Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 2) - Venice Beach & Pier

January 25, 2016 (continued): Since I was in the nearby Venice Canals, I thought I’d pay a visit to the famous Venice Beach. Little did I realize, that this beach spans a vast width along the coast with the pier and boardwalk looking closer together on the map, it was definitely not in walking distance. Having now visited the boardwalk and Muscle Beach a couple times, the two areas could not be more different. My moments on the pier were calm and serene with only a few people scattered across the beach. Plus it was probably because at this time it was winter and the winds were brisker than usual.

I do like how the lack of people in the area, gives the photos sort of a dreamy, chill vibe to it.

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Travel Diary: Seattle Day 4 - Space Needle

January 18, 2016 (continued): First stop of the day was at the iconic Space Needle tower, a major tourist hotspot, but where else could I see a sweeping 360 degree view of the city? Ironically, I’ve lived in Auckland for most of my life and never visited the top of its sister scraper, the Sky Tower.

Tip: Get there early to avoid the lines as there are only a few elevators that can fit 25 people at a time, especially if you don’t pre-buy the tickets. However, the ride was at a blink and you’ll miss it speed, rocketing to the observation deck at 520 ft in a matter of seconds!

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The view was pretty spectacular, and I was lucky enough that the weather had cleared up nicely so that I could see Mt. Ranier in the distance.

Tip: Your ticket also allows one free digital picture at the “selfie” machine on the observation deck, where you scan the barcode of your ticket at the self automated machine and it will take a tall angled shot of you and the view below.

Since I had the City Pass for this particular visit, I did have a discounted ticket but I will say if you’re a first time visitor to Seattle, it’s definitely worth going for the views alone.

I spotted these giant daddy long legs on a rooftop that I thought was a 3D sculpture at first. Later I found out it was actually a mural created by Marlin Peterson who was commissioned by the Washington State Artist Trust to paint somewhere in the city.

Travel Diary: Seattle Day 3 - Waterfront Cruise

January 17, 2016 (Continued): The day progressed with a waterfront tour by Agrosy Harbor Cruises. I got discounted tickets through a package deal, called CityPass. I highly recommend using this if you’re visiting a North American city for the first time and want to check out the main attractions / highlights. It’s easy to use as you purchase it online for the city of your choice and you get around four attractions for the deal, print out the little ticket and then exchange it for a booklet with your official tickets at any of the locations that you go to first.

Back to the main event, I was a bit worried as to how much of a view I was going to get since it was the middle of winter and a stereotypical Seattle rainstorm was settling in. Thankfully it held off with only a few drizzles here and there while on the cruise.

We took off from the waterfront with a guide narrating famous landmarks and sights to see as we passed by. It was a large ship with indoor seat with large windows on all sides, a snack and booze bar you can order from, and outside and upper decks for optimal viewing pleasure. We had passed by the waterfront, got views of the downtown skyline, Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier, along where the container ships dock. The whole tour lasted around an hour - I thought it was a great way to cover a lot of ground with little effort, something to consider if you’re tight on time but want to see a lot

Travel Diary: Portland - Day 2

 January 13, 2016: My second day of the trip started at a place I’d heard many rave reviews about, Mother’s Bistro. I decided to try their special of the day - waffles with peach compote and whipped cream, a side of extra crispy bacon and coffee. While their service was amazing, I think I had hyped the food up too much in my mind and was a little underwhelmed. It was still good, but not outstanding, I’d still go back and try some of the other items though.

After breakfast, I walked my way through downtown - spotting incredible Art Deco buildings (my favorite art movement), little office messages constructed out of post-its, the cold and the creativity was invigorating. I ended up at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, mainly due to my love of vintage signs and typography. After many selfie and angles were taken, I made my way around more of the downtown area, heading towards Chinatown.

The downtown exploration lead to walks through Lownsdale Square, where I was stopped by a Canadian fellow asking if I was a photographer - ended up talking about what we were both doing in Portland and why (see how solo travel sparks many delightful, unexpected encounters). Following the chit chat I furthered my way towards Chinatown, my journey slowing every few seconds as I was bedazzled by the charming historic buildings and street art murals everywhere I turned.

I finally made it to Old Town Chinatown, I love to check out the different Chinatown’s to see what spin that city has put on it (and because it’s probably an impulse in my DNA being half Chinese). Again, the vibrant historic buildings did not disappoint for me, and also once again I was stopped and asked if I was a photographer. They asked where I was from, to which I replied I was visiting from Hawaii, and then got a remark I haven’t heard in a long time, (especially after they hear I’m from Hawaii) was that “I spoke good English”. They were nice, but I had a nice little chuckle to myself afterwards, and was a reminder that some people still think we wear grass skirts and live in tree houses in Hawaii (not kidding, actual questions that have been asked before).

My love for vintage lead me towards the iconic “White Stag” sign, where I took in the views of both sides of the river up on the bridge. The famous Voodoo Doughnuts was nearby, so it wasn’t a really difficult choice to stop in. Their doughnut names were hilarious, especially when you have to say what you want to the cashier, including some *ahem* phallic themed ones. I just got an oreo topped doughnut along with their classic voodoo doll one. Verdict: I think go to visit just to see it but the doughnuts were like regular doughnuts to me, just with interesting and amusing themes. While it was still a little early for dinner, I stopped off at a Stumptown Coffee nearby because when in Rome (or Portland for that matter). It definitely lived up to the hype and was the perfect little jolt I needed.

Finally it was dinner time and I decided to try Grassa, because they make their own pasta for a reasonable price, and I if I had to choose one meal for the rest of my life it would probably be a type of pasta. I decided to go with their truffle parmesan fettucine, and let’s just say this is me every time I think of it. Nothing short of divine! Following dinner, I decided to burn off some carbs with a little retail exercise (a.k.a. shopping) around town. The glow of the neon signs and leftover Christmas decorations was a magical ending to the night.

All photographs taken by my with a Canon 70D and iPhone 6.