Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Vancouver, Seattle and LA

Sorry for the delay in getting the blog updated but because our camera and photos had gone walkabout we thought we might have to miss out the Vancouver and Seattle leg of the trip. After contacting the lost property at the stadium about ten times and checking with the local police station, we assumed the camera and a bunch of our photos were lost forever.

In a strange turn of events, we came home one night to discover a message on the answering machine from some bloke saying he had found a camera at the LA Galaxy game, with a ticket stub in the case! The ticket stub had Tim's name on it and our seat numbers. The guy tried to find us at our seats, but we had moved to better seats, so he had kept the camera and managed to find Tim's phone number online! We drove to the guy's work and got our camera back with all our photos. Yeah!

So, for your 'skiving from work' pleasure here are the photos and stories from Vancouver to LA-

We arrived in downtown Vancouver and found that our hostel was quite nice, but happened to be directly above a night club. From 10pm to 3am the music was so loud we could hear every lyric and the room shook in time with the bass. We didn't get much sleep and bought ear plugs the next day! We are officially old people.

Vancouver is apparently amongst the top three most livable cities in the world and we had five days of wandering around to find out why.

The city from Stanley Park

Most of the big cities we have visited have all had really nice parks and Vancouver's Stanley Park is one of the nicest we have seen. We stepped from the city into the park and were immediately surrounded by some amazing wildlife, including these little guys:

Some cheeky racoons

We spent some time in Gastown, which is a quaint area with cobblestone streets and some of the city's oldest buildings. The most famous landmark here is a steam powered clock:

Gastown steam clock

After the obligatory Starbucks in Gastown we spent an afternoon walking around the market stalls and shops on Granville Island-the Canadian version of the Barras(a market in Glasgow). It has a farmer's market and little arts and crafts stalls. It was a nice way to spend a few hours.

Granville Market

After a few days in Vancouver we decided to escape the multi-storey bass drum that was our hostel, and spend a day and night in Whistler. Whistler is a beautiful ski village about two hours north of Vancouver where you can get pretty decent snow as late as June. The hostel at Whistler has to win the prize for best location- set on the side of a lake with snow capped mountains all around. The scenery just about compensated for the ancient decor and dangerously close train tracks.

Apparently snow muffles train whistles

After walking over train tracks and successfully avoiding the oncoming train, we got to the hostel and admired the amazing view-

Not bad eh?

Whistler was really nice and we will definitely be back here on a snowboarding trip at some point. The village is full of great restaurants, bars and cool shops. We had some nice food here and we took a ride up the mountain on the gondola. We were really surprised by how many folk were skiing and snowboarding at this time of the year.

Pamela- chuffed to find HP on offer

After Whistler we headed back to Vancouver for a night and then got ready to head to Seattle the next day.

We took a greyhound bus over the border and into Seattle. We stayed at the only hostel in Seattle- The Green Tortoise. It was a really nice hostel, right next to Seattle’s Pike Place Market. This place is very famous and is featured in loads of films including Sleepless in Seattle.

The corner of Pike Place Market(from the hostel window)

The market entrance

It has cobblestone streets and loads of stalls selling fresh fish, fruit and veg, arts and crafts stuff and just about anything else you can imagine. The two most famous occupants of the market have to be the fish shop at the entrance where they throw fish around while singing and shouting and of course, the very first Starbucks.

Pike Place Fish

Where the Starbucks empire began

A hula hooping, guitar balancing, busker- writing a catchy chorus is no longer enough...

The market's lucky pig

The whole market is constantly packed and it has a great atmosphere. We spent a number of days wandering around the stalls just watching people!

One of the most striking things about Seattle is the sheer volume of homeless people. I think we were in a particularly bad spot for it, but you could not walk ten yards without being asked for change. We were impressed by one guy's sign that read:

‘My father was killed by Ninjas, need money for karate lessons.’

We reckon this guy will get way more than the folk who have signs about being a war veteran or just needing enough money for the bus home!

Seattle is famous for Microsoft, Starbucks and indie guitar bands. This makes the city the recipient of about 90% of my income. I can play Championship Manager while listening to Death Cab For Cutie with a Toffee Nut Latte in my hand, all thanks to Seattle.

The city’s landmarks are the market place, some nice museums, The Experience Music Project(EMP) and The Space Needle. The EMP is a shrine to rock ‘n’ roll, or a large storage room for a very rich guy’s stuff! It is owned by Bill Gates’ partner, the bloke known internationally as ‘the other Microsoft guy’.

The EMP has endless musical artifacts and loads of information about famous Seattle musicians including Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. There is a very cool guitar room that has some of the first Gibsons and Fenders ever made.

Towering above the EMP is the Space Needle. We added it to the growing list of tall buildings and structures that we have visited on our trip.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle is home to loads of 'believe it or not' nonsense. Stuffed two headed dogs and shrunken human heads sit beside this guy who was found perfectly preserved, in the middle of the desert apparently:

Looks a bit like my old history teacher!

Due to Seattle’s rock ‘n’ roll heritage we thought it would be cool to try and go to a gig while we there. Upon checking Ticketmaster we discovered that Ben Gibbard, the front man from Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service(my current favourite bands) was doing a solo gig in his home town of Seattle! We asked at the hostel reception where the Showbox venue was and he said “ eh… if you go outside, take and left and go into the building next door, you’re there.” The gig was on our last night and we managed to get tickets from people outside the venue. The gig was great. No, it was better than great. It was easily one of my all time top three gigs!

