Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Equisite Welsh Land of Mystery

I was completely surprised by the beauty I discovered in Wales! The daily rolling fog lent an air of mystery to the country and the autumn season of colors never ceased to delight my soul. Such beauty cannot be described and pictures can only give a glimpse. So, if you want to experience a soul-thrilling splendor, let's go to Wales!!

looks like a postcard, right?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Wales - the unknown region of the U.K.

I had no idea Wales was so beautiful! I arrived by bus into Cardiff late afternoon and got a quick glimpse of the country. There is a castle in the city (as many European cities do), so we popped in for a quick looksee. Still had an almost 2 hour drive north to my friend's house, so we got on the road soon after arriving into Cardiff. By the time we got to the vicinity of their place, the sun had set and everything was dark. So I was pleasantly surprised when I woke the next morning and looked out their front door. Green rolling hills lined with hedges/fences, dotted with trees and sheep, covered with a misty fog. Beautiful

Spent a few days soaking up the beauty of the countryside, exploring old cathedrals, ancient ruins and talking to intriguing people. Quaint little towns and exquisite scenery with such history! 
I'm thankful for such remarkable hosts, who were always willing to drive me around, answer my endless questions and entertain me for several days. Lovely family so faithful to share the Gospel in a sadly religious, yet dark land. 

have I just entered Narnia!?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

London for a Day

Well, after four days of trying to get out of Alaska, five flights and countless hours spent awake, I made it to London. At the last moment, I upgraded to BusinessFirst class, because I was tired, would be flying through the night and arriving in the morning. When traveling internationally, I prefer to arrive in the evening, because I know I will be tired and I like to go to bed soon after arriving, which helps me get on the right time zone quicker. There were seats available, so I jumped at the opportunity. And boy, was I not disappointed!! Amazing service, excellent food, comfy seats, additional accessories provided AND a seat that flatted into a real bed, of sorts. Well worth the upgrade fee. 

mid-flight snack in Business class

Arrived in London about 9am. And because of flying Business I was able to take advantage of the United Lounge just outside security, hot shower and breakfast provided. Yes, please! I took my time, as there was wifi there and I needed to plot my course to my accommodations that night. 

Later in the afternoon, I ventured downtown to walk and explore a bit. I had been to the city six years prior, so wasn't really doing much in the way of tourism, just walking. It got dark earlier than I expected. And since I was there during the end of the business day, everyone around me on the streets seemed so absorbed and focused. Guess I would be too, after a long day in the office and all I'd want is to get home and relax. It was strange however, to be strolling along the streets with everyone rushing by you and hardly anyone making eye contact. 

I didn't do much, besides grabbing a quite bite for dinner and walking probably 5 miles around the Thames River downtown. I headed home early to get that sleep I needed so desperately. The next day I would head out for the countryside, the real reason I had come back to the U.K. 

on the Thames

Tower of London

famous Tower Bridge

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Unexpected Roadtrip

The end of October I was attempting to leave Alaska for a several week trip. The complicated factor was that I was flying standby, courtesy of my airport job. But flying standby can be frustrating, to say the least. I flew down to Anchorage with no issues, but that night I waited at the gate to see if I would make the flight to Denver to start my adventure..... but alas, I was the next person on the list and no more seats were available. sigh. Well, my adventure did begin, just not the one I was hoping for. I never leave home now without a blanket.... cause when you sleep in the airport terminal, it comes in handy. I don't understand why some airports keep it so chilly.... that and I don't understand why their announcements are played so loudly! there are no flights from 2-6am, but still the announcements jolt you from sleep every hour or so... therefore, a restless night. 

The next day I had hours to kill until the next flight left and I had no desire to stick around Anchorage. So for $20 I rented a car and set off. First stopped for a yummy breakfast and coffee and then drove south. I have never been to Kenai before, so figured that was a good time. It was a clear, sunny, winter day. Which meant the sun was shining and reflecting off the freshly snow capped mountains. Spectacular! It was a bit chilly outside, but in my warm car, I could enjoy the beauty from warmth and safety. 

All I did was drive to Kenai, ate lunch and drove on some side roads for a bit looking for a bluff I was told about. Never did find that bluff. Then drove back to Anchorage. Tho it was completely unplanned, it was a marvelous roadtrip. 

To finish my standby saga.... made it back to Anchorage, once again waited at the gate for the flight I wanted to get on. This time, even one of the paying customers didn't get a seat, let alone us standby passengers. One lady I talked to, it was her 3rd night trying to make it out. :/ We laughed about sleeping in airports. She had a son to stay with, but she had done her fair share of spending nights in airports. I think I've slept 5 nights in an airport in the past two months. 

Anyways, I slept at the airport, then caught an early flight back to Fairbanks. Came home and slept for real. Tried getting out of Fairbanks that night with no success.... but the next day, after three days of trying I made it on a flight!! I almost canceled my trip, but glad I stuck with it!!! Made it to the U.K. and met some pretty awesome people and even ran into some old friends I didn't know were there! More about that to come.... 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Day of Firsts

So have been traveling again. I know, I know, that's nothing new. But I did have a day of firsts recently. Was headed into an unknown town, going to visit an unknown church of all potential new friends who were still unmet at that point. I had anticipated an evening service, but was informed that there was an 3pm service instead. The bus I was to catch from the nearby town wouldn't arrive until 220pm. And public transportation would have taken me almost an hour to reach said church. So....

