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New York

40°42' 46" N 74°0' 21" W New York

Jan 17, 2015  –  by Maeva

We were then approaching one of our most anticipated stops: New York. After seeing the prices for Airbnb’s in the city, we were so grateful that our friend Arnaud let us stay at his place. We had met him in Vancouver not long before he moved back to France. When we looked up his address and saw a street located in the very cool Williamsburg, we were like “wow, these guys have a killer location!” And when we got there, not only did it confirm the awesomeness of the area but we got to see their really cool apartment. You know, the kind that makes you want to drop everything and move to New York. We met his roommates Flo and Lionel – whom I offended right off the bat by saying I had the same necklace as him. Oops. But it’s true! Anyways, we had some pasta over a nice chat with everyone and Flo broke the ice by asking: “When is the last time you guys took a shower?” It was amazing to have a good night’s sleep in a cozy home and in a real bed!

The next day, we went for a walk around the city – only to remember how much you’ll end up walking in the streets of New York. We also went to B&H, a gigantic photography store that looks like a factory inside. You leave your bags at the entrance, then you go through the different floors and their thousands of products. Whatever you’re looking for, they’ll have it. Once you pick what you want, they send it through their machine while you have to go pay. Only once you’ve paid do you get to pick up your purchase from another booth, where all the orders make their way above your head. Plus every salesperson is Jewish and wears the kippah on their head. It’s quite an out of the ordinary experience! We then walked down Broadway and discovered the super cool store Forbidden Planet full of comics, Marvel action figures and superhero toys. We also made a quick stop at Brooklyn Industries, a very cool apparel brand where I got to spend a bit of money… In the evening, we met Arnaud’s friend, Lisa, who’d just gotten here from Paris and indulged in some fine tacos at a small and cozy restaurant in Brooklyn.

Maeva in Arnaud's appartment
Maeva in Arnaud’s appartment

The following day, it was pouring rain so Lisa, Steph and I agreed that it was museum weather. We opted for MoMA and were not the only ones to have that idea apparently, when we saw the crowd inside the building. It was a great visit through contemporary art with very cool exhibitions. The highlight was definitely Robert Gober’s “The heart is not a metaphor”: he creates realistic sculptures (mostly sinks and legs) using wax and real human hair in a minimalist setting to convey a very strange feel in every room. As it was getting colder and colder outside, we treated ourselves to some hot soup before heading to the store with the best merchandising in the world. Yes, I mean Urban Outfitters. After buying huge extra warm scarves and a few other things with Lisa, we were ready to step back in the freezing streets. In the evening, we headed to The Jane Hotel to meet up with the others. The interior was very fancy, especially on the lounge side: velvet couches, a fireplace and chic decorations. It typically looked like a cigar room. We stayed a couple of hours on the other side, at the bar of course. What a disappointment to realize that in such an elegant place the waiters were not so good. Steph had to ask one of them to redo his Old Fashioned as it tasted like soda. Not so classy! But other than that, the atmosphere got really fun as it started getting crowded. What a contrast when we stepped back to the other side to find a huge crowd of drunk people dancing on the classy seats to Rihanna. Well, we joined the dance floor for a little while, snapping some Polaroids in between, getting pretty god shots with Flo looking like a marionette as the guys held him so he wouldn’t pass out! We then made a very quick stop at Union Pool for some quesadillas. When we arrived at the apartment around 3am, Arnaud suddenly said “I have to prepare the turkeyyyyyyy!!” And this is how, in the middle of the night, he and Steph held the huge turkey in the sink, filled it with salt, water and herbs and struggled to make it fit in the fridge. It was pretty hilarious. But after all, it was Thanksgiving the next day, so…

Vinyl cases at MoMA
Vinyl cases at MoMA
Design exhibitions at MoMA
Design exhibitions at MoMA
Inside the MoMA
Inside the MoMA
Huge drawing in MoMA
Huge drawing in MoMA
MoMA lights
MoMA lights
Putting the turkey in the fridge at 3am
Putting the turkey in the fridge at 3am
Preparing the turkey at 3am
Preparing the turkey at 3am

With quite a lack of sleep, we woke up the next morning to go see the parade on Broadway in the cold and in the snow. We got there too late unfortunately, and most streets had been closed off to avoid having a massive crowd. We tried through every way possible, but simply couldn’t get closer to the parade. So we stayed with the crowd a few blocks away. Lisa and I were lucky to be with the guys, as we got to sit on their shoulders to get some shots of the balloons: Spongebob Squarepants, a Smurf… We only spotted the back of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time – Arnaud almost had tears in his eyes. It was the only reason he’d come here!

