Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seattle pictures and favorites

Here's some of the things that we enjoyed while in Seattle:

Seattle Underground Tour- hilarious guides and story that is interesting as well!

Beechers Cheese- Pike Place Market- who knew mac and cheese could be sooooo good?

Seattle monorail to the Needle- the monorail shows some nice views of the city, and the Needle does as well, of course.

Pike Place Market is lots of fun to walk around, and the fish shop is hilarious to watch. There are some cool stores including a pasta place, kaleidoscopes, and a fabulous little beeswax shop.

Frans Chocolates- you should keep away if possible, but if you must, the salted dark chocolate caramels are certainly heaven on earth

Lolas and Dahlia Lounge- Lolas is an amazing greek inspired restaurant known for breakfast/brunch. Go hungry as portions are huge and the entrees all are interesting with twists on traditional fares. Dahlia Lounge is great and has it all- fabulous food, service and ambiance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Last Day in Seattle: glug, glug

Divya changed her flight to not get in at 1 am to Boston, so she had to get up before 5 am. Ick! We were up talking pretty late, so it came really early! I never got back to sleep but dozed a bit. Shameem and I made our way back to Lola for a hearty breakfast to warm our bones around 8:30. She got steel cut oats, candied almonds and apples, and i got scrambled eggs with kale, feta cheese, toast and bacon. There was a light rain and it is warmer than it's been all weekend. We scoped out where the bus is to get back to the airport, much to our confusion as apparently there are several options. Every time we asked at our hotel, we got a slightly different answer! We walked a bit then she ran over to catch one of the busses. she apparently JUST made it, and sent me a text that she had to block the bus to get the driver to stop so she could get on! At least she made it and is on her way!

I'm off to finish packing and check out, then doing some more exploring. I'll likely camp out in a couple of coffee shops and walk when it's not raining too heavily. Considering a few things, but more in the mood for walking and sipping coffee-- and hey, that's what Seattle is all about. I'm hopeful I'll get to meet up with my college friend today as I got a text from him this morning asking about my plans. It's been 17 years I think, and will be really wonderful to see him again if we can manage it.

I walked.. and walked.. and walked all around the city for a few hours. Went through Belltown, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Marketplace again, and possibly other areas that I crossed into and didn't know. I stopped in Midtown Espresso (it only seemed fair since I went to Downtown Espresso) and had a chai tea. The owner was wonderful and we chatted for a while. It was a small cafe and locals poured in steadily. After a little more walked I decided to risk Lola again for the Haloumi cheese and date skewers. I say 'risk' because the food is great and portions large! It was really amazing!! I only ate maybe half of it and was stuffed, but enjoyed it. I sat by the fire in Hotel Andra a little bit to toughen up before the walk outside again. It has rained steadily today and got cooler than the morning was. Thankfully the wind hasn't been too bad though.

Got a text from my college friend Matt about meeting up for coffee so I'm really excited. I would have been so disappointed to be here and not be able to see him after so long!

Thankfully the critters are doing really well and have enjoyed getting extra visits and attention-- I'm so thankful for my petsitters and friends for being so wonderful to me so I don't have to worry about them. :o) Going to sit in the lobby for a little bit to thaw out, head over to meet Matt then on to the airport! This has been a great trip in a beautiful city. I would definitely come back but would love to check out the parks outside of the city. We're talking about a trip to Vancouver as well!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seattle day 3: Holy crap, no rain!!

I forgot to mention something funny from last night: we walked up to Barolo Ristorante and saw that it was a really nice place with crisp white tablecloths, candles... so we walked to the valet and asked if there was a dress code. He snickered and said "no, of course not!" I add this to the list of why I like Seattle! It was the perfect statement about the city.

Divya ran down to the Starbucks in our building for a pumpkin latte, one of my favorites! Much as we've avoided Starbucks here for other local coffee places, sometimes you stick with what you know. The other place around the corner had a really wonderful latte with orange peel in it which we had on our first day.

