Oahu (Hawai’i) (March 2019)

It seem’s like forever since I’ve uploaded anything on my blog!
As always, I have no excuse really (apart from being busy with work and living in Canada) – which reminds me, I should really write some posts about Canada as I’m sure I’ll have lots of useful information for fellow travelers! However, for now I’m going to write about Hawai’i while it’s still fresh in my mind.
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I’d never really had a chance to go to the islands of the Dole Pineapple, but the chance arose when my boyfriend and I were heading back to New Zealand for Nathan’s sister’s wedding in February.
I figured, if we were taking the 14 hour flight from Canada to New Zealand, we may as well break the trip up on the way back and explore Hawai’i!

I’ve realized from working as a Travel Agent in both New Zealand and Canada, Kiwi’s tend to head to the island of Oahu when they go to Hawai’i whereas Canadian’s love to travel to the other islands such as Maui and Kauai. (They find Honolulu to be too touristy and Americanized)
Now that I’ve visited Oahu I definitely agree that it’s very similar to main-land America, but still beautiful and interesting it’s in own way. (Fun fact, it’s actually pronounced “Ha-va-ee-ee”)

Day One (Feb 28th)

Nathan and I took a red-eye flight from Auckland (NZ) straight to Honolulu. Luckily we had access to the Koru Lounge at Auckland Airport before we departed so took full advantage of the free food, drinks and showers before we boarded the 8 hour flight.
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The flight departed Auckland at 9:05pm and arrived into Honolulu around 6:30am in the morning. Nathan and I got Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch so thankfully we had a little bit of a sleep before we arrived.
(For those that haven’t flown with Air New Zealand, the SkyCouch is basically a row of Economy Seats that turn into a Couch after take-off. When you upgrade to the Economy SkyCouch you get the whole row to yourself – or the other passenger you’re traveling with – so you can lie down, have a nap or stretch out to watch some movies)

Depending on your travel route, the Skycouch can cost between $300 to $1800 extra. For example, if I was traveling from Vancouver – Auckland by myself and wanted the whole row, it would be approx CAD$1799 extra as I’m technically taking up a whole row. As there was two of us, it’s usually $799 extra for that routing. Luckily we didn’t pay that much as there’s other way’s to get the couch for cheap! Helps if you’re a travel agent too and can write cheeky little requests on your booking 😉
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Nathan and I were actually double lucky as we got to take advantage of the Skycouch from Vancouver – Auckland and again from Auckland – Honolulu. Two long over-night flights where we flew in comfort!

Once we arrived into Honolulu, we ordered an Uber from the Airport. It cost us approx USD$30 for the 30 minute ride to our hotel.
I had organised for us to stay at The Queen Kapiolani Hotel which was only a block back from the beach and pretty much right across the road from the zoo – a great option if you want to be close to everything but don’t want to pay the outrageous prices of staying directly on the beach in Honolulu.
We arrived at our hotel around 8am so we couldn’t check-in yet. Luckily we got to meet with one of the hotel’s representatives Jen who took us for a wee tour around the property.

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The hotel had just been renovated so all the rooms were looking spick and span! Not to mention they have this gorgeous area on the third level which has a pool, bar, restaurant and conference center.

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During our stay it never felt crowded or loud with too many people at the pool. So many people go to Hawai’i for the beaches that they don’t use the pool too much which is a plus if you want a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the beach to relax on a sun lounger with a good book and drink in your hand.

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If you’re like Nathan and I and enjoy working out on your holiday 😉 you’ll appreciate the The Queen Kapiolani has a fresh new gym with really good equipment! As we only had 3 nights in Honolulu, we only visited the gym to take a few pictures and didn’t actually work out (I know, such a shame) but it looked like a pretty decent place to work out!

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Jen shouted us breakfast down at Knott’s Coffee Roasters (the coffee shop in the lobby) and recommended lots of things for us to see, do and eat during our stay.
As soon as we were able to, we headed off to explore the streets of Honolulu.

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While we were out walking, tt wasn’t long before the Hotel texted us and told us our room was ready. We were pretty tired by this stage so walked back to our hotel, checked in to our room and grabbed our togs to hang out at the pool. I think I fell asleep in the sun a couple of times and for a Winter’s day , 25 degree’s wasn’t too bad!
I got a bit snacky around lunch time so ordered some gauc and chips plus a Cider from Deck. (The hotel’s restaurant/bar) which was super yummy! I think I gained like 20 pounds the whole time in Hawai’i from eating so much avocado!