Spongebob squarepants Christmas parade in New York
Spongebob squarepants Christmas parade in New York
Lisa on Arnaud's shoulders at the parade
Lisa on Arnaud’s shoulders at the parade
Smurf Christmas parade in New York
Smurf Christmas parade in New York

We then made our last grocery shopping for the upcoming dinner and headed back to the apartment to cook the turkey, which requires several hours. Steph led the way with Arnaud, while the girls cut some vegetables. But it was such a good decision to make the stuffing ourselves and not get a pre-made one. As the cooking takes a few hours and requires thorough monitoring, we put episodes of Adventure Time and then Home Alone on the projector in the living room. Sprawled on the couch, it honestly felt like Christmas had come early.

Turkey preparation and polaroid
Turkey preparation and polaroid
Turkey preparation
Turkey preparation

4 hours later, the turkey was then ready and we all headed to JP’s place, another french friend of Arnaud’s. It was basically the Thanksgiving of the expats who don’t have families to go to for the long weekend. And what a crowd! We were all gathered in this incredibly well designed apartment around a huge steel table in the kitchen. Everyone had brought something, so you can imagine the amount of food spread out in front of us. We therefore had a delicious dinner paired with some wine and excellent conversation, happy to meet and chat with such fun people. We even went up on the roof, climbing up the ladders to find the best view of New York by night. Honestly, we couldn’t have dreamed of a better Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving in New York
Thanksgiving in New York
Thanksgiving in New York
Thanksgiving in New York
NYC by night
NYC by night
Maeva climbing up on the roofs of Brooklyn
Maeva climbing up on the roofs of Brooklyn
Arnaud and Lisa at Thanksgiving
Arnaud and Lisa at Thanksgiving

After a lazy morning in Brooklyn, we had some sushi before heading to Times Square with Lisa, just to see those giant screens once again. We then went on a little shopping mission in Levi’s and Urban Outfitters as it was Black Friday and there were some pretty good deals. After a well deserved Starbucks break to escape from the cold, we took some photos in the metro and headed back to the flat before going back to JP’s flat for Thanksgiving part 2. We got to finish eating the meal from the night before as there were so many leftovers, and it was still just as good! We then had the most insane game of flip cup, getting drunk on Corona and Jaegermeister cracking up and screaming “team spirit!!!” whenever we had the chance to do so. And yeah, one side had more team spirit that’s for sure… but we’ll give points to Lisa for screaming on her own on the other side and representing the other team. Once everyone was totally tipsy enough, we decided to head to the bar. Not without pretending to use “the force” to open elevators. Blame the Jaegermeister. We walked to Union Pool for a night spent 80% in the Photo Booth (where we spent most of our money) and 20% drinking shots of Tequila (where we spent what was left of our money.) We even got to see the oldest DJ alive who looked like he’d stepped right out of Fort Boyard. We had WAY too much fun with everyone and just couldn’t get enough of the Photo Booth. We got home super late and quite drunk. So of course, we didn’t leave in the morning the next day like we were hoping to… We woke up at noon, I believe I was still drunk and honestly we had had so much fun that we were tempted to never leave Arnaud’s living room. But hey, we had a car to sell and a plane to catch in Montréal, so a couple of hours and a necessary McDonalds later, we were on the road to Montreal.

Lisa and Maeva in the subway
Lisa and Maeva in the subway
Lisa and Maeva in Times Square
Lisa and Maeva in Times Square
Photobooth epic photos
Photobooth epic photos
Love from Maeva
Love from Maeva

And of course, at the very end of the trip, we were stopped by the police on the road. But all good, he was just unable to see the state on our license plate and wished us a good day!

