Sunday, November 29, 2009

Seattle, Washington!

October, 2009

Sorry for the delay, Travel Friends!! The Seattle post is here!!!

Seattle was great. It's only a few hour flight from Orange County, so we arrived in the early afternoon. Just enough time to check out Pike Place Public Market and downtown Seattle on our first night.

Our hotel was a few blocks from Pike Place Market. ( ) The market consisted of fish, flowers, local art, fruits, vegetables and tons of different souvineer/gift shops. The surrounding area also is the home to cheese shops, pastry shops and the very first Starbucks store!! There are also restaurants and a few bars hidden away. There are always street performers as well. One of the funny ones we saw was the Cat Psychiatrist. haha. You bring your cat and they analyze it. Apparently he is a regular near Pike Market. Also, you have to visit the world famous Pike Place Fish Market. ( They love tourists so stop by and visit them! They will throw fish at you and pose for pictures. :-)

First Starbucks!

We also checked out Downtown Seattle a few times. Tons of coffee houses and shopping. Kind of a mini (shorter) version of New York City. It was really nice.

Rainy Seattle night...

The view of the rain from inside Starbucks!

View from the Elevator near our hotel.

View of Mt. Rainier! We didn't even know it was there for a few days until the rain took a little break.

We decided to take a ferry that went to Bainbridge. My travel teacher once told me that anytime you have the chance to see the city from the water, do it! This was the best $7 we spent. It was about a 1/2 hour ferry ride. The ferry is huge and there were not too many people on it. So we had fun running around snapping pictures of all of the wonderful views we had. We got off the boat at Bainbridge, but if you want to just go straight back to Seattle, you just get right back on when they allow it and you won't have to pay again. So, that is what we did. Check out some of the views!

Check out the Space Needle to the left!

Bainbridge Island in the background. It was really pretty!

Back in Seattle....
Near the ferry, you will find Ivars Seafood. ( You can either eat in their waterfront restaurant, or you can go to the walk up stand like we did. They have fish and chips, prawns and chips and of course, clam chowder. I'm not a seafood person at all! But I did make it a point to have the prawns. They were good. Not great, but good. My friend loved the fish and the chowder.
The seagulls wait for the customers to feed them their leftover french fries.

While in Seattle, we were told we needed to go to the Seattle Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. ( Although it was not really a huge interest to me, I can appreciate that some people would really love this place. There was a room on the history of guitars, a room deticated to all things Jimi Hendrix, album covers, sound effects and much more. There is a room where you can be filmed talking about why a specific album or song or singer has inspired you and they may end up showing it in the museum. They also have tons of iPod's through out the place built into side tables so you can sit with behind the scenes interviews, songs and more. There was one room that grabbed my attention. Tons of areas where you can play with musical instruments that are hooked to computers. So if you are a beginner, it will teach you a little bit of a song and if you are experienced, you can have a jam session. There are guitars, keyboards, drums, mixing and singing rooms. Very fun to play with!
Inside the Experience Music Project. Art made from instruments. Some of them were actually rigged to play on their own.

Next stop was the Seattle Space Needle. It was kind of rainy but we decided to just go up there anyways since we weren't sure if the rain would ever stop! It was cold and windy, but they do have a huge indoor section.
View from the top!
The Space Needle

Supposedly, this is used in Grays Anatomy. Mainly the helio pad at the top for scenes where they show the helicoptors landing and departing from the roof top.

We went on a little bus tour where it was just us and 1 other guy! It was good though. Our driver grew up in Seattle so he knows all the history and now we know his history too! haha. The one bad thing is that there were a few times where we really wanted to get out and take pictures but we felt bad asking. We did get to get off the bus in Pioneer Square for a few minutes and then once up in the hills. But I really wish I had asked to stop a few other times. Like up in the hills near all of the fancy houses and the great view of the city and also the houseboats on Lake Union (Sleepless in Seattle house!). Oh well! I hear the Lake Union boat tour is cool too because you get to see the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat up close.

Pioneer Square- artsy town. Bookstores, bars and coffee houses. Very cute.

The view where we got to stop in the hills. You can see the Space Needle in the background.

Overall, we had a really good time discovering Seattle. We saw a lot, but there is still much more to do. If you have a car and a passport, I would suggest doing the drive up to Vancouver. One thing I learned about Seattle is that the city closes down early! Now it could be that we were there in an off season but everything was closed by like 5-6pm. It could just be the area that we were in but we tried going to a few bars and they were dead! All of the little shops were closed early too. So if you need anything from the store make sure you plan ahead!
Going Green and Saving Green-
My friend and I brought our eco friendly plastic water bottles with us to Seattle. Note that you have to empty it before you go through Security at the airports. This was the best! I don't know about you but I drink a ton of water on vaction. I'm usually walking a ton and I always end up spending most of my money on bottles of water. You can fill up your bottle at your hotel or a drinking fountain and always have free water! Our hotel always had iced fruit water in the lobby so we were always stocked up! So you are saving money and saving the environment from all of the plastic bottles you would be throwing out. Go Green!
Thanks for reading! Hope my post or pictures make you want to go to Seattle too!
Happy Travels!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sleepless until Seattle...