To be honest, we didn’t do too much else on our first day. When the sun was setting, we went down to the beach, took a few photos and then lined up at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Anyone who knows us knows we loooove The Cheesecake Factory. We’ve been a few times when we’ve traveled down to Seattle, also in New Jersey and now in Honolulu. The food is always great quality, generous portions and very well priced for what you get!

Day Two

Nathan had said to me the night before that he wanted to get up early and walk up Diamond Head. Our alarms went off around 5:30am (we wanted to watch the sunrise) but we both didn’t even attempt to get out of bed due to being really tired so we gave it a miss!
Instead we had a little sleep in and left our hotel around 10:30am to hire a car to drive around the whole island.
If you have Bluetooth in your car, I highly recommend downloading these tour guide apps called Gypsy Guides. You can download them on your Google Play or Apple Store and they’re super cheap! (Like $8)
When we drove through the Rockies in Canada we downloaded a few and they were so useful and informative!
As we knew nothing about Oahu, we downloaded the one called ‘Oahu Driving Tour’. You have the choice to drive clockwise or anti clockwise around the island and you just follow the narration to continue on an entire Island Tour. It’s basically like having a guide in your car that tells you some history of the island, where a good place to stop for lunch is and other interesting facts about Hawaii.

These are some of the pictures we took along the way (as I was driving I didn’t get to take as much as I would have liked!)

Hanauma Bay

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Over a thousand years ago, a violent eruption blew out one side of the crater, creating the crescent moon-shaped beach that is now called Hanauma Bay. It was even Voted Best Beach in 2016. We only stopped for a quick photo but we decided to definitely come back the next day as the water was so clear and inviting! It’s known in Hawaii as the best spot for snorkeling and I do love a good snorkel so made Nathan promise we’d come back 🙂

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Hālona Blowhole/Beach

This was one of my favorite spots in Hawaii!
Hālona, in Hawaiian, means “lookout,” and from the here you can see miles of pristine coastline waters from the lookout. On clear days, the islands of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i can also be seen in the distance. We pulled over to the lookout and took some pictures of the view. We even saw some whales off in the distance as it was Whale Season.
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Just below the outlook is this beautiful little beach called Hālona Beach Cove. It was like something out of a movie!
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When you walk down to the beach, you’ll find this little cave which you can walk through and it’ll take you through the mountain onto the other side. From what I read online the cave was formed millions of years ago by rapidly moving lava flows leaving what is called “precast concrete lava tubes.” It get’s a little dark and claustrophobic though so I decided not to go into the cave to see what was on the other side haha!

If you don’t feel like driving around the whole Island, Halona Blowhole is only about a 20 minute drive from Waikiki so you could easily take an Uber and chill out here for the day if you wanted to! Just make sure to bring a towel and some sunscreen as it can get pretty warm, especially during the Summer. Plus, there’s nowhere really to eat around here so it’s best to bring some food and water too.20190301_1314584902108016395300471.jpg20190301_1931465302462029953559132.jpg

From the blowhole, Nathan mentioned that Jen had shown him photos of this awesome Rock Arch which was nearby.
We crossed the road and walked up the highway a little bit then started walking up a crater to get to this arch. I couldn’t really see any Arch in the distance but trusted Nathan as he said the pictures looked really cool and he “had to take a picture of it”
When I finally saw this Koko Crater Arch, I wasn’t really impressed. In fact, I actually stopped walking and let Nathan go ahead as the climb started to get pretty tricky. It was literally a rock on the side of the crater. I admit though, the pictures that other people have taken (as shown below) look awesome but if you look at my picture afterwards it doesn’t look as awesome.

Image result for Koko crater archSource20190301_1924592014587844029446074.jpgWhile I waited for Nathan to take his pictures, I took a few of the view which was still pretty nice.20190301_1925176289698406411471834.jpgFurther along during our drive, we started getting thirsty and saw a sign for these massive pineapple smoothies so we decided to stop. After seeing the price of them though, we chose a juice and sprite instead! (Budget travelers I know)
They were like USD$10 which is the equivalent of CAD$14 (plus the conversion fee of my Credit card – urgh)
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Kailua Beach

It was starting to get a bit windy so we only stopped at Kailua for a little bit.
Even though the Sun was behind the clouds and my pictures make the beach look a bit gloomy, it looked like a great place for families to enjoy as the park grounds had bathroom facilities, beach showers, and picnic tables.
There’s a also a natural sea rock wall that stretches out into the ocean, which helps with the waves and keeps the water pretty calm. 20190301_1924211444029429842779356.jpg20190301_1924117917891368005771170.jpg

Sunset Beach

Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Sunset Beach is known for it’s big-wave surfing during the Winter. Like many beaches on the North Shore, Sunset Beach is not suitable for people who are learning how to surf. There’s an extensive coral formation near the surface and the surfing conditions change from spot to spot along the beach.
I learnt this from the Gypsy Guide app. apparently Kelly Slater (who won more world pro surfing leagues than you have fingers) was never able to win the circuit stop at Sunset Beach. Not to say he was bad, just the waves were so big!
In Winter, the waves are usually around 10-12ft but the biggest wave ever was 85ft high! It’s almost impossible to paddle into waves bigger than 40ft.

