Tuesday, July 26, 2011

World Harp Congress - Day 1


Travel Day
I hadn't taken the train out of Portland and had only seen pictures of Union Station. It's a lovely old station that originally opened in 1896 and has lots of great neon.

I'm an infrequent traveler (and tend to be a skosh panicky) and I figured once I got there I'd just print out my tickets and hop on the train. As I was printing out my tickets at the kiosk, a preemptively helpful attendant was walking by and let me know I'd need to get in line at the desk across the room 1/2 hour before boarding to get my seat assignment and that there would be an announcement when that happened. Thank you!

The trains all have digital signs on the side identifying the train and car numbers. Once you're on the train and have located your seat, the clear plastic bar covering the seat number serves as a holder for your seat assignment paper. The attendants can then come through and easily check full and empty seats.

One of the great things about train travel is you get lulled to sleep whether you want to or not. One of the not-so-great things - the bridge out of Portland was stuck in the "up" position for about 15 minutes, then we got diverted behind a freight train. But another great thing about the train: you're guaranteed a connection even if the train is late. I ended up having 5 minutes to spare to catch my bus from Seattle to Vancouver, where I was originally supposed to have an hour.

Catching a bus from the train station into Vancouver was pretty easy, as well. Their "Community Shuttle" bus numbers all start with "C" and I caught one to the place I was staying in town. It was a nice studio apartment with rooftop access.

I found this place through airbnb, which I highly recommend, even though I've only used it once. You can rent things like castles and igloos, for Pete's sake!

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