The Emerald City

That’s what “they” call it.

After a rainy hiccup in Portland, my run of sunny days picked up again in Seattle. IMG_0543

These are photos that I took from the ferry to Bainbridge. The sky was so blue and clear that I could see the mountain ranges clearly, and even get a surreal glimpse of Mount Rainier.

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It was really stunning, and shortly after I came back to shore I was able to see a pink sunset over the horizon – unfortunately my camera had died at that point. Considering I had expected nothing but drizzle, I felt very blessed.


While less colourful and diverse than California, the Pacific Northwest definitely has its charms. Seattle was a real delight. Bike-friendly, an important business centre (a lot of suits), a beautiful waterfront and plenty of cultural history to explore.

The EMP Museum was one of the more quirky museums I have been to. Instead of having a whole lot of objects on display, it seemed to have mastered the art of the “experience”. What was on display, though, were a lot of smashed guitars, mostly from Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.


remnants of guitar smashed by Jimi Hendrix, a Seattle native

There were many guitars that were not smashed, too.


Somebody recreated tall buildings of the world with Lego, and they were on display too.


Along the waterfront is the Olympic Sculpture Park.


Jaume Plensa’s ‘Echo’, just getting installed


Because the weather stayed fine, and because I could, I went on a bike tour organised by my hostel.


from Green Tortoise Hostel’s facebook page

We rode around the coastline to the little haven of Alki Beach, where there were more blue skies and more views of the mountains.



And so I learned to love the Pacific Northwest.


Six days in Portlandia

For much of my stay in Portland, Oregon, the city looked like this.


View from the aerial tram station





And I felt like this.


This was supposed to be super awesome but instead I was freezing and miserable and the only thing to do was to drink about it (in one of the squillions of breweries or McMenamins bars).

But when the sun was out, Portland was lush and lovely.


Every residential street looks like this



View from Mt Tabor


Reservoir at Mt Tabor


Trees and sunshine at Mt Tabor


I took this on a bike ride through the city

In a way, it was exactly what I expected. All the young people were good-looking and inked and had matching glasses to me. They were all eating organic food and drinking craft beers. And they can all go to food trucks.



But I just couldn’t love it. I spent a lot of time wishing I was back in sparkling California, and since I had planned a whole week to relax and gather my thoughts, I had a lot of time to dwell on it. But as much as we all rave about travel, some places are just cities that people live in and visit. Not every stop along the way has to change your life.

Some more things about Portland:

– people are calm and have a good sense of humour  – it’s “where young people go to retire”

– the beers are strong and tasty

– there is usually an early AND late Happy Hour at bars (and this includes food)

– unsurprisingly, drinking beer is a top activity – apparently it’s a brewing capital of the world

– there is a strong commitment to sustainability: my hostel was largely made of recycled materials; it’s a bike-friendly city; if you can’t finish your food at a restaurant they will automatically give you a box to take it home in

– Uber/Lyft/Sidecar – none of these things exist in Portland!

– they are proud of the TV show Portlandia and you can go to organised screenings in pubs around the place