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Archives for October 2013

Glacier Bay National Park

Cruising through here was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. While we weren’t able to disembark to be “one with nature”. They did have a park ranger on board the ship and every now and then would be on the intercom explaining facts about the national park.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This “at sea” day was just a beautiful sight to see.

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Skagway, AK: “Gateway to the Goldrush”

Skagway was a small town. We docked in the perfect spot and was just a straight-shot walk to town. norwegian_cruises_skagway_alaska_day_with_kaye skagway_alaska_day_with_kaye The main highlight here is the White Pass and Yukon Route, AKA the railroad.

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While that seemed to be a thing to do, mister and I forwent that and explored the town. We did come across a free walk-through museum of Skagway.


A few fun facts we learned about this place:

  • Before the buildings were built, it was a “tent city” of over 5000 people.
  • When the peak of the gold rush happened, lots of business people came to the town to earn a quick profit.
  • It was on July 6, 1899 that the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad allowed Skagway to become a port between the Yukon to the sea.
  • The gold rush tourism and transportation kept Skagway going.

Mister and I navigated through the entire town and shops within 3 hours. It probably would have gone faster if the weather was cooperating more. Many of the shops were selling jewelry and souvenirs. That’s something that didn’t change from our stops. But, the exterior of the buildings were pretty neat.

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These 2 shops had the best names. The added bonus was that they were next to each other =P I only wish that Sugar Mamas was open. Their items they had on the window displace looked pretty darn good.


While it wasn’t the most adventurous town, it was a nice morning/afternoon spent here. Happy travels friends.

Juneau, AK: Mendenhall Glacier

Juneau was the first docking location on the cruise. There were 3 other ships docking with us as well.


Instead of purchasing a tour excursion on the ship, we looked up the available tour excursions on the ship and then make-shifted our own. Mister and I were okay doing that on this cruise since we really couldn’t get lost. Going off on our own in a foreign country (as in our Mediterranean cruise), I felt a little iffy doing that there.

Once we disembarked, we made our way to the town and began by checking out the shops… which coincidentally are owned by the cruise line. Walking further into the town, there were signs on the windows that said “locally owned”. That distinguished the local Alaskan owners versus the cruise line shops. Among the selection of the stores were jewelry, candy/sweets, and Alaskan native clothing and accessories. It was very much so turned into a touristy location.

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It was neat to see this Alaskan Husky up close and personal. This little (er, bigger) fellow was hanging out by the sidewalk by the shops. I will honestly say that I was disappointed that I couldn’t go dog-sledding at any of our stops.  The shore excursion description came across as being able to go dog-sledding, when in fact it was more of an education of how they raise and take care of them. That fact was confirmed by 2 of the people at the shore excursions counter on the ship. Womp womp. That would have been the tour excursion I would definitely have gone on.


The highlight that Mister and I was going to Mendenhall Glacier. We took an $8 bus ride (each) to get to the site and then we were on our own to do the walking trail. Being one-on-one with nature is something everyone has to do once in a while. It was pretty astounding.


The view is complete with the sight of a rainbow.


Here are a few more snapshots of our walk to and from the glacier. It was very serene.



Here is a close-up and zoomed in photo of Mendenhall Glacier. It was amazing to see that someone like this exists.


Here are some other floating ice that we saw while we were walking closer to Mendenhall Glacier.  I really loved how when ice becomes really dense, it becomes blue. Quite exquisite.


Here we are at our closer location. Check out the solid block of frozen water on the left and then we have the rapidly falling water on the right.  God really has a sense of humor.


The rapidly falling water is called Nugget Falls.


Aside from the glacier, another location I would suggest to check out is the Red Dog Saloon. Why? It’s decorated in dollar bills. Oh, and it has the gun that Wyatt Earp checked but never claimed. FYI this guy has the reputation of being the deadliest gunman in the Old West back in the day.


Jumping shot in Juneau, Alaska – check!


Keep experiencing life. Happy travels friends.

Seattle, WA: Foodie Heaven

For the most part, the statement is true: The best way to win my heart is through my stomach… especially if I’m cranky. Haha. Mister and I definitely dined to our heart and stomach’s content during our stay in Seattle.

Looking at different lists of “restaurants to dine at” on the internet, I found correlating thoughts via tripadvisor. It comes down to a few categories of restaurants, some overlap categories:

  • a Tom Douglas restaurant
  • restaurant with a waterfront view
  • seafood restaurant
  • coffee house (not technically a restaurant, but it’s worth including)

Tom Douglas is an executive chef, well known for his many restaurants in the Seattle area. There were 4 of his restaurants within a block of our hotel. They are all different types of cuisine. For example, the ones near our hotel were a pizzeria (Serious Pie) , Mediterranean (Lola), bakery (dahlia bakery), and American/seafood (Palace Kitchen).

