Don’t go to Iceland for a week!

Well, a week is better than not seeing this beautiful country. But it’s highly recommended to stay for at least two or three weeks. Other than that, I’ll let the pictures speak…

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It can’t get any greener than the Oregon Coast.

Heading west from Portland you will soon notice the green that’s surrounding you everywhere. First it’s the endless forests and – after a short breakfast stop at the famous Camp 18, a former logging station that is a restaurant now – the trees, bushes and plants that cover the coast as soon as the sand is over. Seaside was our first stop where we were looking for a lefthand pointbreak called “Seaside Point”. Unfortunately it was pretty mushy but still a nice place to spend the first night on the coast. You can actually park a couple of steps from the water with full-on sunset right in front of you. Seaside is a beach community just as you imagine, with lots of hotels, restaurants and shops so it’s easy to spend some time. And when your legs get tired and a refreshment is needed, the local brewery is the place to go.

Sunset seagull in Seaside, OR
Sunset seagull in Seaside, OR

Surfing in Pacific City.

One of the most beautiful places we found on the Oregon Coast is Pacific City. A little beach town tucked into the coast hills like a postcard picture. With the Pelican Brewery located right on the beach and very friendly locals it wasn’t a hard decision to stop and spend a couple of days. The water is really cold but the surf is nice even though the well known righthander at the cliffs isn’t working as good as a couple of years ago. In fact, it was the only place we actually surfed in the Northwest. The weather just didn’t want us to.

Sunset in Pacific City, Oregon.
Sunset in Pacific City, Oregon.

Sandbuggying the dunes in Coos Bay.

Ever been riding over the dunes in a sand buggy at 45mph? Me neither. The weather was just too bad to enjoy it so that adventure has been postponed for the next trip. The dunes are enormous and there is a lot of activity around them, so if a buggy is rather too fast, you can switch to horseback riding. As well as in every other town with a population of more than a couple of thousand, you can go quench your thirst in a brewery after a hard day out.

Whale watching.

During Spring a lot of whales make their way to the feeding grounds in the far north and as they do so, you can spot them traveling up the Pacific coast. You can see them almost everywhere, as the rocky coastline gives you a spectacular view on the ocean. The closer you get, the better you can spot them. It’s pretty hard to take pictures, though as they surface wherever they want and not for long.

Can you spot the whale?
Can you spot the whale?
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If you manage to visit half of Portland’s breweries in one night, I’ll toast on you.

First stop with DocVan was Portland, Oregon. We needed some equipment for our van and new wetsuits because the Pacific is quite cold in the north. Thanks to google maps we found Gorge Performance, an awesome surf shop where we got some insight about surfing the Oregon coast as well. Thanks for that!  Now shopping makes you thirsty, especially if you shop for thick and warm wetsuits in the middle of the summer! That leads us to the main subject of this article: if you are a beer lover and thirsty, Portland, the capital of craft beer with it’s stunning 78 breweries, is the perfect place to quench a thirst. And because a tummy filled with beer feels even better if it gets some food on top, Portland is even more perfect. So the question is not if and how to get drunk (because you will most likely fall into a brewery), but where.

deschutes-portland-pub-sign

We started at Deschutes for an easy start with some samplers and their famous Pretzels and went over to the Tugboat Brewing Company after a while. Unfortunately, my brewery-tour was already over after the third stop at 10Barrel, That’s the price you pay when you mix 20+ different styles of beer and start with the heavy stuff right away. The next morning was pretty blurry and I hope to see some more of Portland on my next visit…

Here’s a list of the breweries I want to visit next time, partly based on recommendations, partly on fancy brand names:

It will obviously take me more than one day so there is a slight chance I will see some of Portland – I mean outside the breweries – as well. Next time…

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There’s a lot to see in Seattle and you won’t do it in a weekend.

Seattle, built between the waters of the Pudget Sound and Lake Washington and the towering Mount Rainier in the southwest is a beautiful city and definitely worth a visit. Depending on your schedule and interests, you can easily spend a week without getting bored.

What to see.

Depending on your interests there are literally thousands of things you could go see. A weekend is short, I know, so let’s keep it simple: you should spend at least a night downtown! There are lots of restaurants, bars, pubs, taprooms, and clubs where you can go and have a fun night out. Unfortunately I didn’t find the time to go up, but the Space Needle is the highlight with a good reason. It doesn’t just look good, the view from the top must be stunning as far as I heard, from locals as well.

The Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operating farmers markets in the country, famous for food, buskers, crafts and just strolling around. Don’t expect to be alone with 10 million visitors per year, but it’s still worth to visit the heart of Seattle and spend a morning there. If you are a Starbucks afficionado, it’s a must as the first and original Starbucks coffee opened here in 1975.

Seattle is the hometown of Grunge and bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. So if you are into it, this is the place where history was made. Take a look into The Crocodile, the venue where Nirvana once started. They have lots of live shows and a nice bar named ‘The Back Bar’ with a good selection of local beers. If you want to see a show though, plan it way in advance as, everything had been sold out for weeks when I arrived in Seattle.

© The Crocodile
© The Crocodile

I really fall for everything related to aircraft and flying in general, so the Museum of Flight was a must for me. Located on the BOEING-Airfield just south of downtown Seattle, it hosts an extensive exhibit that covers everything from the earliest days of human flight until the SR71 Blackbird. On the tarmac in front of the museum there are even more aircraft, including an old Air Force One and a Concorde which you can go inside.

Where to stay.

If you want to see seattle don’t mess around with your place to stay, make sure you are downtown where the magic happens. There are tons of options from backpacker to luxurious hotels. I suggest, though, not to focus on the latter because you will spend most of your time in the streets. On the budget side I can recommend the City Hostel Seattle which is on 2nd street in an old building that has a long tradition of hosting guests. Even longer than the Space Needle exists, which is literally in walking distance from the front door. Clean rooms and facilities and nice staff, fast and free WiFi and travelers from around the world. Exactly what you expect for a nice hostel.

A bit more fancy or a good option if you like some privacy is the ACE Hotel on 1st street. While it’s still very affordable, it’s a whole different place. The rooms are set up with lots of love and little details and the facilities – even though they are shared – are clean, very generous and decorated with pages of science books. A lovely place to take an extensive shower after a long haul flight. The staff is very helpful and they even offered me to use their mail address and collected my mail for me during my trip along the west coast. Thank you very much for that again!

If you have a lay over at Seattle Airport and just need a bed, Skyway Inn is the place to go. It is loud and the neighborhood is not what you would choose for a lifetime. But it’s very affordable, very close and just as convenient as it gets including free airport shuttle and fast, free WiFi.

Where to eat.

If you haven’t already seen Pike Place Market, you should go when you get hungry. With lots of restaurants and food stands, there’s something for everyone. Click the logo below for the link to their website with tons ofinformation and inspiration.

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If you are into raw fish I recommend the Wasabi Sushi Restaurant where I go eat every time I am in Seattle. Maybe it’s not the best and not the most trendy sushi place in town, but it’s good, they have a really nice open kitchen with entertaining chefs and if you happen to eat late they have some nice happy hour deals which means you will eat rolls until you roll out of the place. And I love sushi!

For more inspiration check visitseattle.org

 


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