Heading South: leaving Victoria and arriving in Seattle

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July 20th 2015
Published: July 21st 2015
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It's 21.58 on the 19th July. So we're now settling into our hostel in Seattle, and getting used to seeing the Stars and Stripes over the Maple Leaf for the first time in nearly 4 months. In this blog I will write about our last day in Victoria, arriving in Seattle, and our first full day here.
So Thursday was our final full day in Victoria, and Canada for that matter, so both Donna and Bob had taken the day off. We got up and ready to leave for 3pm, when we were going to head into town to go on the Pickle Boat Pub Crawl for the evening. Before we left, Rosie and I walked up to the plaza to print a photo of us all at the zip lining place and buy a frame and a card to give to Donna and Bob as a thank you.
We were picked up from the plaza just before 3, and from there we all headed down to the inner harbour to begin the crawl. We parked up and walked to the dock where we were given wristbands and tickets, and a pickle boat called for us. The pickle boats are small water taxis (seating 10 at a push) which shuttle people around the harbour's pubs and bars. We had bought a ticket that gave us 4 free trips, as well as free appetisers at all of the participating bars.
First, we went across the water to a bar of a hotel on the harbour front for cocktails and a meatball appetiser, then back across to the Blue Crab seafood restaurant for more cocktails, as well as crab pâté. It was a beautiful day, and the view across the harbour was fantastic, let alone cruising across on the little boats. Our third stop was the Steam Ship patio, where we ate a bigger meal as well as another drink. Finally, we made our last trip past the yachts in the harbour and to Government Street where all of the rest of the bars and pubs were. We stopped off in the Bard and Banker for a drink, then headed down to the Irish Times where Bob had booked a seat right next to the live music.
Here, we found an incredible cocktail called 'I'll Have What She's Having' and drank several of these while watching a great Irish/Country band played a few sets. When we finally left it was gone 11pm, and we were all feeling rather merry. Bob arranged a pick up service that Victoria offered whereby two drivers arrive, one drives you all home in your own car with the other guy tailing in their own car, then picks the first driver up when you get back to your house - so when you wake up in the morning your car is in your drive, not down in the city. We had a beer back home to toast an excellent couple of weeks, then headed to bed.
I got up at 8am the next morning, feeling not too worse for wear, and walked the 2 miles or so down to the plaza to buy the flowers Rosie and u had picked out the day before. It was just starting to get warm, and was a pleasant walk through the parks and trails, especially once I'd picked up a coffee. Somehow I managed to get the lilies into the house without Donna or Bob seeing, and got on with showering and packing.
Once we'd all packed up and loaded the car, we placed the photo in the frame, the card and the flowers on the table, which I think they loved, and headed off down to the ferry terminal. We didn't have a huge amount of time so we bought our tickets quickly, then said a very sad goodbye to Donna and Bob, who had been incredibly generous and welcoming throughout our stay. We parted ways very heavy-hearted. We pretty much walked straight onto the ferry, found a table on the upper level, and settled down for the trip.
We sat watching out of the window for the duration of the trip as the ferry worked its way through the mass of forested islands between the southeast coast of Vancouver Island and the mainland, and ate the lunches Donna had made for us.
We arrived with 3 and a half hours to get into the city and onto the 5pm bus to Seattle. Unfortunately we were fairly late off the ferry, and missed the first shuttle bus to the Sky-Train station, and so had to wait for the next one. Somehow, it was an hour until this bus arrived. Finally we all piled on and the bus pulled off, almost instantly hitting heavy traffic. When we finally reached the sky train station we had under an hour to get to the bus. We looked at the metro map and realised that the bus depot was possibly the most inaccessible spot in Vancouver, requiring at least 3 changes. When we hit our first stop, we got off and checked the map again, seeing that we needed to get a bus and another train to get to the bus station - with 30 minutes to spare. From the look of the map, the depot wasn't actually that far away, so we hedged our bets and tried to walk the rest of it. Our path took us ten blocks uphill in the heat of the day, and within 5 minutes we were drenched with sweat and exhausted.
Finally we reached the corner of Broadway and Main where we needed to walk another 10 blocks to the station, but mercifully downhill. Rosie was struggling with her suitcase, as one of the wheels wasn't working properly, so I swapped her my hand luggage for the case. About halfway down the hill the wheel completely bust, and so for the last half a mile I was dragging the 25kg case on pavement, as well as my 18kg backpack.
Rosie and Matt were a fair way infront by this point, and when Kate and I arrived at the station, dripping with sweat, I was sure we had missed the bus. But, miraculously, Rosie and Matt had held it up long enough for us to stuff our bags in the hold and jump on. As we began to make our way through downtown Vancouver, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Within 30 minutes or so, however, we were all shepherded off the bus and into the customs checkpoint at the border. We presented our documents and proof that we were leaving, and our bags for a lackadaisical search, then filed back onto the bus.
From then on, we could relax. We arrived into Seattle at 9pm, and picked up our bags in the warm evening air. Thankfully, the hostel was only 2 minutes up the road from the bus depot, so we checked in and made our way to the rooms. Rosie and Kate were on the 4th floor in a 6 bed female dorm, while Matt and I were in a 6 bed male dorm on the 2nd floor. After we had unpacked we headed out into the night to find some food. Kate and Matt went for a Chinese takeaway, while Rosie and I went off in search of a McDonald's, allegedly only a few blocks into the city.
What we were actually looking at on the map was McDonald and Son Solicitors, and we ended up walking to the other side of the city to find a McD's that was open past 11pm. It was, however, I nice walk through the cities impressive business district, and by the time we returned, we fell asleep almost instantly.
We rolled out of bed and headed down to breakfast (which ended at 9am, which seems a little early), at 8.30, and discussed our plans for the day. We decided to walk through the city in the direction of the Sky Needle, and reconvened in the lobby at 11am. The day was already hot when we left the hostel, and we made our way all the way down 5th, and thus through the city. Seattle has very much a big city feel - hot, bustling, packed with an eclectic mass of people shadowed by the towering buildings.
It took us maybe 45 minutes to find the Space Needle which, it has to be said, wasn't nearly as impressive at the CN tower, and were pleasantly surprised to find that the park behind it was hosting a food festival, as well as having some live music. So; we spent the next couple of hours walking amongst the throngs of people and trying samples of different foods. After a while we came to a huge fountain in a big concrete dish, and so Rosie and I joined in with the hundreds of people running through and around it to cool down - and hit thoroughly and refreshingly soaked.
From there we made our way back to the edge of the park, the meandered down the hill and to the dockside. Out on the docks, without shade, it was oppressively hot. As we strolled, we looked out at the mountains across the water and came to a huge cruise liner, then several fun little souvenir shops. Before long we were nearly back in line with the hostel, so headed back via a Target Supermarket to grab dinner.
We got back to the hostel by 4.30pm, exhausted from the heat. We all cooked ourselves our dinner before the kitchen got too busy, then headed to our rooms for a nap. We met back up in the dinning room by 7pm, and ate a dinner of noodles, or tuna pasta, or left-over Chinese. I was feeling relatively revived by this point; so set out to find a running route for the morning. I headed down to the harbour (and against the tide of Seattle soccer fans that came pouring from the stadium near the hostel) and walked along the promenade as the sun set over the mountains.
The views were spectacular, a 360• vista that included a city skyline, arc-light lit commercial docks, the flickering lights of a town across the water the silhouettes mountains with the crescent moon and Venus perched on top, and the lit up Seattle-great wheel. By the time I got back it was gone 10.30pm, and I headed to bed.

