Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Planes, Trains & Automobiles (2011/12)

A unique day

I had breakfast in the hotel, being careful not to over-eat in view of the delights to come in Lufthansa's First Class. Once I had transferred to the airport, check-in was particularly easy: I didn't even have to queue. In line with my previous experience in August 2011, I walked through the uninviting taxi yard to the superb First Class Terminal. It was exceptionally quiet in there, once a group who were preparing to leave had actually gone. I passed the time relaxing and surfing the web on my iPhone. Showing considerable restraint, I only had an apple juice to drink; it just seemed a little early in the day for anything stronger.

Time passed quickly and soon I and a couple of other passengers were being transferred to our waiting A330 in a black Mercedes limousine. Lufthansa makes such a good job of this.

(Link to flight log in side panel)

What made this a unique day as far as I was concerned was that I had just taken a westbound day flight, during which it had become dark and then light again. This was because I had been further north than ever before, coming close to the north pole in the middle of winter. Such latitudes are in constant darkness at this time of year, just as they enjoy 24-hour daylight at the end of June. I had known this for years, but seeing it with my own eyes for the first time was a memorable experience.

There was a substantial immigration queue at Sea-Tac, although I knew that I had encountered far worse at various times in my travel history. In due course, I was able to pick up my case and make my way to the pick-up point for the hotel shuttle bus, conscious of the relentless, pouring rain. It was a short ride and a quick and easy check-in at the hotel. I had no desire to make my way into the city centre in such miserable weather conditions. Having found out that there was free door-to-door transport available for the Westfield Southcenter shopping mall, I decided that this was the thing to do. I could hit the sales without even getting wet!

Southcenter didn't strike me as the most aesthetically pleasing of malls, but I managed to spend nearly three hours there. I made some small-scale purchases of a few hard-to-resist bargains. The place was terribly busy - perhaps not surprising given the time of year and the miserable weather outside. Some of the people going around were not the best advertisements for contemporary US society. I saw one group of youths getting into trouble with Security, as well as the usual contingents of teenage girls, some heavily made up and others with grotesque body piercings, yelling at each other as though afflicted by the early onset of deafness. It was all depressingly similar to the UK. It also occurred to me that, in my tired and jet-lagged state, perhaps I was being even more of a grumpy old man than usual.  

Back at the Hilton and now feeling very tired indeed, I had a light meal of ravioli at the in-house branch of Spencer's. I was tucked up in bed by 2015 and remember very little else; I suspect I was fast asleep in less than two minutes.