Sunday, 22 March 2015


Tossed salads and scrambled eggs are calling again. Welcome to the home of 'Frasier' and music's Nirvana in Seattle, Washington. Rain or rain, the Oklahoma Thunder may have left this city, but you won't want to once you're here. From the tip of the Space-Needle to the bottom of the hilly streets, bumping like 'Bullitt' in a San Fran way this is a city like no other today. Living the American dream may take you to places like New York and Los Angeles. Or maybe Boston and Washington D.C. Philly and Chicago. Even Miami to Vegas. But you can't talk about the U.S.A.'s most famous cities and most popular tourist destinations without marking this town on the map of your itinerary. Emerald City is more than just a diamond in the rough. Its a pearl gem of a place that like its Portland, Northeast neighbour in Oregon is youthful, vibrant, timeless and relaxed all in the same time and state of mind. From the grunge to the grind, this town has birthed a lot. Now it should be expecting you. So like the heart monitor writing like, needle and monorail sketching, iconic intro to the classic comedy 'Frasier', its time to make that move like a psychiatrist from Boston. Quite stylish. Now the blues are really callin'. Confused? Well "baby I got you pegged"! Now what is a boy to do?

How about starting at the tippy top? Because not much beats Seattle's Space-Needle. Even if this writer keeps calling it the Sky-Needle as confusingly so as he he misnames Chicago's Willis Tower! Although we all know that will always be the Sears. Only Canada's CN Tower in Toronto can scale and top this needle point that like a Google map pointer is instantly iconic and recognisable to the city it calls home. Search for any picture of downtown Seattle and you're more than likely to see it like the stamp of a postcard, standing picture proudly, front and centre in the middle of Seattle's stunning skyline. Still taking an elevator up to the epic epicenter of this place and having a drink and bite to eat there will offer you the best view of the concrete canvas city that can be seen without this white toothpick holding its place in the enamel of this town. Still, going up all the other sky scrapings can afford you that view of the landmark pin point and its building to majestic mountain background too. But nothing threads through the city quite like the needle and with a two-a-day offer you can see how equally beautiful your next profile picture and phone background looks from dusk 'till dawn. Yet I can't recommend staying for some calm, above the city, tranquil hours here so you can witness the sun to electric light change from day to night yourselves. Take a look around from Space and there's a lot to take in from the sea to see. Even surrounding the needle are plenty of amusements and tourist stops and shops that can keep you entertained....and even educated. Just like that amalgamation of chrome and colours crumpled together. It kind of looks like a smashed up guitar.

It kind of is too. As this EMP museum and magnificent landmark was crafted and inspired by the smashed up Jimi Hendrix guitar that he sacrificed to the flames of purple haze. You can find the smaller, real one inside, along with some of his flyest on stage looks in the Hendrix in London exhibition, celebrating the man that grew up in Seattle's breakout and experience in England. These mementos take you even closer to the Emerald City son than the stunning statue of the rock God amongst his people in the city. If you thought that was good then just wait until you see all the mementos in the rock, heaven sent Nirvana exhibit for a band and town that gave us grunge music. From Kurt Cobain's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' guitar and some hand-written notes this is the closest you'll get to the iconic frontman and the legendary, lasting legacy he left. The music doesn't stop there, with all sorts of exhibits and exhibitions. You can even try on some 'Thrift Shop' clothes from Sea's latest, proudest son of music, Macklemore and you don't have to have that many dollars in your pocket. Still not much beats the music room and the drum to string sounds you can interact with and create in this studio. The only thing topping all that in a museum where you can find everything from 'Lord Of The Rings' swords to 'Star Trek' blue Spock tunics in loving memory of Leonard Nimoy (LLAP, R.I.P.) is their new force of an exhibition. Yep its a Star Wars one, featuring all the costumes from all the episodes, from Anakin to Darth Vader himself. It doesn't get much closer to something iconic than this. You're going to love it! We know! Museums don't get cooler or better than this super charged EMP. The Jet City of flower and goodwill has more generous, great things taking off in bloom however.

Look down at that 'Jurassic Park' visitors centre looking Key Arena and you'll see where that iconic NBA franchise the Seattle Supersonics used to play before they got unfairly packaged and shipped to OKC. Now a real basketball team still plays here in the face of the Thunder in the WNBA champion Seattle Storm women's team, representing the green and white with legends like Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Still if you want to get a little closer to the Sonics than just a tourist store, terrific, throwback tee than you could always hit the Queen Anne district a few blocks round for the classic sports bar Oskar's Kitchen, owned by dunking, NBA 'Reignman' legend Shawn Kemp. Still from baseballs Mariners to soccer's Sounders there's still plenty of Seattle sport to see in stratospheric stadiums that welcome you on your hallmark, highway drive to this city like the open arms of fans at victory. Just like some football team you may have heard of called the Seahawks. We hear they're pretty good. Still as you take a magnificent Monorail ride back into the heart of the city that offers plenty of shops and hot spots for food and drink there's much more to see in the "gateway to Alaska" like the perfect bayside view of Pier 57 and all the beauty the Great Wheel had to offer in and out from day to night. Yet downtowns soul resides in all the individual stalls and sections of the iconic Public Market, from the red welcoming sign to the Pike Place Market that will have you dodging plaice like Niles Crane. This town of culture within a city of such has so much, all the way round to the landmark first ever Starbucks coffee house, traditional to the testament like writing your name on the side of a takeout cup. It seems like you can't walk a block in this world without seemingly finding a Starbucks on each corner...and to say that about this town is, well as obvious to the answer of whether you're able to find anything other than Seattle's Best Coffee here. This is where it all started in a city that's given us so much from the grinder to the groundbreaking. There's more than one type of emerald you can find in this city that's more Washington than D.C. I'm listening...and its calling you too. Goodnight Seattle, we love you! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 20 March 2015


