anniversary weekend

On a Boat

I left off on my last Seattle post with the decadent breakfast from Portage Bay Cafe. After breakfast we headed towards downtown. Michael had booked us on a Duck Boat tour at 1:00 and we had about an hour and a half to kill before we had to be downtown at the Space Needle.

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I suggested we go to the Japanese Gardens. It was something I don’t remember ever going to when I lived in Seattle and it was a nice way to enjoy the sunny morning and walk off breakfast a little bit. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but the Portland Japanese Gardens are so much better. Seattle’s was a little underwhelming. That’s not to say it was bad, I still enjoyed walking around and the koi fish were HUGE!

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They also had turtles swimming in the ponds with the koi fish. The fish were my favorite part. The gardens were pretty and peaceful but still, not sure that I’d recommend it. Now, if you want to come down to Portland I definitely recommend ours.

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We left the park and had enough time to get downtown, get stuck in construction traffic mess, park a mile away from the Space Needle, and walk. Sheesh! I forgot how much of a pain it can be to park in Seattle. Anyways, the Duck Boat tour.

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I KNOW it’s super cheesy–and trust me, it was cheesy to the max–but it was also so much FUN! Michael and I wanted to do some “touristy” things while in Seattle and I remember when Rachel and I went to Chicago one of the first things we did was take a speedboat tour up the river. It was such a cool experience and one of the highlights of the Chicago trip. So I was looking for a similar experience with the Duck tour. It did not disappoint.

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The boats were made in World War II to go on land and sea and the history is quite fascinating if you’re a history buff. The boats fit probably 30 or 40 people on it and they are always full! My only complaint? They give the kids on the boat a duck whistle. Now imagine about a dozen 7 year olds with a whistle–what do you get? The constant sound of a duck quacking and that gets old real quick–especially if you don’t have kids. 🙂

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Other than that, it was a super fun tour. Like I said, very cheesy. Your tour guide makes a big difference and ours was great. He was enthusiastic, a little over the top, a little naughty with his jokes and funny. They play fun music, he gives an abbreviated history of landmarks around the city, and you get to see the highlights of the city in about 2 hours.

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The tour started at the Space Needle and went down to the pier, then Pioneer Square, through Fremont and finally into Lake Union right next to Gas Works Park. I loved hearing the little tidbits about the city on the tour. It was a very hot, sunny day and I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen (bad move) and did not bring a water bottle (another bad choice). Other than that, it was a fun tour and I loved being out on the water!

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I have to say, I’ve never had a desire to have a boat but after being on Lake Union on a hot summer day, I am dying for another boat ride! The original plan was to go kayaking but we just got too busy. We’re going to try and do it next weekend in Portland with a guided tour. I totally want to be out on the water!

After the tour we walked around the Pier. There’s a cool sculpture garden right on the water and tons of shops and restaurants. (We might have snuck into the fancy Edgewater Hotel, where the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Anthony Bourdain stayed, to use the bathroom…) It was just a lot of walking.

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Ignore how pale I am!

Onto the final day. Breakfast was at Cafe Presse on Capitol Hill. It was French bistro and coffee shop that was deceptively large. The back room is huge and there’s tons of tables. We got a seat right away and I got some of the best coffee I’ve had since Hawaii:

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Michael got an omelete and I got two boiled eggs on top of a piece of ham with melted gruyere on it. Sounds decadent but it didn’t feel like it. It felt healthy and delicious.

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We went to Pike Place Market and walked around, then to EMP – Experience the Music Project – under the Space Needle. I’ve wanted to go for years and finally went. I think it’s a cool museums and definitely worth a visit but it’s pretty spendy, so be prepared.

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The Jimi Hendrix exhibit was pretty cool (especially seeing some of the hand written letters, contracts and his jackets). The Nirvana exhibit was AMAZING–like too amazing for words but they’ve been my favorite band since I was 12 years old so there’s a lot of history there. There was a very cool horror movie exhibit with lots of memorabilia (like the ax from The Shining, the zombie suit from Thriller, etc etc). The Sci-Fi exhibit was just ok (they had Christopher Reeve’s Superman outfit on display), but I’m not a huge sci-fi fan. The fantasy display was cool, there was a history of guitars and finally “women who rock” (and I’m kind of annoyed that the display of women in rock is their outfits–like couldn’t they have more than the clothes the women wore???).

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We had a late lunch at Ray’s Boathouse and Cafe in Ballard. It’s a huge restaurant right on a pier next to Anthony’s Homeport with outstanding views of Puget Sound. We got a table by the window and I ordered a half order of the fish n’ chips and Michael got the blackened rockfish with seasonal vegetables.

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I’m glad I got the half order. It was plenty of food. I couldn’t leave Seattle without having some seafood and sitting by the water while I eat it. 🙂 Ray’s was a great place for food and views. The service left a little to be desired; our waitress was pretty much invisible the whole time, but the place was completely packed (which was odd for 2 in the afternoon) so I guess that’s why. I loved my cod fish n’ chips and Michael said the rockfish was the best food he’d had that weekend.

We left Seattle with our skin a little pinker from the sun, my heart a little heavy with homesickness, and a happy feeling of doing fun things all weekend long. Hope you enjoyed the recap and hopefully it inspired you to visit Seattle!