The weather forecast, while predicting rain all day, was 'showers' much to our delight. The rain is ok, but the triumvirate of pouring rain, cold and wind hasn't been fun at times! Shameem was very upset last night to find that she left the borrowed umbrella from Hotel Andra (where we sat by the fire waiting for our brunch table to open up yesterday morning) in Pike Place Market. It wasn't worth trying to go back to get it for sure!

Divya just shared with me that she saw a woman with very long fake lashes. So she says to me "I wonder if she's doing the 'walk of shame.' I mean, it's kind of early for that, don't you think? But she seems really put together for the 'walk of shame' so I don't know. This, my friends, is why I love Divya. Ha!

We went to the restaurant in the building for breakfast, then headed out to the Bainbridge Island Ferry. Bainbridge Island has a cute little downtown with little shops and restaurant, like some of the quaint little New England sea towns. A woman overheard us commenting on wanting fudge, and pointed out a little place with local made fudge and sweets. We tasted quite a few before settling on our choices, however, Divya kept sneaking 'samples' when she'd turn her back. Just in the interest of making sure it was good. Quality control at its finest. We then went next door for some tea and apple cider to warm up, then headed to the marina to walk around. A friend of mine recommended a restaurant. Did we go there? No, of course not, we lucked upon 122 Winslow 'Dining and Cheer'. How bad could it be? .. you ask. We are sorry we didn't before partaking of the dining and cheer.

The place was nice enough, and we ordered bruschetta and a pita plate with hummus and baba ganoush. How bad could it be? The plates came and we all just paused and looked. Hmmm.. I've never seen bruschetta prepared white that way. It looked like a very undercooked pizza cut in thin slices with half melted mozzerella from a package sprinkled over it. Ok.... so we tried it, and it tasted worse than it looked. The tomatoes tasted as if they had been either plastic in a past life or frozen, but definitely not good. So we tried the hummus. Almost worse! The pitas were cold and stale, the hummus not good, but the worst was the baba ganoush. I have never tasted anything so vile, and it almost tasted of chopped liver, and certainly had the consistency. We picked around the plate, and even the olives were awful. Had this been $12 or $15 that would have been one thing. But we paid $25 for the pleasure of the 'dine and purge.' The service was also less than cheerful.

We left and found a couple checking out the menu. Shameem very bluntly looked at them and said "do NOT eat here!" as we were walking away. We explained and they promptly left. And we wondered why no one was nice enough to warn us! However, the positive of this story is that we are now all convinced that we did in fact have the worst meal ever.

We went back to Pike Place Market and stopped at the cheese place, watching them make it in front of it. We got a little cup of mac and cheese to wash the taste of the hummus from our mouths, and it was fantastic! We walked through the market for a bit and headed back to our hotel for a little bit before heading out to Dahlia Lounge, a fabulous restaurant of a local famous chef Tom Douglas. It was recommended by a friend of mine, and everyone we've asked about restaurants has it on their short list. We sure need a good dining experience after that lunch!

The restaurant was wonderful! The place was red in tone, and lit by beautiful colored paper lights. Service was great and we found out that they were having a Seattle deal of three courses at participating restaurants for $30. Fabulous! Div had a couple of apps with a winter salad and veggie samosas. I had pumpkin mussels which were amazing, a great pork dish and a chocolate mousse dessert with popycock! Shameem had bread salad, crabcake and a creme carmel. Yummy! Fabulous meal!

We had a good laugh on the way home. We got to an intersection, and the light showed 3 seconds left. Div and I stopped and decided to not cross, but Shameem wasn't paying attention and 'la de da' crossed into the street. She was halfway when the hand stopped flashing. Halfway across the street she realized that the light changed when Div and I yelled 'bye!!!!", let out a yelp and ran across. That was funny enough, but what was even funnier when the guy in the second car back waiting for her to cross saw us waving, saw her yelp and run and really started laughing loudly! Divya and I howled as did Shameem (once she crossed). When Divya and I crossed to her, Shameem shared with us that she had been talking to us the entire time!! She's blaming it on her new hottie hat, but we know... (continue reading for a glimpse into the life of Shameem... If this is Shameem's mom reading, the next part is about Divya.)

