A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about seattle

Seattle mornings, Portland nights

A tale of two cites, one crowler and Amtrak Cascades ride away

semi-overcast 48 °F

We seem to love our morning excursions so much better our nights! (Probably because we're well rested and sober, haha).
After our Airbnb host Rose (originally from Negril, Jamaica by way of the UK) gave us a ride, we arrived at Pike Place Market.
It was breathtaking.
Rose dropped us off in front of Beecher's Handmade Cheese! We could see the cheese makers were hard at work and the aromas were great. We ordered the Mariachi Mac and Cheese to tide us over until we found a breakfast spot. Needless to say, it was fantastic.

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Strolling through the Farmer's market, we saw an array of fresh produce, seafood, and bakery items. Heidi and I were really looking forward to seeing the fisherman throw some fish around but alas, we didn't see any action.

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We ate breakfast at the Sound View cafe (which was an apt descriptor, all the seating provided views of the Puget Sound). I tasted Northwest clam chowder, and it pains me to say this as a native New Englander but it was MORE FLAVORFUL than New England clam chowder. Ugh, okay it's over. Now back to breakfast:

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Heidi got the crab cake frittata and I got the salmon and prawn omelette.

The portions were huge, the amount of seafood was generous, and given that the prices were fair. Most of the eateries in the Market were pretty expensive, so Sound View cafe was a great value.

Next we perused the flower shops, artists, and vendors. The flower arrangements were beautiful and pretty cheap considering what was going in them. I understand now why all the local business had such beautiful bouquets.

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In a search for good Seattle coffee, we happened upon the world's first Starbucks:
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Given our talks with locals, we just couldn't support a coffee purveyor that lead to the demise of local coffee shops and wholesalers (Seattle's Best Coffee was bought out by Starbucks). So we got a pound of coarse ground roasted on site at Local Color.
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Overall, Pike Place Market did not disappoint. I could've spent the entire day there if we had the time!
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A small hiccup in our travels to Portland turned into another fun adventure. Originally we planned to drive from Seattle to Portland. I made reservations at a car rental agency only to find out that I couldn't take one of their cars one way without more documentation. Heidi, my quick thinking cutie, recalled that with our Amtrak USA Rail Pass we get 8 segments and we only used 7 given our time constraints. So we just scored a "free" train ride to Portland! We had some celebratory craft beers at Old Stove Brewing Company and had a "Crowler" prepared for the trip. They pour 32 oz of your favorite draft into a can and seal it with their canning machine. After taking the underground downtown bus to King St Station, we were on our way!
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Amtrak Cascades is an older train that makes several daily trips along the Pacific Northwest from Vancouver, BC to Eugene, OR.
We can never seem to escape large groups of field tripping school children (from Daley and Millennium Parks in Chicago to Pike Place Market) and our trip to Portland almost kicked it up a notch with middle schoolers! Luckily, Amtrak saw the writing on the wall and placed them in their own train car.
The trip was a quick 4 hours (sadly too overcast to catch a glimpse of Mt. Ranier, our Airbnb host jokingly said the best view Seattle folks get of the mountain are from the Internet), enough to drink some craft beers and get in a cat nap.

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We made it to Portland! It was raining pretty heavy so Heidi and I protected our packs with rain covers (tucked away in a secret compartment at the bottom). We walked to Deschutes Brewery for dinner and more beers. There were a ton of great stuff on tap. I stuck to IPAs and Heidi pursued her new interest in Saisons. I ate a delicious burger with plums, bleu cheese, and cream cheese with a side salad adorned with IPA dressing. Heidi has never seen me eat meat so it was shocking for her to see how much I enjoyed it! Heidi had an Alaskan King Salmon with spatzel, mushrooms, and peas shoots. She loved it!
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Even though we were kind of full, the lure of good ice cream led to a Lyft ride to Salt and Straw. The line was super long (out the door and onto the sidewalk) with eager patrons, but definitely worth the wait. Coming to get ice cream here was singlehandedly one of the best life choices I've made. It's up there with going to medical school and dating Heidi. We seemed to forget or refused to acknowledge how full we just were from dinner and all the beers. The quality of artisan ice cream cannot be captured in words. Heidi captured it in a dance (see my Instagram post @claudsee) and in a cute smile. Thanks SO MUCH to fellow Tufts track alum Megan Sears Caldwell and Jen Morse, my research mentor while at Duke, for the recommendations!

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This morning is our last in Portland, we really want to do some biking and eat some delicious local food (". . but is it local?" -- Portlandia) before heading to our next destination by train. . . San Francisco!

Happy [train] travels,

Claudia :O)

Posted by baecation2016 08:08 Archived in USA Tagged beer market ice cream place seattle coffee portland pike cheese Comments (1)

Seattle

Gray skies and craft beers

overcast 64 °F
View baecation cross-country Amtrak on baecation2016's travel map.

Hi everybody!

It's so good to be back to wifi!

After two super relaxing days on the Empire Builder, we have safely arrived on the West Coast. The rest of the trip was truly beautiful. When we entered the Great Plains of Montana, some guides from the national parks came on to narrate the vistas around us. We learned a lot and surprisingly REALLY enjoyed it! Being in the lounge above the bar car may have enhanced that enjoyment a little.

