Show me the way OUT of San Jose

Thursday, August 8 – Friday, August 9

I worked today before my 8pm flight – but didn’t walk enough and when you are going to be stuck on a plane for 10+ hours, getting in your steps becomes very important. So after my very slow (not just because of traffic, but because my driver really like the right lane, never once getting in the HOV lane!) Lyft to the airport I got through TSA, got to my gate and began my pacing. I got to the airport with only 4,500 steps and had just over an hour to get the rest of my 10,000 steps in – so I paced and I paced. I ended up grabbing my Kindle and reading and pacing – Im sure as it got closer to boarding the people were getting annoyed with my pacing – but I don’t care – I was on a mission!

I hit 10,000 steps (insert happy dance here) right as boarding was to begin. I saw some people queuing – they call that “gate lice” in Passenger shaming terms – and I wasn’t going to be one of them. They announced that the systems had crashed and that there would be a delay in boarding. It only lasted about 10 minutes, but once we were able to board, it went very slow, the computers were running slow and there were only half the amount of check in computers available. Because of my Platinum status on American I got to board with the elites on the flight – well after first class of course.

I had asked before the flight if the middle seat was taken and they confirmed it was, I am bummed because I changed my seat last night so I could have an open seat. Once I was by my seat the guy on the aisle was already on the plane (he must be status too) and since boarding was going slow because of the delay, I opted to put my pillow and technology bag on my seat and go stand in the galley

The flight attendants I talked to were just amazing and hysterical. We talked about how crazy the TSA regulations in the states are, as well as the UK version. For example, in the States the flight attendants don’t have a liquid allowance, but in the UK they do. And in the UK the armed forces can take their riffles and guns through security as long as they have a pass, but they cannot take water, as it may be used as a weapon – as opposed to the guns they have with them?!

We also talked about how crazy people are on airplanes and having to detain people mid-flight. Theyre given four types of situations and the solutions to all of them. Once of the flight attendants is a volunteer police officer in his town – and he knows (or seems to know) his stuff.

Boarding was complete; I had to return to my seat, and to my surprise, the middle seat was open! Woohoo! I had to bother the aisle guy again to get in and that’s when I noticed it – I was in a window seat with no window!! However, the lack of window actually means Ill be warmer on the flight since there is no window, there is no loss of heat!

They served the first mean about an hour and a half into the flight. I was really trying to exhaust myself so I stayed awake for it. They had what they called “red chicken curry” or the “vegetarian option” (I never did figure out what that actually was). I went with the curry; there was nothing “curry” about it, I never actually saw or tasted any curry – but it tasted really good. Simple salad, roll, dinner and some lemon custard, jello thing for dessert.

I don’t recall much after I finished eating because I fell asleep, and I slept hard! According to my FitBit I slept for over 5 hours. Im glad I brought my full size pillow (yes I know, judge away, but the Dr said it would help my back and he was right) it made sleeping so easy.

I woke up a bit before we landed – I missed breakfast (which is always my favorite part of the meals). We had left about 30 minutes late and arrived about 20 minutes early – yeah!!

After deplaning, came customs – many countries now have a chip in the passport that means you can bypass the annoying passport control people – it also means you don’t get a stamp – but I already have a London Heathrow stamp, so that’s fine by mean. I needed to get to the Underground station. I followed the signs and bought a ticket – I ran into someone who works for the Underground and he said it was delayed about 40 minutes and so I should take the TFN train and transfer along the way to the Underground. I followed all the directions and made it to the transfer point. The ticket guy there wasn’t as friendly as the airport – but he wasn’t mean. He kept trying to keep my card and I kept asking for it back – finally he opened the gate and let me have my ticket back.

My Airbnb was only about a 7 minute walk from the Kings Cross Station (trains and Underground). His directions to get to his place were spot on – but Google did assist a bit. The host, Mike, must be a shy guy. He lives, sleeps and works in 60% of the flat and the remaining is a storage closet, shared bathroom and guest room. It’s a great set up for Airbnb and its on the first floor (or in every other country in the world, the zero level). We chatted for a bit, I reviewed the binder he had set out for important information of the area, put on shorts and headed out to explore.

The moment I went to walk out the front door it dumped rain – so I ran back in to get my rain jacket that I had decided at the last minute to bring, sure glad I did that! I decided to put in the GPS – Westminster Abbey – since there is a lot to see and do in that area. I started the one-hour journey by foot and had to stop once because it was raining so hard.

On my way I decided to add a stop at the British Museum . It has been ages (like 15 years??) to my route – it was halfway between my flat and Westminster Abbey. Its free to get into the museum, I had forgotten this. They ask for a $5 donation – but its not required. You can now even text a number and make your donation that way!

I wanted to check out the Rosetta Stone again – its just a great part of history!! Its shocking to think that we learned so much from this stone – that before was just a guess! I walked around a bit more and then continued on my walk, I was getting hungry. My walk took me through the off-Broadway theater neighborhood – very busy, everyone is out on this Friday night to go see a show. I decided I was really hungry now so I looked for a place to eat and finally decided on an Italian place.