Blaze a trail to the innovative and pioneering city of Portland and you and yours will find a great deal in bloom in the 'City Of Roses'. They say the outstanding, open state of Oregon is for lovers and after visiting here your heart will be in a state akin to San Francisco and Tony Bennett. Take photographs, leave hearts. You just got to love it here. There's just something about this place. Perfect to the pavement only littered with feet. Clean and crisp, sidewalk to streetlight. It's a place like nowhere else in the United States Of America. Maybe not even Europe. It looks as modern as college towns and new cities come, but yet with a traditional, vintage vibe. Like a teenage to twenty something with a beard and cellphone rocking thrift shop clothes. No wonder they call this place the hipster capital. Sure for a U.S. city not many buildings scrape the sky, but magnificent mountains looking like the beginning of a Paramount movie do and unlike people getting up in the middle of the cinema, there's no workers office blocks boldly obscuring this perfect postcard picture in the portrait of this towns skyline. With the perfect mix of nature and mans nurture and old and new, there's lots to do for every age range that can get discount on these carriages across the city. So get on board. Or walk, through miles and malls of concrete and grass, as here in this small town feeling, but epically big place you can shop until you drop and get lost in the woods like Bon Iver until your jaw does the same in field and city mouse haunts combined. Lets face it, the PDX is an XXL fit. Rip City will never die.

You won't be stumped for stuff to do in Stumptown, whether you're coming here for a few days or the rest of your life. Even if you're checking into the welcome mat opening hotel district, or grabbing a cup of coffee or bite to eat at many of the self owned businesses' that make the individual identity of these establishments that so much representational of this city and country. From pillows to mints there's also a laundry list of places to call home during your stay, just like there is to wine and dine like only you can on vacation. This land and Port is also close to water (Willamette and Columbia rivers to be exact) like its Northwest neighbour via Greyhound, Seattle. So you just know seafood is on the menu...and this place is famous for it. Just like it is for fishing for a bargain from all the thrift shops of vintage clothes, comic-books and vinyl. Still one of the best establishments down the whole spine of the body of this town is the famous and storied Powell's Books, in the emerald heart of the perfect Pearl District, where you'll always find shining gems when you shop. A beautiful and hallmark place that claims to be the largest, new and used, independent bookstore in the world. One you need to bookmark in your itinerary. Love books? Then you'll be hard pressed to not find even the most rarest of scribes. About to crack open your first page turner? Then this is the perfect place to start. This isn't a bookstore...its a library. They don't need bricks for these shelving units that make up this mansion of stories that act like a museum to reading. They could build it with books. In a place built off the inspiration of iconic places of influence that are landmarks into themselves, what more hallmark a place than the incredible Voodoo Donuts? The only thing bigger than the treats themselves is the line for them out the door. This writers verdict on how they taste? I had only two days in this town, I have no idea how they taste...but I'm told...worth the wait. So line them up!

Like the opposition that comes to visit like tourists to this sports town, that's still EA in the game, even without featuring any franchise in the NFL, MLB and NHL holy trinity of American sports. Still even without any American football, baseball and ice hockey teams there's still a school of Ducks and Beavers in Oregon's college alumni. Twin soccer teams also take to the field in the Timbers and Thorns. Still, take a trip and terrific view through the city to the Moda Center and you can see more than just big concerts and shows in this amazing arena, no matter how good Taylor Swift or the Cirque Du Soleil is! You can't blaze a trail to Portland without watching the Portland Trail Blazers represent Rip City on a tear and basketball in the NBA. From legends like Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler to the unfortunate 'Jailblazer' days this Western Conference contending franchise has had its fair share of highlights and turn offs, but after the recent injury end to what could have been in Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, a new perfect partnership in LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard looks to take this team to new heights that would even make Michael Jordan shrug. Still you can find plenty of Rose Gardens all over this city of perfect parks, whimsical walks and formidable forests. Not to mention beautiful bridges built off the iron and stone of blue collar stars and stripes. All you have to do is take a compass and map for a picturesque place that the experience before your eyes will take the best pictures of. Back in town to keep your culture nurtured like nature, Old Town, Portland is full of museums, musical halls (to go alongside concert venues for a spot famous for hip bands like Everclear and The Decemberists) and theatres like the iconic 'Portland' one that serves as a 'Chicago Theatre' esque, Broadway billboard. Still nothing captures quite a symbolic picture, than the iconic White Deer Stag logo. So when you see those neon lights after that high hitting, highway drive up road to downtown that magically matches your entrances to most of America's biggest and best cities, you've made it. Welcome to the heart of Oregon in a city that beats with so much soul. Just remember to keep Portland weird. Keep Portland wonderful! TIM DAVID HARVEY.