Arnaud, Flo and Lionel thank you guys SO much for letting us stay with you we had such a BLAST. We really hope we can return the favour someday somewhere in the world and have just as much fun. You’ve made our stay in New York totally kickass.

 

Washington

38°54' 26" N 77°2' 13" W Washington

Dec 15, 2014  –  by Maeva

Okay so, from Nashville to Washington there are 666miles (1070km) – 10 hours driving. So needless to say, the trip was quite long to get there! Especially when you consider the fact that Steph did the whole thing. Yeah.. I was still feeling pretty sick so I stayed on zombie mode in the car next to him. At least I didn’t bother him much! Anyways, we spent a night in a reallllllly weird place in the middle of nowhere, with police cars cruising around and a bunch of guys waking us up in the middle of the night as they were playing football on the parking lot (and hitting the car of course.) Great.

But eventually, we did make it to Washington. After reading a couple of articles about the city, it was clear that there wasn’t much to do except for the political and historical landmarks plus a bunch of museums. So we decided to be super efficient for the afternoon. We parked right by the White House – almost feeling like we were in an episode of Homeland with all the security cars driving around. We then went ahead to take a look at the famous building – it looked smaller in real life than in the movies, that’s for sure. We did wonder how often they get the walls painted for them to stay so white… Any thoughts? Like real tourists, we took some photos – with our Crapules stuff of course! As we were taking them we couldn’t help but notice the insane level of security, I mean, snipers on the roof! We were also trying to imagine who among the crowd of tourists were actually undercover spies. It is the White House after all! We did have the impression that it looked different in our mind, so we walked to the back to see it from the other side. And that’s where we recognized the bow of the Southern façade! Unfortunately there is a huge grass area right after the gate, so we couldn’t see this side up close, but still!

Maeva looking at the White House
Maeva looking at the White House
Steph in front of the White House
Steph in front of the White House
Maeva funny face in front of the White House
Maeva funny face in front of the White House
Building in Washington
Building in Washington
The White House
The White House
Maeva White House
Maeva White House
Steph and Maeva at the White House
Steph and Maeva at the White House

Once we agreed we had enough touristy photos with Obama’s house, we decided to go the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. For those of you with the same references as me, it’s where Captain America is jogging in the morning in Captain America 2. Anyhow, the Abe Lincoln statue was really impressive and imposing. It’s only a shame the room is packed with tourists, we struggled to get a good shot. We had a lot more fun posing in front of the National Monument obelisk. The reflection in the water is a big plus! We were really lucky that day, unlike the previous ones, it was surprisingly warm and sunny! As we were leaving to go back to the car, a huge helicopter flew above our heads and we like to think that Obama was in it. Because why not! Our Washington visit over, we continued driving up towards the long awaited stop in New York.

Maeva in front of Abraham Lincoln

The Washington Monument in the National Mall
The Washington Monument in the National Mall
Maeva in front of the obelisk
Maeva in front of the obelisk
Steph straight jump in front of the Obelisk
Steph straight jump in front of the Obelisk
Steph jumping in front of the obelisk
Steph jumping in front of the obelisk

 

John Wayne Territory

37°0' 15" N 110°10' 25" W Monument Valley

Nov 24, 2014  –  by Maeva

We arrived in the Monument Valley area at night time, only perceiving dark shapes in the horizon. We picked the closest campground in Gouldings in order to catch Monument Valley at sunrise. Waking up at 6 was really hard. As we drove out of Gouldings, Steph suddenly screamed and pulled at the side of the road by a trailer that read “Breakfast Burritos”. Of course! Honestly, it was probably the BEST breakfast of the trip: a HUGE burrito of thick tortilla filled with a potato omelet, two eggs and bacon. Plus spicy sauce for the crazy ones (=Steph.)

