The end of 2017

Wednesday December 27th started off with a little drive to Yosemite National Park in Eastern California. Once we got there we went to the visitor’s center to request some information. Because this park is huge. We decided to start with an easy hike near the visitor’s center which led to a waterfall. There were a lot of people there who all climbed onto the rocks to get a closer look, so we followed. Afterwards we took a free shuttle to a more moderate hike. This also led to a waterfall but on our way up, we had the most amazing views. We were pretty tired after such a full day and we definitely want to see more of the park someday!

The next morning started with a drive back to the coast. About halfway through we had breakfast at Denny’s! Eggs, pancakes, bacon, hash browns and French toast for each of us. It was a huge meal and actually way too much. But delicious! A little after noon we found ourselves at the 17-mile drive. Which is a nice loop past the coast you can drive with your car. It was very pretty and quite relaxing after days of walking. We also enjoyed sunset at the beach that day and felt the cold water of the Pacific Ocean with bare feet. Afterwards it was time to drive to our last hotel before returning to Seattle! On our last morning in California we woke up in Santa Cruz. A city by the coast where it was hot and sunny. We just walked some across the beach and along the pier where we discovered this huge sea lion population. It was nice and noisy surprise! We also ate fish and chips before driving to the airport.

Back in Washington State we stayed at cca for one day to just relax before moving on to the last day of 2017. On which my sister and I wanted to go to Seattle. We first went to Pike Place Market and bought some souvenirs. It was super busy since it wasn’t just the last day of the year, but also Sunday. After that we went to the Columbia tower. On which I had been before back in October. But the view was even prettier this time. We could see Mount Rainier, plus we saw a Seahawks game from a far distance. We still had quite some time until midnight which we were going to experience at the Space Needle. So, we decided to take a powernap at the hotel we booked for the night. We calmly took the bus to Seattle Square at 10:30pm. I thought it was very relaxing. Everyone showed up around that time and waited patiently. At 12 o’clock, the fireworks set the Space Needle on fire. It was very beautiful and I took some wonderful pictures. The next day we had breakfast at my favorite restaurant at The Market. I noticed everyone was in that cozy New Year’s Day morning atmosphere. A new start in the new year. Later we walked some to the waterfront where we went into this attraction called Wings Over Washington. I didn’t even know that existed and it was really cool. We practically flew over Washington state, very beautiful! After that we took the bus back to the college and my sister packed everything for her flight back home.

On Tuesday January 2nd, I brought my sister to the airport where we had to say goodbye. That was sad, but we had an amazing time together! The next day school would start again, which I was quite happy about. Then I would have some distractions and I was really curious for my new subjects this Winter Quarter!

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Start of Christmas Break in San Francisco

We arrived in San Francisco in the early afternoon. After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we felt like walking around some. We first walked by the city hall of which I thought was really big for a city which is not the state capitol. And afterwards we walked up some hills to the Painted Ladies. Those beautiful Victorian style houses beneath Alamo Square known from Full House. Where we also enjoyed sundown. In the evening, we wanted to eat near Union Square. Which is a very popular place in SF with lots of shops and tourists. Since it was almost Christmas, everything was decorated. Macy’s had a Christmas wreath in every window and then there was this giant Christmas tree as well.

The next day my sister had booked a trip to Alcatraz in advance. We rushed ourselves to the pier and we took a boat to the prison island from there. It was such a different world in comparison to the busy city. Included in our ticket was a guided audio tour which was very interesting. We were virtually guided by some former guards and prisoners. In the afternoon, we ate a hamburger at the Ferry Building, which is kind of like a big market and we headed towards Lombard Street by public transportation. This street is known to be one of the steepest and most crooked in the world. But also very touristy! Afterwards we walked down the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf from where we took a ride with one of the historic cable cars back to Union Square and our hotel. It was a lot of fun holding on to the railing of this tram, while you could pretty much fall out easily.

