Taking the train from San Diego/Los Angeles to Seattle was one of the best decisions I’ve probably ever made. We took the popular Pacific Surfliner train from San Diego to Los Angeles, to aboard the Coast Starlight, which is another popular train that takes you along the coast. Traveling by train is more cost efficient and environmentally safer. With those being the best reasons to travel by train, here are some of my other favorite reasons..
- The View
You get amazing views along the way! From the ocean, to hills, to snow covered forests, practically everything your beautiful eyes desire. Every major train route has it’s own reasons for being scenically beautiful. Do a little research on the route beforehand and look up which parts are must to look at. Yes, traveling by train can be a little time consuming but how can you complain when you have so many sights to soak in. It’s completely worth it in the end.
2. Easy Boarding
Boarding the train was much easier than boarding a plane, by far! They are much more lenient when it comes to bag check. We brought our own snacks, a hard drive full of movies and a couple of card games to occupy the time. If you’re feeling a little cramped and need to stretch your legs, you can walk around as you please, hangout at the restaurant and bar if you want. I must mention, that if you are traveling overnight, it’s much more comfortable to purchase a cabin for your trip. They provide you with beds, a table and the bigger cabins provide a personal bathroom. Do not buy a seat, you will regret sitting in a chair for 42 hours, NO FUN.
3. Meet New People
Okay, so this not everyone’s cup of tea but think of it this way, people are stuck on the same ton of steel just as much as you are. For dinner, you have a choice of a solo table which is just your party, or you can share a meal with other passengers. I experimented with both and both choices are not very different. We met people who carried the conversation well and we met people who were a little shy and quiet. However, having a private dinner with my husband on vacation was the best choice. Either one you choose, you’ll do just fine. Unlike a plane, you can leave after a very long conversation with a stranger.
Traveling by train is now my favorite way to travel and it’s not very popular. You never have to worry about your train being over booked or packed. Plan your next trip here,
Unfortunately, we didn’t do our research very well and didn’t realize that our train went through Portland. So we stayed in Seattle for a night and I can not wait to go back! One day was definitely not enough. Here’s why,
The Pike Place Market is obviously a main attraction and honestly, if you don’t stop here, you’re not doing Seattle right. It’s full of tourists and I know I don’t do touristy places but who can resist a bunch of men throwing fish in the air? I can’t. It’s a circus of it’s own and I’m here to participate.
After an eventful day of some mild sight seeing, we stopped by Elliot Bay’s Bookstore. Not as extravagant as Powell’s of course but it’s just as nice and has plenty of reads. It’s a nice little time waster before starting your night out on the town!
First stop, Lost Lake Cafe for a quick bite and happy hour specials. Buy one beer, get one free! YES PLEASE. That accumulated to 4 PBRs each. I gotta say, it was a cool start to the night.
Next stop, Unicorn Bar! Decorated to perfection is all I can say. There are 2 floors, the bottom floor holding the arcade games and stage, the top floor is just the bar with music. The choice of beer is not very broad, much more of a cocktail bar. You can also order food, they’re vegan friendly which is a nice touch. We made it in time for Trivia (can’t say I was vey good at it) They hold games almost every night, check out the website to see their upcoming events.
Final stop, Cha Cha Seattle. It’s grungy, classy, all around bittersweet. A dive bar at it’s finest and I’m glad I ended my night here. With old go go dancer videos on repeat, a Virgin Mary shrine next to pinball machines, a tiki hut bar and supporting up and coming local bands every week. This bar has touched my achey divey heart.
The Space Needle! Every tourists dream to see the full view of Seattle. Sorry, it’s just not mine for almost 50 dollars a person. There are other ways you can see the same view for cheaper, even free!
The Russel Investments Center, it’s free and open during business hours. The 17th floor you get great views of the ocean and Pike’s Place. Also, take a trip to the Jose Rizal bridge at night, you can see the city lit up from there.
Thank you for my short trip, Seattle!
Can’t wait to see you again.
