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Trip Report PNW - Mini Trip Report

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This is a quick report on the 6 days my daughter and I spent traveling from Seattle to Vancouver last week. This daughter is kind of a lazy traveler and not much into museums, so we did not "do" a lot - mostly a relaxing drive/ferry ride from Seattle to Vancouver and back with a lot of good dining thrown in.

If you have any questions about logistics such as the ferries or crossing the border back to the US please let me know and I'm happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge. I was afraid our itinerary might be too ambitious, but given that the ferries did all the "driving" it was actually very relaxing. We locked our bags in our car at night and only carried a small bag into the hotels the first few nights to keep the moving around simple.

Our route:

Day one:
Seattle - met my daughter there, we spent the night with friends, had a lovely dinner down by the Pike Place Market. Cafe Campagne 1600 Post Alley Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 728-2233. Strolled the market and bought some baked goods. Was in search of the perfect cup of cappuccino but most places were serving coffee in paper cups. How disappointing. Had an okay one at "Seattles Best Coffee." Should have done better research on this but assumed it would be easy to have a great coffee in downtown Seattle. Was later told I should have found a Lighthouse Roasters... Coffee in general was disappointing until Vancouver. Pike Place is worth a look but it was very crowded with summer tourists and not particularly charming from our probably spoiled point of view. Still glad to have seen the "flinging of the fish" at the seafood market.

Day two:
Drove to Anacortes and took the ferry from there to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Thought we would leave our car in Anacortes and take the ferry from there to Victoria the next day, but the helpful cashier there told us to change our reservations and go straight from Friday Harbor to Victoria the next day. This was great since it saved backtracking the next morning and leaving our car overnight. Had wonderful sunny weather that afternoon and so a great ferry ride over to beautiful Friday Harbor. (Must mention that my daughter knew which exit on Route 5 for the outlets and we did some damage at the Lululemon for her and her sister.)

Had a delicious lunch in Friday Harbor at Downriggers (10 Front Street 360-378-2700) - sat on their deck overlooking one of the most picturesque harbors we've ever seen. We are island/boat/water lovers and this was a bit of paradise. We lingered as long as we could over our lunch and then took a 20 minute drive to the other end of the the island to see the other main harbor - Roche Harbor - also lovely and charming.

Since the weather was so perfect we decided to take an evening whale watching cruise out of Friday Harbor. We had a picnic packed up by Downriggers and met with our group at the cruise office just underneath Downriggers - sorry I forget the name of this place. This is a real boat for the cruise, however, not a large dinghy used for some of the trips we saw. You don't wear the special suits - just dress warmly. Blankets and binoculars were provided. It was a really beautiful night and this was one of my favorite parts of our trip. We really got to see the other islands, the wildlife - seals, puffin, whales - and enjoy a gorgeous sunset. I highly recommend the trip. It was my daughter's idea and I'm glad we did this. Cost was high - I'm remembering $170 for the two of us. Three hours and two naturalists on board. Boat was very comfortable. We are not super animal nuts, but love being on the water and seeing the whales and seals was a plus.

Checked into our hotel - Friday Harbor House. We had a perfect view of the harbor from our room. There was a little gas fireplace which we used and also some hot chocolate in the room which we enjoyed after the cool evening cruise. The hotel is pricey - about $300.00 for the night including breakfast. The room was very nice, but not fancy. There was to be an extra bed brought in for my daughter but they forgot and I didn't feel like dealing with it at that point so we shared the queen which was plenty big enough for us. Breakfast the next morning was very nice - fantastic homemade granola and other treats.

I was sad to leave the San Juan Islands. I've been wanting to see them for years and suspected we did not have enough time there. I'm hoping to return next summer again as I would definitely like to spend more time in this pretty area and exploring some of the other islands. If you are a water lover, this is a delightful spot.