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Sandy Beach

This is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Hawaii. Located on the South Shore of Oahu, Sandy Beach is known for its great body-boarding and surfing opportunities because of the shore break that breaks close to the shore and the awesome barrels all along the beach. Unfortunately though, lots of injuries occur here each year which earned it an infamous nickname ‘Broke-Neck beach’

Picture below taken from here as I can’t find a picture on my phone from Sandy Beach.

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After a long day of driving around. We decided to keep the car over night so we could drive to Diamond Head the next morning. We were kind of on a budget and didn’t want to pay for the parking at the hotel (the exchange rate is terrible at the moment!) so we googled some places to park nearby that were free.
We finally found a parking lot but it looked like it closed overnight and we didn’t want to risk the car being towed. Instead, we parked on the road in a residential area a few blocks back from the hotel. I highly recommend doing this if you’re hiring a car in Hawaii. The car’s themselves aren’t too expensive to hire, it’s just the parking that really gets you!

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I was craving some Pizza after walking past a pizza restaurant the night before so we stopped at California Pizza Kitchen on Ala Moana Blvd for dinner.
We ordered some Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower for our appetizer and a California Club Pizza for our main to share. Service was good, the food was a bit over-priced for what you got but I suppose that’s also because of the exchange rate.

After dinner, we went to the Tesla Showroom and checked out a few new models of the Tesla’s they had. Obviously if we can’t afford parking in Honolulu we can’t afford a Tesla but it’s always nice to dream haha!
I swear at least a quarter of the population of Vancouver drive a Tesla and I’m always so jealous. I love the Model’s X & Y because of how big and spacious they are! If I can’t get a Tesla, I suppose I will settle for a Jeep or something similar in the coming years 😀

Day Three

We actually dragged ourselves out of bed this morning and drove up to Diamond Head for the morning hike!
The trails takes you to the edge of a 300,000 year old crater and as we did it in the morning we got some amazing views of Oahu with the sun rising in the back ground. The hike itself isn’t actually that long however there are a few stairs and it’s all up-hill.

If you plan to hike at Diamond Head State Monument, make sure you go in the morning or during the day as no one is permitted to hike after 4:30 PM. Parking is also limited and can get quite busy. When we were there we thankfully got a park (cost is $5 Per Car), however there were many people that didn’t. I couldn’t believe how many people actually did the morning hike!
We were one of at least 300 + people that got up that morning to watch the sun-rise. We couldn’t even get right to the top of the stairs as there were so many people in the way – definitely a tourist attraction.

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We dropped the car back at the depot after our hike and then had a walk around Waikiki looking for somewhere that did a good breakfast. (This actually took awhile because by now it was around 10am and so many places had stopped serving breakfast!)
We eventually stumbled upon Duke’s Waikiki that did a Breakfast Buffet for only USD$18.
They had everything from made-to-order Omelettes, scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, fruit, cereals etc… Plus they’re right next to the beach so we had a nice view of the ocean as we ate.

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This was probably our most active day yet. After breakfast, we went back to the hotel, got organised for our day and called an Uber to take us up to Koko Head Trail. (Also known as Koko Head Stairs). The Uber driver wished us luck when he dropped us off so I knew it was going to be hard!

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There are so many stairs to get to the top of the trail. I think I read somewhere that there were over a thousand stairs! It’s all made up of old railroad ties that are mounted to the hillside from the bottom to the top. The military created lookout pillbox bunkers during

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World War II and a railway was created on the Koko Crater trail, and used to haul cargo and supplies up to the top. Nowadays the railway is used as hiking stairs to reach the old military bunkers and ridge-line.
To be honest, as everyone had told us it was so hard I was prepared for it to be even harder than it actually was. It’s definitely a workout but not impossible. Just make sure to bring water as it gets pretty hot and there’s not a lot of shade.

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The first 100 or so steps are pretty easy and then as you climb higher the railway gets a little tricky with bigger gaps between the rails and a small section that’s like a bridge but has a 40 ft drop below.  It’s easy to cross if you just don’t think about it and go fast but if you have a fear of heights you really have to watch where you step.