By our third day we really started to get to know the city. We recognized streets and knew where to walk or where there would be a lot of homeless people. However, this morning started with a Segway tour! It was quite the experience, because we had never done this before. A local man guided us through the lesser known districts, which were very peaceful. And still very beautiful too. It took about three hours in total. That afternoon we just explored Fisherman’s Wharf some further. There were a lot of restaurants and typical gift shops. But also, Pier 39. Which I absolutely loved. In the middle of this busy area, we found a group of sea lions. Just hanging out. Kind of ironic. And in the evening, we went to the Fairmont hotel. A really expensive hotel on top of all the hills, where we would find world’s largest gingerbread house. It was so real and impressive!

The fourth and last day in the city of the bay, we hired some bikes. Like real Dutchies, we thought that could be a lot of fun. And it was. But also very challenging. Don’t underestimate all those hills in this city! We found ourselves by the Golden Gate Bridge and mostly biked our way through Golden Gate Park after that. It was Christmas eve. But we didn’t really notice that much. We picked up our rental car and drove to Twin Peaks from where we had a gorgeous view of the city at nighttime. The following day would be the start of our road trip.

We started with going to Muir Woods state park. Actually just about an hour north of SF. Where we did a lot of walking on Christmas morning. First through a forest with some of the world’s tallest trees and later past an open area where we could even see all the way to the ocean. We were pretty tired after that. Luckily our hotel was close. The next day we changed our schedule a bit. We decided to go to Mount Diablo state park. Our way up to the top of the mountain was quite the experience itself. But once we parked, we hiked some around the peak. The weather was great! So, we could even see San Francisco and tried to guess where we would be heading the next day. Which was Yosemite National Park! Our next hotel was nearby Yosemite. So we first had to drive for about three hours. It felt like we were in the dessert, because sometimes there wasn’t anything around. We thought it was the typical America you read about in books, because it was such a long distance as well. Anyhow, more on the rest of my Christmas break in the next blog! 🙂

The end of Fall quarter!

The first week of December began the last week of school for Fall quarter. It was also the 5th of December, which is Sinterklaas eve in the Netherlands. But Tanja and I decided to go to an ice-hockey game. Kind of a weird ‘pakjesavond’, actually. Anyway, I have been interested in that sport for a while. It’s amazing how these men manage to hockey while ice-skating. And it was so much fun! There were some crazy people there supporting the Seattle Thunderbirds. Plus, we won!

Fall quarter also ended with the last trip organized by campus life to the Taylor Mountain. It was a really nice day and we hiked all morning with the sun shining upon us. Afterwards we stopped for some food on our way back. That following week would be finals week. But I didn’t really have finals. I just had to turn in a video for my video-journalism class, complete a regular assignment for geography and finish my ‘piece’ for art-design. The Monday before finals was study day, but we decided to go to Seattle one more time before some of us would leave. Again, the weather was great. And because we hadn’t gone up the Space Needle yet, we really wanted to do that. It was very touristy but still very cool. Plus, we could see Mount Rainier. We stayed up there with sundown until it was dark and all the city lights were on. The days after were quite relaxing for me. Don’t get me wrong, most people have really tough exams during this week! I was just lucky with my subjects this quarter and ended up with awesome grades as well. I even got 100% for my art design class, a 4.0. I did not expect that, so it was a nice surprise. That was also the class I liked most, I can recommend it to everyone.

Thursday was move-out day for most people here at cca. I agreed with Tanja that she could sleep in my room until Monday morning when she had to catch her train to Santa Barbara. I already bought an air-mattress because my sister would come and visit me for Christmas break, so she could just sleep on that as well. I’m also lucky with the size of my room, it’s pretty big compared to others. So, even with an air-mattress on the floor you could still easily get around. Friday morning, we were both like, what shall we do today? I heard about this park in Seattle and something called an Underground tour, so we went to Seattle again. This time just the two of us. We first went up to North-West Seattle to Discovery park where we hiked some. We walked through woods, over the beach and even passed an old lighthouse. That afternoon we booked a tour where we learned some about the history of the city of Seattle. Pretty interesting. And we ended our day with some great food at a restaurant in Seattle. On Saturday Tanja wanted to hike through the woods behind our school for a last time. We walked all the way down to the river and took some great photo’s there. Sunday we just relaxed, Tanja packed everything and I said goodbye to Irene. Monday was a weird day. I had to get up really early to say goodbye to Tanja but around noon my sister would arrive at SEA-TAC airport. So I was quite sad to see my two best friends leave, but also really relieved my sister was coming to visit. Plus we were going to do some awesome stuff.

