Two week countdown, commence!

Exactly two weeks today until I leave for Europe! People keep on asking me if I’m excited, but I don’t think I am yet – even though it’s coming up quickly, I still feel like it’s a million years away. I’ve been planning this for so long that I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it’s almost here.

However, what I can wrap my head around is the fact that I am definitely feeling a time crunch. Classes are really starting to ramp up, and I’m starting to wilt a bit underneath the huge mountain of reading that I’m supposed to be doing – which is a different experience for me because normally I welcome reading as a break from my programming. It’s a bit odd not taking any computer science courses this semester. I almost feel like I’m missing a limb or something. I have this weird voice in the back of my head that keeps on whispering “Shannon, why aren’t you coding anything?”

The falling-behind situation isn’t helped by the million things I need to accomplish before I leave, such as getting to the bank, organizing my travel, the dreaded packing (something I am notoriously horrible at…) But I did get to take a break and go to Seattle this past weekend and visit one of my really good friends. I’ve been to Seattle often, but usually for a very specific reason – we’re passing through to the airport, we’re hitting up the outlets, whatever it is. Consequently, I’ve never actually done a lot of the “touristy” things so the combination of that and good company made it a lot of fun.

Chihuly Glass Museum

Seattle Space Needle

Down by the Olympic Garden

I think my favourite was the Space Needle – there was a bit of a line to get to the top, but the view was beautiful. I could’ve sat there and stared at the ocean all day (and in fact did spend quite a bit of time doing that). We also ate at some pretty good places, including a really cool place called Poppy. Dishes were served in platters called thalis, which consisted of seven small plates of different foods, so you were able to try a bunch of things. I think the best was the duck leg with peaches – I’m drooling slightly thinking about it.

I think that was my only break between now and when I’m sitting on the plane, though – I can just feel the whirlwind of things-to-do-before-I-go coming. Time to go tackle some medieval literature. Fourteen days!

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Stressless in Seattle

It’s finally reading break!

Usually I scoff at the “reading” part, but unfortunately it looks like I actually have a lot of homework to do over the break. And by a lot, I mean an amount that makes me cringe and send off little prayers to the denial gods every time I think about it.

However, I feel like I’ve started off my reading break pretty well. I had intended to cross off some homework on Saturday, but I ended up running around doing errands instead. I did have a chance to snap a picture of the beautiful sun peeking over the mountains, though:

After a day of non-productiveness, I went for dinner at one of my favourite Chinese restaurants: Sha-lin on Broadway. It has awesome food, including the most amazing panfried dumplings and zhajiang noodles ever. Drool.

My family tends to eat a fair bit, as shown by our empty plates.

I also met up with a friend for drinks at the Diamond in Gastown, right across from Chill Winston’s. I felt extremely cool going there because it’s completely tucked away on the top floor of an ordinary building – you enter through this nondescript little door that looks slightly sketchy, and emerge into a bar with a beautiful view of Gastown, a great cocktail list and a complete hipster vibe. I did feel like I was supposed to give a secret password or something – and somebody actually told me later that they supposedly have this secret room where there is a password and all these rules you have to follow, or you get kicked out. A little too hardcore for me, but interesting to know.

Sunday morning I left bright and early (though I definitely wasn’t bright, but bleary-eyed and stumbling) for Seattle. I assume it was to slightly assuage their guilt about leaving me behind when they go to the Caribbean, but my parents decided to take a day off and take me to Seattle overnight so that I could have a bit of a break before returning to my lair (er, bedroom). My dad wanted to visit a friend who had just moved to Seattle as well, so it worked out. He dropped my mom and I off at the outlet centre and we basically shopped all afternoon. It was nice to be able to spend American money – I made some money at Google the past summer but haven’t been able to touch it because – well – I live in Canada and it’s American money, so I didn’t want to convert it. I got some nice stuff – pretty much all clothes and shoes, but hey, I’m a girl. We like those things.

We stayed at my dad’s friend’s place overnight and decided to spend today exploring Seattle a bit. We went to Pike Place, which reminded me a lot of Granville Island – lots of different food and handmade things.

It appears that my penchant for taking photos of food lingers even when I’m in a market with a million other things to take pictures of. What can I say.

I did find that Seattle reminds me of Portland which slightly reminds me of Vancouver which reminds me of San Francisco. (Well, Vancouver is where I stopped, but there’s a point here.) West coast cities seem to have a similar kind of vibe, though there are definitely differences. I’m a west coast girl through and through, and I figure that vibe is what’s going to keep me sane if I ever have to leave my beloved Vancity.

After Pike Place, we wandered around a bit more – to be honest Mom and I did more shopping. Retail therapy is great. We found these beautiful native art rings in an art gallery that actually fit our tiny fingers!

(Yes, that’s my leg…I got bored on the car ride home.)

We wanted to beat the traffic, so we headed out of Seattle at around two. My parents wanted to hit up Costco and Trader Joe’s before getting home, but before that could happen our stomachs had to be appeased. The solution was the buffet at the Tulalip casino. Classy, I know. It was decent – I had to try multiple desserts before I could find one I actually liked.

I may or may not have eaten them all…you’ll never know.

I was really happy that we got to go to Trader Joe’s though – I am really jealous of my American friends sometimes. Joe’s has such interesting foods and it’s not as rip-the-money-out-of-your-wallet as Whole Foods (though I have to admit, I have a Whole Foods fetish). We got some things that aren’t really around at home – cocoa almond butter, lemon curd sauce, interesting sea salts, that sort of thing. There was a really nice sunset on the way home too, so that finished the day off nicely.

Overall, it was a short trip, but it worked well in its intended purpose of letting me destress (despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that I basically shopped for most of it). I feel a little more ready to tackle the mound of homework that is narrowing its evil eyes at me…gulp.