I had never really wanted to go to Las Vegas. I don’t like staying up late, I don’t like evening party type activities, I don’t like smoke, or gambling or large groups of loud people. But last year we had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas, one which was difficult to say no to. So never being one to turn down an adventure we embarked on our journey of 48 hours in Las Vegas. Staying We stayed at the Delano, a hotel that shares property with the Mandalay Bay Resort. It was down at the far end of the strip, which turned out to be quite a good choice, as the only people that were really at the facility for our particular hotel were those staying there. I would later learn hotels along the strip get quite a bit of through traffic and would have been far to overwhelming for me. The hotel was incredibly nice, we wound up with a two room, two bathroom suite. King sized bed, couch, two televisions, and a few of the mountains (across the way from the airport). It was impressively decorated in a more natural theme that some of the other hotels, with lots of natural stone, wood, darker colors and soothing music. It also had an incredible roof top restaurant that we ate at as well as a delicious brunch place right in the lobby. Eating As I just mentioned we ate at the Rivea which is at the top of the Delano hotel on the 64th floor. It has sweeping views of the entire city and offers up incredibly good Mediterranean style food. The space is also occupied by the Skyfall bar, a very chic place which we were planning on trying but to our surprise we got seated for dinner right away and never got the chance. In the lobby of the Delano as you walk toward the Mandalay Bay casino floor there is a quite little place called Dela’s kitchen which is where we ate breakfast at one of the mornings we were there. If you like a buffet, and you like breakfast I highly suggest the Bayside Buffet. And our other favorite was Citizens Kitchen and Bar, they have amazing burgers and sandwiches. Things to Do Since I don’t love gambling or partying you would think there wouldn’t be a lot for me to do. But over the years as populations have changed, and more people have started taking their kids of Las Vegas more non-partying type actives have cropped up. Unfortunately since we were only there two nights we didn’t get a chance to see any shows, but I would have loved to. Our activities instead focused mostly on exploring. As a fan of architecture I was entirely amazing at how intricate and vast the hotels were. So on our one full day there we walked from one end of the strip to the other taking in all themed hotels. My favorites were the Luxor, which is just so wacky I couldn’t help but love it. And Paris Las Vegas, all the fake Parisian Streets and parks on the casino floor got me. I don’t know why, I loved it. We also managed to squeeze in time to see the Mandalay Bay Sharks and spent some time poolside which was really very nice, we managed to get access to one of the adult only pools which is really a game changer if you don’t have kids with you. We were ready to go when our time was up, tired of the smoke which isn’t impossible to avoid but pretty rampant still, as well as the bright flashy lights and loud noises every time you pass through a casino. Our 48 hours in Las Vegas ended and we hook a very nice town car back to the hotel. Sadly for us, 48 hours turned into close to 60, and was nearly an extra day as poor weather kept delaying our flight. But we made it home and can’t wait to go back.
There is a lot to see and do in Seattle. Most people stick to the top sights, which is great. I however, being from the North West have spent a lot of time in the area and am always seeking different sights off the beaten path. Seeing Seattle’s International District in 24 hours, is one of my favorite quick trips to the area. It is a little funkier, a little bit out of the way, and full of some of the most terrible things to happen in Seattle’s history. Which in my opinion makes it a place worth getting to know. Not because I like spooky things, though I do, but because I think it’s important to learn our history and learn from our past mistakes. Getting There From Portland I personally prefer to not drive to Seattle. I used to, but the traffic in the Pacific North West has gotten unmanageable, as has the parking. So rather than stressing out and driving 5+ hours in traffic from Portland, I take the train. The train system on the west coast is not a great example of premium public transit. Our states are big out here, our cities are few and far between and as such there are very few opportunities to take advantage of the train. But the trip from Portland to Seattle is a breezy 4 hours, which gets you from city to city faster and less stressed than had you driven. Seattle’s Union Station is just south of the International District and literally right next the sports area’s. It is a beautiful little station that has been in the throws of a remodel for quite a few years. My last trip up revealed the newly painted carved ceilings and an opened balcony. Tickets are relatively cheap, the trains are clean, usually offer Wi-Fi and always have a snack car. Plus the ride up takes you through some of the most gorgeous parts of Washington, which you would otherwise miss if you were on the interstate. Staying Seattle can be a pretty expensive town, and finding an affordable place to stay isn’t always easy. My most recent trip up I stayed at the Pioneer Hotel on the north side of the international district. It is currently under the management of Best Western but it still maintains much of it’s original charm. The hotel was originally named Hotel Yesler after an early pioneer to the Seattle area a man named Henry L Yesler. When he passed away he left a sizable estate that for legal reasons had to be rolled into a company. The Yesler Estate, Incorporated built the Hotel Yesler sometime around 1914. The hotel is old, but well kept with a small but tidy entry way. The rooms are lovely, with the original floor to ceiling windows and doors. My favorite part though is the complimentary breakfast that is provided in the original diner attached to the hotel. Things to Do There are a million things to do in Seattle it is a trendy international city with something for everyone. But often and at times for good reason the international district gets over looked. Many moons ago it was known as the cities skid row. It was also home to both Japan Town and China Town. Leading up to WWII both areas of town were booming but international conflicts such as the Fist Sino-Japanese war left some of the Chinese immigrants a touch unhappy with the Japanese population. When the Japanese were sent off to interment camps during the second World War, the Chinese took advantage of the lack of individuals in the area and expanded their business holdings. Unfortunately today both areas of town are pretty depressed economically and despite the mass transit station right in the middle which pushes thousands of commuters through the area everyday there are still a lot of shuttered buildings. And where shuttered buildings exist so too does crime. So even though I love this area of town I would not suggest walking around at night. During the day however, I still think it is worth seeing. Because I like history and literature one of my favorite hidden spots is the Panama Hotel. In it’s day it was a premium Japanese Hotel and Tea House. Today it is a modest hotel, with simple features but still an excellent tea house. It was also featured in the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, which is a truly touching novel about the conflict I mentioned earlier. Today the hotel also operates as a museum and memorial displaying items that were stored at the hotel and never reclaimed by Japanese families that were interned by the US Government. Closer to the water is of course Pioneer Square which should not be missed even if you don’t want to spend time in the area. This was once the heart of Seattle. In the early days of the city it was mostly a wooden town, and like most wooden cities it suffered a devastating fire that burnt nearly the entire area to the ground. Even recently the area suffered a large amount of structural damage from a large earth quake, luckily measures had been taken to retrofit most of the buildings but it did effect the businesses of the area quite a bit. Today it hosts a large number of art galleries, restaurants, cafes and night clubs. Just south of the Pioneer Square is Occidental Square, a charming pedestrian only space full of trees, which are surprisingly rare in the downtown area of Seattle. Every spring there is a Fire Fighters Celebration at the square which is also home to a Fire Fighters Memorial Statue and granite blocks on the square denote names of fallen fire fighters. This area is also the home to the birth of the United Parcel Service. Tucked away oddly well disguised is a hidden garden with a very impressive man made waterfall commemorating the company that once stood in it’s place (the company’s head quarters are now in Connecticut). The garden is well kept and a very lovely spot to take a rest especially on a hot day. There are thousand of things to do in Seattle, but if you want to see Seattle’s International District in 24 hours then I think you should, hopefully this will help you uncover some treasures hidden in a more overlooked part of the city.