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Thursday Travels: Death Valley

One of the most memorable things we did on our Vegas vacation last year was take a day trip out to Death Valley. It’s an incredible place to visit — silent, sparse, and more than a little eerie; a total sensory cleanser after the bright lights of the city, and only about a two hour drive away. Amazingly, it actually rained for part of the time we were there (apparently they hadn’t had a drop of rain for the past seven years!), and even when the skies cleared, it wasn’t quite as hot as we thought it would be (kind of late 20s Celsius, when temperatures at that time of the year typically climb well into the 30s).

I don’t really have too much else to say about our trip there, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. It’s definitely a worthwhile trip to take if you’ve got a day to spare when visiting Vegas — the sights you’ll see are truly unforgettable.

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Thursday Travels: Las Vegas

This post is a throwback to our adventures in Vegas in May of 2014. None of us had ever been to Vegas before…but it was pretty much exactly how we expected it to be: brash, bright, buzzy, and neon neon neon!!! And HOT. Each day we were there the temperatures climbed into the high 30s (except for the day we visited Death Valley, when it RAINED. I know! But more on that in another post).

One thing we maybe didn’t expect was how much walking you have to do in Vegas. I guess we thought that the Strip would be a lot more compact than it was, and that you could nip in and out of each hotel in minutes. In reality though each hotel complex is so vast that walking from one to the other can take you a whole lot longer than that, and in the extreme heat this can be unbearable. Our saviour was the Deuce bus — it drives up and down the Strip all day and you can hop on and off at your leisure with a day pass.

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{In case you’re in any doubt as to where you are}

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{Can you spot the Irish flag?! ;)}

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Vegas has got to be one of the most visually stimulating places on the planet, and the sensory overload is intense. I mean where else in the world can you, in the space of a day, basically take a (very legit-looking) trip around the world?!

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{We visited Paris…}

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{…and Venice…}

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{This was INSIDE the Venetian — they had a fake sky that would darken accordingly as the day progressed}

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{We paid a trip to ancient Rome at Caesar’s Palace…}

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{…and popped by the Trevi Fountain…}

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{…and then nipped over to Egypt for good measure}

And that was just the Strip. There’s also “old” Vegas — the Fremont Experience, where you go for a slightly more seedy, less opulent, and some would argue, more characterful take on Vegas…

10365727_10152001701947371_6981923575459831263_n10372034_10152147172293437_6256983313800089253_nDSC_0718DSC_0642So that was Vegas! Did I love it?! Ehhhh, I mean yeah, it’s Vegas after all, but I think Disneyland would still be my cheesy American destination of choice 😉

Have you been?! What were your thoughts? I’d love to know…

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Thursday Travels: Portland, Oregon

For the Labour Day weekend last year, Vicky, Claudia and I paid a south-of-the-border trip to Portland. We got the train down from Vancouver, which was fun in and of itself (as soon as we stepped onboard, we already felt like we were in the US thanks to little touches like the garbage bin being labelled “Trash.” I feel like Canadians never use the word “trash”?!).

Aaaanyway, the eight or so hours on the train went by pretty quickly, and we were in Portland by late afternoon. I know it’s got a reputation for being one of America’s rainiest cities, but for the few days we were there, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect: sunny but not oppressively hot. I really think that the weather you have while visiting somewhere new can really cloud your perception of it; had we seen Portland in grey, rainy weather, we might have not liked it so much.

DSC_0186DSC_0185DSC_0184As a city, it’s definitely got that very West Coast vibe going on. It reminded us of Seattle, but I think I probably even preferred it to Seattle…it was obviously more compact, and I found the attractions there more enjoyable (I thought Seattle’s Pike Place Market was incredibly overrated, and I could take or leave the Space Needle).

We got a 2-day pass on a hop-on, hop-off Big Pink sightseeing trolley, which worked out perfectly, allowing us to see 12 of the city’s major sights at our leisure.

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{This may be very basic of me, but I actually love visiting different Starbucks’ around the world, and this one in Pioneer Square might be one of my favourites (alongside the one adjacent to Canterbury Cathedral in England)}

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{On the trolley!}

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{View of the city from one of our stops…can’t remember which one}

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{One of our favourite stops was the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park…}

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{…they don’t call Portland the City of Roses for nothing!}

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{We also loved the leafy streets of the Alphabet District (where all the street names progress alphabetically)…}

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{…and don’t even get me started on my love for Powell’s Books: 68, 000 square feet of book heaven}

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{We paid a trip to the Saturday Market…}

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{…and we had a look at Voodoo Donuts (but didn’t have the patience to line up. Ditto the city’s famous Stumptown Coffee)}

All in all, we loved our time in Portland. Now that we’re living apart, it’s rare for us all to be able to take a trip together, and Portland just happened to be the perfect backdrop for spending some quality sister time 🙂

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