To all my fellow American’s–happy Memorial Day!
We got back from beautiful Busan late last night, so I haven’t had a chance to upload any photos or write up anything about our trip yet. But overall, we had a great time–Busan is an awesome city, and we got plenty of sun and relaxation. I hope everyone who celebrates Buddha’s birthday had a great three day weekend, and hope all the American’s celebrating Memorial Day have a great extra day off as well!
The last few weeks in Korea have been deliciously warm and have had me dreaming of the beach. I was thinking back, trying to remember the best beach I’ve ever been to, and I thought of the amazing beach we stayed near on a trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago.
Two summers ago, I was in desperate need of a vacation. I was working full-time as a marketing copywriter and going to school at night for my masters degree. That summer I made the particularly bad decision to not take the summer off from school–and not only did I not take the summer quarter off, but I chose to double my course load in an effort to finish school a little faster, which included taking a course that required me to film and produce three films for some local nonprofits. I also happened to be planning my wedding, covering some extra stuff at work since my boss was on maternity leave, and caring for our very ill older cat. Needless to say, it was rough, and I don’t think I have ever been more tired, stressed out and in need of a vacation ever before or since.
So when we found super cheap plane tickets to Hawaii and found out we could stay with some of Matt’s family friends, we obviously jumped at the chance. We managed to squeeze in a short but ridiculously relaxing jaunt to the island of Oahu before the next quarter started, and it was one of the best vacations of my life. Here’s a little taste of our days in Hawaii, enjoy!
Portland, Oregon is one of my favorite cities in the world. Plus, if you watch the show Portlandia, I can assure you, all the stereotypes are true. It’s a hippie town through and through! Since it’s just three hours south of Seattle, we made the trek down there pretty often when we were living in there.
Here are my top six favorite things about Portland:
The Pacific Northwest is known for fresh, locally grown, seasonal food, and Portland is the best example of this kind of eating. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever been to a bad restaurant in Portland. The best areas for finding good restaurants are the ABC District (also known as the Northwest District or 23rd), and the Pearl District, although I’m sure there are gems in every neighborhood.
Portland is my favorite place to shop for a few reasons. One, there is no sales tax in Oregon, so coming down from Washington (where there is currently a 9.5% sales tax), this is a big difference. My favorite place to shop is on 23rd, in the ABC/Northwest District. This area is known as being trendy and expensive, but I actually think that’s a bit misleading. There are some pricey boutiques, but a lot of the shops are very affordable, and there are actually a lot of second-hand stores along this street too. Plus, most of the shops are in cute old houses, an unique touch I love!
I always end up buying loads of stuff in Portland, and it never seems expensive to me, especially compared to Seattle. For truly expensive shopping, check out the Pearl District.
Portland Saturday Market
I love the Saturday market in Portland. Set downtown with the river as its backdrop, this market is vibrant, colorful and full of amazing finds. I bought a lot of unique things at the market for my wedding–including my jewelry (which was made of antique buttons) and a vintage chalkboard. I love listening to the live music, checking out the crafts and antiques, and watching all the Portland weirdos.
It’s actually a little embarrassing how much I love doughnuts. What is it about fried dough that makes me salivate like a rabid dog?? Whatever it is, Portland provides it at the famed Voodoo Doughnuts. This place is so weird and so quintessentially Portland–you can get a wide variety of doughnuts, including a maple bar with a strip on bacon on it or a doughnut covered in fruit loops, plus, if you really want to you can actually get married at Voodoo Doughnuts. That’s right, the owners are wedding officiants. Top all of this off with the fact that they write dirty-sounding slogans on their boxes (“Good Things Come in Pink Boxes” and “The Magic is in the Hole”) and you can clearly see why this place is a gem!
Used Bookstore Mecca
Matt and I are both giant book worms–some of our favorite things to do together include just sitting somewhere and reading our kindles, or wandering through bookstores. Portland houses one particularly amazing used bookstore: Powell’s Books. I can’t really describe Powell’s any better than they do on their website, so here it is: “Powell’s City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books.”
You didn’t read that wrong. Truly, the store is a city block and it’s basically filled floor to ceiling with books. While that could be overwhelming, it’s actually meticulously organized, so finding a specific section or book is not a problem. I love spending hours wandering through Powell’s, exploring the sections I love and getting lost in new ones.
This pretty face is my number one favorite reason to visit this quirky and cool city. She’s always finding great new coffee shops, restaurants, stores and neighborhoods for us to explore, and just like Portland herself, she’s unique, gorgeous and always entertaining.
*P.S. Speaking of my sister, she and her beau will be coming to visit us in Korea in about two months. We are so excited!!!!
Did we just go to Seattle for like a nanosecond, or was that a dream? Seriously, our trip was so short, but so perfect, and now I feel a little stunned that it’s all over.
I already blabbed on about why I love Seattle so much, but I really only touched on the best part: the people that we left behind. We had such a good time watching our lovies Alison and Marc get hitched and seeing our friends and family. When we first left for Korea, it was pretty easy to say goodbye. We were excited for a new adventure, we had just seen everyone at our own wedding, and we were feeling a little stir crazy. Leaving a second time was much harder. We’ve had six months to miss everyone, and while we are still excited for all of our adventures yet to come, we are definitely missing home a lot more now. It’s bittersweet–we’re excited for all of our travel plans, but sometimes we feel like we’re missing out on things back home too. Luckily, we didn’t have to miss this wedding extravaganza!
