Can you believe we’re more than halfway through August? I certainly can’t, nor can I believe I’ve been back in Australia for three weeks and still haven’t posted anything about my trip!
I had a wonderful three weeks travelling down the sunny West Coast of the United States, and am already counting down the seconds until I can return. I’ve split the tails of my trip into two parts, and without further ado, here’s part one!
Oh LA, you’re lucky you contain a conveniently located Wizarding World of Harry Potter, otherwise I would just skip visiting you entirely. For a city with so frequently name dropped and visited, it’s hard to find things to love.
I spent three hours on a train to finally tick Santa Monica off my list of things to see, and was left wishing I hadn’t bothered. I just…don’t get the hype. I had contemplated continuing on to Venice Beach, but I’d just got off the plane and was so tired, I decided to hit a movie instead. Sometimes it’s okay to be a lazy tourist.
The main part of my stay in LA was spent at Universal Studios where I took advantage of their single rider lines to ride The Forbidden Journey ten times during my day at the park. A girl’s gotta find a way to pass the time, you know?
I was excited to see the Hogwarts Lights, a relatively new night time attraction which projected a short house-themed lights show onto the Hogwarts Castle once the sun set. As a Harry Potter fan, I loved almost everything about the show, except for the fact they set the Slytherin lights to evil music. Come on, Universal Studios, we’re better than that!
Visiting Seattle was the whole reason for my trip – my dear friend was getting married up there and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
The wedding was held in Maple Valley and it was so beautiful I could hardly look away from the view. Mountains that stay snowcapped in summer are such a weakness for me!
While I’d previously been to Seattle, it had been close to five years since my last visit and so I was excited to spend time getting reacquainted with the city. After the wedding, I spent a day and a half wandering around downtown Seattle and enjoying everything it had to offer. I even decided to be a Huge Tourist and go on the Ride The Ducks land and water tour, and despite the totally kitsch nature of the tour, I found myself learning a lot. If you can put up with kids with quacking whistles and are interested in the history of Seattle, I definitely recommend.
Something I don’t recommend, however, is going to the top of the Space Needle. It might just be because it was the middle of summer, but the effort it takes to queue and get to the top is not worth the price and the subpar view. When the only distinctive part of a city’s skyline is the giant building you’re at the top of, it kind of takes the fun out of the whole thing.
Don’t avoid the entire Space Needle area (known as the Seattle Center), however, as it’s full of wonderful things to do. The Museum of Pop Culture is a personal favourite of mine. With everything from costumes from your favourite movies, to an exhibit on the Seattle Seahawks, to an interactive recording studio where you can live your musician dreams, there’s really something for everyone. While I was there, they also had a Jim Henson exhibit which was a definite highlight for me.
I stumbled upon Chihuly Garden and Glass because it was included in the CityPass I had purchased and I had some time to kill. I probably would have overlooked it otherwise, but it’s well worth a visit. The sculptures are beyond amazing, and the garden is gorgeous. The whole thing is an Instagram wet dream, and it’s also something which can be appreciated by the entire family.
Okay. I am obsessed with Portland. I didn’t really have any expectations before arriving, but legitimately was close to tearing up as I had to leave. I’ve been told that the only reason I loved it so much was because I visited in summer, but I’m sure I could put up with nine months of awful weather a year if it meant I could have three months of what it was like while I was there.
I’m not someone who likes hiking. My extended family are obsessed, and I will literally use any excuse to get out of it. Sure, Australia is beautiful, but I can appreciate it just fine from look-outs easily accessible by car. My whole view of being an outdoorsy person changed in Portland. I suddenly got how people could want to go for walks that took all day, or spend a weekend out in nature. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I willingly hiked 3 miles and it felt like nothing! While I would have loved to explore the trails outside of Portland itself, not having a car made it a bit difficult so my nature-loving was reserved to Washington Park. You could easily spend a couple of days out there, but I jammed everything into one. I started with the zoo (which was super affordable and totally gorgeous), before heading to the Hoyt Arboretum, the International Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Garden. If you’re short on time, I’d skip the Japanese Garden. It’s beautiful, but has a relatively steep entry fee and if you’ve wandered around the Arboretum and the zoo, you’ve got much of the same feel minus one or two bridges.
I have a degree in English, and to describe my relationship with books as “love” would be a bit of an understatement. My visit to Powell’s Books, then, was basically like the way I’d imagined heaven, but infinitely better. Like, honestly, a bookstore that requires a map to get around? I would have been happy to never leave. While I wanted to purchase everything in the store, budget and luggage limitations meant I restricted myself to just one item, but believe me, I’ll be back in the future with a full wallet and empty suitcase to maximise the experience.
Other Portland must-visits include Voodoo Donuts. Now, I’ve been told that the donuts there aren’t actually the best in Portland (which I could agree with – they were good, but it wouldn’t be hard for there to be better out there), but it’s a bit of an icon. I only had to queue for fifteen minutes to purchase my iconic pink box, but a lady in my hotel lift told me they had queued for three hours a few days previously. Honestly, if the queue is three hours long when you get there, take a picture of the sign and go and buy a Krispy Kreme – they’re not worth that much time and effort.
Next up: San Fran, Santa Barbara and San Diego!