Steph and crazy huge burrito
Steph and crazy huge burrito
Maeva and huge breakfast burrito
Maeva and huge breakfast burrito

We then arrived at the visitor centre of Monument Valley and accepted the fee of $20 to drive through the monuments. After all, we weren’t going to be here everyday! We took the dirt road that loops around the famous rock formations immersing ourselves in the Western feeling of the park. Driving through the orange colours of the desert under a warm sun completely immersed us in the Western environment. But something was missing. As soon as we spotted horses by the side of the road, we knew what it was. If we were going to play our own John Wayne movie, we had to gallop through the valley! We therefore agreed to go on a little horse riding tour with one of the locals. It was so much fun to move through the valley on horses and even though it had been a while since we’d done it, Steph and I picked it up quickly! Plus, he got the white horse named Mustang, it helped a lot. He would gallop in front and yell “Yihaaaa!” Our guide was also very nice, though his thing was to gallop sideways and lose his hat every time – we would find out later why.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Horseriding in Monument Valley
Horseriding in Monument Valley
Maeva on horse in Monument Valley
Maeva on horse in Monument Valley
Maeva and Steph horseback riding in Monument Valley
Maeva and Steph horseback riding in Monument Valley
Steph on horse in Monument Valley
Steph on horse in Monument Valley
Monument valley horse ride
Monument valley horse ride

As we got back to the ranch, he and his friend asked if we could give them a ride as we had to go to the visitor centre to the ATM to be able to pay them for the ride. We explained that we only had 2 seats in front as it was a bed behind. But they were done with their day of work as it was veterans day and they were going to have to leave anyway. So they both got in the front next to Steph (picture two big guys on the passenger’s seat) while I sat on the bed at the back. Now this was a pretty insane couple of minutes to the visitor centre, and when we realized both were completely drunk! They would ask: “So where are you from?” and a minute later ask it again. I was at the back and they kept on moving, I was wondering what the hell they were doing. In all honesty I was a little worried! As we stepped out of the car at the visitor centre, Steph told me they were trying to “discreetly” pass each other a huge bottle of beer. Riiiiight. After Steph had to drive to Gouldings and back to an ATM since both of the ones at the Visitor Centre were out of service (wtf?), he payed them while they attempted to negotiate between themselves who would get what percentage. After a good laugh about it, we went back down the dirt road to take some touristy pictures of the three famous monuments before heading out.

Three famous monuments of Monument Valley
Three famous monuments of Monument Valley
Steph and Maeva selfie in Monument Valley
Steph and Maeva selfie in Monument Valley
Maeva channelling Janis Joplin in Monument Valley
Maeva channelling Janis Joplin in Monument Valley

Monument Valley was definitely one of the top stops on our trip, both for the amazing views as for the crazy experience. And to finish it beautifully, as we drove on the scenic road with the skyline of the rock formations at the back, we stopped to longboard down the empty and incredible road. PERFECT!

Steph longboarding on scenic road in Monument Valley
Steph longboarding on scenic road in Monument Valley
Maeva longboarding on scenic road in Monument Valley
Maeva longboarding on scenic road in Monument Valley

The city of angels

34°3' 8" N 118°14' 37" W Los Angeles

Nov 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

Welcome to LA!

This city is pretty much a gigantic hub of urban areas and industries. Just arriving on one of the 10 lanes of the highway and 2 minutes of traffic gives an idea of how busy LA is. We were lucky to join Mala at her house, after she kindly offered to host us during our stay here. We arrived at her very nice apartment (boy did it change from our home in the car!) and the three of us headed out for a visit of Santa Monica. Mala showed us the very hipster Abbott Kinney street with its spacious and beautifully designed shops and coffee places. Loved the vibe in this street, as well as the long hair, piercings and round glasses of the people walking around! We then headed to the beach for a stroll towards the Santa Monica Pier. On our way we got impressed by the guys making loops on the rings of the open air gym. Steph was game and proved that the paddling sessions from surfing were well worth it! It was crazy warm so we indulged in some frozen yogurt at Yogurtland – we had never tried this one and we were not disappointed! We were like kids in Disneyland trying all the different flavours and topping our yogurts with caramel, candy, almonds and strawberries!