When Pamela lived in France she went to church with folk who used to live in Seattle. We went along to their old church and to Pamela's surprise she met a guy who she thought now lived in London. Rain and his wife Grace invited us back for lunch and we had a lovely afternoon with them and their cute little boy Josiah.


We loved Seattle but as usual our time drifted away and we eventually had to move on. The original plan was to drive from Seattle to LA and take in San Francisco and a few other places along the way, but we opted to catch a cheap flight from Seattle straight to LA instead. This saved us a lot of travel time and we were eager to get to LA in time for Anna’s birthday sleepover!

We’ve been in LA for nearly four weeks now and it has been great. We’ve had an amazing time hanging out with the Vermilions. We have done loads and it’s pretty difficult to condense it all into a few paragraphs.

Some of the highlights have been:

Going to see LA Galaxy v Glasgow Rangers. It was rather weird hearing loads of Scottish accents again and there was almost as many Celtic tops in the crowd as there were Rangers. Upon getting our camera back I should take this chance to apologise for earlier insinuating that a Rangers fan had stolen it. It was silly of me to assume that a Rangers fan could work a digital camera.

The Galaxy fans were hilarious with songs such as ‘You’re just a suburb of England’, ‘Why don’t you speak English’, ‘You’re always second to Celtic’, and chants such as ‘Ferguson, you suck!’ The songs sounded kind of strange in American accents but they made for a decent atmosphere considering the crowd was pretty small. This was all change as soon as Mr. Beckham and his wife arrive in town. The hotdogs and Coke didn’t quite match pie and Bovril but it was still cool to see soccer American style. There was no extra time multi-ball though!

We have been shopping a few times and Pamela is rather miffed that I have so far bought more clothes than her! I’m sure she will catch up in New York. We’ve been to the cinema a couple of times, eaten out loads and I’ve even managed to get some golf played. To even things up, Pamela and Angela went to the spa for a massage.

We have had a great time seeing Megan and Anna and we’ve been able to go along to see them at a graduation ceremony, a gymnastic display and a ballet class. Megan’s ballet skills are outstanding. We spent a day at Disneyland and it was really nice to see the girls getting all excited when the parade was coming along.

No comment needed!

We have been able to go along to church with Tim and Angela. They go to Calvary Chapel South Bay, which is as big as a small village! It has around 10,000 members and has more staff members than most Scottish congregations.

We’ve had a bunch of BBQs and it has been really nice to meet loads of friendly people out here,

I love you and I will miss you

to you from anna

(I left the room for a few minutes and Anna added the last section, I thought it would be rude to delete it!)

We went to a baseball game at Dodgers stadium. Before the real game, there was a Hollywood allstar match. Dawson from Dawson's creek, one of the blokes from CSI and loads of other TV actors were playing. The Dodgers v Bluejays game wasn't great (0-1) but the hotdogs and peanuts were awesome! The American experience was complete as we sang 'Take me out to the ball game' during the 7th inning stretch.

Let's go Dodgers, let's go!

We went to an amazing Japanese restaurant called Benihana's. The chef cooks your dinner for you on a grill at your table. Our chef was very funny. As soon as we arrived he turned to Ryan and said "Hi sir, it was nice to see you last week, how is Stephanie?" - Very good. He cooked and sang and juggled and threw shrimp around the restaurant. It was great.


We spent a day in Hollywood where we walked along looking at the stars names on the street. Had we been there an hour earlier we would have seen some stars in person as we had just missed George Cloonie, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon's hand print ceremony. We also had to leave about an hour before the stars arrived again for that evening's premiere of Ocean's 13. Bad timing indeed, but it was still cool to see all the lights and red carpet getting set up.

The Kodak Theatre

Mr Spielberg's star

We spent a day shopping in beautiful Santa Monica. We were in the Apple store checking our emails and noticed that a Swithcfoot video was playing on a big screen at the back of the store. We thought this was pretty cool and then on closer inspection we discovered a huge sign that anounced the free Switchfoot gig in-store that night! Good timing indeed. We went for some dinner and came back to enjoy a free gig that lasted for about 45 mins. Switchfoot were great and to see them for free with a tiny crowd in Santa Monica was very cool indeed.

Santa Monica Pier

The American Dream

Switchfoot in action

As we write we are getting packed to leave for New York. We can't wait to see Time Square and all the other sights, but our energy levels are running low. Maybe it's because we know we're heading home soon or maybe it's because we've been doing loads, but we are more than ready to return to the Shire.

We are sad to leave LA and the Vermilion family but, as Uncle Jonny and his mate Luke arrived last night, we know the girls will have plenty to keep them occupied. These last few pics are of Megan and Anna. They never ceased to make us smile...


Toneboy said...

Did you Rafael Furcal at Dodger Stadium, or is he injured again?

(Oops, that's probably Jason Schmidt, who's single-handedly destroying my Fantasy Baseball season.)

Toneboy said...

P.S. Glad you're having a great time and that you got your camera back. :)

Anonymous said...

hey guys, vancouver looked great this time of year as did la. So glad to be having you back this week. Enjoy NY guys, paul jill tobester xxx