20190302_1658122467734064764691000.jpg20190302_1702411579076633609197650.jpgWhen you eventually get to the top, the view is well worth it!airbrush_201903021705397547001781706263160.jpgairbrush_201903021708518540637253356002931.jpg20190302_1700017688818874917476616.jpgLuckily the Koko Trail was only about a 10 minute walk away from Hanauma Bay so once we walked down from the trail we walked across to the Bay for some snorkeling.
The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open year-round, except for Tuesdays (this is when they allow the fish a day of feeding without interruption by swimmers), Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s best to arrive as early as you can or wait until the crowd trickles out in the mid-afternoon as the beach can get quite crowded. As we went during Winter, there weren’t too many people however the Sun kept going behind the clouds so it got a little chilly while we were there.

20190302_165755-1168619800890280992.jpgTo get to the beach from the parking lot you can walk down the steep road which takes about 10 minutes or you can take a quick tram ride down for $1 and back up for $1.25. The cost to get into the bay is $7.50 and if you want to buy a snorkel set it’s around $20.00. I knew it would be pricey so I made sure to buy some Snorkel Gear in Waikiki the night before for around $10.00. I do wish I bought Flippers though because there’s a lot of coral that I was nervous I would step on, plus it makes swimming around a lot faster!20190302_1657463561841476603150696.jpgBefore you make your way down to the beach, they do make you watch a 10 minute video on Hanauma Bay beforehand. Back in 1990 they had so many visitors walking on the reef, swarming the surrounding areas, parking on the grass and on the sides of the road that measures were taken to limit the use of the bay.  In August 2002 the Marine Education Center was opened at the entrance to the bay, (where we watched the short video) and received instruction about conservation of the Bay’s resources. You’re basically told not to litter, leave bottles and rubbish on the beach, step on the reef, touch the fish etc.. which is pretty understandable.20190302_151512-11962792610605084945.jpg

I do love to snorkel and I wish Nathan snorkeled with me because there were some

ownerreally pretty fish! He’d just gotten a tattoo in New Zealand a few days beforehand though so couldn’t really go into the ocean. Instead he tried to sun-tan on the beach (which was a little hard with the sun disappearing behind the clouds every 2 minutes) and watched me swim around the ocean which I’m sure was super exciting for him.
I’m not going to lie – it was a little cold!
Once I had seen some fish, I joined Nathan on the sand but then got too cold that I didn’t want to go back into the water. At least I can say I snorkeled in one of the prettiest bays of Hawaii!

To get back to Waikiki, there was a bus that was meant to leave every half hour or so from the parking lot. We waited for ages with about 10 other people for this bus and it never came. I think it was just super delayed!
There were some taxi’s in the parking lot and they were offering a drive back to Waikiki for $5 per person. Nathan and I joined a family of 4 in a taxi and took it back to the city as we couldn’t be bothered waiting any more for the bus. The family we joined were actually Canadians living in Vancouver so we had a good chat on the way back about the cost of living and house prices of Vancouver haha!

When we got back to our hotel, we each had a shower and headed out to find some dinner. Turns out there was a Night Market happening on Ala Moana Blvd. There were heaps of food trucks and things to buy so Nathan got lots of different little meat dishes from various food trucks to eat. I ended up getting a burger and these little Spanish Cheese Bread things that were really good. I also got a Dole Pineapple Whip Ice-Cream that everyone raves about. I have to say I was expecting it to be like a pineapple creamy ice-cream (like a real fruit ice-cream) but I’d say it was more of a sorbet texture which was slightly disappointing but still refreshing all the same.

Day Four

Our final day in Hawaii was actually pretty relaxing!
img_20190303_1153236803799469111980062.jpgWe had the usual dilemma of “Where do you want to have Breakfast!?” “I don’t knooooow, you choose” and then someone disagreeing on every place the other suggested.
I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner but The Cheesecake Factory was finally agreed on and it was a great choice. They had so many options to suit what we were craving, plus a really big drinks menu. I ordered Avocado on Toast and a smoothie while Nathan got a Corona and some other big breakfast dish that i can’t recall. I do remember he ordered it to come with Fries which is a pretty typical Nathan meal.

After Breakfast, we took a walk down the long stretch of beach that is Waikiki. I hadn’t properly been on this beach yet and it was a really nice day with barely any clouds in the sky – perfect beach-walking weather. There were heaps of hotels along Waikiki which looked really nice, plus some of them had pools out the front that looked out onto the ocean.  The water was so nice and clear I’d love to go back! (Currently writing this as I sit at home with the heating on)
I said to Nathan that I wanted to do a quick last-minute shop and then we should head to the beach with our towels so we could swim in the Ocean on our last day.

