If my New Years resolution was to get severely ill, then I can say with resounding conviction “I DID IT!” All kidding aside, I had an amazing start to 2017 with my family in Washington. It wasn’t until this third week of January that things went downhill. I’ve spent most of the week glued to my bed with the exception of a couple of excursions to the doctor. But today I started to feel like I’m on the mend and got a little photo editing done. Please forgive my lack of comments, I don’t have it in me to be witty so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Yogyakarta, or Jogja as it’s affectionately called, is a city that gets better with every visit. A center for culture and arts, it’s brimming with meticulously curated boutiques and delectable, innovative restaurants. With street-side angklung musicians filling the air with traditional music, the old-world Indonesian charm is mesmerizing. My guide is definitely swayed towards my favorite neighborhood: Prawirotaman. It’s probably not the local’s number one area, but I can’t get enough of the amazing cafes and art spaces that are popping up right and left on this strip. This is just a short list of favorites I’ve found during my frequent trips to this magnificent city.
My picks for hotels are only the places that I have stayed and enjoyed personally. However there are dozens and dozens of hotels in every price point all with their own style and charm.
The Phoenix Hotel– Jl Jendral Sudirman No. 9 This opulent, colonial style hotel is a splurge by Indonesian standards, but starting around $75USD per night, it’s still a steal compared to Western rates. The expansive breakfast buffet and awesome happy hour specials made the Phoenix well worth the price.
Indies Heritage Hotel– Jl Prawirotaman III No.3 Colonial style on a budget! A newer option close to the action of Prawirotaman. We enjoyed a beautiful room, a balcony overlooking the pool and stellar service from the Indies staff.
Greenhost Hotel– Jl Prawirotaman III No.629 We loved our stay at this lush modern gem. Greenhost boasts not only a rooftop garden, but a hydroponic, botanical overhang that envelopes the railings of each floor giving the concrete facade a real jungalow vibe.
Mediterranea– Jl. Tirtodipuran No.24A It would be impossible for me to come up with enough compliments to adequately express my love for Mediterranea. Their duck breast entree is one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten! They’ve also added a breakfast menu, so you can come enjoy three meals a day at this charming cafe.
Move On– Jl. Prawirotaman No.4-10 A new coffeehouse restaurant that popped up in the past couple of months. We stopped by on our last visit and we were impressed not only with the food, but also the draft beer that fills up from the bottom of the glass. Crazy!
Milas– Jl Prawirotaman 4 No. 127B Haven for vegetarians (like my husband)! This was one of the first restaurants we visited in Jogja. They have a nice variety of Western and Indonesian veggie offerings and a store filled with local handicrafts.
Kedai Kebun– Jl Tirtodipuran No.3 This restaurant and art space is another great choice for vegetarians or their omnivore friends. With a gallery and small shop located in the same space, there are a myriad of reasons to put Kedai Kebun on your list.
Editor’s note, I need to include that one thing Jogja is known for is really known for is the street food, but that’s not my area of expertise. As I’ve mentioned my husband is a vegetarian and so much Indonesian street food revolves around meat- mie ayam (noodles with chicken), soto ayam (chicken soup), bakso (meatballs). I realize our choice of high brow dining might turn off some readers, but it’s what we’ve found that meshes best with our vegetarian preferences.
Genetika Concept Store– Jl Prawirotaman III No.629 Located inside Greenhost hotel, this boutique is a design-lovers dream featuring home goods and accessories all locally crafted. This is my must-stop-shop for flair, especially by Brombie!
Affairs– Jl Candrakirana No.14 When we first visited they were a clothing and accessories boutique on an unattractive strip of the north ring road, but now they’re transitioning into artisanal shoes from their cosy new headquarters near the Galleria Mall. Either way their keen eye for design makes them a winner in my book.
Lemari Lila– Jl. D.I Pandjaitan no.45 I stumbled across this boutique, but had to walk by twice before I even saw it. It’s a tiny little galley shop, but filled with colorful, locally crafted clothing and accessories.