Day three:
On to Victoria on Vancouver Island
We boarded a 9:45 ferry to Vancouver Island. Again, we got lucky and had beautiful weather. We had brought a jigsaw puzzle and spent the ride sorting the pieces and watching the views of this beautiful area. We arrived in Vancouver about an hour or so later. This is where we did our customs and immigration and the line was long and we had the poor luck of being the last car off the ferry. We were in line here for over an hour. Finally through, we had about a 30 minute ride to Victoria. We dropped off our luggage at Abigail's and headed out for lunch. We opted to dine near the water given the great weather. We were sent to Milestones - it was fine. Apparently this is a Canadian chain of restaurants. Nothing special, but the location was good. Another leisurely lunch watching the crowds go by - and it WAS crowded. Lots of buskers were in town for a "busker week" and this seemed to add to the Disney feeling of Victoria. The Empress Hotel looms over the harbor. I guess we should have opted for tea there instead of Milestones, but the weather was so nice we wanted to be outside.

We walked around a bit and then were at a loss for what to do. Went to the tourist office and the options seemed to be whale watching, miniature museum, seaplane rides or shopping. We were supposed to see the Butchart Gardens the next day but decided to go there that afternoon instead and head to Vancouver early the next morning. We were somehow not "getting" Victoria. My daughter was being very nice to go with me to the gardens as this is not her sort of thing. But, the gardens did not disappoint and she didn't even have to fake enjoying them. Acres of beautiful flowers and plants in a lovely setting. We had a wonderful stroll and chat. We should have had tea here, because it looked really nice, but we were still full from our Milestones lunch. I embarrassed my daughter by making her take the carousel ride with me, but we were the only ones on it, and the cute young man operating it flirted shamelessly with her and that made it all okay;) A very nice afternoon indeed!

Back to Abigail's where our room was ready. We LOVED this charming and meticulously appointed inn. Gorgeous room and bathroom with every comfort thought of... We showered, enjoyed the evening appetizers and headed off to dinner at Cafe Brio (944 Fort St., Victoria, B.C. 250-383-0009). This beautiful restaurant was a favorite from this trip and we loved that they offered all the entrees as half portions. The duck was delicious - do try it. The decor was very special too. So, although the city of Victoria was not so exciting to us, we had a very nice afternoon and evening anyhow.

Back to Abigail's for a movie and to sleep in a very comfortable bed... Breakfast is not to be missed - in a lovely room and everything just perfect. Scones were the best we've ever eaten. Cannot say enough how much we loved Abigail's and the warm welcome there. http://www.abigailshotel.com/

Day 4
Onward to Vancouver - we had booked an afternoon ferry and thus lost our $17.00 booking fee, but were happy to head onward. The ferry was about 45 minutes from Victoria and we did not have a reservation for the 11 am but basically drove right on after a 20 minute wait in line. Easy. The ferry boat is huge and very comfortable. 4 levels of cars! You can eat on board but we were hoping for a nice lunch in Vancouver and still full from our Abigail's breakfast. We sat up top and enjoyed the view. Once again, fantastic sunny weather. We were really lucky with the weather and made sure to enjoy it.

Ferry ride was about an hour and a half and there was a bit of traffic and about an hour or more ride into downtown Vancouver. I was excited to see a gorgeous city and to pass by LOTS of great looking coffee shops!

We had reservations at the Four Seasons which was having a stay 3 nights for the price of 2 special that my husband had found for us. We had a gorgeous room with a view to the mountains. We headed out for a rooftop seafood lunch at Joe Fortes (777 Thurlow Street, Vancouver BC 604.669.1940). Again, we lingered in the sunshine and ate very well indeed. Afterward we headed to Granville Island Public Market using a combination of subway and water taxi. We enjoyed the markets here and strolling about for a few hours. Then we headed to Chinatown which was largely closed by the time we got there but we did have an interesting time in an herbal shop that sold all sorts of traditional healing items including dried snakes and such. Very fun... and a little creepy too!

My daughter loves Chinese food so we ended up at Bao Bei for dinner (163 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC 604 688 0876). I ended up enjoying this more than she did because it was really a chinese-thai-french fusion menu. We sat next to a table of young chinese-american women who kept comparing everything they ate to the kinds of things their mothers cooked. This was NOT their mothers' chinese food! But they enjoyed everything - as did we. Also, a very creative and fun decor....