Portland immediately became one of my favorite places to wander. It’s beautifully crafted by nature and kept up by some of the nicest (weirdest) people I’ve ever met.
I can go on and on about how much fun Portland is and where you should exactly go but I want to make this short and simple and just give you some of my favorites.
I stayed in Goose Hollow, which is minutes away from “downtown”, West side of the river dividing Portland. My first day in Portland I was advised to go East of the river as there was better things to do over there. I didn’t really listen until my last day there. I’ll tell you later on, why I will stay East of the river on my next trip.
First things first, do yourself a favor and avoid VooDoo Doughnuts. Or go! The choice is up to you but I want to save you time and money. California Donuts in LA still holds it down for best quirky donuts. VooDoo is very creative with their artistry but the taste is, I’m sorry to say, just not worth the Time standing in a very long line and cash only Money. There are plenty of ma and pa shops that have much better to offer. I didn’t have time to stop by any but with little research you can find a much better substitute.
Check out Underground Playground for some modern pop art and classic murals done by artists like David Choe.
Portland is known for being one of the most haunted towns in America. Yes, town! As in the entire town is lurking with spirits from the beyond. If you’re not aware of Portland’s history, do a quick Google search and you’ll read all about the craziness of the Shanghai Tunnels.
Walking through Old Town, we came across this pub that has another location that is a brewery, Old Town Pizza. This place is literally a historical attribute to the Shanghai Tunnels. It sits directly on top and is the original Merchant Hotel. You can read a lot of the history in the pamphlets they provide there and also read on the sad lady, Nina, who is known to still walk the building. Probably because the pizza and beer are to die for. Sorry I had to..
Thanks to their pamphlets, we decided to do a ghost hunting tour the next day. The tour guide took us through the town, giving us information on the history of some of the horrific events that took place. Then we were guided below to a section of the Shanghai Tunnel. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty spooked. There were no lights, only flashlights and EMF readers that were given to us. Then we called upon spirits, specifically Nina, to reach out to us. There were moments when our EMFs went off and you can cut the tension in the room with a knife! It’s something you have to experience on your own. The ouiji board is also available to play after the tour is over. Maybe Nina will show herself to you..
If there are 2 things Portland and I will bond over, it’s beer and coffee. Every corner is a bar or coffee shop. I was in heaven. My favorite coffee, is Stumptown Roasters which they have several locations in Oregon and are widely popular in major cities of the U.S. There are plenty of coffee shops to choose from, just pop into any shop you see and you won’t be disappointed.
The bars can’t be beat. Every bar has a characteristic of it’s own and I was having the time of my life in all of them. Here are a few of my favorites,
- McMenamin’s Tavern-Backstage Bar
Located behind Bagdad’s Theater, which is a must to stop in and have a drink before your movie or before entering the Tavern. The bar is behind the theater, so it has a “behind the stage” theme to it. It’s huge and beautiful from the top. They play modern day music and have pool tables everywhere.
This hole in the wall is quite a gem. Small and filled with locals providing evidence that art is not dead. Local bands, djs, poets, visual artists and film makers all come here to show off what they got. If you get the chance to come here during your stay, you’ll be in for a lovely surprise.
I love myself a great barcade! Ground Kontrol is where everyone and probably their classic arcade loving mothers are at every weekend. It can be overcrowded but I went on a weekend so try a weeknight. Guaranteed great drink prices, great game prices, great time!
Okay, so remember when I said earlier, you would find out why the next time I go to Portland I will stay East of the river. Well, this dance bar is the reason why. Okay, maybe about 90% of the reason why, 10% is total curiosity about what the East side has to offer. If this what the East has to offer, I want to see more! I came here on my last night in Portland and I did not want to leave. Don’t be scared by the “horror theme” or goth kids crawling around. Everyone is amazing there and everyone was clearly owning the dance floor like this was a normal weeknight for them. Best bar, hands down.
Thank you Portland!
I’ll be back, wait for me..