A Tale of Two Cities (Countries)
Jackie: We want to talk about traveling by trains and planes in Europe… or in our neighborhood. Brit Rail and Alaskan Air. David is finishing up a wintry visit to England while I’m cozy at home dealing with fun things like taxes and medical insurance forms. I do want to finish telling you about our fine stay in Seattle, which was a short flight from our own Bob Hope Airport on the very congenial Alaskan Airlines…
David, due to icy roads and just plain pleasure, is taking many side trips by BritRail. An important point is the pass is only for us visitors, something to entice. David, carry on…
David: I want to share two hot reasons for choosing BritRail on your next trip to the UK: One—you save money, big time. EX: The first class 4-day BritRail FlexiPass, which is in my pocket as we speak, lets me take as many trains as I can manage (there are 19,000 departures daily going to 25,000 places but I don’t think I can handle quite that many) to go all over England, Scotland and Wales on each of 4 days in a 2-month period. I’d spend a whole lot more if I were paying for individual tickets. Two—It‘s so easy! Just choose your destination, check the time for the train you want (all the info is online or at the rail station) and hop onboard. No waiting in line to buy a ticket; just grab a seat and when the conductor comes round, show your BritRail pass. You don’t have to fill your tank (at skyrocketing prices), fight the traffic, find your way around a new town or worry about expensive parking. You’re in a safe, comfortable seat on a British train. Read, watch the scenery and chat up a neighbor. Great way to travel. But you can only buy your pass before you leave for England; they are for us lucky tourists only.
I used my pass on the first of my four days to zip up to London and back from my holiday home in Milford on Sea. Outside my train window, cars were fighting their way through icy roads on the worst weather conditions Britain has seen in years. Snow everywhere; bitter cold and dangerous. From the warm inside of my coach, it was a winter wonder, great to see but much nicer looking than participating. BritRail, that’s the ticket!
Seasons in Seattle
Jackie: I’m still dreaming about the Croque Monsieur at Crepe de France, the special little restaurant in Pike’s Place on Puget Sound, just a few minutes walk from our hotel. Just before Christmas we spent a few days at the really wonderful Seattle Four Seasons Hotel. Although the weather outside was winter grey, inside the hotel it was spring, with light décor and vibrant abstract art. Our accommodations had wraparound floor to ceiling windows revealing the complete expanse of Puget Sound and Elliot Bay, where the great ferries coasted in and out of our front view heading to the many islands beyond. The side windows overlooked the hotel’s infinity pool, right outside the fitness center, with a separate whirlpool and open fire pit. We were harmless voyeurs as night fell on happy bathers.
Heading to my bath, I found a stunning surprise on the mirror in front of the sink. A push of a button made a TV screen come to life in back of the mirror. A great illusion and a terrific amenity that was new to us.
The Four Seasons Spa lured me from our cozy room. I surrendered myself to Purity with their signature Emerald Rain treatment. Let me tell you I was almost too mellow to dine, almost.
Art is the name of the restaurant and the talent of the chef. For starters: crisp pheasant dumplings, a salad of warm King Oyster mushrooms, arugula and artichoke with parmesan and lemon olive oil, and a greens and pomegranate seed salad. The braised lamb shank was effortless and fell off the bone; the dry, aged beef strip loin with truffle spinach, smoked sea salt and blue potatoes, stays in one’s memory, as do the imaginative and delicious desserts.
Since “times” are tough, the prices are fair. It’s a real getaway for a weekend.