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A Tortise in Seattle

Poor old Viv, I think she got a bit of a shock initially last night we entered the Green Tortise Hostel in Seattle after arriving in about 7.00 pm last night. We have only had a brief overnight stop in the city as it appears you can't fly directly from Anchorage, the 49th State of America into Vancouver, Canada. Seattle seems to be the transit airport that is used as an entry point on that particular route to Vancouver. I am traveling considerably lighter than my friend. I have done a bit of this buzzing about on a budget and have a backpack that is able to be strapped on like a pack and once that’s in place I am able to get another one on the front. I resemble something like a human camel and provided I am not bumped into much can usually manage to stay upright between destinations on public transport.

She is pulling a couple of flash bags, and they are not so easy to manage so we had a shuttle drop us off right at the door in downtown Seattle at the hostel. The exasperated sigh that escaped her lips when she realised the mountain of stairs we had to climb to reach the front desk didn’t go completely unnoticed by a couple of young hostel guess who were leaving to go out. I think they saw a couple of tired old cougars and felt sorry for us so grabbed the bags and raced them up the two flights of stairs which was much appreciated. I hadn’t mentioned to her that it’s rare to get a private room in a hostel, particularly in peak tourism times such as now. I saw the concern cross her brow when she realized that we would be sharing a dorm – all eight of us. As that began to register in her mine, she loudly laid claim to a low-lying bed if the room was found to have bunks.

Yep, it had bunks and because we were last in there was no choice really. One up, one down was all that was left and I never even asked where I would be! Shoving all the gear in the locker under the bed, I wasn’t sure what she was thinking. Hosteling is a whole new experience if you are not used to it and apart from sleeping on thin mattresses, sharing bathrooms, a sometimes lack of air-conditioning and trying to keep yourself contained in one small corner of a room, it can be a very cool way to see the country. The hostels attract a variety of clientele, mostly young, hard up travelers on tight budgets who don’t mind roughing it. Then you get intrepid sorts like myself that are not only on a careful budget but traveling solo. I have found it an excellent way to travel generally, there is always safety in numbers providing you book one that is in a middle of the road price bracket. I expect really low end establishments would be a pretty scary experience even for an old tart (however seasoned she is.) dodging bed bugs and the odd derelict, but I try and stay away from that.

Clambering up that bloody old ladder to the top bunk up way up in the gods last night was not ideal, but I wasn’t going to fight for the bottom one. I don’t like heights but had just ridden the big Ferris Wheel at the Port so I could hardly use that as an excuse! I suffered in silence only a metre off the ceiling of that particularly high bunk surrounded by the green curtains surrounding the narrow bed to provide an element of privacy. The room smelt like a bad curry I thought, Viv thought it just smelt like a body overload. 8 people living in a room that was 3m x 2m is intensive living in a confined space in any man’s language.

The Grand Ferris wheel at the Port of Seattle

We weren’t in bed for long before it seemed time to get up again and catch an 8am shuttle back to the airport. The Canadian girl we sat beside enjoying the free breakfast in the dining room who had slept below me in our dorm asked how we slept? We nodded and smiled and said well. She had a face like a torn sand-shoe when she announced that she had a terrible night’s sleep. I never asked her, but I have a feeling that she may have thought she was sleeping with a couple of bush pigs and it had scared the Christ out of her. We have both been known to snore on occasions – an affliction that creeps up on you with middle age, some excess weight and spending the majority of time in your bed alone. No digs in the ribs or belts between the shoulder blades to call the orchestra to a halt to it, so you just get better at it. I’m so good that sometimes I wake myself up with it. I feel I can blame this particular episode (if it did occur at all), on altitude sickness – It was dam high up there and I am not a mountain goat.

Anyway, Viv’s experience as a backpacking cougar has grown considerably over the last 10 days. I am not sure what her true thoughts are but it’s not all bad.

Sleeping cheap meant the Cocktails we drank on the Pier tasted so much better.

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