Tag Archives: travel

Portland.

It rained the whole time we were in Portland.  Not just drizzly rain, but full on horrible, drenching rain.  Therefore, I did not bring my camera out with me, and all of my Portland photos are from my phone.  Sorry.

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This is me and my second cousin Amy (our mums are cousins).  She lives in Oregon so we decided it would be fun to meet up for the first time :)

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Portland is weird, and I loved it.

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This is my friend Mel who lives in Portland, and who I haven’t seen since I was in Chicago in January 2009.  Hi Mel! Thanks for coming in to meet me :)

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I’m a barista in Whistler and we serve Stumptown coffee, which is roasted in Portland.  People go crazy for it, and I love the drinks we sell in Whistler, but going to one of the original stores was amazing.  Trust me, this coffee is like no other.  I ordered a soy cappuccino and as soon as I was finished I ordered another one to take with me, it was just that good.

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I got a bit confused trying to work out where this photo was taken, but I’ve just remembered it’s from Seattle, but as I’ve already posted my Seattle photos, it can just slip in here.  I’m bringing the sign to life in this shot, as you can see :)

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One evening, we decided to do Portland by Segway.  About an hour before our scheduled tour, we called them up and asked if it was still going ahead, because of the rain and wind quickly turning into a monsoon (no really, we were about to get hit with the tail end of an Asian monsoon).  Yep, they said, rain or shine.  So we went, and had a blast.  And got absolutely soaked to the skin, zooming through puddles up to our shins and squinting to see through the walls of rain.  While I was glad to get back to the hotel room and change into dry clothes, doing the Segway tour was so much fun, and I’d definitely do it again.  It’s a little nerve wracking at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s awesome!

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Not pictured is the immense amount of food eaten.  Wow, is all I have to say about Portland’s food culture.

And that was Portland, in a nutshell.  Next stop, Northern Ireland.  I’m currently sitting in Newark Airport, feeling like I’ve spent far too much time waiting around in airports the past couple of days, but the travelling is almost over, and I am more than excited to have a shower and wash my clothes :)

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Seattle [2]

On our second day in Seattle, we had a perfect plan made out for our day.  Because it was overcast and rainy at times, we had planned to go to a retail place at the university village so Kathryn could buy some things she wanted to take home (certain items are way cheaper to buy in the states than in Canada or in NZ).  We worked out the bus routes and times, and allocated the morning to the retail excursion.  We would have lunch at the mini shopping village thing, then get the bus back to downtown Seattle and go to the music museum, get dinner and then go back up the Space Needle to see the view at night.

Plans, eh?

The bus thing didn’t go so smoothly. We should have foreseen this really.  The lovely bus driver the day before gave us the impression that all bus drivers would be knowledgeable and happy to help.  Not so.  We were fairly confident that we were boarding the correct bus, but thought we should just check with the driver anyway.  When we asked if this took us to where we wanted to go, he replied, “I don’t know, it’s a big city.”  Er, yes, we did know that, which is why we (as very obvious tourists) were asking.  We asked various passengers who did their best to help, but unfortunately all of them were getting off well before us.  I have no idea how we made it to the shopping village, but we did, and it was a beautiful wee outdoor place, despite the rain.
Getting the bus back to downtown was probably even more stressful, but I’m not going to bore you with that story.  Just know that by the time we got back into the city centre we were running a fair few hours behind our wonderful, glittery schedule.  I shall blame the bus shenanigans and the rain on my lack of photos for the morning.  Not a single shot was taken.

As if it was meant to be though, the museum was open until 8pm that day, and that day only, not the usual 5pm.  How cool is that?!

No one wants to see photos from inside a museum; I don’t even want to look at my own ones, so I’ll only share this one.

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The impressive instrument sculpture that played music live due to some clever machinery.  It is huge; reaching over two floors.

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We did make it back up the Space Needle as the sky started to get darker.

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We rode the monorail again, mainly for the novelty really.

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The next day we only had the morning to explore before we had to get our coach back to Vancouver, and then make a quick transfer to our connecting bus to Whistler.

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The totally disgusting, but equally as fascinating gum wall.  Theatre patrons and actors started sticking their used gum to the wall in the early 1990s.  Theatre workers scraped the walls a couple of times, but gave up and now the wall is listed as an actual tourist attraction.

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The whole alley smells so odd.