Antiques on Jl Prawirotaman and Jl Tirtodipuran- Technically the same street, but changes names at the interection with Jl Parangtritis. These two blocks are packed with antique stores full of fascinating Indonesia crafts. Being a touristy area, the prices were a bit higher than other places we visited (like Pasar Triwindu in Solo) but it’s still a great way to spend an afternoon.
Kraton & Tamansari The Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) and Tamansari (Sultan’s Water Castle) are iconic Jogja attractions. They are the pinnacle of refined Javanese culture and history (though the people of Jogja’s eternal rival, Surakarta, will argue with me on this one). While the sense of history at the Kraton is palpable, the many restrictions remind you that these are still very much active palaces. The Sultan could be behind any door.
Fort Vredeburg Museum If by chance you also have a history-lover in your family, Vredeburg is a great stop. This museum details the plight of the Indonesian people to gain freedom from the Dutch and it tells the story with dioramas! And c’mon, who doesn’t love a good diorama? Of special interest to my husband was the focus on what a chaotic, confusing and pivotal place Yogyakarta was in the closing months of WWII.
Borobudur & Gereja AyamThe world’s largest Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Borobudur is the most visited site in Indonesia (not Bali). Visiting this ornately-carved hulking monolith rising out of the lush, green rice paddies and jungles of Central Java is truly a sight to behold, it is somehow both delicate and physically imposing. Our trip there was hot and crowded, but regardless it’s still a must-see. Not knowing how close we were at the time, we missed Gereja Ayam (the Chicken Church!). A fun attraction that’s much less known outside Indonesia and just a couple of kilometers from Borobudur, so if you’ve hired a driver, hit it up on the same trip!
PrambananAnother UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the soaring temples of Prambanan that make up this ancient Hindu complex located between Jojga and Solo. You will be funneled towards the main site and then towards the exit but there is a little (oft-overlooked tram) that will take you to the tertiary sites. At about $.70 for the tram ride… totally worth it. It also hosts regular performances of the Ramayana Ballet which is still on my Jogja-to-do list.
Live Music at Asmara Art & Coffee ShopJl Tirtodipuran No.22 One of my favorite nights in Jogja was stumbling across a live band at this little cafe bar. Cheap beer, great band, super fun times.
Batik Winotosastrois a famous batik producer on Jl Tirtodipuran. Their showroom is extensive but, again being in a tourist trafficked area, more expensive than the markets. What was more interesting for me was their tour of the studio. I loved seeing the batik process and their massive collection of batik caps including a Yoda and Storm Trooper from Star Wars. They also offer daily workshops where you can try your hand at the art of batik for only 50,000 rupiah (about $4USD).
Malioboro I feel like it’s not a Jogja round-up without mentioning the biggest tourist shopping avenue in the city, but honestly, Malioboro doesn’t do it for me. It’s crowded and every stall seems to have the same key chains and t-shirts. We did enjoy some bars and restaurants on Jl Sosrowijayan, just off the Malioboro strip. But the real highlight of Malioboro for me was Museum Sonobudoyo. The complex offers regular evening wayang kulit (leather puppet) performances. You can also see the wayang kulit masters practicing their art and even purchase a puppet for yourself.
Neighborhood walks Jogja’s vibrant art scene is alive on every corner with murals and quirky graffiti. Grabbing an iced coffee and a camera and strolling through whichever neighborhood you find yourself staying in is a great way to see an authentic side of the city.
Thanks for checking out my list of Jogja favs. Yes, it’s probably swayed to our bule (white folk) perspective, but hey, we’re two American expats living in Indonesia. I hope we can inspire at least one person to add Jogja to their Java travel itinerary!
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Americans friends out there! As I sit here typing between bites of friend rice, please know I’m dreaming of gravy covered stuffing, creamy green bean casserole and apple pies topped with ice cream. I do have a chef friend here in town that says they’re offering a turkey, stuffing and cranberry special this week so maybe I’ll check that out tonight.