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23rd July 2015

Back in the USA
So - you could now (if you were a USA citizen) buy a gun and make off to settle old scores at your last school (that Mr Beda had it coming to him!), but when you had finished your rampage and wanted to relax with a beer.............hell no, buddy, you're not twenty-one yet! Loved the description of the bus slipping backwards towards the precipice - probably a deliberate way of psyching you all up for the zip wires. I also have the firmly fixed impression of this swelteringly hot and increasingly desperate scramble across Vancouver to catch your bus, accompanying by a unpleasantly hardening certainty that all your efforts were in vain! So pleased you made it. Excellent to hear that you can go back to 'spoons and earn a bit of dosh while still coming to the Scilly Isles. I have as promised now given Ben Howard's Every Kingdom a good listen (the deluxe edition which includes a live version of Move Like You Want). It's a great album, but it has taken me a while to really get under it's skin as it is music that is not altogether in my usual comfort zone. That is a good thing as I like to expand my horizons. The first track that really stood out for my was 'Black Flies' with its insistent and building rhythm - superb and can't stop playing it. Everything is another favourite. There are a few songs that I don't find so distinctive and at first I thought a lot of the album was quite 'samey' but repeated listening starts to dissolve that impression.. The Fear is a really good song, with a complex guitar line and powerful lyrics. Bones is another gem and then the last track on the deluxe version - Move Like You Want (live) which clocks in at over 8 minutes is a brilliant ending to the album and for some reason I am reminded of Pearl Jam at their best. I think it's a similar vocal line at one point. People compare Ben Howard to Bon Iver, but I find him less ethereal and better than that. So - thanks for the recommendation. Dad

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