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This was the best shot I could get of the first ever Starbucks.  It was not at all how we thought it would look, having been led on by this photo.  Being the nerd I am, I read up every evening on things we had seen or wanted to do (couldn’t you tell by my little history lesson on the gum wall?), and learned a lot about Starbucks.  Much of it bothered me, and I am doing my best to avoid giving them my money now.  It’s almost impossible to avoid them in North America, (in the tiny village of Whistler – where I live –  there are three locations) which grew more and more frustrating.  I Googled it to discover that in Seattle alone there are 424 Starbucks stores.  That’s ridiculous.  Apparently, Seattle-ites started ‘boycotting’ them by choosing to go to independent coffee shops, so Starbucks re-branded at least three of their stores to make them appear to be local, independent coffee houses, removing all of their Starbucks logos and anything that would give them away.  How sneaky is that?  I know that Starbucks originated in Seattle, and considering how huge and famous it has become worldwide, that’s definitely something they should be proud of, but they are actively and purposely taking custom away from local businesses that are struggling to stay afloat as it is thanks to companies like them.

Moving on.

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The Public Market Center at Pike Place has a nicer history.  In the early 1900s, people were fed up of paying way too much for their fresh fruit and vegetables, so the market was opened to allow farmers to sell their produce directly to customers.  On the market’s opening day, all the farmers had sold out by lunch time.  Due to changing times, the market almost closed down and turned into a fancy plaza, but it was saved and is now a huge tourist attraction, as well as a fully functioning market.

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The last picture I took (above) is my one of my favourites.  One Way/One Love.

We then spent many hours on coaches and at the border (where they were filming for a border control type show!) to get home.

Sorry that my holiday snaps turned into a bit of a history lesson/Starbucks rant.

Have a great weekend :)

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Seattle [1]

A little while ago, our friend Kathryn mentioned that she wanted to visit Seattle before she goes back home to New Zealand (next week, boo).  Jay and I have wanted to go to Seattle since we got here, probably mainly because it’s so close.
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So we booked a hotel and various Greyhounds (we got an amazing deal on a gem of a hotel), and counted down the days.
I hadn’t left Whistler since we got here last September.  I’m not complaining; living here is incredible, but it is a resort, and therefore it’s secluded from the real world.  It was good to go somewhere else for a few days.

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Jay and Kathryn outside the restaurant on our first night – – – then Jay and me.

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After dinner we took a walk down to the harbour.  We quickly realised that the harbour area was not somewhere we wanted to be after dark, so I took a few photos and we swiftly walked back to the hotel.
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We were exhausted from travelling (why is it that sitting on a bus for hours, doing nothing at all, makes you tired?), so we had an early night and got up early the next day to make the most of the only forecasted non-rainy day.

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The charity piggy bank at Pike Place Market.

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We visited the Space Needle, obviously.

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Apparently the Alweg Monorail is pretty famous.  I did not know that, did you?  We rode it a couple of times, and it just felt like a normal train ride, until we sat right at the front next to the driver, then it felt like we were on a rollercoaster.

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Cool trees painted blue.  I have no idea why.

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We read online that the best view of the Seattle skyline is from Kerry Park.  So we Googled the park, and discovered that it’s not really a park, but more like a patch of grass with a bench or two.  We hopped on a bus (ha, I make it sound like it wasn’t the most stressful experience of our trip.  We almost gave up on going to the park because of the buses!), and thanks to a helpful passenger and a very friendly bus driver, we found the park.

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The classic ‘tossed salads and scrambled eggs’ shot.

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We came back to the hotel and got changed for dinner (I’m wearing my new shirt from Target.  I was so excited to see stores I could actually afford to shop in).

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We found this golden nugget of a Mexican restaurant a few blocks from our hotel.  I refrained from taking pictures of my food, because I’m guessing you know what a burrito and nachos look like.  They were good though, trust me, and if you’re ever in Seattle you should definitely go here.

Being the crazy party people that we are, we hit the hay by 10pm.
I’ll be back soon to share the rest of my photos from the trip.  I think I took rather too many to post in one go.

:)

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Alta Lake, frozen.

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When we first got to Whistler and were staying at the hostel, we walked past this lake every day on our way to the village.  Since we moved into the house, it’s no longer on our route, so we hadn’t been back since.  When I was offered a half day at work yesterday (while I was actually at work), I decided to take it for once, and we used the afternoon to walk to the lake (on our way to our post box, the bank and post office).
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I had to get another photograph of Jay here, as I have one of her in this spot before the lake froze (in this post).  You can also see me leaning on those handles in my current blog header.

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Jay took off right into the middle of the lake, whereas I was quite tentative as the edges were slushy, and really, it doesn’t feel right to walk on a lake.  Anyway, I felt less nervous when I saw a group of teenagers playing ice hockey in the centre.