Our first day in Seattle, we had dinner at Serious Pie. Apparently we weren’t ready to dive head first into seafood. Knowing we would be spending lots of time at Pike Place Market, we had our stomachs anticipate seafood for just one more day. We definitely got our fair share. See that experience here.

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I know the background behind mister is a bit blurry, but notice that there aren’t that many tables. It’s a few long tables with bar stools. If you want your own intimate space, you’ll either luck out like mister and I did, or you’ll be rubbing elbows with the person next to you. I noticed that there were 2-3 different parties per table if they weren’t a big group. Get cozy everyone!


Mister and I started off with duck ham, local melon, cucumber and goat cheese. The goat cheese practically melts in your mouth to add to the texture of the crispy duck ham and then the sweet melon and cucumber. Delish delish delish!  Then we got on with our pizza and opted for soft eggs, smoked proscuitto, pecorino sardo, and arugula. Sounds gourmet, right? It was pretty darn good for a non-sauce pizza. The bread was pretty darn good as well, and who can say no to smoked proscuitto?!

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I touched on the seafood in my last post, but another place in Seattle we found just by walking by. We actually almost bypassed it because of its facade didn’t really stand out on the street. This sushi restaurant received positive reviews on Yelp, and lucked out even more because it was happy hour at Umi Sake House


Happy Hour menu is limited as all happy hour food selections are. But we found major goodness with the bad boy roll (eel, crab, avocado & cream cheese). But, the other rolls we tried were good too.

The interior of the restaurant was pretty cool. It was like sitting in a garden. There was a skylight in the room we were in and then there was also greenery. If we had a bigger group, there is a separate room where the tables are closer to the ground, so you sit on the floor, like an authentic Japanese dining experience.


We found ourselves on our own personal sweets and coffee tour, because that’s just what we enjoy doing. We ended up at the dahlia bakery, which is adjoined to the dahlia lounge (also another Tom Douglas establishment). It’s small shop, but there are seats outside to sit at… unless you’re the “purchase and go” type of person.


The thing to get here is the triple coconut cream pie… at least that was mentioned on Yelp, FourSquare and tripadvisor. Let me tell you.. it was really coconutty =D


To continue along the sweets path, we also checked out The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. which is is the Belltown area of Seattle. This cupcake place was featured on Unique Sweets, a show on The Cooking Channel.


The interior was decorated with soft yellow on the wall and then they also had a map with a bunch of pins in it, probably to note where customers have come from. That was pretty neat.

Because we got there later in the afternoon, and close to closing, there weren’t that many options available for us to try, or at least be intrigued by =)

This place had people raving about the Pancakes n’ Bacon cupcake. We lucked out and snagged one of the last 2 mini cupcakes of that flavor. We also got a Boston Creme cupcake as well. This is a place for a major sweet tooth (of which mister and I really aren’t). Sharing these 2 cupcakes was plenty for us. The pancakes n’ bacon cupcake was different, in a good way. I wouldn’t mind having that once in a while to change things up a bit for breakfast.


We had some late night cravings and just weren’t ready to go to bed, so we wandered around and found Top Pot Doughnuts, which is another place nearby our hotel. I guess I did a good job picking out the hotel, since so much places we ate at were pretty close to us. Back to doughnuts, this place was voted the “Best Doughnut in Western Washington”. Woot!


Oh my goodness, why is a doughnut shop so big!? It looks like a good place to study with encyclopedias literally lining the shelves from floor to ceiling.


Once again, what were we there for? The doughnuts. Mouths ready? … And salivate.

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Mister and I finally agreed on this monstrosity, the glazed donut with a size of hot chocolate (with a fancy schmany design!) The hot chocolate was super chocolatey and decadent. The donut was really sweet and light. It was a good late night snack =)

On our last morning before getting on the boat, we moseyed on over to the Moore Coffee Shop. I was surveying the different coffee shops around the area. Aside from Starbucks, which we did get some the first day, this place was cool because they made fancy designs in your cup of tea or coffee.

While they did have some fun flavors, mister and I stuck with our favorites: mocha coffee (bear design) and vanilla chai latte (heart design). Flavor was very rich and packed a punch in the adorable cups. I want cups like this at home when I sip my hot beverages.



Keep experiencing life. Happy travels friends.

Seattle, WA: Pike Place Market

We had to hit up another hot spot of Seattle. That brought us to the Pike Place Market, where we ended up spending the better half of the day wandering through the market as well as its surroundings.

Getting to the market required going down a steep hill. We saw someone later that morning attempting to skateboard down it… without success. He didn’t get hurt, but he definitely went flying off his board.

Mister and I woke up pretty early because we’re partly early birds and we haven’t fully adjusted to the Pacific Northwest time zone yet. The weather is my favorite – sweater weather. Love that. Since we were wandering around the downtown streets early, we got to see the vendors setting up their shops and areas before the market was actually open.