Figured I could take a taxi.... then I thought, what about Uber? It's no different than a taxi and though there are those skeptics out there who say it's unsafe, I decided to give it a try. At least with Uber, you can track your progress and see where you are at all times on your phone. With a taxi, you are also riding with a stranger, but with no way to tell where you are going. Believe me, I've been in some cabs and wondered where in the world I was being taken. (not knowing the city or having data on your phone can cause you to wonder) 

So I am here to tell you I survived, and I made it to my destination in once piece. And only 3 minutes late instead of 20. And I had a nice chat with my driver, who wasn't even actually from the country I was visiting. 

As for the other first- I've always wanted to try out staying in a hostel. Guess it was just that time. I had a bus out of town early the next morning, so I wanted a place nearby the bus station. Looked at several Airbnb places, then checked hostels. Found one less than a 5 minute walk from the station and it was only $18 for the night. 

Yes, I stayed in a hostel. And I did have a roommate. But she was a nice German University student. It was a little run down and the mattress was a bit lumpy, but the sheets were clean. Just a tad different than the last time I shared a room with a complete stranger (complete stranger means I had absolutely no connection whatsoever, no friend of a friend, etc.)- at least that time, I was in a 5* hotel! 

So again- I survived. And actually got good sleep. Not sure if I'll do it again any time soon, but who knows!?

view from a new friend's house

tiny sink at the hostel

view from the front door of hostel

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sister Trip to Canada, eh?

You may know by now my family is a bit hockey fanatical. Today I am a hockey fan and for that, I blame my sisters. It didn't used to always be that way. But one year I came home from a trip and all my siblings had become devout hockey fans. I trailed behind for a while, but then I jumped on board. Might as well keep the family thing going, eh?

Oilers vs. Blues

So last week, my youngest sister and I had plans to travel to Edmonton, Alberta for a couple NHL games. Began the week by driving from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Beautiful drive! We haven't had much snow yet, so the roads were clear and dry. The sun was high and bright in the clear, blue sky and hardly anyone on the road. All that equals a great road trip. Arrived in Anchorage, ate dinner, then dropped our car off and got a ride to the airport.

beautiful day for a drive

Now.... the thing is we were traveling standby, which means we only get on the plane if there are seats available. When I checked the flight, there were 8 unpurchased seats and 13 standbys. Not so good, BUT we got on! I think we were the last two on the flight. Buckled in and ready to fall asleep (late night flight). Then the captain's voice came over the intercom..... small leak on the ground outside, gonna check it out, folks.

Twenty minutes later, uh we are going to deboard you, cause you'll be more comfortable in the terminal, than on the plane while the mechanics take a look. Yeah, I work at an airport, I know what that means.... either a very long delay or canceled flight.

Three hours later, they finally confirmed that our flight was cancelled. By that time, it was after 3am. So little sister and I slept at the airport for a few hours. Gotta love sleeping with all the lights on and random announcements over the intercom every hour or so. When we got up the next morning, we went and had breakfast, then did a bit of shopping and then hung out at Barnes & Noble for a few hours. I may or may not have fell asleep in the comfy chairs by the fireplace....

Back to the airport in the middle of the afternoon for our new flight. Because of it wasn't a scheduled flight, but one they created because of the cancellation the night before, it wasn't full! We both had a row to ourselves. Praise the Lord, I could get some more sleep!

Arrived in Denver, where we had to spend the night, this time in a hotel. The next morning, we flew the three hour flight to Edmonton. I had intended to read or sleep during that flight. However, my seat companion, some guy from Alberta was quite chatty and we conversed the entire time. Well, more he talked and I listened.

FINALLY, we arrived in Edmonton! Only a day later than planned. And Kate was there to greet us! Then the fun began. :) We picked up our rental car, drove to where we were staying to drop our bags and fresh up and then we went downtown. First on the agenda was dinner. Kate had one of her favorite restaurants she wanted us to go to. It was made better when we walked in and there at the back of the very small restaurant was a table of hockey players. Ha! And they were from the Blues, the team we came into town to see play.

with part of the Blues team

downtown Edmonton

with the Great One - Gretzy
The next couple days consisted of much talking and laughter, driving around town, shopping at the huge malls, eating, later night runs to Tim Hortons and of course Hockey! We talked to a couple friendly security guards at the brand new Rogers Arena the night before the game and they asked if we had been inside. Course we hadn't, cause nothing was happening in there that night and we thought it was closed. But they told us there was an open door and to go on it and check it out. Only the big hall was open, not the rest of the arena, but it was pretty awesome to be able to look around with no one else in there! The next night we were there with thousands of people.

inside the new Rogers Place arena

nothing like giant bobblehead hockey players 8)

cheering for #55 on the Blues

One the way back home, we again spent a night in an airport, but we made both our flights. At the very last minute, which is a little nerve-wracking, but I survived. And then we had the drive home after flying all day. Arrived home at 1130pm Saturday night and I had to work at 4am the next morning. But oh well, so's life.

It was a great trip and one I'll cherish for a long time. Nothing like sister bonding time at the airport and hockey games. :)