With no significant Indonesian holidays this month (which translates to no long weekends), Joel and I have been focused on some local travel. One place that had been on our list for a while is a local-ish temple (called candi in Indonesian) named Gedong Songo. We picked a cool, overcast morning to make the hour drive by scooter. It was our longest scooter trip thus far and we could definitely feel it in our buns. What’s the best way to soothe sore buns? An hour on a horse! (That’s sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.) The trail around the temples is only four kilometers so it’s easily walkable, but I wanted to make my parents proud and ride the horses. I grew up on a horse farm but had little interest in horses as a child, so I thought my mom and dad would get a kick out of an Amanda-on-a-horse picture.
The horses took us along windy path up the mountain side. At each landing we’d get off to roam around the temples a bit for photos. I was pleasantly surprised by how many visitors there were. There was even a group of college aged kids that had camped there overnight.
We stumbled upon a wedding shoot about half way through our outing. It made me think what pain in the ass to travel up a mountain in a white dress and full make up, but I’m sure the pictures from such a majestic location will be worth the trouble.
Similar to our experience at Prambanan, we came across a couple of piles of rubble where temples once stood proving ancient architecture is no match for an earthquake.
The ride down the hillside produced sweeping views of the valley below and the vegetation growing down the sloped terraces. The ancient temples and expansive views made for a wonderful morning, but the cool weather really sealed the deal to make it a magical experience.
October has been a month full of travel starting with our honeymoon in Bali, then a weekend in Jepara and finally a little jaunt to Jakarta. But this trip wasn’t all rainbows and roller coasters; there was work to be done! Work for Joel that is; he had a Saturday morning meeting. He could have chosen to just fly in at 6:00am and come home that evening, but that would have made for a very long and not very fun day. So being the party animals that we are, we decided to make a weekend out of it.
We arrived late-ish Friday evening and Saturday morning he was off to work bright and early. I lounged around the hotel for a bit then headed out to stop number one: Pasar Tanah Abang, the largest textile market in SE Asia. And of course I traveled by bajai! I professed my love for the bajai on our last trip to Jakarta in February. I truly believe I should own one of these adorable scooter-car hybrids and no matter how many times Joel tells me otherwise, I refuse to believe that it wouldn’t be street legal in the US.
The maze of Tanah Abang was exactly as I remembered. Floor upon floor of small cramped walkways winding through 40,000+ stalls of clothes, accessories and fabrics. The market’s many buildings are labeled blocks A-F, then each building has up to ten floors. It’s massive, congested and overwhelming for a first timer.
Looking for one specific vendor is a lost cause, but that was precisely my goal. On my last visit I had seen a stall of tassels and trims and had only a vague idea of how I might find it again. I browsed for about a half hour before stumbling across tassel trim heaven. After spending only $5 USD I was the proud new owner of 40 mini tassels. They’ll get paired with some textiles to become pillows as soon as I can get back to my sewing machine.
After the market, Joel was done with his meeting just in time for lunch. When prepping for a weekend in Jakarta- especially a Halloween weekend- we read lots of blogs like Manual Jakarta and Honeycombers looking for restaurants and parties. That’s where we heard of Attarine, a new restaurant by the Potato Head group that just so happened to be debuting their lunch service that day. What a delicious decision it turned out to be! Their menu features a variety of small plates with lots of vegetarian dishes for Joel and a giant bowl of olives for me.
We stayed at Takes Mansion and Hotel for a second time; last time with a room in the mansion, this trip in the newer hotel part. We used the pools accordingly, this trip hotel pool, last trip mansion pool. Sunday morning we had just enough time for a quick dip between our Car Free Day walk and heading to the airpot.
It’s funny that we’ve gone to Car Free Day on all of our Jakarta visits. We’ve gone to the one in Semarang maybe twice and Joel said he never even went once in Jakarta despite living there for two years. It makes sense though if you know anything about Jakarta and traffic. Joel lived in the Kelapa Gading neighborhood in north Jakarta and Car Free Day is in central Jakarta. If there was absolutely no traffic it would be a 20 minute trip, but in true Jakarta fashion it would typically take over an hour to make the trek. Not worth it!