Afterwards, it was time for a well deserved break back at the apartment before heading out again to join Mala’s super nice friends for tacos at a Mexican Restaurant and a movie at their place. We got some delicious tacos and though they got a few orders wrong (when I ask for “no cilantro” it also means don’t put the green sauce that has cilantro on my taco), it was excellent! Back at their place, we sipped some wine and enjoyed sour keys while watching the indie movie “Frank”. Love watching movies that are a little weird, unique and far-fetched and this was one of them! And with Michael Fassbender as Frank, well you simply can’t go wrong. We then enjoyed a night in the first REAL bed of the trip, it was quite something – thanks again Steve for letting us stay in your room you have no idea how happy it made us!

On the Sunday, we figured it would be better to leave touristy things for the week and we headed to Runyon Canyon for a very hot hike. The sun was so strong as we climbed above the Hollywood hills to find a panoramic view of LA at the top. We get it, it’s the equivalent of the gym for people here! They all come in Nike’s, mini shorts and ponytails to jog or walk to the top while calculating their speed and calories lost. Well, let’s just say around noon was probably the best time for that in this crazy heat. There really is only summer in California. We then took a drive on the iconic Mulholland Drive and opted out of a walk on the Walk of Fame of Hollywood since both of us had already been there. Instead, we headed to Venice Beach! Why? Because one cannot be in LA without checking out people dancing to hip hop on skates! Where else do you get to see that? We cruised around on our longboards and also stopped at the skatepark to watch some skills. Venice was fun for the music and the dancers, but in all honesty it was so crowded that we were happy to sneak out of the busyness to go back to the apartment. In the evening, Steve and his girlfriend came over for dinner. Steph, aka the Chef, cooked some absolutely delicious traditional French crepes for all of us, savoury and sweet – YUM.

Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Venice Beach
Venice Beach
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach dancers on blades
Venice beach dancers on blades

 

Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Old Rossignol ad
Old Rossignol ad

The next day, we were ready for a day full of adventures at Universal Studios, the ONE thing that we HAD to do in LA. It was a crazy fun day as we ran from one ride to the other, catching shows in between. Our favourites?
- Ride: Transformers! By far the coolest, as it combines roller coaster, real setting and 3D – you really feel like you’re fighting robots in there. The Mummy was awesome sensations-wise but way too short. And well, we have to mention Jurassic Park – because it really freaked us (me) out. Hey, there was a tyrannosaur guys, okay?!
- The Sets:  We obviously took the world famous studio tour in the open air bus to discover the world of movie sets. And we know why this is a must-do. We got to watch a water disaster, say hi to Jaws’s shark, be in an earthquake in the subway, encounter King Kong in the wilderness, drive through the incredible set from War of the Worlds and look at movie iconic cars.
- Shows: The visual effects show was fun to watch for insights on the how-to secrets of some scenes, with a touch of humour. But we finished our day with the Waterworld performance, which basically replays a scene of the movie. Backflips, jet ski freestyle, fights, jumps, fire… Mindblowing! Steph now wants to change jobs and play one of the guys in that show for a living.
- And: back in Santa Cruz, I asked Steph to win a Minion for me and he didn’t succeed; so obviously I put him to the challenge again! He had to shoot basketballs in a net and if he scored twice, he could pick a Minion. Aaaaand….. HE WON!!! Needless to say, I was a little kid with my new toy! We are now road tripping with a minion.
As you might be able to tell, we spent the entire day in Universal Studios. So right after, as we hadn’t eaten anything, we rushed to Taco Bell – typical.
In the evening, it was our last night with Mala and she had a friend over. So Steph put together another delicious meal of pasta, cream and shallots. YUM.

Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Maeva and the minions
Maeva and the minions
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Steph throwing a basketball
Steph throwing a basketball
Maeva and her minion
Maeva and her minion
Steph and the minion
Steph and the minion
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe

It was time to continue going further South and say goodbye to Mala. Thanks again Mala for your hospitality, we are so grateful!