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Nathan didn’t want to shop so he said he’d go back to the hotel and sun-tan by the pool and I’d meet up with him afterwards.
I only bought a few things during my shopping trip (I spent so long trying things on and not liking them) that I eventually headed back to the hotel with only a few sports bras in my shopping bag (exciting purchases I know). When I found Nathan, he was having drinks with this group of guys here on a work trip from the U.S.
They were on their second or third day in Hawaii and were keen to get drunk and have a good time. Unfortunately for us we had a flight that night so weren’t in the mood for a crazy night but accompanied them to a bar next door anyways. I had to stop them buying me so many shots and drinks otherwise I wasn’t going to make my flight haha!

At some stage that night, we left them and went to McDonalds for a super nutritious meal of burgers and fries. Luckily back at our hotel there were a couple of girls who were on the same flight as us so we caught an Uber to the airport with them and split the cost.
Our Hawaii Vacation was officially over!
We flew back to Vancouver with Delta Airlines. They were okay, obviously not as great as Air New Zealand but they had back-seat entertainment (even if the screens were super tiny) and not much leg room but maybe we’d just been spoilt with SkyCouch on our last two flights 😉

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Our flight went Via Seattle so by the time we got home it was around 9am in the morning and we’d had barely any sleep – so much turbulence on the way back I could barely get comfortable!
Luckily I didn’t have work that day so when we got home we threw some washing on and went straight to sleep.

If I could recommend anything for anyone planning to go to Hawaii it would be to hire a car and drive around whichever Island you visit!
There’s so many pretty beaches and places to see. I also highly recommend downloading the Gyspy Guide app that I mentioned earlier in this post. Honolulu can definitely be done in 4 days if you don’t have much time, I know it seems like I didn’t see much when I drove around the island but I seriously did (I just have the memory of a fish so it’s hard to remember what places I went to haha)

Until next time! x

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I Love Seattle! – April 2018

A very very late post about my trip to Seattle back in April!

Who realized how close to Vancouver the city of Seattle is!?

Well not me until I moved to Canada. In fact, I didn’t know much about the place apart from knowing Grey’s Anatomy was based in a hospital there.
(By the way, I have only just started watching all the seasons of Grey’s Anatomy! Bit late to the craze I know as it first aired in 2005!)

The original reason for our trip to Seattle was because my partner had a rugby game down there.
I made sure I had the weekend off work so I could drive down with him and see a little bit more of the USA.
Usually the rugby team just stays there for the day (as it’s around a 3 hour drive from Vancouver) but we decided to stay for the night.
Even though I only booked us a hotel the night before we stayed – we got a really good deal through my work! (Travel agent perks 😉 )

So on Saturday morning, Nathan, myself and his Irish team-mate Thomas left our place around 7am. The drive to the Boarder which separates Canada and Washington was actually pretty short. It’s the drive from the boarder down to Seattle that takes the longest time. It’s not an exciting drive either. Just motorways and some farms with the occasional food store and Walmart. (Okay I admit, I enjoyed the Walmart’s)

When we got into Seattle, we dropped Thomas off at the Rugby Field because he was playing an earlier game with another Vancouver team. As we hadn’t stopped for food yet, Nathan and I decided to drive around and find something to eat.
Unfortunately for us it was raining – I’m not meaning just a little drizzle either, it continuously poured with rain that whole first day we were there!
I actually didn’t research Seattle before I went but I’ve now found out it’s one of the rainiest cities in the USA. Seattle is right in the path of a weather pattern that brings in a lot of moisture off the Pacific Ocean, they get about 150 days of rain a year! Luckily it’s not always a heavy downpour, more of a light drizzle. Guess it’s similar to Vancouver in a way.

Out of all the fast-food joints we could have eaten at, we decided on a trusty McDonalds meal. Coming from New Zealand where I like to think our McDonalds beef and Chicken is somewhat hormone free, I don’t think this McDonalds was. There’s always that gross feeling inside of you when you eat meat from America coming from New Zealand as you imagine it’s just full of all these additives and bad things you’re putting into your body.

We scoffed it down anyways and then headed back to the fields so Nathan could start warming up for the rugby game.
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As the game didn’t start for about another hour, I headed back into the comfort of our car and drove back to the little city centre. We’d passed a Target store on the way to the fields and I really wanted to go and have a look.
Probably a bad idea as I ended up spending lots of money on homewares!!
I thought Vancouver had some decent shopping but America is just soo much better.

20180414_195643.jpgThere’s more stores to visit (eg, Target), the Walmart’s are much bigger and better, there’s more to choose from and so much variety of things to buy!
Even the Ben’n’jerry’s ice-cream in the grocery aisle at Target had about 15 more flavours than the local Safeway down from my house.