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When I first glanced at this, I thought it was a sailing boat that had been left without its moorings and had then become frozen into the lake.  Once I saw it moving it became clear that it is some kind of cool ice boat thing.  That’s as far as my knowledge on that goes.

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Aside from seeing the lake in a totally different way than it was the last time I was there, it felt pretty awesome to have my camera back out again after more than a month.

On an unrelated note, Jay broke her leg five weeks ago.  She’s doing pretty well to be walking on an icy lake, eh?

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It has begun!

After much anticipation, the snow has finally begun.

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Oh, the suspense(ion bridge)

That was a bad title.  Forgive me.
We went on another little adventure, this time to Whistler Interpretive Forest.


How many ways can you interpret a forest?

I heard that there was a suspension bridge somewhere in this forest, and knew I wanted to go, so we gathered the troops and set off in our new boots that pinch, and backpacks full of snacks.

The hike through the forest was exhilarating.  Yep, I just described a hike using a positive word.  Perhaps I am speaking prematurely, and as a total novice, but I’m kind of loving hiking.  We haven’t done anything very challenging; just forests, trails and off the official walking paths, but I love it.  Since we got here (almost a month ago, seriously, how is that possible?), we have done a lot more walking than usual, and after the first week of doing the valley trail twice a day, forty-five minutes each way to the village and back, I have noticed my fitness levels increasing.  At one point during our hike through the Interpretive Forest, I was powering up a steep hill and thought to myself “I’m not out of breath, I’m not struggling, I’m not even tempted to stop for a rest,” and it was the best feeling.  I was running on a total buzz.
The last stretch before the bridge was all uphill though, and I was glad to sit on a rock and catch my breath.  Still a novice, remember.

The bridge was smaller than I expected (perhaps because my only other experience of a suspension bridge is Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge), but as soon as I stepped on it and it started swaying and jumping under me, it felt long enough.

Cheakamus Canyon River was roaring below us.  As I crossed, holding on to the sides felt redundant, ’cause lets face it, if the whole thing snaps, holding on to the wire mesh isn’t going to make much difference.


This girl loves to frighten me by getting as close to the edge of any precipice she can find.  It may not look it in this shot, but there is quite a drop there.

We walked back on the other side of the river, which was an entirely different walk.


There I am, standing on a big rock, holding an apple core.  There were (obviously) no rubbish bins in the forest, and you can’t leave any food traces here because it attracts bears.  (Not that I’m a litterer anyway, but I’m used to leaving biodegradable products as gifts to small animals)


Yarn bombing on a bridge.  I’ve seen a few things yarn-bombed around here, like this bike rack at Function Junction:

I’m loving all our wee days out.  Next stop: the ghost town (if we can find it).

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Whistler baby, Whistler baby…

Ugh, I can’t get rid of that awful song by Flo Rida, it’s been stuck in my head for days.  It was funny at first to sing “Whistler” instead of “whistle”, but now the fun has all gone and I’m ready for a new song in my head.

Anyway, let’s talk about Whistler.  It’s roughly 80 miles north of Vancouver, and in a couple of weeks it’s going to be under a lot of snow.


We took the Greyhound from Vancouver, which took about two and a half hours.  Despite heavy rain for most of the journey, the views were spectacular (forgive my overuse of adjectives; it’s hard to describe the beauty of this country!)


We walk down the Valley Trail from our hostel into the village every day.  Would you ever get bored of this commute? I don’t think so.


Whistler was host to most of the snow-related sports in the Winter 2010 Olympics.


The village feels like a movie set.  It’s so neat, and clean, and (I hate to use this word) cute.


This lake is part of our ‘commute’ too.


This is beginning to feel like a photo shoot for Jay.  She seems to work her way into every shot.


While her back was turned I grabbed this photo.


And there’s a rare one of me, looking for fish in the lake.

I still have a ton of photos to sort through and edit.  I have a feeling this is going to go on for the entire year; BC is just begging to be photographed.

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Vancouver.

We made it!

While all this was in the planning stages, we met lots of other people through the power of the Internet who were doing the same, or similar, thing as us.  Lauren, on the left in the above photo, and Rachel, in the middle, booked onto the same flight as us, and into the same hostel as us.  We all met at Gatwick for the first time right before our flight, and immediately all got on really well.  We got moved into the same hostel room after the first night, which is great now :)


We spent a lot of the day yesterday doing this… stopping to read maps.


Jay in Stanley Park


The old steam clock in Gastown

More soon!

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