November 13, 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle, Washington! What a fun day trip. I was really excited to finally get to Seattle after having a 10 hour layover in the city, about 6 months ago (but overnight no less). I had taken a Bolt Bus from Portland to Seattle and arrived in the Emerald City around 11 in the morning.

The bus stop was in the International District (a.k.a. Chinatown, Japantown, etc). I decided to walk around there first before making my way into the downtown core. I walked into a Japanese food market and was overwhelmed by its sized and all the goodies it had. I decided to have lunch here. I was also able to purchase a little bag of my favorite Hawaiian chocolates, Hawaiian Host, that made me happy. After finishing up a lunch of onigiri, I walked into my first ever Daiso store. I've always heard so many good things about Daiso so I was pretty thrilled to finally get to see what it was all about. It reminded me a lot of One's, a similar concept store we have in Canada, however things are not as cheap as Daiso. I had to keep myself from buying everything because I brought a tiny suitcase with me and was worried that I'd have to ship things back. I resisted all temptation and walked out empty-handed. Gasp. I know.

I then made my way back to the bus stop station to purchase an Orca card, which is like Seattle's version of the Presto card that we have in Toronto, except a million times better. It's basically your bus ticket for the day. After picking that up, I took a tram into the city, where my first stop was the Pike Market Place.

It's a massive indoor market with produce, fish, sweets, snacks, crafts, and more. Although I will be honest, I was there to be able to say that I got to visit the first ever Starbucks store.

I didn't care to purchase a drink there, but I did pick up 2 of the You Are Here mugs specific to the Pike Market Place for my collection and a fellow coworker's.

Did I mention that Seattle has steep streets?? Because I had no idea that they did! It wasn't all that bad and I don't mind the mini workout, I just wasn't expecting it. The surrounding area of the market place is really quaint and nice. It has a nice character to it that reminds me a lot of our St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

I eventually made my way up the steep streets and onto another tram towards the infamous Space Needle.

On recommendation of a friend, I visited the Chihuly Glass Garden which is right beside the Space Needle. I purchased a packaged ticket for both the museum/garden and an elevator ride to the top of the needle.

Needless to say, the garden/museum was absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen anything life it before and I would highly recommend it as somewhere to visit if you find yourself in Seattle.

The Space Needle was my next stop, naturally.

There were some really nice views from up there, especially of the mountains, including Mount Rainier. I took my time at the top to relax and just take it all in and figure out what to do next as I still had a few hours to kill before heading back on the bus back to Portland.

I really wanted to go and visit the famous "Haunted Coke Machine" that I heard about a few weeks prior to my trip, but it was too out of the way to make the trip, just for a pop. Instead, I decided to slowly make my way back towards the stop while making stops along the way, along the Pier to be specific. I ended up eating dinner at a Red Robin because it was convenient and familiar. I have a tendency to forget to eat while on vacations (oops).

After my meal, I decided to take a ride on the Great Wheel! I love ferris wheels and carousels alike.

Seattle reminds me a lot of Vancouver, but just a lot more older and worn down a bit. After the ride on the wheel, I walked along the Pier some more and discovered Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, which sold some pretty cool wares.

By this point I was fairly exhausted so I decided to find a Starbucks and park myself in it until the bus came. I mean, it's Seattle, the Starbucks capital of the world, there's got to be a bunch of them around, right? While yes, that holds true, the one I found closed so early! Thankfully it was fairly close to my departure time so I didn't have to wait long to be on the bus again and back to Portland.

In all, Seattle was a fun city to be in. It's definitely a lot bigger than Portland, but still not quite the same as Toronto. I was able to see quite a bit and it's a good city to walk in if you want a nice workout. There were some places that I definitely missed out on and had to exclude because of timing and just lack of energy. I would definitely need more than a day to conquer Seattle, but I was pretty content with everything that I did end up seeing during those few hours.

If you'd like to see more photos from my Seattle trip, you can find them here.

Portland/Oregon 2015

Yes, I've managed to get my butt in the air again and to a new place that I've never been to. This past October, I decided to make a trip out to Portland, OR, which also included a day trip up to Seattle, WA.

I never really had considered Portland to be a place worth visiting; Seattle? Yes, but not so much Portland. After having a not-so-short layover in Seattle, earlier this year on my way back from Hawaii, I didn't feel content enough to leave Seattle without exploring it properly, so I vowed to return some day. I knew of Portland, of course, but I didn't know too much about it. After seeing many internet posts about the kind of people in Portland, and yes, even getting myself into the show Portlandia, I knew I had to add it to my list of cities to see. I figured I would make a trip of Seattle as well, since it's only about a 3 hour drive north of PDX. I also had purchased tickets to see one of my favorite bands, MUTEMATH, who had a stop in Portland on their tour, so I had to make a trip of it!

I started my first full day by exploring downtown Portland and all it had to offer. I started off by visiting the Lan Su Chinese Garden. It was absolutely beautiful! It was also really neat to see such a green space in the middle of a city.

Portland is a very small city, compared to a metropolis as Toronto, where I'm from and where I go to work. It was honestly a nice change of scenery as I found that the hustle and bustle of a big city, was almost non-existent in Portland. It could have also been the west coast vibe, but it was a still just a nice place to be.

I did as many touristy things that I could in Portland: I visited the "Keep Portland Weird" sign, skipped out on the tourist trap Voodoo Donuts (opted for Blue Star instead!), got lost in Powell's City of Books, sat in the Pioneer Courthouse Square, and so on and so forth. It was pretty simple and quick to see these spots in a day. I'd say you wouldn't need more than 1 or 2 days to see this city.