We first headed to Beverly Hills because I wanted to see some crazy huge houses. Well that was a stupid idea, they all had immense fences, we only managed to spot a few from afar and the intriguing spots had way too much security. No, we didn’t see Jennifer Lawrence. *Sigh*. To make up for it, we had coffee at a lovely TOMS shop/coffeeplace in Abbott Kinney to enjoy their super chill outdoor patio. And we figured we could leave LA on that mocha coffee note and return to the beach life down the coast.

Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Los Angeles
Wall art in Los Angeles
More wall art in Abbott Kinney
More wall art in Abbott Kinney

Tales of San Francisco

37°46' 30" N 122°25' 10" W San Francisco

Oct 16, 2014  –  by Maeva

We left the long stretches of highway down the coast and its isolated beaches to find the city of the flower power. We reached it from the North on a Friday afternoon, taking the Golden Gate Bridge, like one should. #hellyeah. And I was driving!! (Anyone who knows my driving skills knows how impressive that is.) Steph didn’t leave me behind the wheel for too long though, we’ll say. Anyways, our first stop was obviously the viewpoint right after the bridge to get a sunny touristy shot in front of the world famous landmark. As we were watching the view, some people whispered to us “Hey, there are naked people down there, check it out!” Oh yes, there sure were some naked people on the beach down below. Well we did arrive during the heat wave.Welcome to Hippie town!

Golden gate bridge
Golden gate bridge
Steph and Maeva in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
Steph and Maeva in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

We had a bit of time, so we headed to the crowded Pier 39 for a bit of long boarding along the port, Alcatraz watching and possibly some ice cream… We then drove to Lombard Street to test Steph’s piloting skills in the famous downhill zig zag street. Ea-sy.

Alcatraz at sunset
Alcatraz at sunset
Maeva below Bubba Gump Shrimp
Maeva below Bubba Gump Shrimp

Later, we headed towards Berkeley, taking the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge, which gave us a pretty intense city reality check. Here’s a few numbers to get some perspective: 7810m/25623ft long, 2 decks of 5 lanes each, 17.5m/57.5ft large… Guinness World Records say it’s the widest bridge in the world and we believe it! Heavy traffic on such a monster of a bridge is a pretty insane experience. Especially when you’re not 100% where you’re headed. Thank God for Google Maps!

We were headed to Berkeley to join Duke – also known as Nico, a friend from France who lives there – who had kindly offered us to stay at his place. After a stop in a random coffee shop in a very Hastings-like street of Berkeley, we joined him and his coworkers at his CEO’s house up on a hill. As soon as we entered the house, we were like “WOW!”: a minimalist house with an incredible view of the city and its night lights. We enjoyed fun drinks and great conversation with the whole team of Five.com, a startup working on a unique conversation app. Every member had just been freshly named cofounder so it was definitely the right night to discover a bit of their tech startup world! Kyle also introduced us to a song that would be stuck in our heads for the next 3 days: “About a week ago, week ago…” Thanks for that! After a couple of beers, we also learned that we were going to sleep in the living room at Duke’s place next to a snake. In a vivarium. But an ACTUAL snake. I honestly thought it was a joke at first. But when we reached his super cool house, Duke gave us a quick tour and introduced us to his roommates (human and reptile), and it proved to be very real…

The following day was true Californian fun with a barbecue, a big surf session in Pacifica, a skateboard session and then some beers in the extremely very hot tub in Duke’s garden. Told you it was a super cool house! All of this with Duke, his roommate Ben and two of his coworkers: Kyle and Nils. Quite the boys crowd hey! Though the day activities were lots of fun, sipping some coronas in a 104 Farenheit jacuzzi was VERY enjoyable. And VERY warm. Let’s just say we were off to bed very quickly after that!