When I got to Target, I grabbed a trolley and ended up buying an ironing board that goes on your kitchen table (kind of useless now that I have it because it just moves around when I iron). I also bought an iron, some large pillows for our bed, this organic body wash, more jars for the kitchen and….I can’t actually remember what else. I just remember feeling really bad because I spent a lot of money and I didn’t bring my own reusable fabric grocery bags because the girl at the check-out had to double-bag like all my glass jars as she didn’t want them to break.

When I got outside, I quickly tried loading up the car as it was still raining. Suddenly this car pulls up behind me so I assumed the person just wanted my parking space. Next thing I know this guy jumps out and starts grabbing all my bags and putting them into my car for me. I thought ‘oh that’s so helpful, he’s probably just trying to hurry me up so he can get my parking space’
I said to him “Oh sorry! I’m trying to be quick, did you want my space?”
He replies “Are you single?” (Really direct I know)
“Uh no I have a boyfriend”
“Okay, are you from here?”
“Nah I’m not”
“Okay, yeah I do want your parking space”
And then proceeds to hop into his car and wait for me. I forgot how direct American guys are. They don’t shy away from just bluntly asking you out. Guess it’s saves all the guessing games!

Anyways, with the car all loaded, I drove back to the field to watch Nathan play rugby.
As it was raining, the fields were obviously very wet but I’m such a dedicated Girlfriend I stood in the rain under my umbrella (with my white shoes on may I add) to watch him play.
Unfortunately they lost and they had so many injuries in their team!
Nathan scored a try and came straight off the field as he hurt his hip so he didn’t even play a full game. Once you say you want to come off, you can’t go back on so he ended up standing with me the rest of the game in his dirty clothes and all soaked.

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Once the game was over, we headed to the hotel to check-in and so Nathan could have a shower.
We ended up staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Seattle.
It was really centrally located and the everyone from the valet to the front desk was really lovely and helpful.
Our room was really spacious and the the bed was so comfortable. It even had a pillow menu!

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While I was waiting for Nathan to get ready, I suddenly remembered I’d still never gone for dinner at the American Restaurant ‘The Cheesecake Factory’
Nathan had gone when he went to Hawai’i and always raved about it!
When I was in Orlando back in 2015, I also went with a girl from my tour group but we only went and bought a couple of slices of cheesecake. (We didn’t actually sit down and have a meal)
So I quickly did a Google search and saw that there was a Cheesecake Factory literally down the street from where we were staying.
I rung up to make a booking but they said we could just turn up and we’d get a table.
I’m so happy we ended up going because it was soooo yummy!!!
I’m not sure how many calories I consumed that night but everything from the bread they gave us to start, right down to the dessert at the end was so delicious.
Nathan and I are very simple people, I’m not fussed on a small steak and a side of asparagus, no matter how renowned the Chef is.
I want variety and great tasting food!

We ordered the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes to start (which don’t sound that great but were so amazing) They top it with Sour Cream, Avocado and Salsa and put it in this really nice Salsa-type sauce.
As there were literally 50 different things to choose from on the menu, I got really panicky and didn’t know what to order! I ended up deciding on a Thai Coconut Lime Chicken Dish.
Nathan ordered a Steak with Vegetables and a large side of Fries. (He was desperate for a Steak as he had yet to eat one since he’d arrived)

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There actually ended up being a fire alarm towards the end of dinner.
Weirdly, no one got up to leave the building. Maybe the food was too good!? (It ended up being trigged from a store next door)
Once we’d finished our dinner, they asked us if we’d like dessert. Our stomach’s couldn’t really handle anything more but we couldn’t go to the Cheesecake Factory and not get a slice of Cheesecake!
I ordered a Salted Caramel one for us to share, which we ended up taking home with us as we couldn’t finish it.

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You can see I already had a little nibble

I find tipping in the states much better than Canada.
In the US, you write down how much you want to tip and they put a hold on your Credit Card which they charge (with the tip) once you leave. Or you can just pop a few dollar bills on the table.
In Canada, as everyone pays by card you have to do it on the Card Machine and it’s always a little awkward when your waiter is standing right there and then rips off the receipt for you as they see how much you’ve given them.
We ended up tipping our guy about $15-$20 which we thought was a good amount for his service and the yummy food.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel feeling like the biggest hippo’s.
When we got there, I quickly skyped my parents as I had to ask my Dad a quick question about our car.
On the drive to Seattle, it kept loosing power when we were accelerating so I just wanted to see if he knew any idea why. (It ended up being the battery so we got a new one when we came back to Vancouver)
A few of Nathan’s rugby mates were drinking down the road at their hotel so he went down to join them for a bit but ended up coming back an hour later as he was absolutely shattered. WE ARE SO FUN AND FULL OF ENERGY I KNOW!!
It was a combination of being in the car for hours, the rugby game, the big dinner and the little walk back to our hotel that really took it out of us.
I know, I know. We’re in our 20’s and should be going out having fun in the city but it was raining and to be honest we had no energy.

