Friday, November 14, 2014

Sunset on a British Columbia Ferry

A few weeks ago on a quick trip we were sixth from the end boarding the Coastal Celebration (370 vehicle capacity and currently the three vessels in the Super-C Class are the world's largest double-ended ferries) so this was one lucky sunset for us.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Status Matching for Fun and Profit (Kind of) on Alaska Airlines

We've flown quite a bit this year, but much of it has been on points. Our one paid international flight on United Airlines with grandson Jake resulted from a crazy Business Class sale.

No, everybody who knows us knows we haven't been at all happy with post-merger UA, especially after the way they reduced the "lifetime" benefits to pre-merger Million Mile Flyers like us.

A few weeks ago we applied for a status match with Alaska Airlines, a well-regarded outfit that flies out of BLI 20 minutes down the highway from us.

They responded with a match to their very top tier, MVP® Gold 75K.

We've always been impressed when we've flown AS, but we're going to get a little more serious about it, starting with our flight to Las Vegas today.

We received complimentary upgrades overnight to First for the SEA-LAS leg (we're already confirmed in F on our return).

To roughly paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, we think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

It may be tough to fly 75K miles on AS, or 90K on a combination of AS and its partners in one year to requalify, but in the meantime we'll enjoy the ride at least through the end of 2015.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Updated Update: How Many Countries (But Who's Counting)?

We've been counting up the countries we've visited for some time. People do ask us occasionally, but after encountering a couple at a cruise stop whose sole purpose in travel - if not in life - was to make stops in as many countries as possible - and to introduce the topic almost immediately into a casual conversation, we downplay it.

So far in 2014 we've added four new countries to our list, The Maldives, Vietnam, the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein , and Sri Lanka, on our just-completed Asian trip. We plan to add one more to the list, Cambodia, in December.

Based on the Century Travelers' Club list of 321 entities, we've therefore been in a total of 96 "countries" to date. You'll notice the list includes a lot of places that aren't sovereign states, but it's one harmless way for us to keep tabs.

Pacific Ocean
Australia
French Polynesia (Tahiti,Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier)
Hawaiian Islands
New Zealand
Tasmania
North America
Alaska
Canada
Mexico
U.S. (continental)
Central America
Belize (British Honduras)
Costa Rica
Guatemala
Honduras
Panama
South America
Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Uruguay
Caribbean
Antigua & Deps. (Barbuda, Redonda)
Bahamas
Barbados
Cayman Islands
Dominican Republic
Jamaica
Leeward Islands, French (St. Martin)
Puerto Rico
St. Barts
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten (formerly Netherlands Antilles)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands, U.S. (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas)
Virgin Islands, British (Tortola, etc.)
Atlantic Ocean
Azores Islands
Bermuda
Canary Islands
Cape Verde Islands
Iceland
Madeira
Europe and Mediterranean
Austria
Belgium
Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca)
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
England
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ionian Islands (Corfu, etc.)
Ireland (Eire)
Ireland, Northern (Ulster)
Italy
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Sicily
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey in Europe (Istanbul)
Vatican City
Wales
Africa
Egypt
Lesotho
Morocco
Senegal (plane refueling at Dakar - did not formally enter)
South Africa
Swaziland
Zimbabwe
Middle East
None
Indian Ocean
The Maldives
Asia
China, People's Rep.
Hong Kong
India
Japan
Korea, North (DMZ tour only)
Korea, South
Malaysia
Singapore
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey in Asia
Vietnam

If, however, we restrict our list only to sovereign nations, we've visited 72 of 195 such entities:

Antigua
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Brazil
Canada
Cape Verde
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Holy See (Vatican City)
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
India
Ireland
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Korea (North) - DMZ tour only
Korea (South)
Lesotho
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Mexico
Monaco
Morocco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Panama
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Saint Kitts
Saint Lucia
Senegal (plane refueling at Dakar - did not formally enter)
Singapore
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Swaziland
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Vietnam
Zimbabwe

It turns out, then, that we've visited a higher percentage of the world's current sovereign states - 37% - than our presence in 30% of the Century Club's entries. But who's counting?