5 Days until my Seattle trip!!!

Soooo excited. My brother, sister-in-law and their girls also recently went to Seattle (only a few weeks ago) to visit a friend. They had nothing but good things to say about it. I also got to see a few of their pictures and it just made me even more excited to go.

Rainboots, check. Coat, check. Gloves and scarves out of their storage boxes, check.

One more thing. I'm conflicted about the whole checking luggage thing. I believe it's up to $30 to check a bag now. That is so not cool. But do I really want to lug my suitcase around the airport? And then getting on the plane and trying to put the luggage all the way up in the packed storage area because everyone else has the same idea as me does not sound appealing as well. Also, i'm trying to take my small suitcase and it is in fact very small. So i'm worried about fitting shoes, mittens and warm clothes for 4 days in such a tiny space. I think I will be wearing my rainboots and my coat just so I don't have to pack them!

Of course, I will let you know how it goes.

Sleepless until Seattle

PS.... I hope Seattle treats us well weather wise. Go easy on the rain please!!! ;-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Next Trip......Seattle!

Hey Travel Peeps!

Just a quick note to let you know about my next confirmed trip! I'm going to Seattle, Washington! I've never been, so it should be fun. It will be another long weekend trip. 4 nights total. If we get our passports renewed in time, we may go up to Vancouver for a day. Fingers crossed. :-)

I have no idea what to see there so I will need to do some research. I know a few people that have been and will be giving me lists of their must sees.

This trip will be next month (November). So, with that said, I better get me some rain boots!!

***Any suggestions on things to do in Seattle from my fellow Travelers??

Travel Girl on a Budget: I found a round trip ticket from Long Beach to Seattle for $159 after taxes!! Awesome deal! I booked through American Airlines via A good tip is to be as flexible as possible for your dates. A lot of the websites show when the cheapest deals are. I modify my trips to get the cheapest flights when possible!

Travel Girl Movie Picks for Seattle:
Sleepless in Seattle

Travel Girl Books for Seattle:

See you in Seattle!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Travel Girl goes to DC!

Monuments, Politics and Museums.....oh my!

Just got back from Washington, DC. Had a great time. Saw everything I set out to see and more.

Roommate and I left work on time at about 1:30pm on Friday. Since we work about 10 minutes from the Orange County Airport, we had a friend from work take us. That way, we could leave our cars at work for the weekend. Safe and free. :-) We checked in and went through security all in about 10 minutes. Our flight left around 3:20pm. We had a layover in Texas but we were only there for about 20 minutes before we had to board again. Dallas Ft Worth is a really nice airport, fyi! We arrived in Washington, DC at about 12:40am. Took a taxi to the hotel and checked into our room. Since it was actually only about 11pm (CA time), we were kind of hyper.

We stayed at the Courtyard Washington, DC/US Capitol. The ground floor was just a security guard. The lobby is on the 2nd floor. The hotel is new. Just opened in April. It is not in the best area of DC. However, it seems as though they are rebuilding everything in the area and this was just the first thing done. There are other hotels and businesses in the middle of construction. So this may become a better area. The rooms were nice and the decor was good. They have a small market where you can buy food, drinks, sundries, etc. They have computers with free internet and a bar and lounge. While we were there, the bar was not open once. I think they were at a very low occupancy. Another great thing about this hotel is that it is literally steps from the Metro. The Metro station is New York Avenue/Florida Avenue. From there, all the main sites are within about 10-15 minutes away.

The next morning, we decided to walk the city. We walked from the hotel to the US Capitol building. Since we walked, we were able to see the Capitol building from many areas of the city. What a view!

This was a Segway Tour of DC. We were not on that tour. I died when I saw them. They looked so funny. I'm not gonna lie though....after walking miles and miles in the heat and sun, I had the urge to steal one from someone.

I loved this little spot we found. With the flowers, foundtain and Capitol building all in the shot. So beautiful.

From the Capitol, we walked through the National Mall where all of the Smithsonian museums are. We had decided we really wanted to see the National Air and Space Museum. This museum houses The Wright Brothers airplane, the Apollo 11 command module, World War II Aviation, Jet Aviation, etc. It was a really cool museum. I especially liked the information on Women during the Wars. They had information on WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and what the requirements were to be a stewardess. Requirements such as height, weight, race, age, etc. Very interesting stuff!

Smithsonian Castle

Continuing down through the National Mall, we made it to the Washington Monument. We were starving by then and found a little cafe right next to the monument. Not great, but there were not really any restaurants along the National Mall. Going back, I would have eaten at the food court at the Air and Space Museum.

Washington Monument

Right after the Washington Monument, we got to the National World War II Memorial. Very nice. Wonderful views and each state is recognized with their own pilar. There are inscriptions to read everywhere. It's huge.

Here is the memorial with the Washington Monument in the background.

