*I was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*
On Southern, summer days like today, when it is over 90 degrees and the humidity could kill, I dream of the fresh, brisk air of the Northwestern United States. I’m personally in a better mood when my hair doesn’t frizz and I can go outside without the risk of heatstroke. I crave the feeling of my lungs completely expanding with the clean mountain air, and my mind finally clear and free.
One of the best vacations Cain and I ever experienced was a spontaneous trip to Seattle and Vancouver, thanks to reward points and my years of loyalty to Grey’s Anatomy. After watching one of the many, many….many seasons, we started to research trips to Seattle for the fun of it. As travel-fate would have it, there was a sale with Alaskan Airlines, who is a partner with Citi! One thing led to another, and we used Citi ThankYou Rewards for flights and Marriott Reward for Hotels.
We purposefully booked our trip during January so we could be there for snow and skiing; a full five days of free-spirited living on the West Coast.
Day 1: Fly to Seattle
Thankfully, you gain time flying to the West Coast, so by the time we arrived in Seattle, we had a whole evening to enjoy. It was not raining upon arrival, and it was perfect, North Face weather. We stayed in and ordered room service since we had an extremely early morning to look forward to the next day. Our big adventure included taking an Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver and we were officially stoked!
Day 2: Travel to Vancouver
The Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver is definitely the scenic way to go! I highly recommend it to any and all; not only did they have decent beer, but there was an entire car of windows so you could see every tree, wave and bald eagle. Yep, BALD EAGLE.
Once we arrived in Vancouver and checked into our hotel, we set out for local food and cocktails. We came upon a local oyster bar and we were blown away! In addition to the carb-overload, they had a pretty stout beer selection. I enjoyed some bubbly with my clam-chowder and watched as snow started to fall outside our window.
Day 3: Vancouver (Grouse Mountain)
This was our big day, the ultimate test of our athletic abilities AND…. the day we got our asses handed to us. We decided to rent skis and experience Grouse Mountain for our first ski trip ever together. It was a brilliant time until the slope went vertical and I decided sliding down on my butt was easier than dying. We have since learned that you don’t go to Canada if you are a beginner, and there will be 5-year olds skiing circles around you. The highlight of the day was the amazing dinner at the Observatory, Grouse’s main restaurant. The venue overlooked the slopes and the city, and as the sun was setting, the sky resembled a watercolor; vivid colors of pink and purple splashed across the horizon as a light haze of snow fell to the ground.
Day 4: Vancouver
Our last day in Vancouver was filled with exploring local restaurants, cafes and shops. My favorite was the New Amsterdam Cafe. The staff was beyond accommodating, and the coffee put Starbucks to shame. We also traveled to Granville Island and did a little damage shopping and visiting local breweries.
Day 5: Travel to Seattle
The train back to Seattle was an early one, and the sunrise was supernatural. We had a full day in Seattle, but instead of doing an entire day of touristy things, we met up with family friends who are in the military. We spent the day with them at Pike Place Market and rode the Seattle Great Wheel. Then we restaurant-hopped getting small bites here and there until it was time for dinner at Sushi Kashiba.
Oh, and of course I took a picture of the original Starbucks, but I would have rather walked uphill both ways than wait in that line for a latte. We actually walked to the next block for the latte, because that Starbucks was empty. If you really want to get a mug or souvenir from the original Starbucks at Pike Place, go right before they close, no one will be in line and you can go right in!
Day 6: Fly to New Orleans
There are a few things we didn’t get to do in Seattle, such as tour the Space Needle or attend a professional sporting event. We also have plans to explore Victoria Island and Vancouver Island one day. With our travel ambitions high, even our flight home to NOLA couldn’t keep us down. We’re coming back snow-filled bliss, we’re coming back.