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:
Cafés 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.


About Me said...

You were such a trouper on the long trek over the hill!

I was dying even in my Converse.


P.S. The Ace Portland looks nicer than the one in Seattle. Is it?

'Clavdia' said...

I love the things you've noticed!

I go out to vancouver next week to scout out the department where I'll be studying and the neighborhoods where I'd like to live. I'm making a note of all your mentions and cannot wait to meet some seals!

Anonymous said...

I love the boots you are wearing in the thirteenth picture. Any chance you'll share what brand they are?

Amanda said...

Thanks for all the great photos and commentary you provided on my three favorite west coast cities! You've made me see Seattle (my hometown) in a new way, and will have to check out Tuuli.

jasmine said...

looking forward to the next time you're in town!

la femme said...

ailsa: Thank you. I'm not sure how you managed to stay looking so glamourous and ruby lipped on that hot climb!

The Ace Hotel in Portland is far preferable to the one in Seattle. In Seattle, I splurged for the $200 room and got a nothingist (less than minimalist) white box with stainless steel sink and condoms on the pillow (kind of like prison). In Portland, I paid $95 and got a large, bright room with a bird mural and vintage hardware. Besides the room, the little details all over the Portland Ace took the cake.

clavdia: Thanks. Have a lovely time in Van.

anonyme: The heel is 6.5 inches... are your ankles willing to take the plunge? :)

amanda: Thanks, I appreciate that.

Eyeliah said...

Lovely post, you came to Vancouver Yay! Glad you enjoyed it so much, you did a great job capturing the beauty! :-p

la femme said...

jasmine: Me too!

hailey: I enjoy it more every time I visit.

Yetunde said...

what a great post! i hope you visit san francisco soon if you haven't.

"squidly bits"...hehe that was my favorite phrase.

it's always such a pleasure reading your posts. you're very inspirational!!

best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love this post.... really well composed series of images...

Anonymous said...

Wow lovely pictures you have taken, I especially love the first one, I'm dreaming....

la femme said...

yetunde: Thanks, I'd love to see San Francisco, though I don't envy the hills!

susie_bubble: Thank you.

taida celi: I'm dreaming too. Those cherry blossoms are transportative.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing series of photos! I love your eye for details. And the Emu eggs are pretty wicked... I wish everyone was as open to his/her environment as you. How many beautiful pictures like yours would that make ^^

daddylikeyblog said...

Ms. Femme--
I'm appalled you were in Portland and we did not do something cliche like have coffee and go kayaking! Next time you come, you MUST email me. Got it, missy?

Anonymous said...

The heels are 6"? Really? Forgive me for asking. It was a rude question. But I do love them.

la femme said...

the_kitten: thank you :)

winona: I didn't know you were in Portland! I would loved to have met up with you. Next time for sure (and I love to kayak).

anonyme: Not rude at all. Are you a bootist like me?

Marissa Skudlarek said...

I'm originally from Portland and am moving to Seattle soon. Thanks for the ideas on places to visit in both these cities...and the photo of Portland after a rain shower warms my Pacific Northwest heart.

Jessica Ferri said...

wow, vancouver looks amazing. planning my next vacation . . . i love the seals! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Your articles and photos are great! I'm gonna add you to my links!

Anonymous said...

such a beautiful post and pictures

Black. Leopard. Coffee. said...

PLEASE share where the 6.5" boots are from. I read through all the comments to find out! :)

Pamcasso said...

thank you so much for sharing your pictures and experiences. I love the first picture with the pink trees, and also the purple sidewalks!

Jimena said...

Wow... your photos are beautiful.

The period blouses, the seals, the sea urchins lamps, the buttons, it really does make for one perfect little post.

Laura McLaws Helms said...

Oooooo! I'm so jealous! My best friend lives in Portland and it is such a great city! The Ace is such a beautifully designed hotel, too...

Kira Aderne said...

so nice!

i love it all!

you are in my blogroll, add me too!

a kiss :)

Anonymous said...

for someone whose blog seems to be all about sharing a passion for clothing, fashion, travel - you seem quite tight-lipped about revealing the id of the shoes...ironic much?
lol!! ;0

m.bardeaux said...

love this post! i'm the girl that was working at le train bleu when you came in, can't believe i didn't recognize you as i love your blog! anyways, it was wonderful to meet you and your mom (so sweet!) and i'm so glad you enjoyed you time in portland.

p.s. i'm also a blogger on cat party (ilovecatparty.blogspot.com)


Claire said...

wow, miss eurobrat you are....back in style! x x I missed you

Anonymous said...

AC, i love the pair of shoes in the last pic! the ones that are black with the rubber tips. stunning! what designer shoes might they be? love your pics!

Bobble Bee said...

i love to travel around the world with you :)

BlossomClothing said...

ahhh blossom :)
and all those buttons. oh how wonderful. id like to buy them all just to look at them!
and those shoes in the last picture, wow. i love them to pieces!
your profile is cool
fancy swapping links?
email or comment me :)
love from blossomclothingx

queengilda said...

that is seriously amazing. i loved the colors in the photos! and SEALS??!?!!??!?! WOW!

Anniq said...

amazing picturess!! love those burberry shoes! :D

Wanderlusting said...

I'm sorry I missed you but glad you had a great time in Vancouver.

BTW I took the same picture of the FInnish store in Seattle.

TUULI is my mother's name (and a pure Finn of course) so I knew she would get a kick out of it.

Did you happen to see the Merimekkp store in Yaletown?

Anonymous said...

You know, I've never been to Impulse because I know I'd want to buy everything there.

I loved the Ace Hotel. It really is a fantastic place. And meeting Winona is very much worth it.

Vancouverista said...

Wow great post. I especially love the parts about Vancouver. ;)