The rain splattered against the train window as I traveled the short distance from Brussels to Bruges, only an hour away.
I’d dreamed of going to Bruges since I was around 13 and found a random penpal online who lived there. We wrote back and forth for months, talking about the differences in our cultures and how it was growing up as a teenager in Europe vs. America.
From the moment my friend Kelsey and I stepped into the Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel, we were welcomed as valued guests. After check-in, we grabbed fresh guava juice from the downstairs bar and sighed into our cushy chairs, taking in the expansive and open lobby with neutral tones and a clean design.
Yes, we could definitely stay here for awhile.
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.
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.
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.
Think back to the late 19th Century, a time when the West was for the brave and wild-hearted, a place for adventurers. Sam Wilson was one of these classic westerners. He laid the foundation for what is now the 320 Guest Ranch in southern Montana in 1898 with his 160 acre homestead along the Gallatin River.
The Holiday Inn gets a bad rap for being a generic hotel chain, and before I actually stayed at a nice one, I would’ve completely agreed with the naysayers. However, after staying at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown, I can safely say that I was more than a little impressed with what I found at this particular location.
When I originally contacted Brion about wanting to experience a cozy accommodation in my hometown of Santa Cruz for my short trip this winter, I had no clue how much of a quiet retreat I would find when I stepped into the Adobe-made house on Green Street.