Circle the Arctic 2015

Seattle  |  On Our Way  |  Kyoto  |  Nara  |  Gobi  |  Ulaanbaatar  |  Irkutsk  |  Lake Baikal  |  Moscow-1  |  Moscow-2

Spitsburgen Cruise  |  Iceland  |  Greenland  |  Boston  |  Reprise of Northern Summer Trip  |  On Second Thought


June 10, and, because we passed the International Date Line, June 11, 2015

Whoever said getting there was half the fun was not on a 16-hour plane ride from Seattle to Osaka, with a fuel stop in Anchorage, followed by a 1 ½ hour bus ride to Kyoto.

In Seattle, we didn't take off from the main commercial airport (SeaTac) but from Boeing Field, where Boeing used to build and test its planes. Despite the fact that we're on a private jet trip departing from essentially a private airport, we had to first go through an actual TSA search, on the tarmac, with our carry-ons inspected on card tables set up on said tarmac. And even though everyone on the plane is a seasoned traveler and likely to be part of the Global Entry program (i.e., previously interviewed, fingerprinted and security-checked by the U.S. government) — we were even "wanded" for shoe bombs!

We have learned that more than two-thirds of the travelers (there are 80 of us from all over the country) are repeat private jet tourists, some with five and six journeys.

In our case, our last "around the world on a private jet trip" (which we wrote about in another place on this website) was made even more enjoyable by meeting two other couples we ended up spending a lot of our time with. One of the couples was a man who sold his very successful pharmaceutical company and retired to do other things like travel and writing. He has published three fiction books. I have read one of them — pretty good for his first novel. His wife owns a horse ranch in central Florida. They have bred a number of successful horses and also travel to the major tracks to see them run.

They decided at the last minute to take this tour. That made a great start to the trip for us.

Carol, who will attempt to carry on intelligent conversation with a rock, is in heaven, chatting with anybody who's walking by trying to get exercise on this very, very long flight.

The travel company attempted to go high tech on the plane. They gave everyone iPads and Bose headphones to listen to the in-flight talks about the places we would be visiting. Unfortunately, there is a snafu with the sound system that's still unresolved, so no lecture (but there IS an almost-finished daily blog!).

On the other hand, the in-flight service is first rate and the private chef is superb. The crew are all from England, as is this plane, which at the moment is flying over the Kamchatka Peninsula and very snowy mountains.

We arrived at the hotel after a 90-minute bus ride. It is raining and expected to do so tomorrow morning. We checked in and had a quick bit to eat. Our "Seattle" bodies know that it's way after midnight (but local time is only 6 p.m.). The hotel room is great. If the weather clears, we have our own private meditation deck looking out at forested green hills several miles away.

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