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The next morning, we actually didn’t get a sleep in (even though the hotel offered us a late check-out) because Travel Agent Sarah (me) had organised a morning tour of Seattle for us.
I honestly think that if you’re in a city for a short amount of time and want to maximize your stay – DO A TOUR!
You have a guide that knows the city like the back of their hand. They can drive you around, talk to you about the history and then drop you off afterwards and point you in the right direction of the best places to eat.
The tour guide we had on our tour was a bit quirky and he defiantly had a ‘different’ sense of humour but we went with it and quite enjoyed ourselves.
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20180417_220151.jpg20180417_220247.jpg20180417_220321.jpg20180417_220139.jpg20180417_220334.jpgWe learnt about Seattles history and found out it was the Birthplace of Starbucks. (you can buy a unique mug at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market)
The Boeing Company was also founded in the Seattle area by the man William Boeing. If you like aviation, they do public tours of the Boeing Factory (which I desperately wanted to go to!!) but we ran out of time 😦
We also learnt that The Klondike gold rush was the great boom period for Seattle after gold was discovered in Canada’s Klondike region back in the late 80’s. Seattle established itself as the jumping-off point for transportation to and from Alaska and the gold fields of the Yukon.
We also tried to get pictures of Bill Gate’s house as he lives in Seattle but we were a little too far away across the river to get anything good.
Towards the end, we had a photo stop at Kerry park where we took photo’s of the Seattle Skyline (and ourselves of course)
20180415_233935.jpg20180417_220705.jpg20180417_215815.jpgIMG_20180416_192808_904.jpgSome other random facts about Seattle for your reading pleasure:

  • More people bike to work in Seattle than in any other city in the USA of similar sizing.
  • They were the first city to have Policemen and woman on bikes
  • The Public Library system has more library card holders per capita than anywhere else
  • Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle
  • The have the busiest Ferry Terminal in the United States
  • Seattle is a major departure point for Alaskan cruises
  • They have the most houseboats compared to anywhere else in the U.S

Now it probably feels like you’ve gone on the tour with me! 😉

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When the tour ended, we were dropped off at Pike Place Market which is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront. It’s really famous and you’ll always see pictures of it if you watch Grey’s Anatomy. It’s one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States.

Once there, I immediately took out my phone and started taking pictures of all the beautiful flowers and fresh fruit they had.

I thought there would be more food like really yummy baked goods and stuff but it was a little disappointing on the food front. It’s defiantly more produce based where you can buy fresh fish, flowers, jams and vegetables to take home.

20180415_234509.jpg20180415_234420.jpgWe also watched the famous ‘Throwing of the fish’ at Pike Place Fish Market. It’s one of the market’s major attractions where employees throw three-foot salmon and other fish to each other rather than passing them by hand. If you order a fish, an employee picks up the fish from the ice barrels and hurls it over the countertop, where another employee catches it and prepares it for you to take home.

From what I’ve read on Wikipedia, the tradition started when the fishmongers got tired of having to walk out to the Market’s fish table to retrieve a salmon each time someone ordered one. Eventually, the owner realized it was easier to station an employee at the table and throw the fish over the counter.

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At some stage during my photo taking, Nathan wandered off and I lost him in the crowd.
Eventually I spotted him and we decided to go line up at Piroshky Piroshky which is a small Russian Bakery just across the road from the markets. You have to wait in line but you’re given a menu as you wait so you can quickly order when you’re inside.

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They did everything from Cinnamon rolls and Rhubarb Piroshky’s to Chicken Curry and Onion Rolls. I ordered a Oscars Star which was a delicious buttery dough topped with chocolate, sweet cream cheese and sprinkled with Hazelnuts whereas Nathan got a traditional ground beef and onion Piroshky which I took a bite of and was actually pretty good. He even enjoyed my sweet treat later that night!! (This is a big thing as he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth for chocolate pastries)

20180415_232035.jpg20180415_232000.jpg20180415_232104.jpgI wanted to save my Oscar’s Star for dessert so popped it into a bag to take home. While we were walking, we walked past one of those really yummy Rocky Mountain Apple places where they dip the apples in caramel and chocolate and cover it with hundreds and thousands or cookie pieces. Nathan was desperate for the bathroom so I hovered around the apples while he found somewhere to pee.

