5-26-08

Not on the ship yet, but we’ve made it to Vancouver. We got up bright and early today, and were packed and ready for the cab in plenty of time (the cats recognized the suitcases and were sulking, though our Sweet Orange Boy did come and curl up on Lis’ chest while we sat waiting for the cab). The cab took us to Portland’s Union Station, where we were to catch the Amtrak Cascade to Seattle, and then change to a motor coach for the remainder of the journey to Vancouver. Union Station is a lovely little station – it dates to around 1910 or so, and has been preserved in pretty much its original form. I loved starting my journey there.

The train ride between Portland and Seattle is very pretty. From Portland to Olympia there aren’t that many sweeping views, but you’re surrounded by lush green foliage and pastoral scenes. Then, somewhere past Olympia, the view opens up on Puget Sound, and you travel along on the edge of the Sound all the way to Tacoma – very beautiful. From Tacoma to Seattle it was inland, and there were a few bleak, broken down urban scenes as we got closer to Seattle, but I was listening to Gillian Welch through this part, so it worked pretty well.

Seattle’s King Street Station looks like it was once also a lovely station, but it suffered some “urban renewal” in the 60’s, and is much the worse for it – drab dropped ceiling obscuring a beautifully worked ceiling, dull walling obscuring marble walls, etc. It’s hard to believe that anyone could have thought that was a good idea. They’re trying to restore it, but it’s slow going – it doesn’t look any different than it did when we were there a year or two ago.

Once we transferred from the train to the motor coach, things deteriorated rapidly. There was a very loud woman on the bus, who first had a serious of loud cell phone conversations, and then a loud, sustained conversation with her seat mates. And in addition to volume, she had few boundaries. Here’s what we know about her:

  • Her father has a restraining order against him (“don’t contact her – you need to keep yourself safe”)
  • She recently ended a nine year relationship (“I raised his children”)
  • She’s returning from a trip that included a business conference and a 3-day wedding (“I met the most amazing people at the wedding”)
  • She’s traveling to Greece soon
  • She’s a psychologist

At a certain point, I just put on my headphones and kept them there until the bus stopped. (On a side note, who inflicts a 3-day wedding on friends and loved ones…?)

We decided, since we’re just going to be in town overnight, and we’d be arriving around 6pm, we didn’t want to spend much on a room, and booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express on East Hastings. We had stayed here once before, and found it an adequate place to stay for one-night-before-a-cruise purposes. Its biggest draw is that it’s got a free shuttle that was going to pick us up at the train station today, and take us to the cruiseport tomorrow. However, when we arrived, we found that the shuttle is out of action. The hotel itself is much louder than we remembered. We’ll definitely stay somewhere else next time.

So it’s getting close to bedtime. Tomorrow we board the ship – can’t wait!!

Lis adds: Thank goodness I have earplugs. Also Mary neglected to mention the practically inedible meal we had across the street from the hotel at the “Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese” restaurant. I should have followed my rule to never eat in a restaurant that claims to provide food from three different countries, but I was hungry and hopeful. I will say that the Jr. Whopper I bought across the street at Burger King after dinner felt positively gourmet in comparison. I’m REALLY looking forward to the Mariner.