But Takes Mansion is right in the mix of central Jakarta so we were able to walk the strip of carless street from Grand Indonesia Mall to Monas. We strolled through looking at vendors, grabbing a coffee at the now famous Starbucks and took selfies at the Monas monument. When I first moved to Indonesia we spent my first weekend in Jakarta and Joel snapped a picture of me at the very same spot in front of Monas. I remember how wide eyed I was about everything and everyone around me that first weekend in a foreign country and how different every aspect of the culture felt.
During this walk, for no reason in particular I was drawn to taking photos of all the food carts along the way. Even at the height of the popularity of the food truck scene in the US, they’re still viewed as somewhat quirky. Food carts here are more wound into the fabric of everyday life. They’re on every corner, serving all types of food and operate morning, noon and night. After working for two different catering companies in the US, I have to laugh at how much red tape there was to set up a mobile food establishment back home. In this country obtaining permits from the city to operate on the street or having a scheduled health inspection would be viewed as gratuitous and downright comical.
After a sweaty morning walk and refreshing dip in the pool, it was time to head to the airport for our 60 minute flight home. We planned on getting home early in the day so we could prep for work on Monday, but leaving that morning I felt a little sad that we hadn’t decided to linger later in the day for a leisurely brunch. We’ll be back for another Jakarta weekend as part of a long layover when we head to Washington for Christmas. Yes, a PNW CHRISTMAS!! I’m a little excited to say the least. I’m counting down the days until we can enjoy brisk days on a rocky beach and evenings sipping hot cocoa, listening to banjo music around a backyard fire pit.
After we got our fill of bustling Kuta, we headed inland to spend the second half of our honeymoon in Ubud. Even though Kuta has a vibrant bar and club scene, our nights were pretty low key. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to dial the relaxation meter any lower.
We arrived at our hotel, Anahata Hotel and Spa Resort, a little after noon. As we were checking in, the woman informed us that the one bedroom villa we had booked was sold out. When you’ve just traveled two hours into the middle of the jungle hearing your room is sold out is pretty worrisome. However she continued by telling us, “…so we’ve booked you in the three bedroom villa.” It was a welcome upgrade. The villa was ginormous, way bigger than we needed or expected. On top of that, the hotel facilities were gorgeous with pools, outdoor yoga and chess table all in a lush jungle setting with sounds of a rushing river below.
We had a private plunge pool at our villa, seen in the photo above looking down into the jungle. The larger hotel pool was about half way down to the river, just a couple hundred stairs as I later learned. It was worth the walk down, but I was a hot sweaty mess after making the trek back up the stairs one humid morning.
We rented a scooter to get around which was great because we were able to stop along the way to explore. As we drove the rice fields swayed gently waving us along to town. The landscape and architecture is quite different from what we see in Java. The Balinese families family compounds resemble temples and are intricately adorned. Statues and carvings sit at every entrance and bamboo penjors hang over the street.
There are ups and downs to the touristy nature of Bali, but one of the ups is tons of great shopping. Ubud’s streets are lined with restaurants, clothing boutiques and shops selling trinkets of all kinds. As usual I was hoping for home goods more than clothing, but I managed to find myself a couple of colorful souvenirs in each department.
Of course we had to hit the number one Ubud tourist spot- the Sacred Monkey Forest. Even though we have our own band of monkeys at Goa Kreo in Semarang, we still had to see how the Bali monkeys would measure up to our local ones. Ubud monkeys are much more comfortable with people, one might even call them little rascals. Once they get a hint that you might have a banana, those little dudes are grabbing for your bag or jumping over your shoulders to get to that food. I had both happen to me and each time I was startled enough to yelp like a little girl.
The day after the monkey forest, we made the discovery that the branches violently swaying outside our villa were actually a family of monkeys jumping around. We spent the rest of the trip lounging by the windows watching them play.
Our last day was spent slowly traveling south to the airport. You never know what the traffic conditions will be like so it’s best to always prepare for the worst. We made a point of finding a lunch spot close the the airport where we could lounge until it was time to head to check in. Azul Beach Club fit the bill nicely- decent food, fruity drinks and expansive ocean views. Each booth even had its own oscillating fan which was a nice addition to the ocean breeze.
