time.

I finally decided to book the Radisson Blu at Manchester for my pre travel day and while I was on such a roll, also booked the train tickets to get me to the airport.

I finally took a deep breath, checked that I had covered all the days I needed, I had a bed for every night of my stay and transport to and from all the various places I was visiting was in place Ė all that was left to sort was the taxi from the airport to the hotel in Vancouver and the reverse in San Francisco Ė those I would sort on the day.

So here it is Ė the most unplanned plan Iíve ever done and the trip Iím most excited about! Itís been a lot of fun just booking things at random and seeing where Iíve ended up, and as long as I NEVER add up all the various elements to check for sure, Iím fairly comfortable Iíve pulled it off within budget! (and if I havenít, itís all booked and paid for so what the hell!)

Itís a once in a lifetime trip for me and is ticking off several of my bucket list places Ė all I need to plan now is all the cocktails Iím going to have onboard!

Cheers!


Edited at 08:30 PM.
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Old 16 Jul 19, 08:32 PM  
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Gryff
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Have a great time a princess cruise to glacier bay is on our bucket list
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Old 16 Jul 19, 08:37 PM  
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tigger48
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Oh wow good on you Mel. Your unplanned plans sound amazing canít wait to read more. Spoil yourself rotten - you deserve it!
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Old 16 Jul 19, 08:59 PM  
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Wordsworth
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Sounds incredible and youíre going to visit some of my favourite places!
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Old 16 Jul 19, 09:45 PM  
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smithlane
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Sounds like an amazing trip planned! Alaska is firmly on my bucket list.
Canít wait to read all about it 😃
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Old 16 Jul 19, 10:08 PM  
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vanlou
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Sounds lovely - just what you need to help you enjoy your birthday and forget the 50 bit
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Old 16 Jul 19, 10:18 PM  
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mskitty
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Wow that sounds amazing. What a great way to celebrate your birthday in style.
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Old 16 Jul 19, 10:58 PM  
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KayLouise
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Sounds fantastic!
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Old 17 Jul 19, 12:48 AM  
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Disney_time
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That all sounds fabulous. Quite jealous here. Taxis in Vancouver are fixed price from the airport. We paid $35 Canadian two years ago to Canada Place area. It takes 30 mins if I remember correctly.

Make sure you see the FlyOver Canada at Canada Place, it's just like Soarin'. .

In San Francisco, as a solo traveller, I was very happy with a shared transfer with Supershuttle. You can watch the progress of the shuttle arriving to collect you on your mobile fromthe hotel lobby.

Not long to go now!
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Old 21 Jul 19, 02:38 PM  
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mickeymouseears
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Sounds amazing ! Have a great holiday!
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