Barbecue at Pacifica
Barbecue at Pacifica
The boys and their surfboards in Pacifica
The boys and their surfboards in Pacifica
Kyle at the skatepark
Kyle at the skatepark
Skateboard session at night
Skateboard session at night

Sunday called for some actual visiting of the city, so we did it ALL:
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Yet another view of the Golden Gate
- Walking down Lombard street
- Strolling through Chinatown and running into a dragon
- Stopping at Chipotle for lunch: yes we have a list of fast food places to hit, this one has been crossed off the list. And it’s burrito was definitely approved!
- Niketown, because why not
- Taking the cable car: that was realllllly cool. Best way to go up and down the cutest streets of SF is perched on the side of the wagon!
- Walking up and down the street, then up and down, and then up and down.
- Walk along the entire Embarcadero. Yes, that’s a lot of walking.

View of Golden Gate Bridge from SF
View of Golden Gate Bridge from SF
San Francisco homes
San Francisco homes
San Francisco cable car
San Francisco cable car
Steph in a surfboard truck
Steph in a surfboard truck

We even got to catch up with Hedi, Steph’s old classmate from Hetic, over some drinks downtown to chat about the startup community, work in North America, West Coast habits and life. He too is working on a soon to be released app with his team, confirming that SF is the ultimate tech startup hub.

The next days were a lot more chill as we failed getting the morning tickets for Alcatraz two days in a row (the only ones you can get without a reservation weeks in advance.) I guess we didn’t earn it as much as the people who were standing in line at 5am. Who are you people?! But it left us with lots of time to find the very best view of the Golden Gate Bridge in a sea of fog all the way up the hill on the North Side, find the cutest houses of the city on Alamo Square, picnic at the Golden Gate Park, watch the view from Twin Peaks and hang out with Duke and his roommates Ben, Paul and Alex over hot dogs and beers to share road trip stories.

Steph photographing the Golden Gate Bridge
Steph photographing the Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog
Cute houses in San Francisco
Cute houses in San Francisco
Uphill street in San Francisco
Uphill street in San Francisco
Maeva in Alamo Square
Maeva in Alamo Square
View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks
View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

Every time we hit a new city, we can’t help but wonder if that would be a place we’d like to live in. We thought about it more than once in the fog city that unites architectural beauty, cultural diversity, West Coast freedom, tech and startup communities, outdoor activities and vibrant city life. Though very busy (yes the hours stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge kind of traumatized us) and Vancouver-like (enough with the vegan yogis already!), SF is just so very unique in its character. So maybe..?

Duke, thanks again so much for inviting us in your lively home, we had a blast during our stay! Rock out the surf and the app-creating! Peace.

Duke, Steph and Maeva in front of Duke's house in Berkeley
Duke, Steph and Maeva in front of Duke’s house in Berkeley

“I will sing in San Francisco if I have to sing in the streets, for I know that the streets of San Francisco are Free.” - Luisa Tetrazzini

Portlanding

45°31' 24" N 122°40' 34" W Portland

Sep 29, 2014  –  by Maeva

We arrived in Portland under a Vancouver-like rain. Finding ourselves on Burnside Street, we randomly spotted Voodoo Doughnuts – one of the stops on our to do list. We jumped out of the car to enter the pink and psychedelic atmosphere of the shop to order some impressive and multi-flavoured doughnuts – proof below. High on sugar, we went to explore Powell’s Bookstore through endless shelves, floors and pages. Definitely the kind of place where you want to grab a pile of books, sit in a corner and spend a rainy afternoon with a good cup of coffee. It would have been really hard to leave the store empty handed so we both picked a book for the trip. Any guesses on what Steph got? Want a hint? Surf. Another hint? California. Yeah, he got Surfing California by Bank Wright, following Peter’s advice of course. By now I think we’ve established Steph’s number 1 priority on this trip, right?

Ordering Doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland
Ordering Doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland
Maeva holding Doughnut Box
Maeva holding Doughnut Box

Obviously, we were really late on the writing/developing/finalizing of our blog (sorry for the delay guys!) so we spent the night in Starbucks working on it. Steph coded, I wrote. After a night spent on the parking lot of Walmart (and not the first one, believe me), we continued working on the blog at the library as it was raining more than ever. And as soon as the weather cleared up, we drove to the Burnside Skatepark, a world renowned skatepark - thanks to Tony Hawk - under the Burnside bridge. We watched the boys crowd take turns in jumps, tricks and rides for a little while, appreciating the urban atmosphere of the spot. We then headed to Alberta Street for a walk along the cute shops, stylish urban art and edgy coffee shops. Our very first stop? The ice-cream place Salt and Straw, of course. Home made ice cream and the smell of freshly baked waffle cones: it was basically Disneyland. I bet you’re curious about what we got now, huh? I went for sea salt and caramel and Steph for peach and walnuts – and yes, it was as good as it sounds. Do I talk too much about food?

