I flew to Vancouver, Canada after a week and a half of visiting friends across the USA. Although I usually love time to myself it was quite a shock to be travelling alone in a city where I knew no one.
Many of my friends had told me great things about Vancouver, however, on arrival I was shocked at the number of beggars and those less well off. After walking along the waterfront, through Chinatown and Gaston I ended up traversing through a very rough few streets between Chinatown and Gaston. This was not the first impression I was expecting and suggested to me that although Canada is considered very progressive there is still work to be done to look after those in need.
The following day I walked through Yaletown, caught a ferry to Gainsville Island, where I had lunch and explored the markets, before hiring a bike to ride to Stanley park.
2017 has been a roller coaster of a year, there have been some big highs but also some huge lows. At the start of this year I set myself some goals which I mostly achieved:
Continue to build savings through regular contributions
This I achieved, and then spent on a laptop and a holiday. Unfortunately Sydney house prices continued to increase by far more than I can possibly ever save.
Halve the amount remaining on my student loan
I paid off 47% of the loan, before interest was applied and 45% if you include the interest accumulated across the year.
Read 18 books
I read 14 books, which is fewer, much fewer than previous years.
Travel to the USA/Canada or Europe or Both
I went to the USA twice (once leisure, once business), Canada, Singapore, and New Zealand
In short 2017 has been a year where I found love, lost love, lost loved ones, got glasses, wrote, had papers rejected, hiked, travelled, saved, spent, read, and watched. I’m still a bit behind in writing blog posts on some of these events but they will come over the next few weeks.
Overall, this year has had some very rough low patches and was a roller coaster of emotion. Rather than doing a month by month highlights, I’m happy to say that at the end of this year I’m happy, I have some new things happening in my life and further new things to come in early 2018.
While visiting my friends in Minneapolis I took a day trip to Lake Superior’s North Shore.
My friends and I built up a big appetite after spending the morning driving north from Minneapolis so we stopped for lunch at the New Scenic Cafe which is a few kilometers north of Duluth. The food here was excellent, especially the Salmon Burger.
With full stomachs, we then continued further north to the Gooseberry Falls State Park.
After a week in California, I flew across the country to Minneapolis. On arrival in Minneapolis I checked into my hotel and then headed straight to the Mall of America. A few hours later I left with a few new pieces of clothes that I had picked up for some really good prices.
Rides at Mall of America
The following morning I headed into downtown Minneapolis which unfortunately was filled with construction around the main shopping area and much of the shops were closed. As I had the entire day to myself I decided to walk across from the downtown area to the Walker Art Museum.
My best mate took some time off work to show me around the Bay Area during my visit to California. On one of the days we didn’t really have much of a plan other than that we may go visit the area around UC Berkeley. After playing around on Google, I stumbled onto the website for the USS Hornet Museum. Not really knowing what to expect, other than some fun exploring an old aircraft carrier, we set the car’s GPS navigation and drove across the bay to Alameda.
Visiting Alcatraz was one of the highlights of my trip. My friend and I were fortunate to get some last minute tickets as I was not aware of just how popular it is and how far in advance it sells out.
Once we arrived at Alcatraz we wandered up the hill to the main prison cellblock. Inside we picked up audio guides and began the self guided tour. Although the tour at times got you slightly lost and was a little boring it did a good job at explaining the key events and history of the Alcatraz Prison.
After a few days in San Francisco I arranged with some of my friends to do a day road trip. Through my travel guide book and messing around with Google Maps I discovered Point Reyes which is around an hour and a half north of San Francisco (or a little more in traffic).
Being a nerd, the main attraction of Point Reyes is that forms a peninsula situated on the Pacific Plate and is visibly separated from from the North American Plate by the San Andreas Fault which runs directly under Tomales Bay.
I spent three days with friends in San Francisco during my stay in California.
On the first of these three days I met up with two friends of mine who work for technology companies. After a tour around a company making autonomous cars we had lunch in at “The Market” which is directly below the Twitter head office. Following this my best mate and I began to walk around the Market Street and city hall area of San Francisco.