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We made a friend in the lounge car, too! The great majority of our fellow passengers have been retired couples who are traveling to see their adult children, or are just vacationing like us. They've been wonderful (for the most part) but sometimes hard to relate to, for us. So, we were thrilled to meet someone our age from Leavenworth, WA and hang out with her for a while. She even came to dinner with us as we entered Glacier National Park. Nothing will bring people together like snaking through the mountains while dining on Amtrak-grade Pad Thai. The pictures hardly do it justice.

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After the park, it was a short trip through Washington before arriving in Seattle! We were so excited to get off the train and get some real food, we had been packed and ready to go about for about 3 hours before that.

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From the train station, we walked with our big backpacks right to the Puget Sound to hop on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. From the ferry we were able to see all of Seattle. I was hoping to see a sea lion, but there weren't any around at the time.

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The island was so pretty and cute. We stopped for a quick lunch and then ditched our packs behind the counter so we could walk around. Those things are heavy... While exploring, we found the COOLEST community garden that's ever existed behind a church. It really gave me a lot of inspiration for my future gardening projects. They had their own greenhouse, little bee houses, and even a "Little Free Library" (a community book exchange program found all over Seattle) full of organic gardening books. We showed ourselves around inside and no one seemed to mind.

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It happens to be craft beer week in Seattle, so we came back to the mainland to check out the local offerings. We stopped by Elysian brewery in Capitol Hill for dinner and fabulous beer. However, the event they putting on included karaoke during dinner hours. Normally, this would have kept me there all night, but this was possibly the worst excuse for karaoke that I've ever heard in my LIFE! And I have heard a lot of bad karaoke. I don't want to be cruel, but I suspect they have never heard a truly talented karaoke singer in this town. We had to get out of there.

Good thing we did, too! While exploring the neighborhood (we saw a huge co-op!) Claudia had to use the bathroom so we went to a place that sounded promising--Chuck's Hop Shop. Little did we know, it was like a beer drinkers paradise! They say they are the house of 1000 beers, and I believe it. They had about 50 beers of ALL kinds on tap, and every beer you could imagine in bottles and six packs. It was like a beer store and a bar at the same time. Claudia and I were like little kids in a foreign candy store. It was so much fun! Most of the selections were from west coast microbreweries so we'd never heard of them. We did find a few home-state brews though. And since people in Seattle bring their dogs everywhere, we even got to hang out with some really chill pups. It was nice since I've been missing my kitty a little bit.

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Needless to say, we were ready for bed after leaving that place. Today, we are heading to Pike Place market for lunch and a quick pic of the space needle before we rent a car and drive Portland, OR. I hope I don't get hit with a flying fish!

-Heidi

Posted by baecation2016 07:56 Archived in USA Tagged beer island garden seattle amtrak glacier_national_park rails_and_trails Comments (2)

Chicago and Milwaukee

The Journey Begins

semi-overcast 55 °F
View baecation cross-country Amtrak on baecation2016's travel map.

Hey there!

Our first 2 days have been so action-packed! The ride from Buffalo to Chicago took around 9 hours. We left at 1 am, so it was easy to sleep most of the way.
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The coach seats on the train are so comfortable, too. I had my legs stretched all the way in front of me and still had extra room. I know I have tiny legs, but still! It's like being in a recliner. The only problem I had was with the bathroom. The coach bathroom smelled awful and the faucet on the sink needs to be squeezed from the bottom to release water. Claudia especially didn't like that part. People rub their soiled hands on the part where the water comes out, thus contaminating the faucet for everyone else. It really makes no sense. I'll try to get a pic of it to show you.

The views along the Rust Belt were...rusty. There was not too much too see. Plenty of industrial sites and a few glimpses of the other side of my favorite Great Lake--Erie.
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There were some trying times once we detrained in Chicago. We had to walk a mile and a half to our reserved Zipcar without stopping for breakfast first. As most of you know, a hungry Heidi is not a happy Heidi. But at least it was breezy and beautiful outside.

Once we found the car, we took off straight for the heart of America: Milwaukee. It took nearly 2 hours to get there, and we were starving!
Our first tacos of the vacation were had at Bel Air Cantina, where we feasted on Curry Mahi Mahi, Portabello-Queso, Mango Tilapia, Lobster Shrimp, and Black Bean & Corn tacos. The beast was fed (Heidi) and quite satisfied.

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By the time we arrived the Pabst brewery was no longer doing tours for the day. However, there also happened to be a vintage motorcycle show going on right outside. We saw some amazing bikes, and still had a chance to walk around the facilities and see where PBR began. I didn't realize there is a whole adorable Pabst village!
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We didn't get to linger too long because we had to get the car back by 6. We sped into the spot at 5:57 exactly. Then we took the "L" (they don't call it metro here, it's their subway system) to our AirBNB. Our host suggested a great pizza place that is not too far from the comedy club we wanted to hit up, so we summoned a Lyft car and headed back out. The pizza was good, but we ordered the wrong kind and didn't get an actual deep dish, so we're going to try again when we come back here next week.
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Well, that's all for now. We leave Chicago at 2pm today, and we need to get beer to bring on the train before we go. It's a 36 hour ride to Seattle! Stay tuned for updates on the tiny roomette we booked for the ride.
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--Heidi

Posted by baecation2016 04:48 Tagged train chicago seattle motorcycle vintage amtrak comedy milwaukee pabst airbnb baecation lyft lovebug deep_dish laugh_factory Comments (2)

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