I got myself some olives and pizza with a 7up and water. Literally EVERYTHING tastes better here. A big reason is they don’t allow artificial colors (like Fanta isn’t cartoon orange, its like orange juice orange), and they don’t modify their food either. They don’t cut pizza here – you cut each bite yourself. I really like that because it forces me to eat slower. I wrote out (and re-wrote my boarding pass writing) most of this blog there. Once the food is delivered I switch over to reading (current read: Nelson Mandela’s Autobiography).

After dinner I continued my venture over to Westminster Abbey. Last time I was here Big Ben was under construction, it has been over 2 years since Ive been here so I expected it to be cleared – but when I got to the neighborhood I realized in fact there was ever MORE scaffolding that before!! They are doing a full restoration of the Parliament and Big Ben (much needed). Its an amazingly large project, but it will be great when its done. I walked around a bit, went to the Abbey gates and then hopped on the Tube back to the Airbnb. I was exhausted and worn out – exactly what I needed to sleep through the night.

Muster Point 6: July 1, 2019

Today my friend Julia and I headed out of Sacramento on an early flight to Seattle to catch our cruise – heading to Alaska!!

Our day started early – we grabbed a LYFT around 4am. Once we had checked our bags at the airport, we breezed through TSA with plenty of time to wait at the gate. It was a very easy morning. Could this be the calm before the storm? Or will this trip really be a breeze?

Once in Seattle we grabbed our luggage and headed to the LYFT pick up spot in the parking garage.

Our LYFT picked us up and we headed to the city to have breakfast. I had looked up places on the way to Pier 91 where our boat was launching from. I settle on a place called 5 Spot. Their menu looked pretty good.

Turns out they are an ethical restaurant who does good things! Some of their menu items have a donation that go with them: Order plate A and 5 Spot will donate $1 to a charity.

We both settled on an egg dish, but then of course had to have the sweets: beniets and  cinnamon rolls!! The beniets were so good!! The cinnamon roll was not. I sent it back, and even the second time it wasn’t good. Hard as a rock. I love cinnamon rolls – they hold a special place in my heart from when I was young going to Saturday breakfast with my dad and grandma at the Fryin Pan in Fargo, ND.

After our breakfast we headed to safeway about 5 blocks away to get some candy!! From there we snagged another LYFT and headed to the boat early.

Our cruise is on the Holland America’s ms Amsterdam, however the whole boat was taken over by about 1,300 LESBIANS through the Olivia Travel company. We arrived before boarding so we checked in and hung out in the check-in building. About 30 minutes in I realized many of the people on the boat would be older than Julia and myself. I was actually really excited about that – the older groups tend to be ones I can relate to more.

Photo Credit: Julie A. Booher
Photo Credit: Gina Teddone

After about an hour we boarded, found our room, got settled in and were hanging out in the room to take a nap! After nap time, it was time to Muster!! this is when you have to go to your life boat station (normally with your life vest) so you know where to go in an emergency. Unlucky for me, I only took Instagram videos that disappear after an hour, so I have no shots for this….So Im stealing….

We headed out to the Lido deck for a sail away party.  The moment the boat took off from the pier I got queasy. Like, seconds. Luckily I had my patches and ginger snaps (thank you Mark!!) to get me through. I was super prepared for all the sea sickness I was expecting. I brought eastern medicine patches and Dramamine as well!! I really don’t want to get sick on this trip.

After the party, no actually I started feeling queasy, Julia and I headed down to the room to nap. (I know, party poopers, but we were so tired). When we woke up from our nap it was time to go to the Solos introduction meeting. The Solos are a group of people who are single OR traveling single. It lets everyone be part of a group – even if you came along. The first two people we met were Lori and Julie – how crazy right? Lori was sitting across from me and Julie was sitting across from Julia!! We also met Becca right around the same time. Little did we know, these would become our people.

After that Julia and I headed to the Spa because they were going to be raffling off gift certificates. The lady in charge says she loved us so much she offered us even more!! I volunteered to pick a ticket – and guess what?? I picked Julia’s!! Not many people figured out that I had picked hers – later on I think they did. (Sadly this gift certificate never got used – it was only usable during dock time, but we didnt realize that until it was too late).

Julia and I went to find food before going to a comedy show with Vicki Shaw. We discovered the Lido deck and it has pools, hot tubs and a buffet line. Most of the day the buffet line is open – things to note when traveling on a cruise ship! I ended up having pretty bland food to avoid upsetting my stomach (mash potatoes and mac n chz!!).

After dinner we headed to the show and sat in the Solos section. I found Vicki very funny, she managed to make a terrible horrible disease (Alzheimer’s) have some humor. It was a great fire night option. We were both really tired after and headed to bed early. I slept so well I could have kept sleeping – for much longer than I did!