Even though it took us a year to get to Bali, I can safely it won’t take us another year to make it back. Hopefully we’ll have some friends or family come visit soon and give us the prefect excuse to book a return trip.
We did it! We honeymooned in Bali and it was awesome. Most people assumed that after moving to Indonesia, Bali would be my getaway, but even though it’s only a one hour flight away it took me over a year to get there. I think we purposely avoided it because it’s so touristy. Also Joel had already been many times, so we when we started planning our getaways we tried to find destinations a little more off the beaten path (which we definitely achieved by going to Karimunjawa!).
Wanting to start our honeymoon off with a bang, we booked a room at Ananta Legian Hotel which is located right in the middle of the action. Legian is an area between Kuta and Seminyak, two of the most high traffic neighborhoods for tourists. The streets are lined with restaurants of varying cuisine and shopping from posh boutiques to overflowing stalls of bargain necklaces and pom-pom shorts. Yes, I quickly broke down and wrangled myself a pair of pom-pom shorts and OMG they’re the most comfortable thing ever.
Ananta Legian fit the bill perfectly! With a room on the first floor we could stumble out of bed to the sparkling pool complete with swim-up bar. We had high expectations of making the three days in Kuta our party time before heading up to the serenity of Ubud. However we failed pretty hard at staying out past 9:00pm. We’re morning people through and through, so we were up with the birds each day to lounge on the beach or check out the attractions.
At the top of our sightseeing list was Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu temple built on the top of cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. We went on Sunday morning and the lines of worshipers dressed in white were long and dotted with brightly colored baskets of offerings.
The line of temple goers extended down quite a few flights of stairs. The tourists stayed mostly on the outskirts, walking the path along the edge of the cliff taking selfies. We were warned about monkeys in this area; they’re very comfortable around people and enjoy stealing shiny things likes sunglasses and earrings. But we didn’t see a single monkey and I was a bit disappointed. Little did I know later in the week I would be getting my fair share of monkey sightings.
After Uluwatu it was time for lunch and Jimbaran Beach was on the way home. It’s small a cove situated just north of the airport that’s lined with umbrella covered tables. The restaurants are far from fancy, but they serve up delicious, freshly caught seafood at a fraction on the price of the overpriced resorts. Feeling like honeymoon ballers, we splurged on the platter that included lobster, shrimp, crab and clams. It came along with soup, rice, greens, two beers and watermelon for dessert. It was more than enough for two and set us back about $45 USD. Not too shabby and quite refreshing after a sweaty morning searching for monkeys in a mountain temple perched above the sea.
The next day we hopped a taxi to to the Potato Head beach club in Seminyak. It’s definitely one of the higher end beach clubs (there are so many!) and it didn’t disappoint. There’s a restaurant, bar and pool overlooking the beach. With a reservation you can rent giant chaise lounge by the pool. We saved on seating by getting one of the free sofas, so we could spend on fancy cocktails. As the skies darkened, we hightailed it outta there and scored a cab seconds before the rain. Bali rain is a lot like I remember of Florida from my childhood holidays. It’s sunny most of the day until about 4:00, then for a half hour the skies open up and soak everything in their path.
After the rain we headed to the beach. We’re not the surfing type and the riptide was pretty strong so most of our beach time consisted of people watching from our loungers. Every thirty seconds someone comes by selling hats, glasses, jewelry or foot massages. The sellers are generally friendly, pleasant and not too pushy, but it starts feeling depressing when the peddler is a six year old girl hawking anklets.
The flip side of the beach is the dogs that joyfully bounce in and out of the surf. In Java we only see sickly-looking, street cats, almost never a dog. Bali dogs are plentiful and look generally upbeat and healthy. Surprisingly many of the street dogs had collars. We asked one of the locals and it seems that most, even if they don’t have a proper home, at least have a family or two that make sure they’re fed and happy.
After three days it was time to head inland to the jungles of Ubud. As we drove away from Kuta I thought maybe we were making a mistake by leaving the beach, but it took about ten minutes in Ubud for me to realize I was dead wrong. More on that soon!