 

It was raining a lot when my sister arrived and at first she thought everything looked quite sad and dreary. When we got to my apartment I gave her a quick tour, and she just slept some because of the jetlag. The next day we went shopping at the outlet, where we also ate. On our last day in Washington state I could finally show her the campus and forest, because it wasn’t raining anymore. Afterwards we packed for our trip. We would fly to San Francisco where we would stay for 4 days, before we would make a road trip to Yosemite NP. More on that later!

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Vancouver, Thanksgiving, Leavenworth

A couple of weeks earlier me and Tanja booked trip to Vancouver in Canada. Because we had a three-day weekend, we were able to stay for two nights and three days! And we made the most of it by booking the earliest possible train from King Street station in Seattle to Vancouver. It took about 4 hours, but it was the most stunning view I have ever seen and we arrived by noon in Canada. Our hostel was located in downtown, so we could pretty much walk everywhere. We did so much in those three days, unbelievable. We went in the Vancouver Lookout to see the city from above, went shopping in Robson Street. The next day we took the bus to a nature park, where even though it was a bit rainy, we walked some and enjoyed the beauty of North Vancouver. We also walked through Stanley Park and found our way at the busy Granville Market Island. Afterwards we were very tired and slept a lot in our train ride back.

Collage 13 Vancouver

At Friday November 17th Lansing asked us if we were interested in going to a musical at her son’s high school. And of course, we wanted to go. Me and I guess some others too didn’t really know what to expect. But it was fabulous, most of these kids really have some amazing talents. It was called the 25th annual Putnam Spelling Bee and it wasn’t just about a spelling bee, also about growing up and being in high school. Plus, everything was very American. I liked it a lot. The weekend after I had nothing planned. So, I just relaxed, went grocery shopping and did some homework. That Monday though I had signed up to volunteer. We were going to decorate downtown Kent for the holidays. It didn’t take that long, wasn’t that hard, but I had fun and was glad I could help some.

Around Thanksgiving, even though a lot was going on and I had many plans, nothing was for sure. Going somewhere is very expensive around that time, so I just decided to stay at home. After everything I had already done and seen, I needed some time to just relax and binge-watch a tv show or something. On Black Friday I really wanted to go shopping. After a Thanksgiving dinner type of lunch right here at the community center in CCA, the four of us (me, Tanja, Amelie and a Russian girl called Aleksandra) took the bus to the Southcenter mall in Tukwila. A lot of people didn’t recommend to actually go shopping on this day, because it can be a mess in most stores. And it was. But I just wanted to experience the whole thing. So, we entered some shops, bought something or not, we ate cheese and bacon fries at the food court and went back home.

 

The last week of November was resident appreciation week at the Campus Corner Apartments. So, there was a lot going on. That Tuesday for example, you could come along to the cinema to see the movie premiere of Pixar’s Coco. Of course, I signed up and it was fun. A lot of us had never been to the cinema here and some even took (American size) large popcorn. The movie was brilliant. I mean we even cried, during an animation movie. Crazy.

And at last I want to write about our trip to Leavenworth. A little German town about three hours driving from here in the direction of eastern Washington. Really one big Christmas market. Me and one of my friends I met in my art design class, called Ayleen who’s from Germany, entered every shop. I even bought one of those big socks. And it started to snow! It really felt like Christmas!

Collage 15 Leavenworth