He seemed to take forever but by the time we met up again, Nathan told me he’d found the world famous Gum Wall.
I actually didn’t even know anything about this but Nathan said he’d seen pictures of it on Facebook before.
It’s officially called the Market Theater Gum Wall and it’s basically a brick wall covered in used chewing gum. Nice huh?
If you’re ever in Seattle, it’s in an alleyway located in Post Alley under the Pike Place Market. Great place for picture taking as the colours really stand out!

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After a quick photo stop for Nathan at ‘The worlds tallest man’, we signed up to the Seattle Bicycle app called OFO. Basically you sign up with your credit card and scan a bike that you want to use with your phone. It unlocks the bike for you and you can ride it around the city for however long you like. It was really cheap too, I’m pretty sure the first 30 minutes were free and then it was like $5 or something after that.

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On our tour that morning, we had driven past the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (which is like a small museum) where you can find out how much your weight is worth in gold.
It’s free to enter so we biked there on our bikes (of course) and had a look around. Nathan really just wanted to weigh himself but of course we read a little bit about the Klondike history etc….
I think in the end, Nathan’s weight in gold came to just over $1. Haha, just kidding. I can’t remember how much he was worth.

Before we headed home for the afternoon, Nathan mentioned we should grab something to eat as we hadn’t had lunch yet. Deep down we were both probably thinking we’d love to go back to The Cheesecake factory as they’re open for lunch too, however we thought we’d look at some other little cheap eats around town.
In the end, we just decided “Whatever! This is our first time here, lets just go to The Cheesecake Factory!”
Haha. You can tell we really explore each city we’re in….

As we knew that weekend was just full of consuming calories, we biked to The restaurant (up-hill may I add) and burnt off maybe just our entree from the night before…
I was actually a little embarrassed going back to the same place we were just in 24 hours beforehand but we didn’t think the people who worked there would remember us.
I had a quick look around for our waiter from the night before and he wasn’t there so we were safe! Or so I thought.
Suddenly I hear a “Oh welcome back!” from our waiter from the previous night.
He remembered us because apparently we left such a generous tip and he never got to say thank you. (We think he went on his break so someone else collected the bill the night before)
Just seeing how happy he was made me realise how much of a difference a decent tip makes to people who work in the service industry so I’m happy that we did.

We toned it down a little this time with me ordering the Nachos and Nathan got the Quesadilla.

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After stuffing our faces for one final day, we paid our bill and walked back to our hotel to collect the car.
Before we left the city, we thought we’d stop and get some Gas, however! As soon as we started the car again it wouldn’t turn on.
Like I mentioned earlier, it needed a new battery!
I had a slight panic and thought we’d be stuck in Seattle overnight. Thankfully it ended up working after a few tries.
I don’t even know what would happen if we actually got stuck there. Like our car is insured in British Columbia but does anyone know if they would tow you car all the way from Seattle back to Vancouver?
I’d bloody hope so with the $200 we pay each month for insurance!!

The drive home was pleasant. A little boring but I kept Nathan entertained with my fabulous Spotify Playlist, plus we broke up the trip with a classic stop at Walmart.
We even got some lamps for the bedroom!! (I’d been looking to buy lamps for ages)
It was kind of a gamble though because we couldn’t actually open the box to see what colour lampshades they were. The box said they were a cream colour (which would have gone perfectly with our comforter set) but when I had opened a different box of a different brand, the lampshade did NOT look anything like what was on the front picture.
I took my chances anyways and I’m so glad I did because now I have four pretty lamps scattered around the house that match 🙂

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Now it’s the beginning of June and I’ve officially been in Canada for nearly 5 months.
I’ll be honest, it’s defiantly been a struggle at times.
The money here isn’t that great (for me anyways) and even though Nathan gets paid way more than what he did back home, the cost of living makes it so we’re not actually saving that much money.
If anyone is thinking of moving to Vancouver, don’t come here expecting to make money and buy a house or anything. You come for the experience and the close proximity to other places in the USA and Central America to travel to.
I think I’ll write a post at some stage about the pro’s and con’s of living in Vancouver and the steps to take to start a life here – just for any Kiwi’s thinking of making the big move 😉

Thanks for reading!!

xoxo

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Taxi Guide to NYC

Getting around New York City can be a bit confusing when you’re not a local. You can either take the Subway, walk or catch a Cab.
The Subway is cheap but probably not the best idea if you’re carrying lots of stuff or not confident in what line to take.
When you think of New York, places like Central Park, Hot dogs from the Food Carts and riding in a Yellow Cab probably pop into your head. So when in New York City – I urge you to experience them all! Continue reading