After the National World War II Memorial is the Reflecting Pool. The "pool" is actually more of a murky pond. Ew. But it looks really good in this picture I took!! :-)

At the end of the Reflecting Pool is the Lincoln Memorial. The building is very huge but the actual statue is not that big. It is impressive. There were tons of people there so it was hard to get a good picture without anyone's head in it. Plus, it was sooooo hot and everyone was hanging out in there to try to cool off. Everything was made of marble.

We then walked back towards the Washington Monument. Then we went left towards the White House. It's hard to get a good picture because of the gate and fences. Also, there are tons of people trying to get pictures from the same spot. This was the back of the White House. I thought it was strange that we could see quite a bit of their land. Since you can view the front and back of the house there is not much room for privacy.

From there, we decided to take the Metro back to our hotel. It was hot and we walked ALL of that. We both desperately wanted a shower and a rest. :-)

Here is their Metro. I found it very clean and actually very nicely designed. All of the stations I saw had this same architecture. It was very cool looking. The one problem I noticed is that the stations are few and far between. It is however very easy to navigate being as there is only about 5 lines.

After we showered and rested, we got ready and her cousin met us at our hotel. He has been living in DC for a few years now. He took us to the restaurant where he works, Logan Tavern. The restaurant is located in the Dupont Circle area. This area was probably somewhere I would not have known to go. But I absolutely loved it. The area was clean and the houses and restaurants were so cute. Loved it. We had a very yummy dinner at Logan Tavern. The ginger calamari and buffalo shrimp were delicious. We had such a good time that we came back for brunch the next day. Mmmm.... mimosas!! Oh, and there is a beautiful Whole Foods Market across the street from Logan Tavern and while we were having brunch, there were some people playing violins. It really made the brunch atmosphere. They played the most random music from the Titanic theme song to Coldplay to Phantom of the Opera. It was great!

Here are a few pictures from Dupont Circle.

Look at the building! I love it.

The houses had lots of brick and stone.

I want this house!!!

After brunch, we walked to Georgetown. The Metro doesn't go there since the residents voted against it. Georgetown was nice. Lots of trendy shopping, cute restaurants, houses, etc. However, since we were not wanting to shop or eat, we got over it fast. I would like to go there again and check out their houses. I've seen pictures that look similar to houses in Dupont Circle. If I go back, I will take a taxi! It was far and really hot!!

We took a taxi to Arlington Cemetary in Virginia. Our taxi driver was awesome! I just had to point that out because it is rare to have a really good experience. He stopped for pedestrians and bikers, did not speed or swerve and was friendly.

Lots more walking at Arlington. There are signs pointing you to everything you could want to see. But it is hilly and long so if you are with someone who has trouble walking, take the bus tour. I saw so many people pushing wheel chairs or walking with walkers, canes, etc. It broke my heart. It was sooo hot too.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The tomb is always guarded. We got to see the changing of the guard ceremony too. There is also a small museum next to the tomb. FYI....out of respect, do not smoke. This guard actually yelled at someone during his guarding and told him to leave. It was intense. Also, if you see these guards count their steps. They do 21 steps then turn around. I counted and it's true!

Next stop in the Arlington Cemetary was the gravesite for President John F. Kennedy. Also, Jacqueline Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. Lines were long to view each gravesite.

After Arlington Cemetary, we were exhausted. We Metro'd it back to our hotel for a shower and another rest. (what? we walked alot!!) Then we wanted to see some of the monuments at night. So we decided to head out to the Capitol building. They were having a Labor Day concert that night on the Capitol lawn. Better was a FREE concert!

The National Symphony Orchestra performed while we sat on the steps of the US Capitol! Can't say that every day! Very cool experience. Until it started pouring!!! And I mean POURING! We looked like drowned rats. We were not very close to a Metro so it took us a while of running in the pouring rate until we could get to a dry spot. We decided to head back to the hotel since we couldn't really go anywhere as wet as we were.

Right before the rain. :*(

Ahhhh! Our last day here! We decided to go back to a few places we'd missed. Starting with the World War I Memorial. Roommate's cousin told us not to miss it. Most people do miss it because it's kind of hidden. It is also a lot smaller than the World War II Memorial.

Then, we decided to check out the White House again. From the front this time!

They didn't let me in. :*(

One last Metro ride back to the hotel. Then off to the airport. Layover in Chicago. The Proposal on the in-flight entertainment. FYI they totally edit it for content. Luckilly I had seen it before. Loved that movie!

All in all, we had a great time in DC. The sites were amazing. So much history. I got to see everything I had on my list. However, there is still so much to see if I get to go back sometime. Like the other Smithsonian museums for instance! This is a good city to visit if you are on a budget as it is fairly walkable or you can use the Metro for a small fee. All of the sites and museums were free as well. You should definitely put this on your list of must sees.

Washington DC Metro-
National Air and Space Museum-

Travel Girl TV pick for DC:
Army Wives- I mean, come on. I had to put this. DC is all about the military. Great show by the way!! And as non-political as they can be!! Oh and did I mention the gorgeous boys??