This is Day 14 of my holiday to the ‘Pacific Northwest’ and I’m pretty worn out to be honest. The trip was a reward to myself for hitting my first major health milestone after my Diabetes diagnosis last year and honestly it has been a wonderful break. For the first time I can remember I was genuinely able to shut down my work worries and the fact I have a better relationship with booze at the moment combined with my improved health generally meant I didn’t ‘lose’ any days due to hangovers or general ailments.
The only problem was that I remain unable to realign my body clock successfully on these long haul trips — it basically took 10 days to get close to in sync really (by which time I probably shouldn’t have bothered!)
- The weather. Contrary to every warning I received it has been glorious for 12 out of the 14 days — it hasn’t rained at all (which is actually a little disappointing!). Hell, I even have a tan!
- The street art. Vancouver and Portland have been a joy when it comes to street art. I had no idea about the scene in Vancouver really and it is spectacular — some of the pieces I saw were as good as I’ve seen anywhere in the world. The weird coincidence of AirBnB sending me the details for the Portland Street Art Alliance tour (which is an AirBnB ‘experience’) and me actually opening it seemed like fate. Especially as it was on my first day there. It was a great tour, organised by truly passionate people.
- The food. Not sure it has done my diet a lot of good but the food has been amazing — whether it be the JapoDog, Pok Pok Chicken, a grilled cheese in a school bus, eye wateringly spicy fried rice or the many fried chicken sandwiches 🙂
- The public transport. Weird one I know but I’ve totally avoided any cabs or Ubers and travelled via → plane, train, bus, tram and sea plane! I have managed to successfully explore Seattle and Portland pretty comprehensively via bus (Vancouver not so much!).
- Catching up with Hayley and meeting Dan. Doing these trips solo I can go into my shell quite a bit and go days without speaking to people. It was thus lovely to catch up with Hayles to find out about her new life in Seattle. Dan is a ‘friend from the internet’ and genuinely one of the people I admire most in our corner of the online world so it was a real pleasure to shoot the shit about Government digital over breakfast. I’m thankful they both found the time for me.
- MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture). Honestly I could have just stayed here all day — and slightly regret I didn’t go back. It is truly as close to geek heaven as exists on this earthly plane! The Marvel and Star Trek exhibitions were worth the entry fee alone but the sci-fi exhibition is also wonderful and the fantasy and horror spaces are good fun also.
- Vancouver’s Stanley Park and waterfront. Now this was the cause of me walking far too far and hurting my leg but it was so pretty and relaxing around the sea wall and in the park and that whole area near the water was lovely.
- Powell’s Books. Who knew book shops like this still existed. Really wonderful place. Amusingly though I ended up with an armful of books before remembering I’d have to lug them home so ended up putting all but a couple back.
Less good bits
- The Space Needle. Really not great — basically a construction site at the moment with no restaurant and limited views.
- The bars. I never really found a bar I liked in any of the cities so I never really settled on an evening. It wasn’t that they were bad but none were great (or that friendly).
- The dogs. I don’t like animals — especially dogs. Sorry. They are everywhere here — including bars and restaurants. Not a fan.
- Seattle’s hills. Grey’s Anatomy did not prepare me for the bloody hills in Seattle. My god. I mean I am from Bristol so I am used to the occasional steep incline but my thighs were burning for days.
- The homelessness. Maybe it is where I was staying but Vancouver and Seattle seemed to have a LOT of homeless. It was pretty heart breaking at times.
I’m going to see the Han Solo movie this evening and then on a flight home tomorrow afternoon (and thankful it is a bank holiday weekend so I have the Monday to recover before I start new project on Tuesday in London!).
Now need to plan my next trip — maybe Chicago → Nashville → Memphis → New Orleans 🙂