Burnside Skatepark
Burnside Skatepark
Maeva at Burnside Skatepark
Maeva at Burnside Skatepark
Maeva with ice cream at Salt & Straw
Maeva with ice cream at Salt & Straw
Graffiti Portland
Graffiti Portland
Maeva in front of awesome wall art in Portland
Maeva in front of awesome wall art in Portland
Maeva faces deer in Alberta Street
Maeva faces deer in Alberta Street

After strolling through the street, we went for locally crafted beers and cider with Philou, a Belgian snowboarder Steph had met on a previous trip to Oregon, and his friend. It was definitely lots of fun to chat about travels and life on the cozy outdoor patio of Cruzroom.

On our last day in the city, we went for a walk around Mount Tabor before heading to the Kennedy School, a renovated elementary school turned into a hotel, brewery, restaurant, bar and theater. It’s hard to describe the school in just a few words as it conveys so many different atmospheres at once. On one hand, you can’t escape the educational and dorm-like vibe as you walk past old classrooms and student photographs. On the other hand, you feel like you’ve entered a sort of Tim Burton like Budapest Hotel with hallways packed with colourful fairytale inspired paintings and sayings on the walls. A brewer walked us around the local brewery and the many many steps that involve beer-making. I insist on many, because I sure would get mixed up among the 20 things to do and the order in which they go! We were visiting the school too early to be able to go in the Cigar and Whiskey room but we made up for it by sitting down at the German like bistro for a local fresh hops beer and apple cider.

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Cigar and whiskey room at the Kennedy School
Cigar and whiskey room at the Kennedy School
Steph at the bistro of Kennedy School
Steph at the bistro of Kennedy School
Maeva at the bistro of Kennedy School
Maeva at the bistro of Kennedy School

We then continued our visit with the Portland Art Museum downtown. The highlight was definitely the temporary exhibition “This is War” with illustrations, posters and sketches from the Great War. It unveiled the darkness of warfronts and the rise of woman power. The rest of the museum walked us through the main historic and artistic movements of the 20th century in just the right amount. Not too big, not too little, the museum allowed us to take a walk through the exhibitions without having to go through millions of hallways and rooms like most places. I even got a picture with my favorite number, yay!

Maeva in front of 5 at the Portland Art Museum
Maeva in front of 5 at the Portland Art Museum

We finished our Portland experience by taking the elevator up the Pink Building (I guess that’s what  we’ll call it) for a panoramic view of the city. Definitely one the places with the coolest vibes, most hipsterish outfits and unique local spots.

Seattle 360

47°36' 22" N 122°20' 31" W Seattle

Sep 27, 2014  –  by Maeva

We left rainy Bellingham on a Friday morning to go looking for the sun. After a quick stop at Wallmart to get some pizza-flavored Pringles (yes that’s a thing) we headed towards Seattle. We had already spent a weekend there last year following Sam’s great tips for burritos, bars, museums and places to hang out. So we decided to do the one thing we hadn’t done: the Great Wheel.

Not only was Seattle extremely sunny and hot, but being end of September allowed us to avoid never ending lines and we were in our own little cabin on the wheel in a matter of minutes. Definitely a fun activity to get a new perspective on the city, especially on such a beautiful day. Plus, we got to play with Hyperlapse, our new favourite Instagram toy.

Steph eating pizza flavoured Pringles
Steph eating pizza flavoured Pringles
The Great Wheel of Seattle
The Great Wheel of Seattle
Steph in the Great Wheel
Steph in the Great Wheel
Maeva in the Great Wheel
Maeva in the Great Wheel