I took out the map, tracing my finger from Chicago to the possible neighboring states I could visit for my upcoming birthday trip through the Midwest. It easily fell on Michigan, just one skip over from Illinois. I remembered Detroit and how I always wanted to see the birthplace of Motown, one of my favorite music eras of all time.
But I wanted to see more than just one city if I was to travel the many hours by bus to get to a new state. I started looking at the names to see if any others jumped out at me, when I saw Grand Rapids. It wasn’t a city that rang a bell but one that intrigued me, Grand Rapids – it sounded adventurous, didn’t it?
I had spent the last 12 hours in transit. First a red-eye flight from Portland, Oregon, then a Greyhound to Grand Rapids from Chicago. I traveled by light rail, plane, bus, and my own feet by the time I stood in front of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, looking straight up in awe.
The hotel is the epitome of grand, with architecture that dates back to the early 1900s, a singular American flag waving in the wind to beckon visitors into its doors. As soon as I stepped inside, it felt as if I had been transported back to the age of The Great Gatsby.
There were two aspects that surprised me about Michigan – the streets were incredibly clean and they were also incredibly colorful. City planning seemed to be spot on, at least for Grand Rapids, and the street art and architecture I found in both Detroit and Grand Rapids were something to note.
I wanted to share a few photos of the funky art and buildings I found in both cities to give you an idea of the wonderful streets I discovered during my recent trip to the state. I walked almost everywhere in both cities, and my walks were made that much more enjoyable because of the interesting finds that were scattered throughout the cities.
I didn’t have much in the way of expectations for the craft beer scene in Victoria, BC. I’d only heard mediocre reviews of Canadian beer as a whole from American and Canadian friends alike in the past, but I came back to Portland with a much better idea of Canadian styles of brewing. Not to mention, my taste buds were much more refreshed after taking a break from the heavy IPAs you’re apt to find in the Pacific Northwest.
I was impressed enough with the budding craft beer scene in Victoria to write up a guide for you guys on what to expect, both with specific breweries, brewpubs, and the unique liquor laws of British Columbia.
I didn’t know what to expect with Michigan, or I should say, the Midwest in general. I wanted to explore a new area of my home country, a new city for my birthday (Chicago!), and discover a few unique all-American locales along the way. Grand Rapids ended up being one of my favorite stops in my two weeks of travel in the region for a variety of reasons.
This past year has been all about discovering the States from the perspective of a traveler. I’ve loved seeing Montana and Florida for the first time, living in and exploring the Pacific Northwest, going back for family & friend visits to California, and now overflowing memories of my journey through the Midwest.
I rocked up in the hippie shuttle van from my last accommodation to an elegant building called The Oswego Hotel – my new home for the next two nights. At that time, I didn’t realize just how delightful my room would be, it would literally feel like a home away from home during my time in Canada.
When I walked inside the lobby, the woman who checked me in asked me what it was like riding in the hippie van around town, it looked like such a fun van and she had seen it around Victoria before. We continued to have a friendly chat about the city, where she was from in Canada, and about my trip and why I was there. Even though The Oswego Hotel is a classy establishment that would be considered chic by most, it didn’t have the pretentiousness that some nicer hotels tend to have. I loved it.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I wasn’t always an adventurous soul. Or perhaps I was, but my anxiety growing up masked it well and prevented it from coming out very often. I used to be scared of everything and anxiety would call the shots in my life.
I’m thinking of writing up that account of my past at some point, but long story short, I confronted that side of myself back in high school & college and decided to overcompensate with seeking out adventure in my life forevermore.
As I continue to write up my time in the capital of British Columbia, I wanted to take a moment to show you through video how wonderful my short trip was this past month. I spent my days partaking in the best kind of outdoor activities, staring in awe at the architecture, sipping on craft beer, and finding the best color pops and artwork around the city.
Victoria is a very lovable little city, I hope you can get a sense of that through this video! I’m looking forward to sharing more about it with you this week and next. Stay tuned.
The warm spring days we’ve been having in the Pacific Northwest lately have only made me think more about summer and what I want to do with it. Summer is a time for adventures, of getting lost in new cities, enjoying long days, and having chilled wine catch-ups on rooftops during warm summer nights. Summer is also the time to travel.
The first time I ever solo traveled was in Paris, France in the middle of summer. It was by no accident that I ended up in the City of Light by myself. From a young age I had always been fascinated by Francophone culture and had dreamt of going to Paris for years. I thought it was only fitting that it would be the first place to find my independence as a solo female traveler.
I hopped on the local bus, just a few minutes walk from the ferry station in Victoria. I proudly presented my Canadian dollars to the machine with the correct change and got my bus pass for the day to head uptown to Hotel Zed, my first stay in the city.
A short 10 or so minutes later and we were already at my stop, or at least I thought we were. I got up quickly, right as the bus started moving again, and I almost fell flat on my face to the horror of those on the full bus.
I could actually hear a synchronized sharp intake of breath by everyone on board until I caught myself as gracefully as a could with my big duffel in hand and quickly jumped off the bus like I knew exactly where I was going. Just a day in the life of me.