We came back and went to the business center to print our tickets off. Divya and I left first, and we schemed about telling the young kid at the front desk that Shameem was surfing inappropriate material and should be stopped. Then we howled about what the poor kid would do, and speculated about his stammering about it. We got up to the room and decided on a note from management: " Dear Ms. Kathiwalla, we have been told that you were surfing inappropriate material in the business center. This is a classy hotel so this will not be tolerated. We will make your accomodations on the front steps outside this evening. Thanks for your patronage. Mr Schmidt." I should note that Mr. Schmidt is the picture of the man in a trenchcoat on our hotel door. Every night we've said 'goodnight Mr. Schmidt" to laughter.

So, you might want to know-- what site is Shameem looking at and why is she surfing porn in hotel business center? Why would her friends rat her out? Did she really sleep on the front steps? Find out in the next episode... of Sam's blog. (for those who have seen Soap, this may be funny to you. Or perhaps not.) :o)

So, Divya is leaving tomorrow at the crack of dawn, taking my blogging computer with her. Bah! So, the last day will be a mystery... until Tuesday when I am awake enough and have computer access to finish this trip.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seattle Day 2: Up, Up and Away!

Apparently the weather really is abnormally cold, rainy and windy here now as storms are coming in from Alaska! Quite a few people have sworn this is the case, so it must be true! So my friend Matt wasn't pulling my leg! We slept in and made our way out for breakfast at a fabulous greek restaurant. There was a wait, so we sat in the adjoining lobby in front of the fireplace sipping coffee. It was really wonderful though at one point Divya jumped up and away from the fire saying that she smelled burning and was afraid she was on fire! Shameem's umbrella blew up from the wind which is the kiss of death, because it blew up with every wind gust following (at least 100 times.) We started laughing speculating on our demise. So, Div was going to incinerate by a fire, Shameem is going to blow away, and I am going to drown in a puddle of Seattle water (note, read the section below as to the historical quality of Seattle water..)

Breakfast was amazing and huge! Our waitress had a german/UK/something else that we couldn't identify accent and was really great, as was the hostess. We each got eggs of different types, with toast and some of the most amazing hash browns It was horizontal raining again after breakfast so we warmed again by the fire, and then headed out to the Underground Seattle tour.

The tour was really interesting and the guides great. Their humor was really sarcastic and the tour was really fun. The first guide talked about the history of Seattle and the fact that the old Seattle was actually underground and was burned down in a fire. He told us about how the original Seattle was a logging town and known as the 'crappers' due to a toilet designed by Thomas a Crapper. They realized that they need a way to dispose of the waste and the citizend developed an above ground wooden pipe sewage system. The next few minutes of talk was, oh, a bit off-color, but my favorite part was when he mentioned the plethora of crappers that were brought into Seattle by sea, or a 'shipload of crappers.' Rather hiliarious though it did make everyone a little cringy with the detail provided. So, then he shared that the pipes went out to the Puget Sound, and when they noticed the water came flooding into the town, they essentially extended the pipes to Takoma. There were many funny cracks about Takoma (which is now off my travel list. ha!) So, needless to say, that when I referenced the quality of Seattle water.. well, I say no more.

The city was then destroyed by fire, and when they rebuilt, they built over the existing city. Apparently the city decided to regrade, however, the existing businesses didn't want to wait so apparently the sidewalks and streets were quite a distance from the bottom floor of the businesses! Between 8 to 30 feet at points! So the businesses ended up building up, so the second floor became the first floor, and some nefarious business went on underground! They also talked about the fact that there was an 8:1 ratio of men to women, and it was interesting that when the first census was done, there were 10% 'seamstresses'. Lots of funny jokes eluded to the actual business of the seamstresses, many of whom died because they didn't use their 'thimbles.'