For those wondering, the city is known for their love of food trucks, and believe me, there are a LOT of food trucks. I only ended up visiting one of them since I stayed in the Alberta Arts District in the North Eastern quadrant of Portland. Portland is also known for their love of craft beer, hipsters, hippies, and strip clubs. I can confirm all of them. The atmosphere and people are super friendly and super amicable. The city seems a little rundown than what I'm used to, but it has a charm and character that's very appealing, in my opinion.

I also got the chance to see one of my favorite bands of all time—MUTEMATH—in this new city. I had such an amazing time and encourage any and everyone to listen to them or even go and see them live. It's worth every penny!

One thing that I absolutely love as well is the accessibility to nature! Portland is part of the Pacific Northwest and if you know anything about the PNW, you know it's a nature lover's fantasy! I love all things mountains, trees, winding roads, lakes, oceans, etc. I did my best to see/do as many nature things as I could without having access to a car. I only ended up renting a car for one of the days that I was there and drove out to the Oregon Coast. My trip took me through Washington State, back into Oregon to reach the northern most part of the coast. The weather wasn't the greatest so I didn't spend as much time as I wanted to, to see what I wanted. In retrospect, I'm kicking myself for not stopping in Astoria, Oregon as I found it absolutely beautiful while driving through.

I made an attempt to find the Shipwreck of Peter Iredale, and failed. My next stop was Seaside, OR that has a nice beach, boardwalk and promenade. Again, because of the wet weather, I couldn't see or do much there.

My last stop was Cannon Beach. It was the one stop that I had hoped out of all the stops I made, would be the best, and it was! The weather calmed down just enough for me to make the windy walk out onto the beach and towards the absolutely stunning Haystack Rock and the Needles.

I made my way back to Portland after this stop, but I was just absolutely blown away by the gorgeous scenery of my drive in both Washington and Oregon. It's absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. I'm glad that I made it while the leaves are still turning colors. The roads are lined with gorgeous evergreens and other trees that had leaves turning colors. So even though the weather wasn't the greatest (I did get some periods of the sun coming out from the clouds though), the drive alone made the trip worth it.

I spent the remainder of my trip just wandering around and not really doing too much. I definitely wished I had rented a car for the entire week so I could have seen either Mount Hood or the Columbia River Gorge, etc., but that just means that I have to go back some day (:

On my last days of trips, I like to give myself some sort of "send off". I decided to make my way downtown to the Portland Aerial Tram for a different view of the city. The sun had finished setting by the time we got to the top, but we were all greeted with a gorgeous, massive, full moon. My kind of send off~

In all, Portland was a nice city and it'd even be one of those places that I could potentially see myself living in, but probably not any time soon. It's relaxed, the people are good and friendly, the transportation is amazing and done right, the food was good, plus they even have a bit of a music culture there, which is something I love and value. I would definitely recommend it as a stop for anyone doing the west coast. I wouldn't suggest needing an entire week there though as you can get through it fairly quick. It's a nice little gem of the PNW and I was happy to call it my home for about a week.

If you'd like to see more pictures from my trip, you can find them here.

October 02, 2015

LANEIGE Water Bank Serum Review

Heyo, long time no see. I am back with a review of a product line that I've been dying to try for nearly a year now, from the amazing people at Influenster!

If you haven't heard about it already, LANEIGE is a Korean skincare brand that has finally landed in North America! The range is now available at Sephora across North America, and I must say, I'm so excited to have this line finally accessible to me. When I saw the email to apply for this VoxBox, I got SO excited! I've been dying to try their sleep mask for a while now. See the below unboxing video to see which product of the 4-step, 24 hour hydration system that I got.

I was a tiny bit sad, because for some reason, I thought I was getting the entire set (oops!). I mostly wanted to try the sleep mask, but nevertheless, I was excited and grateful to be able to try at least one product from the line, and full size too, no less.

Like I said in the video, I was very impressed by the amount of product that this serum comes with: all 60ml of it! I use serums from Estee Lauder and Ole Henriksen and they range between 15ml–30ml of product, so this is impressive. I've been using this product daily for the past 2 weeks.

The serum itself is white and lightly fragranced. I find that the fragrance dissipates as you spread it over your face so it's not too overwhelming. I usually use about a pump and a half to cover my face and neck because I find that one pump is not enough and 2 pumps is too much. The formula itself is nice and very moisturizing. I love that it doesn't dry out or tighten my face, like I find that Ole Henriksen does. I have also applied the serum without moisturizer after and my face still stays fairly moisturized, which I am quite impressed about. I did find a tiny dry patch appear on my face after using it, but this generally happens when I introduce new products to my face, but something I don't consider a deal-braker of products.

I've always loved skincare products that have water in them because I find them extremely moisturizing and what I need. (Reasons why I love Vichy's Aqualia series *ahem*)

The product retails for $46.00 at Sephora, which, given the amount of product in the bottle, is a really good value! I've paid more for 1/4 of the amount that comes with this serum and it's only just a serum for the eyes. If I had to pick something negative about this product, it would be that the fragrance is not my favorite (but like I mentioned above, it dissipates), and my second concern really—not so much complaint—is that the bottle is glass and it's heavy. I worry that if I drop it, it'll shatter. It's honestly difficult to find anything wrong with this. The value of this product is excellent and I see this product lasting a long time.

Because this product turned out well for me, I would absolutely be interested in trying out the rest of the line (of course, including the coveted sleep mask I've been dying to try for so long). I also love that they have a sample/travel pack of the entire line! I would definitely try that out first before deciding to either go for the entire line in full size or just specific products.

All in all, I would absolutely recommend this serum! Thanks Influenster


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