Saturday, 29 August 2015

Big Sur

One of the highlights of returning to Northern California was seeing Big Sur in person. It was so beautiful, it didn't even seem real. My friends Lauren, Jen, Jeremy and I rented a car, left San Francisco in the wee hours of the morning and cruised down the California coast. It was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, I couldn't believe it!!! 

We stopped in Monterey on the way down for lunch, and in Carmel-by-the-Sea on the way back. Carmel is one of the most overwhelmingly wealthy places I've ever been. Every house is a mansion, the small town had a Tiffany's, and every single store was a high end restaurant, or a commercial art gallery - presumably for rich retirees to decorate their houses. Clint Eastwood used to be the mayor of Carmel! 

The Bixby Bridge - so cool!!! 

Sigh, what a magical place. I'll definitely be back again one day. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Summer in the City

The dog days of summer are most certainly upon those of us who live on the Canadian prairies. Each day the sky is cloudless and blue, and temperatures hover around +30C/86F. My summer has been BUSY! Aside from work and too many volunteer commitments, I've been doing what I usually do - lounging in parks and on patios with friends, taking in festivals and staying active. Here are some photos of an outing in Chinatown. A friend wanted to find a specific tea leaf so she could make Thai ice tea at home, and we stumbled upon this wall my dress happened to match perfectly. 

This neighbourhood is called The Quarters. It's definitely still apart of the inner city, but it is gentrifying slowly and is definitely going to be an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the next ten years. I really hope as it revitalizes the character of the buildings is not forsaken.

Next up are some San Francisco posts, once I am done editing the mass amount of images taken! 

Charmaine x 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Portland, Again

Portland, Portland, Portland. My favourite American city! 

After Nashville I flew from the South East to the North West to visit an American friend Jocelyn, who just re-located to Portland to work at the Audobon Society as an outdoor educator after spending a year living on a mountain. Originally from Los Angeles, Jocelyn went to my university as an international student and studied Art History just like myself. Jocelyn was one of my favourite university friends; one of those people who is full of light and passion and sweetness that attracts people to her like a moth to a flame. It was so nice to catch up! We'd not seen each other since 2012 when I graduated and moved away promptly after. 

My return to Portland was short but very, very sweet. Seriously, Portland is such an amazing gem of a city. The food is great, the people are great, the city is accessible, anything and everything goes. It's so liberal and tolerant, I love it! I've been once before, and returning only solidified my love for PDX. The weather was also perfection! Close to 40C the entire time I was there. Here are some photos from my four days in town. 
Jocelyn on Alberta Street. I stayed right downtown in the Pearl District last time I was in Portland at the Ace Hotel, but this time stayed at an Air BnB on Alberta Street. Such a great location. Lots of delicious food choices such as Salt and Straw for ice cream (I ate honey-lavender ice cream and died of joy), Boxer Ramen, and a DELICIOUS coffee place called Barista. Alberta street is a bit far from other parts of Portland, but definitely an area worth spending time! 

A photo from the Museum of Contemporary Craft. So many zippers. 

So, my Air BNB was pretty much a hostel, despite the ad mentioning nothing about other people sharing the house with other guests. Luckily my roommate was Mia! She's Japanese-American and originally Massachusetts, currently based in Brooklyn. We got along like a house on fire. Seriously, this what I love about travel, and what is so great about being on your own places. Even though I came to see Jocelyn, I stayed on my own since Jocelyn is currently living in a tent in her cousin's backyard just outside the city (very Jocelyn!). Mia and I talked about anything and everything, from politics (mostly politics 'cause I am a policy nerd, let's be real), to relationships, travel, sex, you name it. Mia has concluded Canadians are a bunch of communists. Ha, ha, ha! Maybe so? Socialist to some degree, certainly, though Communist is a bit far left. We do love our publicly funded healthcare among other government/taxpayer funded amenities. I'll pay my crazy high taxes to make sure everyone has equal access to healthcare and education any day over the alternatives. 

Mia speaks three languages (English, German, Japanese), works as a translator/transcriber, has lived all over the US and Germany, and randomly likes a number of Calgary bands I wasn't even aware are big outside of specific Canadian music circles (such as Women and Viet Cong). Every night in our room felt like a sleepover. I hope my path crosses with Mia again one day! 

Potato pancakes at Helsers on Alberta. 

Here are some murals/graffiti on Alberta Street. 

The Ace Hotel, looking like a Wes Anderson film set. I met up with lovely Solanah of Vixen Vintage for a second time here, where we enjoyed Stumptown coffee and then Bluestar donuts! 
Pastel Princess in her Mary Blair x Pinup Girl Clothing dress! 

On my last night on Portland I met up with Jocelyn, wandered around Hawthorne and then finally, FINALLY ate at Pok Pok. Life changed!!! SO delicious. 

My Air BnB was a huuuuuge, beautiful heritage home with a massive front porch and a lovely garden. It was so dreamy! It reminded me a lot of parts of Toronto such as the Annex and Parkdale, with their sweeping Victorian homes. Portland reminds me of Toronto a lot in many ways. Aesthetically in terms of houses, but also in terms of the vibe of the city. It made my heart ache for Toronto so deeply. I want to move back sooner than later. 
Jocelynator and I at Pok Pok. 

Thanks for reading! I still have a few California posts left. 

Charmaine xxx

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Rest of Nashville

Hey y'all, 
Here is the last of my Nashville posts. The perfect word to describe my time in Nashville is this: "a hoot." It was one half soaking up Country culture in all its tacky-ass glory, the other half mooching around East Nashville, SoBro and Hillsboro Village. I also saw Morrissey at the bloody RYMAN auditorium, and it was a MAGIC. 

Here are some photos from my days in Nashville, that I haven't yet shared:

Posing in front of murals in Hillsboro Village
THIS AD KILLS ME. We saw it EVERYWHERE in Nashville. 


Scenes from Broadway. 

On my last day in Nashville my group of pals and I went to a gig at Third Man Records, and then finished off our day at the Pinewood Social, a swanky bowling alley with a huge patio! A very heated bocce ball game ensued. 
Love this dude's outfit! "Jack [White] asked me to dress like this." 
Our bowling shoes. 

This will certainly not be my last visit to Tennessee. I met the most amazing people and had the best time. I really do hope I see Cat, Melanie and Tobias again one day - some times you just meet people who (metaphorically) speak your language, and those types of connections are the reason I travel. Feeling renewed and snapped out of my rampant cynicism after some truly engaging conversation and a whole lot of laughs. 

Until next time, 

Charmaine xx