#5

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years already. In a way those 5 years have gone by quickly and in a way it hasn’t. I’m talking about my anniversary with Michael. 5 years ago on June 19th, Michael and I had our first “real” date. I say “real” date because we met online as friends and were chat buddies for months before we ever decided to meet in person. Then it was about a month after meeting in person that we went on a real DATE. The rest is history. 5 years of loving, squabbling, traveling, biking, hiking, cooking and eating together. I learned to wear earplugs at night to silence his snoring. He’s learned to recognize the signs of an impending sugar crash in which I become Kool-Aid Guy.

Michael has taught me how to cook, how to enjoy REAL food, and how to ride a bike long distances. I’ve taught him that hiking is fun, the joy of wine tasting, how to snowshoe,  and how much fun volunteering can be. I’d never had the desire to go to Texas, but Michael exposed me to the good things about a place I never considered visiting. We’ve run away to Vegas together, we’ve learned to love beer together, we started (and learned how to have) a veggie garden, and we’ve been remodeling his house together since we met. 😉

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For our anniversary this year we went up to Seattle sort of secretly. One of the reasons we don’t really vacation to Seattle is that I have so much family and we both have friends up there that if we visit, it becomes a “try and see everyone” kind of weekend, which can be stressful. So in order to celebrate our anniversary just us we didn’t tell anyone (well, I told my mom but she understood that we were there to celebrate just us).

We booked a room at the Watertown Hotel in the U District. We got a deal on Expedia and it looked like a really cute place. Since I’m from Seattle, I know the areas pretty well and staying in the U District was perfect. Close enough to downtown, but without having to pay downtown prices. After the not-so-great experience I had with Rachel at the Hotel Deca, I was a bit nervous about our hotel but was happily surprised that it was AWESOME. I would most definitely stay there again and I’d look for more of their properties in other cities, too. The hotel was nice, clean, quiet, perfectly located, our bed was comfy, the pillows were good (which is hard to get in a hotel), there was a Keurig in the room plus a mini fridge and microwave as well as free bottled water. Oh did I mention that there was a free covered, secure garage for guests? Cannot stress enough how awesome this hotel was.

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The first thing we did once we got to Seattle was go to dinner. It was around 6-ish and even though my stomach had been bothering me all day, I was starting to get hungry. Michael suggested a place in Ballard he went to once with his friend Jeremy called Bitterroot.

The place was packed but we got a spot at the bar in the back. The service was attentive and friendly. I ordered a Bloody Mary because we were in a BBQ joint…they had to have good ones, right? Yeah, it was probably in the top 3 of all time for me. I loved it. It came with various pickled things and olives (including a large pickled carrot stick) and there was candied bacon on top. I did not like the candied bacon but I appreciated the attempt and the presentation. The Bloody Mary was delicious–perfectly salty and spicy.

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It was hard to pick what to order. They had a whole page on their menu of the various mac n’ cheese combinations (I was particularly intrigued by the jalapeno one). I ended up getting the brisket (duh, it’s a BBQ place!) with a side of collard greens and cheesy grits. I was not a fan of the collard greens. I’m not sure what they cooked them in (maybe apple juice?) but it wasn’t good. The cheesy grits on the other hand were epic. I seriously need to learn how to make this at home.

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Was the brisket as good as Franklin’s BBQ in Austin? No. But Bitterroot was one of the better places I’ve been and I’d definitely go back the next time I’m in Seattle.

We were stuffed from dinner and it was still nice and warm out. We went to Gas Works Park and walked around. It was kind of fun to show Michael around Seattle. Gas Works Park is a fantastic place to hang out if you visit Seattle. There’s amazing views of downtown and the Space Needle; there’s plenty of space to throw a frisbee or have a picnic; there’s a nice breeze of Lake Union on a hot summer day and it’s just a beautiful place.

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It was getting late and the sun was starting to set. We went back to the room and ended up walking a few blocks to the Ave to get some frozen yogurt. 🙂

The next morning I got up a little early so I could go work out. The hotel had one of the better gyms I’ve seen in a hotel. It was still rather small but there were two ellipticals, two bikes, one treadmill and a really nice weight set.

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I was expecting it to be super packed and unusable but it was empty at 8am! Sweet! I got in a 25 minute elliptical session and then did my weight lifting routine (modified since I couldn’t do some of the moves). I was happy to get in my workout without the hassle of having to drive somewhere else.

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After my workout we walked about two blocks to the Portage Bay Cafe for breakfast. Michael chose it because they had buckwheat pancakes on the menu. It was very highly rated on Yelp and at 9:30 there was already a 30-45 minute wait for a table. It was definitely worth the wait.

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We got a table on the covered back patio. It was really nice back there because it was secluded and surrounded by trees so it felt like you were tucked away in an oasis instead of the middle of the city. It was also quieter (the restaurant was packed and very loud).

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The service was really good (again, always impressed with good service because Portland can be iffy sometimes). The Portage Bay Cafe had a toppings bar. ‘Nuff said, right? Yeah, they had a bar full of things to top your French toast, pancakes, waffles, etc with. There was tons of fresh fruit, nuts, brown sugar, syrup, and homemade whipped cream.

I got the challah French toast–they wouldn’t let me order the kids’ portion (some restaurants are cool about that) so I got it off the sides. Even ordering a side of French toast the portions were huge! I topped it with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a little whipped cream. I got a side of the homemade chicken sausage patties but they were just okay.

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I’m a fan of this restaurant! I’d get breakfast there again in a heartbeat. They have other locations in Seattle and I can only vouch for the U District one, but definitely go there!

Okay, I will leave you with the drool-worthy photos of breakfast and the next post will be the highlights of some of the Seattle sites to see. Stay tuned!