Day 5
Vancouver I was very excited to see there was a special Matisse exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. My daughter (the non-museum goer) was again being super sweet and said she would go with me. Since we woke up to our first overcast day, we decided it was museum day. First, to reward her in advance, I took her for a nice breakfast. I had my usual yogurt and granola accompanied by an really good cappuccino (finally) while she ate a huge breakfast of, well, just about everything.

The Matisse show was great. I love these kinds of exhibits - this one focused on the Cone sisters from Baltimore and their art collection amassed over their lifetimes. Interesting to learn about them, their travels, and their relationship to Matisse, and others of that era - Gertrude Stein, A. Toklas, etc. Even my daughter enjoyed it and was quite surprised that we were all done in less than 1.5 hours.

Since I try to be fair, I rewarded her with shopping with a good attitude that afternoon since I am NOT a shopper and both of my daughters are... We covered the Yaletown area and also Robson Street. We had a very delicious late lunch at Cin Cin (made me think of our dear Fodorite LI) and I would highly recommend this place for fresh pasta and the freshest most delicious green salad...(1154 Robson St. (Thurlow/Bute) Vancouver, B.C. 604 688 7338) I held off on coffee until later and we stopped across from our hotel at Bel Cafe and had some very nice cappuccino. Finally, I was getting all that great coffee I had been hoping for.

We had finished our first jigsaw puzzle, and started a second one which was too difficult for us given the trip timeframe, so stopped at the Sears which was closing down and practically giving away things and got ourselves an easier one. We headed back to our hotel and spent the evening enjoying our view and the sunset and our puzzle. Boring for most, but a perfect evening for us. We canceled our dinner reservation as we had eaten enough the last 2 days... We reserved for our last night at our hotel restaurant since we had an early morning departure the next day.

Day 6
Up again and a nice breakfast and then off to Stanley Park. This was recommended by some women we met at Granville Island. We strolled this park for a few hours. Gorgeous walk there, and then around the island with water, boats and bridges abound. We also stopped to view a small totem pole display. Then we walked back toward Canada Place on a pedestrian walkway along the water. We walked for at least half a day and it was a wonderful walk. We were loving every thing about Vancouver. Stopped on the way back at the Pacifico Mall and hit a great shoe sale. Bought shoes for both daughters and myself. This kept the shopper in my daughter very happy.

Dinner that night was in our hotel at Yew (791 West Georgia St, Vancouver, Canada 604.692.4YEW). We had oysters and lobster fettuccine and chowder and more great green salads. My daughter had berry pie for dessert and I, of course, had the cappuccino. They serve the cappuccino with biscotti and by now the waitstaff knew I like to have an extra biscotti with mine.

Fireworks - we had been told a number of times that at 10:30 there would be fireworks and that we would see them from our room. We love fireworks, and apparently these are world famous so we were excited to have front row seats from the 24th floor. We waited and waited and waited and... nothing.... I think we must have been on the wrong side of the hotel. Anyway, a bit disappointing, but a reason to head back to beautiful Vancouver again.

We really enjoyed this wonderful, cosmopolitan city. Lots of visitors from all over the world. We even got to use some of our German as there were a number of German tourists abound. My daughter has a few friends who will attend University of BC and she is already planning to visit them.

Day 7
Home Again Home Again
We were up early and out by 6:15 to head back to Seattle. It was a Sunday and we were at the border at about 6:45 and then through immigration in less than 10 minutes. PLENTY of time for our 12:50 flight from STA. We stopped in Seattle for breakfast at the Pan Pacific Hotel where I have stayed for business and knew they had a nice breakfast plus a Whole Foods underneath for airplane snacks. I'm sure we could have found other local spots, but I was too tired to pull out the guidebooks and this suited us very well as it is easy on/off to the highway.

We had a wonderful week and were very sad to have to head home. Our favorite things were strolling around Vancouver, lingering over lunch in sunny Friday Harbor, the Whale Watch, Matisse, the great dining everywhere, Butchart Gardens, and of course being together for 6 great days of mother-daughter time. (Well, I guess I should be honest and also say my daughter's favorite things were her 2 new shoes and her Lululemon hoodie - yes, she can be kind of shallow but I still love her;)

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