Four days in Seattle and the sun was out for about 30 minutes. Two words for Seattle: Happy Hour. Seattle does Happy Hour like no other place I have been. Seattle is a great city for a hotel guy since virtually every major hotel offers Happy Hour with reasonable drink and food prices. Hanging out in upscale hotels takes less than $10 for a bar snack and beer. These are places like the Four Seasons, Marriott Waterfront, and Doubletree Arctic Club.
The Four Seasons Art Restaurant offers a view of Puget Sound. Just mentally block out the view of the low rise public storage building between the hotel restaurant windows and the ocean scenery. The $6 food and drink happy hour from 4-7 pm Sunday-Thursday makes the Four Seasons accessible to the middle class traveler.
You can actually eat out in this town for less than the cost of cooking at home. My favorite cheap ass meal had to be while waiting for the bus downtown at Marion and 3rd at lunch hour when I spied a Pakistani restaurant with a line flowing out the door. I ordered the daily lentil soup special and received a bowl of soup and naan bread for a pittance of cash. Lunch was a $1.71 and certainly more nutritious than the $1 menu at McDonald’s. Receiving quarters as a Seattle panhandler can actually add up to a meal rather quickly – or a beer.
Seattleites – what is up with paying for a bus when you board in the morning, but paying when you get off the bus in the afternoon?
I made a last minute decision to ditch my car 55 miles from Vancouver in Bellingham, Washington and take Amtrak into Canada for the Travel Blog Exchange conference. A roundtrip Amtrak ticket cost $37 and seven days parking at $30 seemed like the most sensible option compared to the $35 a day to park at the hotel in downtown Vancouver where I am staying four nights.
As the train slowly moved around Mud Bay, just north of the U.S./Canada border, several bald eagles were seen flying around the train.
O Canada! You welcomed me with a beautiful sight and good omen for the days to come.
Several bald eagles were hanging out around Mud Bay and some flew within 100 feet of the train.
In Vancouver the train disembarks one car at a time for immigration control. By the luck of the draw, I was the second to last of the 276 passengers to pass through Canada’s passport control.
Stepping into the light of day revealed a city going wild with anticipation for Game 5 of Stanley Cup ice hockey finals between Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins in a 2-2 tied series. I estimate at least 10% of the thousands of people wandering the city wore Vancouver Canucks jerseys.
The Skytrain is the city rail system in Vancouver and the Main Street SkyTrain station is a few hundred feet from the Pacific Central train station.
The SkyTrain ticket cost is $2.50 for anywhere in the downtown Vancouver area. There is a $5 surcharge for YVR airport. SkyTrain ticket machines take credit cards which was convenient since I hadn’t arrived with any Canadian money.
The train takes only a few minutes to get to the main Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.
Friday afternoon was wild with Granville Street, one of the main downtown streets in Vancouver, closed for the evening to vehicle traffic for the Stanley Cup Game 5 finals street party. I was a Canucks fan for the night.
Vancouver police were out in force and busted dozens of people on the street for alcohol.
There was no need to even see the hockey game as the crowd of thousands roared at 7:20pm when the Vancouver Canucks scored a goal in the third period.
The lone Vancouver goal resulted in the 1-0 win to take the Canucks to a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup series. Fans partied late into the night and the streets were even more crowded three hours after the game.
What a kick-off to TBEX 2011 in the happy city of Vancouver!