Q. My wife and I are flying into Seattle, Washington. What is the best and cheapest way to get from the airport to the Amtrak King St. Station on South Jackson Street? We are training back to Chicago on the Empire Builder.
A. If you want to save money, you can take the Gray Line Seattle Downtown Airporter (800-426-7532) for $12.75 one-way per person; it takes about an hour. Just follow the signs for "Scheduled Airporter Services" at Door 00 (zero-zero). A bus departs every 30 minutes between 5AM and 11PM.
For quicker ride, a taxi will cost $30 to $40 (depending on traffic) and take 25 to 35 minutes. Since there are two of you, it might not cost much more to cab it.
Q. My wife and I are planning to take a trip to visit Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria, BC for eight to 10 days this summer. We have not traveled in this region before so we would appreciate help with some of the basics, e.g. hotels that are conveniently located and the level of public transport.
If practical, we are planning to fly into Seattle and stay a couple of days, then rent a car and drive to Vancouver, then take an auto ferry to Victoria. How long is the trip from Vancouver to Victoria? If feasible, we would like to travel back to Seattle using an auto ferry and driving rather than backtracking through Vancouver.
A. For Seattle, you can check with one of two B&B agencies: A Pacific Reservation Service (800/684-2932) or Seattle Bed and Breakfast Association (800/348-5630). You can have your pick of neighborhoods, be it downtown, Capitol Hill, Pike Place Market or the Waterfront. The Metro bus is very convenient for getting around, and depending on where you go, there's a free ride service between 6AM and 7PM in downtown Seattle. More information about Seattle is available through Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau (206-461-5888).
For Vancouver, the downtown area is very centralized and you'll be walking distance to shops and restaurants. A bit further off is the West End (mostly) residential neighborhood that borders Stanley Park, but is just a 10-minute walk from downtown, is also a good option for lodging. B&Bs are mostly located in the northern suburb of the city. Getting around the city is convenient with the network of buses and the SeaBus and SkyTrain. More information about Vancouver is available through the Greater Vancouver Convention and Visitors Bureau (604-683-2000).
To get from Vancouver to Victoria, you'll be using BC Ferries. The trip will take about one hour and 35 minutes with numerous departures a day. You can get a schedule from www.bcferries.com (look for the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay route), and even make reservations there. You can also make reservations through the Vancouver Touristinfo Centre at 200 Burrard Street.
A majority of Victoria's best shops and restaurants are located in the Inner Harbour and downtown, and it's small enough to explore those areas by foot. A lot of information about Victoria (including accommodation reservations) is available through Tourism Victoria (800/663-3883 or 250-953-2033).
To get from Victoria back to Seattle, you have two options: Washington State Ferries (206-464-6400) or Black Ball Transport's M.V.Coho (360-457-4491). The difference is in the embarkation and disembarkation points. Washington State Ferries takes two to three hours and leaves from Sidney; you get off at Anacortes, 90 miles north of Seattle. Black Ball Transport goes between Victoria's Inner Harbour and Port Angeles (a popular entry point to Olympic National Park) and takes about 90 minutes. Reservations for both ferries can be made online or by calling the numbers listed.