When we were done with the tour it stopped raining (!!!) so we made our way over to Pike Place Market. What a blast! We bought some dried fruit, pasta in fabulous and different flavors, and Shameem bought a ceramic pig that was so cute! I was quite enthralled by kaleidoscopes and Shameem and Divya had to drag me away, kicking and screaming. Hey, they won't recognize me by the next time that I come back for the one week that it's dry in August (according to the tour that we took.) The market was really wonderful and had a really fun fish stand where the guys would do shout outs and sing, reminding me of a fudge shop I saw in New Orleans! There they would sing and heckle people, but it was very similar. There were several veggie and fruit markets which were so beautiful! And they smelled so fresh and wonderful!

We made our way back to the hotel to drop off our goodies and rest our feet a little bit. Then we went to Barolo Ristorante for their happy hour. Fabulous! We got some wine, a cheese and veggie/meat plate, a lamb burger too. Great deal and yummy! Very nice place actually, and just behind our hotel. We were there for a while and made our way to a place with live jazz which was really good. It's the last weekend of the local jazz festival, and this was part of it. We made our way back to the hotel and could actually see our breath! The nice thing was the rain cleared up mid afternoon and it stayed clear, so we're hopeful that tomorrow will be nice. Playing the day by ear..

Have a great night!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 1: Sunny in Seattle

My feet touched down back in Phoenix from my Italy adventure, and I started scheming on my next trip: a long weekend in Seattle! I have never been so I'm excited to see it, and thrilled to get to see my friend Divya from Boston. It's been at least six years since I've seen her. We're joined by her friend Shameem. Unfortunately her friend Jackie is sick and can't travel, so we'll be thinking of her!

It was *sunny* when we landed, which was exciting as the weather forecast looks like this: RAIN, RAIN, SHOWERS, RAIN. But hey, I'm told that it's a light misty rain (kind of like the 'dry heat' not being as hot in Phoenix, I think.) We checked into our adorable little boutique art hotel and dropped our things off. The rooms are really small but well appointed, and this place is really cute. The room cards have a guy hoola hooping on them, and our door has a cool dude on it. We decided to go next door to the sushi place to eat (yes, dangerous to have a sushi place right next door!) Had a fabulous lunch-- Div and Shameem had almond crusted goat cheese, some sushi and edamame, and I had a bowl of udon noodles and seafood which was perfect in the cool weather. We then took the monorail to the needle and went to the top to enjoy the view.

We checked out a glass blowing studio and watched them work for a bit. The glass was really beautiful and it was fun to watch. It started to rain so we decided to duck into a donut shop that Divya's brother told us to check out, called Top Pot Donuts. We each got one to try, including a 'chocolate feather boa' which was really cute! It was sprinkled with coconut and pretty good. I unfortunately missed my friend for drinks and we headed back to our hotel to dry out before dinner. We're going to an Ethiopian restaurant, and will probably not be out late tonight because Divya and Shameem came from back east with 6 am flights and are quite tired. Tomorrow we'll check out the evening scene!

The Ethiopian place was very cute and the food good. A little before we left, two women walked in who clearly looked like 'workin' girls.' One had a gold lame dress, and the other bright turquoise pants with impressively matching boots. Very, very tight pants. The entire restaurant stopped eating and turned around to check out the new scene. Ha! We swam back to the hotel and decided to call it a night. I wonder how long it takes for gills to go away... My local friends swears that it never rains like this here. Suspicious, given the weather report, but ever the optimist, I choose to believe that the weather dude does not know what he's talking about, and the 100% chance of rain tomorrow is just not going to happen after all. I'm sure it will be bright, sunny and lovely here. [no, I have not been drinking. However, I cannot promise that that will continue if it keeps raining like this and we seek indoor activities to stay dry and warm.]