June 2014 was extremely exciting for me this year: not only did I turn 19, but I had some amazing travel opportunities. On the 15th June, I performed at Yorkshire Cosplay Con, in Doncaster, UK. I will have a separate blogpost for that at some point, but after YCC, I had a couple of days to stay in Yorkshire. Eventually, it was time to depart on my first trip to the United States!
On Tuesday the 17th June, myself and Sparkles*, my travel companion, made our way from Yorkshire to Manchester. We stayed in the Britannia Airport Hotel in Manchester, on a last-minute reservation, after realising that we wouldn't be able to get a train from Selby to Manchester Airport early enough on the morning of our flight! The hotel was very economic and a pleasant stay.
Morning of the 18th, and it begins!
First Leg: To The States (via Amsterdam)
I was in charge of the travel itinerary for the entire trip! It's quite fun, being your own travel agent, but also quite stressful! I used this great website to hunt down low airfares, and I booked them through ebookers.com.
Our flights were £551 return per person, from booking 1 month in advance. I think that is quite reasonable! It can easily cost £200 to go from the Isle of Man to England and back, so I was really pleased.
Cheap flights tend to have connections, so we flew from Manchester at 9.05AM, to catch our first flight to Amsterdam!
Amsterdam is one of my favourite places in the world, I have been before and have always been craving to come back! Unfortunately, we didn't leave the Airport at all on our 3-hour layover, so my beloved city remained untouched by me for today...
The flight was comfortable! It had a duration of 1 hour, however we arrived "2 hours later", as The Netherlands is +1 timezones away! So at 11AM we landed at Schiphol, and made our way to our correct terminal.
The layover in Amsterdam was 3 hours 25 minutes, so we had plenty of time. 2:55PM rolled around, and it was time to set off! We had to go through a second hand-luggage check and full-body x-ray immediately before boarding, which was frustrating, as I had to throw out my brand new water bottle which I'd bought for the flight. There was no opportunity to buy water on-board, either, so I had to ration the cups they gave me intermittently throughout the flight.
The flight was really comfortable, even in economy class. Because it was a daytime flight, we had no pressure to sleep on the flight, as it would be evening by the time we arrived, which was perfect! I watched a bunch of movies, TV, and played games on the in-flight console!
After 10hr8min, we landed in Seattle-Tacoma International airport! By then, I had been awake for 20 hours, and I was not feeling my freshest. It was 4:03PM when we arrived in the States. Immediately, we had to go through immigration, which was absolute hell. I was interrogated for about 40 minutes, before finally being granted access to the country! My anxiety was at a peak, and I was so scared they were going to put me on a plane back home!!
Eventually, we collected our luggage, and headed outside to meet with Nathan, co-founder of Empty Melon LLC!
The reason for my trip is that I was invited to attend Idol Matsuri 2014- the USA's first Idol Convention! Nathan is the co-founder of the event, and it was fantastic that he came to meet us. He drove us to Silverdale, more specifically: The Best Western Plus Silverdale Beach Hotel, Washington!
The Beach Hotel was where, for the next 3 days, Idol Matsuri would be held!
This was the view from my room. About 10 minutes after taking this, at about 7PM, I checked out for the day and slept, at last, after about 23 hours of travelling!
I woke up this early!! Feeling absolutely refreshed, too, it was a great sleep. We had arrived with 1 free day before the event to recover from jetlag, and I'm really pleased that we did. Even though I felt better for sleeping, I certainly wasn't able to work that day, and I went for frequent naps!
This was the day that many of the other performers would arrive. But since I was ready to leave the hotel and start my day at 6AM, we decided to explore the local area!
Silverdale is located in Washington state, in the north of America, just next to Canada. Seattle is the main city, however Silverdale is a pleasant town about an hour's drive out!
We had our first meal of the states, a brunch, at Burger King! I had chicken nuggets, fries, and a lemon ice drink! It was pretty delicious, the portion sizes were bigger, but the lemon drink was really tart! I wore the crown.
I'll also now mention a sponsor for my trip: TelecomSquareUSA! They provided me with this device for the duration of my trip to the States. This device is a mobile WiFi unit, which means that I could stay connected even when out-and-about in the country! As a blogger and internet addict, it was so useful, and super-fast, out-performing the hotel WiFi by leagues. It costs $12.95/day, and I would really recommend it. You can connect multiple devices, so maybe you and a friend could split the cost! The battery lasted about 10 hours before needing to be recharged,and that was with heavy usage and two devices connected. Impressive!
After our BK Breakfast, we went for a walk to see the local area! America, so far, was very anti-pedestrian, and so vast in comparison to Britain! So we couldn't really go very far on foot. Even still, it was a beautiful day, so we sat by the beach for a while!
We found a mall, and I went shopping! You can see the contents of what I bought in my Seattle/Idol Matsuri Haul, which I recommend you watch! www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGCPw2WU8AI
In the evening, it was time for Orientation, for all of the guests to attend.
Orientation was to meet with Bethany, the co-founder of the event. She ran me through my schedule, and I had the opportunity to rehearse! Admittedly, I was too tired to do so, and I was desperately hungry, so we went off in search of dinner!
Taco Bell was only next door ♥ I had never been before, nor had I had a taco, so I was excited to try it! The staff were really helpful, as we had never really had Mexican food before. I had this Doritos Locos Cool Ranch Taco, which was so good! It was a Dorito shell, with mincemeat, lettuce, and cheese in it, with the cool ranch sauce. I will gladly eat one a day for the rest of my life.
Sparkles* had a Quesarito (Quesadilla Burrito Combination), which he said was great! He also had a Baha Blast, which I tried a little of (I don't like fizzy drinks! But it was still pretty good!)
We retired to the hotel, not before the evening light gave me this glory! I hope you feel free merely by the sight.
All in all, I was feeling very good for my first day in America! Please look forward to Episode 2: Idol Matsuri!