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This place spelled out the type of food they serve with the actual food itself. Ah, crafty people. And in case you can’t read it from the reflection of the glass – it’s bagels. =)


A cart of crab was left on the sidewalk… likely waiting to be carried in for another trip into the store. They look delish!


Seeing seafood along with fruit and veggie stands being set up, stomachs were calling out for breakfast. We found this place via Yelp with its positive reviews: Bacco. It’s on 1st Ave. and Stewart Ave., still pretty close to Pike Place Market. We found the downstairs restaurant location instead of the one facing 1st Ave. But, the service and food was still great.


What stood out in the menu to me/us was the Dungeness Crab Benedict. Doesn’t the thought of that make you drool a little? Well, it was quite divine; I can tell you that. I finally got my fix of the Seattle seafood. Nom noms.


Mister on the other hand did not part take in the seafood delights and opted for the Sausage and Goganzola Scrambled. It was good. But, I had a difficult time sharing my dish with him =)


Hunger pangs gone and stomachs full, we headed back to the now open Pike Place Market where a lot of people have already found their way to 20 minutes right after they opened. It opens at 9AM.

I had found a self-guided walking tour of the market as well as other highlighted locations in Seattle. You can find that HERE. While it may not be in the most detail, it serves at least as a basic knowledge/surface level self-tour.

One of the main stops here is the “flying fish” at this place. Because of the popularity of this, the people who are working at this place have turned it into a fun “touristy destination”.


The “flying fish” part really is self-explanatory. It’s unfortunate that my camera isn’t lightning speed when recording. The fish goes flying within the first 3 seconds of the video. You also hear the guys calling out pretty much everything that someone orders at the counter. It adds to the spectacle of it all.


They even were handing out samples of salmon jerky. Although, I think I would much rather prefer the cooked salmon.

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Aside from seafood, which is what the market is quite popular for. The market also has many different vendors that sell fruits and vegetables, flowers, jewelry, and clothing as well as other knicknacks to appeal to the tourists.

From coming here, I have a found a new love for the dahlia flower. It’s such an odd shape and beautiful for being that way.

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I really liked how the vendors would have samples to share, even if they were just slicing away from a mango or pear that they are holding in their hand. The best line from this guy below was, “This pear tastes just like … a pear!” I told him he should write a book and he got a chuckle out of that. =)


This place, to me, comes across as a photographer’s wonderland with all the different subjects, colors and atmosphere. I know I would certainly find myself here on the weekends if I lived in Seattle to check out the produce and goods.

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Food certainly has a sense of humor. See the sign between the onions and cauliflower: “Little Green Balls of Death”


Apart from the little balls of death, they have a selection of slightly more normal foods like chocolate pasta and balsamic vinegars and oils!

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What adds something more to the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere? Buskers! (aka street performers)

We walked by quite a few buskers in the market and even through downtown ranging from playing the sax, to the guitar to playing the piano or even a combo of a few of them.

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Attention Starbucks lovers: Here we have the original Starbucks location by the Pike Place Market (note the original logo), which is the reason for the throngs of people in line. It was pretty much madness. We did not wait in this ridiculously long line, which I think is one of the smarter decisions we made on this trip!

You couldn’t even see the interior the store at all! The windows were covered with boxes, to probably keep up with the mass of people that go through that place each day.

The best comment overheard while taking pictures of Starbucks was a younger girl with a small group of friends: “If it weren’t for this place, there would be no Starbucks!” …*chuckling to myself*… It’s more like, it probably would have still gotten off the ground, but would probably be at a different location. =P


Closer to lunch time, we walked a bit away from the market into Post Alley, which is the halfway point from the market to 1st Ave. There are some stores and restaurants in this area. We grabbed a small snack from Le Panier and headed to Post Alley, which was a quiet reprieve from Pike Place Market.

Note the slant of the road. No, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. It does get a tad bit steep.


These macaroons (pistachio and strawberry/raspberry) were delicious!


When our ears stopped buzzing a little bit and our stomachs were grumbling for more food. We went to Pike Place Chowder (in Post Alley) for lunch. This place has won a lot of rewards. That’s posted on the wall in the 1st photo and then the 1st vertical photo too.


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The place isn’t that big. The actual can seat people only at its 4 tables and counter space. There is a seating area right outside to accomodate too. But, that’s first come first serve.


When I checked in via Yelp, they had a deal of getting a chowder sampler (3 chowders). So mister and I ordered a large cup of New England Clam Chowder and then for the sampler we tried the Market ChowderSeafood Bisque, and Smoked Salmon Chowder (L to R).

It was SUPER delicious. As a result of this visit, mister and I won’t be part taking in any chowders for a while…. =/ We definitely were gluttonous here.


Good timing on our part because the line was LONG by the time we were done eating and walking out. That’s a good sign that this place is great!


We wandered around Pike Place Market a little longer before heading back to our hotel area to regroup for the rest of the day.

Keep experiencing life. Happy travels friends! =D