Trip to Bellingham
From April to June 2016, I crossed the Atlantic to North America for the very first time and spent the vast majority of my time in a city called Bellingham, in the north-west of the United States in the State of Washington.
I have enjoyed my visit here and would like to share with you about what I've discovered here including many of the subtle cultural differences between the USA and the UK, some which might really surprise you.
My experience of Bellingham - Video
I have now uploaded a video about my trip to Bellingham and what differences I've noticed here. Feel free to watch and leave a comment at the bottom! Also, I now have a second video about Woods Coffee.
Having a whale of a time, or not...
The title of this section is a contradiction and deliberately so. Also, it happens to be true. Now here is the sensible version of the title.
Whale Cruise to San Juan Island
Today, I went out on a cruise... over to one of many islands to the east coast of Bellingham and also bordering Canada. Before setting off, we walked from Cordata to Downtown as the Sunday buses start later... then got the bus down to Fairhaven. All well and good.
Anyway, we got on a small boat. It was a lot smaller than I expected but still big enough to accommodate all of the people who also went travelling. Sadly, I didn't get a photograph of the boat from the outside due to my failure to plan ahead. However, if I were to describe the size then I would say that the floor area is about the size of a decent-sized living room. Also, there's an upstairs and downstairs area along with outside areas so big enough to move around but small enough to be cosy.
So, what did we see?
Whilst out on the water, we saw porpoises flipping out of the water, an elephant seal on one of the port buoys. Unfortunately, we didn't see and whales on this occasion and so recieved vouchers for 50% off our next trip. However, it was still a pleasant day out and we were provided with a nice lunch on-board.
On San Juan Island
When we arrived at San Juan Island, we were told that there was a "resident" seal that lives in the harbour. We were hopeful that we would see it but instead it was jellyfish we saw. How similar can you yet! I was amazed that some of our fellow passengers were poking their fingers and touching these jellyfish knowing full well that they can sting. I have no clue what species of jellyfish these are but they looked much smaller than the ones we find at home.
The atmosphere of the island had a very slow and laid back vibe about it, similar to back at home on the Isle of Wight. It was a lovely sunny day and we just decided to stay near to the harbour and relax in the sunshine. After an hour's walking early in the morning, we didn't feel like doing anymore walking. Also, time was limited so we explored some of the local shops which surprisingly for America were very close together like a town back at home.
Drinking magic potion
Therefore, went to look for somewhere to get a coffee and first came across "The Coffee Bar". I expected it to be just a normal place to get a coffee and because it was small, assumed that it was a coffee take-away service. I was wrong! It was actually a type a place to do with cleansing and detoxing.
The lady who runs it had this green tonic potion-looking thing made with coffee beans and we tried it. I was surprised she didn't have a broomstick with her. It didn't really have much of a taste but it was still meant to give the caffiene hit with additional health benefits. Not really my type of thing however this place would definitely be good for the hippy traveller.
Getting a *real* drink
However, we stopped at The Bean Café and had a large latté and must say that it was a really decent cup. I wasn't even aware that their coffee was locally sourced until looking at their website just now. This place was also recommended to us by the lady who runs The Coffee Bar so we bump it up to three people who recommend it here.
Looking out on the harbour
We took our coffees out down to by the sea and had a relaxing look around the harbour. As I've been trying to take as many bird photos as possible whilst out in the States, there was another type of bird which landed on one of the wooden stumps. I zoomed in and to my joy it was a kingfisher. I honestly didn't think I'd get a picture of one since seeing kingfishers back at home has been very unsuccessful for me. They just never seem to show themselves despite having a bright electric blue and orange plumage. Here is more information about the Belted Kingfisher in the United States and also the species of kingfisher back in the UK.
Link to Deluxe San Juan Islands Whale Watch
What's Bellingham like as a place?
I was in Bellingham for two and a half months nearly and must say that it was a pleasant experience. Before coming to the United States, I was quite nervous about it being ultra competitive and that I would have to be treading really carefully, but I was totally wrong, about this area anyway.
In Bellingham and Whatcom County, I find it really quiet and peaceful and the people make you feel welcome. There is a genuine sense of community spirit here which is very lacking in my home-town, although some places in UK are very welcoming too. The people seem to have the time to stop and talk to me and I mean not just five minutes, but sometimes half an hour. This applies even when outdoors on Bellingham's footpaths.
Another big difference that may surprise you is the lack of antisocial behaviour on the streets. Drunks aren't rowdy at night, kids don't loiter on the streets making lots of racket and I haven't once seen a mother shouting at her kids. Back in the UK, antisocial behaviour is common in some towns (mostly on Friday and Saturday nights) and this may surprise you if you're from the US and have never travelled to the UK.
Expanding on the footpaths, there are many decent places to go out walking in and around Bellingham, WA. Whilst the streets are definitely designed for the car, which is the standard across the United States, there are many really nice parks around here that you're never that far away from one and best of all, there is a decent bus network, "Whatcom Transportation Authority" which connects Bellingham to a lot of these sights and other nearby cities. Even better, if you have a bike then each bus is equipped to carry two bikes on the front.