Our favorite Java travel destination-Yogyakarta! Jogja, as it’s known in these parts, is a cultural mecca on the southern coast of Java that’s full of history and surrounded by temples. On our first trip to Jogja last year, Borobudur won out as our top temple to visit and we were not disappointed. I would say it was spiritually moving, but I think the heat distracts my brain from having any kind of heavy, divine thoughts. Nonetheless, we loved learning the history of the structure and we were flattered by the minor celebrity status that we received as the token white people.
Having conquered Borobudur meant that we would move down our list of Must See Temples so this trip we would be taking on Prambanan. Also a World Heritage Site, Prambanan was constructed in the 9th century and is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia.
It’s also worth noting that Boys II Men had a concert at Prambanan last August. While scooting through Semarang Joel pointed out a billboard advertising the concert and I nearly fell off the bike. My devastation set in when I realized that the show had taken place the previous weekend. Motown Philly was an important piece of artistic expression of my youth and being able to relive that as a grown-ass-adult in Indonesia would have been a juxtaposition of earth shattering proportion. I die a little inside every time I remember my shitty timing; but I did my best to put that out of my mind as we made our way around the complex.
They’re really bringing together the old and the new with the Instagram frame out front. I think this scene makes it official that Instagram has taken over the planet.
You can see from the piles of rubble on the outskirts of the complex just how devastating earthquakes are to ancient temples. Mount Merapi is just a stones throw away and erupts regularly so the region definitely has it’s far share of tectonic drama. Rumor has it the master plan is to rebuild it all gradually and there were some areas under construction. But the piles of bricks go on and on so rebuilding will be slow and arduous. I don’t envy anyone facing that task!
Just after I mentioned to Joel that I was so happy people were respectful of the ‘no climbing’ signs I saw this little girl having her photo taken on the ledge. In her defense, she didn’t climb up, she was gently placed by her daddy. As long as she’s not pushing bricks off the edge, I think they’ll let her slide. And it pales in comparison to the American National Park vandals making the news lately.
There is little shade inside the complex unless you’re in the shadow of a temple. Even arriving at 8:00am didn’t save us from some pretty severe sweating. We knew the drill since our visit to Borobudur was similarly scorching, so we were prepared with lots of water. We took a short train ride around the Prambanan complex that offered a reprieve in the way of a small breeze. The scooter ride home was nice and windy too.
Our weekend solidified Jogja as my number one Javanese city for sightseeing, maybe even my favorite spot in Indonesia. We’re headed to Bali next week for our honeymoon so we’ll see if it can steal my heart away from Jogja. Even visiting during the height of tourist season, Jogja felt as authentically Indonesian as ever. We’ll see if Bali can say the same!
Well I said I wanted to blog more then I didn’t post anything for a month, but I swear I have an excuse and that excuse is my computer died. It was a sad, sad day, but my last MacBook was probably about eight years old so it was time to upgrade. Lucky for me I had a trip to Singapore lined up to renew my work visa so I stayed an extra day to do some computer shopping. I came home with a new MacBook Pro and I couldn’t be happier. Let’s hope this one lasts another eight years.
I stayed at Porcelain Hotel in Chinatown where I stayed on my first trip to Singapore last year. It’s inexpensive, incredibly convenient and my room was a beautiful, stark white cocoon. This trip I got upgraded digs due to two separate reservations being made for my trip (standard room booked by work then a suite secured by me for me). I politely declined paying extra to upgrade for the two nights that my work had booked, but they upgraded me anyway probably to save themselves the labor of cleaning the extra room had I made the switch. It was a pleasant and welcome surprise.
During my last trip, I discovered the neighborhood of Telok Ayer and made good on my promise to do a little exploring in the area. Of course returning to my favorite coffee spot Free the Robot, then meandering around to photograph all the buildings on the surrounding streets. My next trip itinerary will hopefully include the Red Dot Design Museum that I discovered but didn’t have a chance to visit.
Since Joel and I have different visa renewal schedules we still haven’t had the chance to visit Singapore together. I think I’ve had enough solo exploring having gone alone four times now. We’re looking a possibly December during our holiday break so we can finally visit Har Paw Villa which we’ve been saving for a couples trip and maybe even squeeze in a romantic dinner.
