I can’t believe that I’m 3 weeks into the trip already, so much has happened, I’ve been lucky enough to stay with friends for the most part, so it’s pretty much been an extended holiday up to this point, but I’ve managed to make my way through Boston, Cape Cod, Seattle, and Vancouver, so here’s my attempt at picking out a few of the highlights…I promise my next post won’t be quite so long!
Boston and Cape Cod
My first stop in the US was Boston, where I was lucky enough to be able to stay with friends of mine, Eric and Caitlin, their apartment is in a great location in South Boston, so I could easily make my way into town on foot or the easy option of Uber (old habits die hard). Boston is a fairly small city but there’s plenty to do and see, I managed to take in most of the sights in around two full days, but there was definitely more to take in and the city had a cool vibe and is way less manic than some of the bigger American cities such as New York or LA.
On my first day in Boston I signed up to the “Freedom Trail”, which is a guided tour through the streets taking in some of the key historic moments in America’s fight for Independence. Our tour guide was great and with me being British he made sure I received plenty of stick. It made me realise how little I know about the history of America, so it was definitely a worthwhile investment. When the tour finished you can continue to follow the trail via a line of bricks which meander through the streets to the north of the city. I managed to do most of it, but it wasn’t quite the same without the guide or someone telling you what to look out for.
The further north you go, the older and more quirky the buildings become, the streets are full of tourists, but it was definitely my favourite part of town.
After a long day of sight-seeing I stopped off at the “Top Of The Hub”, a bar/restaurant which has incredible views of the city and is located at the top of the Prudential building. I made my way through a couple of pints of Sam Adams which is brewed locally in Boston.
After a couple of days in the city we made our way down to Cape Cod, a popular resort area for weekend breaks and vacations just outside of the city. The area is made up of a series of perfectly manicured little villages located by the coast and it was easy to see why it was such a popular area. There are no end of decent restaurants and bars to enjoy and while I was there I got my first taste of Clam Chowder, which is basically a clam soup which almost every coastal town in America makes the claim that theirs is the best, I also tried a lobster roll and not being a massive fan of seafood I didn’t know what to expect of either, but to my surprise I loved both of them.
Cape Cod is the perfect getaway from the city and the 3 of us had an awesome weekend!
Whilst staying in Boston I experienced my first ever Baseball game, watching the Boston Red Sox take on the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. Despite being warned numerous times that I would find it boring, I really enjoyed it and once I understood what was going on it was fairly easy to follow. With the game all tied at 1-1 going into the 9th (final) innings, Eric warned me that, unlike Cricket which can last 5 days and end in a draw, there had to be a winner, given that only 2 points were scored in the previous 8 innings it was quite possible that the game would take hours to finish, so we decided to retire to a nearby pub which served hundreds of different beers, ales, and IPA’s – American’s love a good IPA – every screen in the bar was playing the game so we watched as the Red Sox were defeated 3-1 – sorry guys I must be a curse!
So after spending my first week in Boston, I took a flight out west to Seattle, a city which I didn’t really know anything about, other than it’s the setting for the TV show Frasier and a ton of great bands are from the area…Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, to name a few, so it must be a great place!
During my time there, I stayed with Claire who I met travelling Thailand, it was great to have a friendly face with local knowledge show me around town. Her apartment is in one of the best parts of town and has the most incredible views of the city from the balcony (pictured below). We had some epic nights out during my stay and I can safely say the city has a cracking night life.
Seattle doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as some cities and I guess it’s similar to Boston in that way, but it’s easy enough to walk around and take it all in. Pikes Place Market is probably one of the main attractions, after the Space Needle, and is a cool fishing market with lots of character and was fun to walk around and people watch.
Down by the harbour you can take a ferry across to a number of different islands, or experience a whale watching tour as Orcas are often seen swimming just off the coast, you can even take a cruise across the Canadian border up to Vancouver or Victoria.
Seattle is also home to Starbucks, and love it or hate it, it’s absolutely every where, the picture below is their first ever store.
The entire state of Washington is full of incredible natural beauty and there is no end of places to go hiking, camping, or even skiing in the winter, all just a short drive outside of Seattle. We spent hours online scrolling through lots of amazing looking hikes and settled on an area called Wallace Falls.
The hike was about a 6 mile round-trip to the top of the water fall and back down again, it rained nearly the whole way, but it was completely worth it for the views from the top looking down at the water fall and through the valley.
I also experienced my first MLS game whilst in Seattle, watching the Seattle Sounders take on New York City. The atmosphere was great and I was pleasantly surprised at how popular the local team were. The Sounders play in the same stadium as the Seahawks and I can only imagine how great the atmosphere would be when they play.
It’s also worth mentioning I went to two more baseball games watching the Seattle Mariners win both times. The first of those was mainly spent boozing in the beer garden, but the second we actually sat down and watched all the way through as we managed to blag our way to the best seats in the house.
From Seattle we made the drive up to Vancouver, which only takes around 3-4 hours, we made a slight detour along the way to a place called Deception Pass, a stunning set of two bridges which connects Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island.
We arrived at our hostel in the Gasworks area of Vancouver around sunset and took a stroll along the harbour, the views across the water to North Vancouver were stunning.
On our first full day we made our way to Grouse Mountain to hike a trail nicknamed the “Grouse Grind”, it’s not the longest trail by any means, but it’s a near vertical incline all of the way up. It took me around 1hr 22mins to walk all 2830 steps and after almost stopping half way up, Claire managed to finish only a few minutes behind. It was tough!
Vancouver is a lovely city, we only spent two days there, but I would definitely go back. There was so much more I wanted to see, but we ran out of time. The ironic thing about our stay was the hostel we had booked into was actually one of the worst places I’ve been to on my travels, it was overly expensive and in serious need of an update, the bar area and night life was decent, but the rooms weren’t the best. On our second night we had a drunken lad stumble into our dorm and mistake it for the toilet! Yep that’s right, a random person came bursting through the door in the middle of the night and emptied his bladder all over the floor, he was either completely hammered or sleep walking (probably both) – plenty more of these hostel experiences to come I’m sure!
On our final day we decided against paying $20+ to cross the Capliano Suspension bridge (which did look incredible), but we managed to find a free alternative at Lynn Valley instead. It still offered some pretty breathtaking views so we weren’t at all disappointed, the bridge then leads into a nice easy hike around a series of nearby waterfalls.
My plan from here is to make my way down the picturesque Highway 101 along the West coast through the states of Washington, Oregon, and California, I’ve hired a car to get me as far as San Francisco and will then make further plans from there….speak soon.
Along with Facebook I’ll be posting more pics on my Instagram, so check it out @intrepidjournals