Thursday, May 29, 2008

vancouver + seattle + portland



Walking around Vancouver is one of my favourite things in the world. The closeness of the mountains and ocean, as well as the abundance of cherry blossom trees (and sushi bars) make me feel like I'm in a Japanese dream world. Sometimes, when the streets are quiet, I half expect a geisha to appear.

I'm lucky to have friends with a gorgeously located house. This is the view from my top window.

The first place I like to go after sushi and visiting is South Main St. at 21st Ave., a little district called SoMa. If you see a red wolf stencil, you're in the right place.

These few blocks are packed with everything from vintage to eco to A.P.C. I recommend Front & Company for lightly worn secondhand clothing worthy of the most discerning, cash strapped sartorialiste (the window displays, which range from corsets to wedding cakes are worth a visit alone). Smoking Lily has the best, eccentric screen prints, and Eugene Choo carries Canadian labels with a few Eurocult brands thrown in.
Sailing to Victoria:
After lunch, Hans and Frans swam over to say hello at the dock.
(they were provided with bits of fish from the marina freezer)
Sleeping seal.
There is a lot more in the way of beavers and biking in Victoria than activities for an urban bootist such as myself, but the street signs were amusing (many were named after obscure, unpronounceable English towns), and emu eggs were available for breakfast:
The trees resembled Afghan hounds:
And the sidewalks were studded with amethyst coloured stone.
Next stop Seattle.
Stayed at the Ace:
Caf├ęs and shops open later on the West coast than I am used to (probably because it tends to be grey and rainy until noon), so I spent the mornings searching for graffiti on empty streets.
Met the lovely Jasmine from Pike/Pine on Capitol Hill and then headed north to Fremont where Impulse lives.
I've wanted to see this boutique for a long time, and it was well worth the trip, although I'll have to wait for a sale before purchasing any of the items I yearn for. As always, I am most entranced with details on clothing, so this jacket and dress by Mayle will be top on my list if that sale comes along...
Wandered into an out of this world, I-must-be-dreaming type vintage store called Private Screening near Impulse and spent over an hour going through their stock of gowns from the 1890s - 1910s (they had masses of stuff from more recent decades, but I collect items from the older periods). Everything was reasonably priced and I left with a long bias cut dress from the 1930s which I will post as soon as I've found the right slip for it.
Later, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Ailsa of I Hate Generic. In our post-lunch quest for mojitos, we walked all the way up Queen Anne Hill (something I do not advise anyone to do in high heels!)
She also showed me the monolithic bronze of Lenin, strangely placed in the heart of Fremont.
(The statue has an interesting history)
Stopped at Pike Place Market on the drive out of town.
The fish mongers were fantastic. They shout and toss their produce around as they work. If you're young and female and get too close (ie to take a photo), they may throw squidly bits at you.
After the spectacle of flying fish came flowers - I've never seen so many blooms in my life. The stalls seemed to go on for miles, each seeming more colourful than the last.
Miss Mary Mack would have a field day at this button stall.
These decorative chili pepper bundles made me think of India, where drivers tied strings of chilis and limes to their vehicles to ward off evil spirits.
Funky sign.
A toy shop. I loved this two headed dragon with lounging cat.
Outside again.
Finn Heaven. If I lived in Seattle, I would stock up on their extensive selection of marimekko waterproof wear. However, as it rarely rains where I live, I opted to increase my collection of printed purses instead.
Glowing sea urchin lamps at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM).
The SAM shop was full of interior delights, including this set of cups that bring to mind Edgerton's milk drop coronet.
Across the street from SAM, The Forbidden Schwingdom and Chronicles of Nudia were playing. Kudos for creative titles.
The Experience Music Project, designed by Frank Gehry

Ace Hotel Portland

(the elevator)

My room. Like Hotel Fox in Copenhagen, the rooms are decorated by different artists. Each bed is kitted out with military surplus, and the room numbers are made by the suppliers of Portland's street signs. This Ace had much more character than the Seattle location.
Powell's Books, which occupies an entire city block, is one street over, and Portland's famous Voodoo Doughnut (and Wedding Chapel) is 10 minutes away. On the walk to get a morning "Dirty Snowball" doughnut, you will pass no less than four open strip clubs.
One of the highlights of Portland was Oblation Papers and Press, an exquisite letterpress print shop/paper boutique in the Pearl District. My first work experience came at my grandfather's print shop, and I've always been intrigued by the craft of old school printing. At Oblation, you can watch the staff operate centuries old presses and peruse an astonishing variety of paper products - they have everything from whimsical cards and stationery to miniature Eiffel Towers.
My walls at home are currently decorated with this paper:
Trekked up to Le Train Bleu, to see what the brick and mortar version of this favourite online boutique was like. The interior was graceful and distinctly art nouveau, however 95% of their sales are done online, so there was very little stock.
A few hours out of Portland (after scandalizing the old ladies at a truck stop Denny's with my high heeled boots- they took me for a hooker), I discovered the rather spectacular outlet malls just north of Seattle off the freeway. The Burberry store was swarming with Asian tourists, but lucky for me, the leftover shoe sizes were 11s. Happy days!

For more photos, please check my flickr.

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