Whether you’re driving over the bridge or speeding beneath it in a motor boat, Deception Pass offers amazing views. I had been here once many years ago, but it was just a very quick detour on the way back to Seattle from Orcas Island. I’m so glad I got to go back on this trip and funny enough, I got to go twice. On our RV trip to Port Townsend we went over the pass heading to the Coupeville ferry. We were on a tight schedule due to ferry reservations, so Joel and I just hopped out with Blanche and met his parents in the parking area on the other side of the bridge. With clear, picturesque weather, it was a great day to snap some quick pics from the top.
Our first stop turned out to be super handy because I picked up a brochure about a Deception Pass boat tour which we ended up doing with my parents when they arrived later in the month.
Visit number two was a leisurely one. We had about an hour to kill before we had to board the boat so we took time to explore not only the bridge, but the beaches inside the park. And my mom had plenty of time to do what she does best- pictures! Doesn’t she look happy down there?!
When we arrived there was a thick fog (known euphemistically in the Pacific Northwest as the ‘marine layer’) in the distance that amazingly cleared completely in the hour we spent at the beach before our boat tour. Thanks nature! The newly crystal clear skies gave way to a gorgeous view of Mount Baker from the boat.
The hour-long cruise offered plenty of wildlife. Joel worked on the Victoria Clipper for many years, so after hearing his tales of frequent whale sightings, I was hopeful we’d catch a glimpse of one of the three local and transient Orca pods that frequent the Salish Sea every summer. Unfortunately, the whales weren’t out and about, but we did see lots of birds and some really adorable seals doing their seal thing.
Both trips made me thankful to call the PNW my past and future home. Just after we left the US my in-laws took Joel’s sister and niece on a camping trip to Deception Pass Park. Seeing their photos when we were just getting back to Indonesia (and back to work!) gave me a little post-vacation blues, but in no time at all we’ll be back in Washington with years and years to enjoy this wonderful part of the world.
Pacific Northwest!!! There is nothing more perfect on this Earth than a PNW summer. I am so happy that Joel and I got the spend the whole month of July exploring all the little towns around Skagit Valley. Our first excursion was to head up to Port Townsend in Joel’s parent’s RV and stay at Fort Worden for two nights. I’m not a fan of camping, but after this trip I discovered that I am all for RV living. Joel’s parents Tim and Kirsten drove while Joel and I lounged on the bed with Blanche checking out the scenery.
From there house on Camano Island, we drove over Deception Pass to Whidbey Island and ferried over to Port Townsend. It’s a short two hour trip with sweeping Salish Sea views the whole way. We walked around Fort Casey while we waited for the ferry from Whidbey to Port Townsend and I took the opportunity to get some family shots.
We did a little exploring of Port Townsend, of course visiting the Indonesian furniture store, then headed out to Fort Worden to set up our campsite.
Not having previously seen An Officer and a Gentleman (which was filmed at Fort Worden), I wasn’t sure what to expect. The grounds at Fort Worden are vast and beautifully manicured. Joel grew up coming here for family reunions and camping weekends with his folks, but there was still so much more history to learn about the grounds. It was so beautiful I almost regretted planning our city wedding.
Our morning walk options were endless with trails, beaches and forts. On day we took the high road through the fort overlooking the beach, the next day was the low road to the north beach. Blanche and Henry (the dogs) enjoyed each and every path as long as they could follow the family closely.
Joel and I explored the fort area during the afternoon. I’m sure he would have preferred to take me down there at night to scare the shit out of me, but I know him too well and I’m not falling for that. It was spooky enough during the daytime!
My first foray into RVing won me over. As I mentioned I’ve been an anti-camper for many, many years and I’d been told time and time again that I was just camping incorrectly. Now I realize that everyone was right all along- I was camping without an RV which is just wrong in my opinion. A big thank you to my in-laws (because I know they read this!) for showing me the light and taking Joel and I on this awesome vacation. I can’t wait to do it again next summer!