Portland, the Quirky City of Roses

Tattoos, nose rings, murals, trees, food carts.  These are all characteristics that make Portland so quirky and fun at the same time.

I knew nothing about Portland before arriving here, except the fact that this was where Nike was born.  From my blog post in Athens, we learn that the name Nike belongs to the Greek goddess, the goddess of Victory.

Prior to travelling here, I researched more about this city – about what to do, what to eat, where things are located, and more.  One key interesting fact is that Portland is one of the more ‘active’ cities in United States – currently for those who commute, the current percentage of people who bicycle to work is 7%.  The state’s target is to aim as high as 21%, and that means making infrastructure so that it becomes more cyclists’ friendly.  A second fact is that it tends to rain a lot… lucky for me though, I experienced only an afternoon of light rain and that was it. Continue reading Portland, the Quirky City of Roses

Sunrise at Grand Canyon

I may be one of the luckiest persons on earth.

Last year in the summer of 2016, I was in Nice during the Bastille Attack.  This year, I was in Las Vegas during the Route 91 Festival Shooting.  Both times, I/we almost decided to have dinner or participate in night activities near both of these shocking events.  And both times, my fatigue decided to not pursue such activities.  Laziness does help you sometimes.  By the way, my heart goes out to all those affected.

That said, I was attending a wedding in Vegas but not on the strip, but on Henderson at a beautiful location.  The day after the Route 91 Festival Shooting, I did end up having to go to the Strip, specifically Flamingo Hotel, because that was where I rented my car to go to Grand Canyon (and for the next few days in Los Angeles).  While ubering to Flamingo, I managed to get a glimpse of the Mandalay Bay… not the two windows that were both exposed, but definitely seeing the cops barricading the whole area around it.

I am also one of the luckiest persons on earth because I get to witness the magnificence of breathtaking Grand Canyon.  During my uber ride, my amazing driver did tell me that pictures cannot define Grand Canyon, and I simply cannot agree more.  Grand Canyon is quite astonishing, and its massive size and grandness just isn’t something that can be captured even by the most professional Leica camera. Continue reading Sunrise at Grand Canyon

I Didn’t Leave My Heart in San Francisco

Tony Bennett’s song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, isn’t a good impression of San Francisco.  He makes the song so silky, smooth, deep, vibrant and charming, but my impression of San Francisco didn’t give me that.

After my PCH trip, I started driving up to San Francisco and of course, I had to be greeted by the severe traffic that doubled the time for me to get to downtown San Francisco.

San FranciscoFrom my car window, you can see a pile of cars waiting behind me.

San FranciscoWhile driving there, you get to see some cool train tracks.  Not the best weather that day btw. Continue reading I Didn’t Leave My Heart in San Francisco

Missed My Bus at Napa Valley and Sonoma County

As a day trip on my stay in San Francisco, I decided that I had to visit Napa Valley.  So, I signed up via Viator for a Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour that picked you up at your designated hotel before 9am and ended the journey at 5pm (well it ended up being around 6:30pm since we also stopped by Golden Gate Bridge to take pictures).  You will be joining the tour operator Gray Line actually.

The drivers / guides were funny, informative and professional and in general I had a good time.  During lunch time, I even missed the bus (more on that later) but another driver from the same tour operator was able to drive me back to catch up with my old tour group. Continue reading Missed My Bus at Napa Valley and Sonoma County

Pacific Coast Highway, Not Really

I got the idea of driving along the Pacific Coast Highway from one of my Bucket List links illustrating some of the top 10 drives in America.  Since I had to be in the west coast, and I wanted to minimize my time in Los Angeles due to the lack of things to do as a tourist visitor, I thought to myself… why not drive PCH?

I was extremely excited by the prospect of driving along the sea coast; I was imagining all the magnificent views I would be getting. Continue reading Pacific Coast Highway, Not Really

Nagoya Again and Also Kanazawa

Having to find a destination that can fit an itinerary for 5 days, wasn’t hot in the summer, wasn’t raining, was affordable from a trip from Hong Kong, was easy to get around and walk around, and a city that we haven’t been many times before or recently, we settled on Nagoya.

To visit the major sites of Nagoya, you could probably do it in 3 days.  So since we were there for 5 days, including the flights, we decided to also pay visits to Shirakawa-gō, Kanazawa, and Tojinbo.

Nagoya is actually the fourth largest city in Japan, but you definitely wouldn’t see it that way when you arrive here.  The city represents a sense of calmness, serenity, peace, and all things that a city wouldn’t possess.  Yet at the same time, there is everything you want from a city – interesting people, convenient transportation, lots of food, and more.  It’s just organized and cleaned up well here.

I’ve written about a post about Nagoya before, so if you haven’t already, please check out Let’s Drive: Nagoya (Japan Part Three).  I’ll try my best to not overlap any sort of information. Continue reading Nagoya Again and Also Kanazawa

Haikou is a No Go

Of all the countries I’ve been, China somehow continues to disappoint again and again (exception of Chengdu).  This was how I felt in Lijiang and Shangri-La, and especially this time in Haikou.

Coined “China’s Hawaii”, Haikou has semi resemblances with the beautiful island of US, except we don’t use the word beautiful in this case.  Haikou does have beaches and sunny weather that reminds you of other islands or beachy places like Kenting, except it’s so polluted and quite dirty and rather boring.  Haikou is definitely one of those cities where going once is enough, in fact more than enough. Continue reading Haikou is a No Go

Barcelona Architectural Design and More

While my trip to Barcelona was mainly for work related purposes, I had such a phenomenal time that I had split my trip experience there into three different posts.  One of the posts covered was Mobile World Congress, the biggest mobile trade show in the world.  The food in Barcelona deserves an entire post itself, hence I’ve given the name Barcelona, the City of Gastronomy to give my respects to cuisine in this city.  In this post, I will focus on the other aspects of Barcelona, and one thing that sticks out in this city is the beautiful and unique architectural designs notable from block to block.

Some cities in the world are not walking cities; one such city that sticks out in my mind is Dubai.  Barcelona has some fantastic cool weather in late February / early March, with beautiful people on the streets and remarkable architecture with many things to see along the way that you would prefer to walk all the time, unless of course you have to go somewhere quite the distance.

I heard that there may be strikes in Barcelona time to time, but lucky for me, there was no such thing when I was there.  Usually if I wasn’t walking, I had the option to take the metro, which was easy to understand and takes you near the places you need to be as a tourist.  If anything, there’s also the option of taking a taxi as well. Continue reading Barcelona Architectural Design and More

Los Angeles – Fun For A Few Days Only

So I grew up studying university in Los Angeles for 4 years, and those were some of the best years in my life.  I think to a certain extent it was also because I was situated in Los Angeles, and as a university student, it was a good place to have fun there, especially when you have a car.

Los AngelesLA during the night

After graduation and moving out from the city, I would periodically come back to Los Angeles every few years, for differing reasons (nostalgia, music festivals, weddings etc.).  Each time finding myself needing to do more and more research to find out what else is there to do in Los Angeles besides typical city stuff, like eating. Continue reading Los Angeles – Fun For A Few Days Only

What Happens in Vegas, Stays In My Stomach

Las Vegas has always been one of my favorite destinations to go to; no other place matches its sinfulness, its exoticness, and its desirability.  My favorite time to arrive to Las Vegas driving from Los Angeles has always been when the sun is just about to set so that the lights from the Strip start to light up… it’s one of the most beautiful and exciting scenes to enter into.

Las Vegas StripLas Vegas strip at night – what a beauty.  This is the view from the Eiffel Tower Experience. Continue reading What Happens in Vegas, Stays In My Stomach