Here’s a visual summary of our awesome four days in Seattle, mostly from the wedding festivities…I can’t wait until we can all meet again!
Since we’re back in Seattle this weekend for a wedding, it seems only fitting that I highlight somewhere else in the Pacific Northwest today.
I don’t feel like our neighbors to the north get enough credit for how beautiful their country is. Of course I’m talking about Canada, and specifically, British Columbia. Vancouver, B.C. is a short three hour drive or one hour ferry ride from Seattle, making it a perfect location for weekend getaways.
Last year, Matt and I each took a couple of days off work and made a long weekend trip to Victoria. Victoria is my all-time favorite place in Canada. It’s on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and it’s the capital city of B.C. It’s a beautiful and small port town and the architecture in the city is reminiscent of Europe. We stayed in the famed Empress Hotel, a gorgeous 150 year old hotel that is now part of the Fairmont hotel chain. It’s definitely pricey, but we were treating ourselves. We were also upgraded to a suite upon arrival, at no extra charge, so that was a happy surprise.
There is a lot to do in Victoria–there’s an amazing Canadian history museum, lot’s of delicious restaurants, cute shops, some really impressive gardens just outside the city, and the Parliament building is really beautiful…but my favorite thing to do is just walk around the adorable town and appreciate the breather from the big city.
Today is a busy day–we’re off to Seattle for a quick trip to see our friends and family, eat delicious non-Asian food, and party it up at what should be a pretty awesome wedding! It will definitely be worth the long plane ride.
In other news, I finally took the plunge and made a “World Walk About” Facebook page. So in case you don’t get enough of us from this blog, our Flikr, Twitter and more…we should be friends on Facebook. Plus, as much as I say “we,” Matt has never touched “our” Flikr account and he doesn’t even understand what Twitter is–but he does use Facebook, so if you want a more balanced view of our lives, I can guarantee you he will be more actively involved with our Facebook page! So head on over to World Walk About’s Facebook, “like” us, and feel free to spread the link around to anyone who is interested in traveling, or at least reading about it. I hope our adventures can inspire you to go out and create some of your own!
And lastly, I wrote an article about cheap things to do in Seoul, so if you want to read that, head on over to Travel Culture Magazine. It should be up on the front page today…but if it’s not, my bad, timezones confuse me. If it’s not there, check back tomorrow! Make sure to leave lot’s of comments about how awesome I am…
One week from today, Matt and I will do a very quick jaunt back to Seattle to fulfill my bridesmaid duties and see these two cute kids get hitched!
We’re home for just a short 72 hours, but we’re so happy we’ll be able to see some of our friends and family, and of course, Seattle!
Some people move abroad because they don’t like where they live, but that was not the case for us. We went abroad and began this adventure simply because we want to see the world, and we like adventure. But we love Seattle (I do more than Matt though), and I really miss it. Here are some of my favorite things about Seattle:
I love all bookstores, especially used bookstores, and Seattle has quite a lot of those. My idea of a good time is wandering around a dusty bookstore for hours, perusing the titles. Bonus points if the bookstore has a live-in cat or two…because we all know how I feel about cats.
I have a problem, and it’s not a secret. I absolutely love coffee, and I’m basically a bear in the morning before I have some. Luckily, Seattle is equally obsessed with coffee. Home to the headquarters of Starbucks, there is literally a Starbucks on every corner. Okay, maybe not EVERY corner, but downtown you can pretty much find one on every block. The original Starbucks store is located in the iconic Pike Place Market, and so it’s really a part of Seattle’s history. I know all the arguments about why Starbucks is ruining the world, but honestly, I just love it. So sue me.
One the other hand, my hippie self loves the granola coffee places too. I’m a sucker for all the fair-trade, organic, local coffee houses as well. My favorite is Cafe Ladro, and my favorite beverage is a soy latte!
Pike Place Market
I love the market, everything about it. It’s colorful, chaotic, full of tourists and delicious food. I love to watch the fish throwers, grab a pastry at the Russian bakery Piroshky, have lunch at Beecher’s Cheese and watch the cheese being made, and sample olive oils at Sotto Voce. Bliss.
I feel like this is cliche to say about Seattle, but really, I so love the ferries. I have family on one of the islands, so I have the opportunity to enjoy the ferries on a regular enough basis, but unlike the commuters, not frequently enough to take them for granted. Rain or shine, the ferries provide such gorgeous views of the Seattle city skyline, the surrounding islands, and Puget Sound.
Lakes, Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, Oh My!
Within a 20 minute drive in any direction in Seattle you are sure to run into one of these things. Us Pacific Northwesterner’s are incredibly spoiled when it comes to nature, we have everything right at our fingertips, without sacrificing city life. I really miss all the beautiful lakes, the salty air near the sound, the view of the gorgeous mountains peeking out between the clouds and just how green everything is. That’s something you notice more once you’ve lived someplace not so green…(*ahem*KOREA*ahem*).
So the countdown begins today…just seven more days!