Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…giving out pointless awards, North American edition

Almost three years ago I ‘gave out’ some ‘awards‘ based on things I’d liked in Australia, having just left the country to travel around New Zealand. These awards were totally amazing and everyone loved them, so much so that WordPress, almost two years later, sent me an e-mail telling me to do more of them. Having left North American for a while, here are some more pointless bests.
Best country: Canada

I only visited three countries to be fair, but far and away the best (based both on cities and nature) was Canada. Vancouver was my favourite North American city, despite all the homeless people mobbing the streets, and the Rocky Mountains were beautiful.

lake louise frozen

Next best city: San Diego

Vancouver was almost perfect, as reflected in its constant number one places in those ‘best cities to live’ polls, but San Diego had a small town charm that I failed to find anywhere else. It’s almost fair to say that San Diego was the only good American city, but San Francisco was probably slightly above okay too.


Best natural wonder: Grand Canyon

Yes, the Rockies were amazing, much better than the similar-looking Yosemite, but there was something about the Grand Canyon that was amazing. Just a big hole? Maybe, but it’s a bloody big big hole.


Best pub: Storm Crow

Found in Vancouver, this pub was a regular haunt for a few days thanks to its wide array of board games and cool menu. Just down the road was a nice whisky bar too. I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was called The Whisky Bar.

Best beach: Boca Chica

I went to a few beaches in America. Los Angeles’ were disappointing, San Diego’s were okay, Chicago’s was nice but the water was freezing. It’s no real surprise that a Caribbean country would have awesome beaches, but if I’d only gone to Puerto Plata I wouldn’t have known this. Boca Chica has fine white sands and long, not-too-deep waters that you see in all those brochures.

Not always this quiet

Best statue: Vancouver’s big sparrows

I don’t know why they’re there, I don’t what they signify, but I did like these huge sparrows (I think) that I saw in Canada.


Best food: Canadian maple syrup

I bought a jug of maple syrup from a market and then took it places to pour on my pancakes. It’s amazing how much better this syrup is in Canada.

Best pizza: Chicago

Deep dish pizzas are amazing, especially when you get them in Chicago. Why other cities haven’t started to do crappy versions of them yet I don’t know, but someone should.

Best fast food joint: Chipotle

Fairly cheap, massive burritos, not ridiculously unhealthy, actually tasty. Most places in America fail on more than two of those (even if you replace burrito with something more applicable).

Best shop name: Pikapika

I found this in San Francisco, but I’m not totally sure what it is. There were loads of photo booths inside where you could get different styles of photos. It’s a Japanese place if that helps.


Best stupid thing: Seattle gum wall

I don’t know why this is a thing, but near Pike Place Market is a wall where people have decided it’s okay to put unwanted chewing gum. It was probably revolting to begin with, and kind of is now if you actually think about it, but it looks really cool now.

Chewing gum wall Seattle

Best photo: Squirrel at Grand Canyon

I took a lot of photos of squirrels in my time here, but my one at the Grand Canyon is my favourite. You can see more squirrel photos here.



Best beard: Day 238

The day the yeard failed. Sad face.

yeard day 238

Best Sandy-esque statue: Jan Karski in New York

I found this after a few beers one night and it’s lucky I did, as I went to get my camera I realised I’d left my bag in the last bar. Karski was a Polish underground courier who warned the Allies about the holocaust.



Best product: unicorn horn for cat

Despite what the packaging says, I don’t think Spyke does love that.



Companies! Tourist agencies! If your product/town has been mentioned on this list, please feel free to use my endorsements in your advertising materials.


Filed under: north america, , , , ,

One Response

  1. Calum Scott says:

    Oliver! Sounds like you’ve been on a fair old journey since I saw you last on that fateful yet unusually sunny and lukewarm day in Glasgow over three years ago. Unfortunately I have a much less entertaining and eventful story to tell over that period. Nonetheless, if you are still in the UK in the next wee while, drop me a line and I’ll attempt to meet up for a craft beer or two.

    All the best


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