Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Mini Vacation In Seattle

For five days in November, I went on a mini-vacation south of the border to the city of Seattle! So, without further adieu, let's get on the adventures!

Postcard worthy of a shot

From November 8-12, my mother, grandmother, and I went to Washington to visit my sister. She just moved from Las Vegas so that she can be *closer* to us (or so she says), and it was a long weekend, so why not? Originally, I wanted to go by myself, but my mother decided to join along, and invited my grandmother as well. And we had a good time, my grandmother was very excited to go on vacation for once! She doesn't usually go out, but you can tell from the moment we picked her up, she was ready to go!

Day One

Saturday morning was pretty interesting, my mother drove cross the border until we stopped for lunch (or as she called it, for a snack). While grabbing food, I bumped into a friend! She was just shopping for the day, and just happened to also be at the same place at the same time. What a coincidence :"D

So I drove from the pit stop all the way to Seattle. The drive wasn't too bad, it's just very long, considering it's all highway then on. My mother tried to give directions, however her instructions were not very clear. Some times, she would simply say 'go there,' or, 'turn here...' It's already too late at this point. But with minor setbacks and the insanity of wanting to kill one another, my grandmother is just there, having no concern whatever (she's on vacation, after all!)

Overall, the drive took about three hours, and the traffic wasn't too bad. I do find it strange that no matter what time of day, there will be crazy amount of cars on the road. I just don't get it, I mean, where are people going on a weekend in November? And all the cars that I saw were from Washington, with the occasional traveller from Virginia, or New York. Where are they going? I don't know.

When I arrived at my sister's apartment, my brother in-law was there, and around the corner were his brother, wife, and children. They were going on vacation, so we didn't have much time with them. We saw her apartment, and my sister was saying how small it was and that there was no space for all their stuff (her home in Las Vegas was astronomical compared to her tiny apartment). With my brother in-law also living there, they had to get rid of a lot of stuff... But in good news, my mother got her wagon! That's another story though.

Afterwards, we all got together and checked into the hotel room that we were staying in. What I didn't know was that my uncle was there, waiting for us at the lobby. He also lives in Seattle, but maybe an hour away from the city. That was a nice surprise, and very considerate as well. We made plans for dinner, and then my mother and grandmother went to sleep:

Travelling takes a lot in you

That was pretty much how the first day went. We wanted to try out a Korean restaurant, but the wait was long, and so we resorted to a Chinese restaurant. The location was strange, mainly because it was a mall full of restaurants and a grocery store. I haven't seen a place quite like that, except for maybe one home (but it's not as populated). And it was in a rural part of Kent, where there was only that mall. Let's just say that my mother was not up for Chinese food. But all in all, it was pretty good, it felt just like home. I did not take pictures of the meal :"c

Day Two

On the Sunday, my mother, grandmother, and I attended mass in this church (I believe it was Saint Anthony's) and I must say, the churches in the states are rather elaborate. Not quite like the ones in Europe, but still, eloquent and a work of artistry. And their style of mass is different from the one I'm familiar with, but still a nice experience.

Afterwards, the day was dedicated to shopping. From one mall after another, I wasn't really wanting much from anywhere. I made a list of things I needed, but no dice. For example, I really need pants (I lack that article in my closet at the moment) - but I wasn't finding anything. The only thing I found that I liked that day was this jacket:

Apparently, I'm a Size Three?

However, it was roughly close to $300. I ain't got those kinds of fundings. So the first day in Seattle was not much of a success. But not to worry, because that night we went back to the Korean restaurant, with a reservation! Woo hoo, we have success. My mother was very pleased to try this place. It's called Jang Soo Tofu, specializing in Tofu & Barbecue. I ordered the Squid Fried Rice:

Crispy & Tasty, the way it should be

Picture of the family altogether

Pretty good, and I learned a thing about the bowls with the white rice: you pour tea in the bowl and create a congee out of the stuck-on rice, and eat it! Never knew that, and it's not too bad. Hey, when you're hungry, you'll eat anything.

And if that wasn't enough, we went for bubble tea and shaved ice. Because, you know, no matter how much you eat, you've always got room for desserts :"3 And that pretty much ended the second day.

Day Three

The Monday was the last day for my mother & grandmother, while I decided to stay a few more days. So how does one end their trip before heading home? With this little fellow:

Jollibee! First time trying the Burger Steak

Wha, it's just a hamburger patties drenched in gravy - it's still good though

For those who are not familiar with the restaurant, it is a Filipino chain restaurant, and every time we go to Seattle, there is a special trip just for the Jollibee, and what ever Filipino groceries required that aren't able to be found at home. That took a good amount of the morning, and then my mother dropped me off in the middle of Seattle, while I had to walk around the town all by myself - meh, that wasn't too bad. Just waiting for my sister, so I did some shopping - or, attempted to. There were so many stores, that I got a bit dizzy in the process. But nonetheless, I saw the City Market, the many streets of downtown Seattle, but for most of the time, I ended up at a bookstore, reading manga. Just found out that my cousin watches the anime - perhaps I should catch up with him on that.

Once my sister finished work, I met up with her, we did a little shopping, and I got myself a shirt. My uncle stopped by, and he introduced me to a remarkable concept that's happening in stores: instead of waiting in line for the cashier, you go to any sales associate and make a transaction with them. It's crazy, and it's only available with credit cards, but still! It saved so much time. They should offer more of those walk around cashiers everywhere! But anyways, back to the story: As a promise, my sister said that I could stay with her, long as I made dinner for one night. We went shopping for groceries, and once I got home, it took me about, two hours, to make dinner? Yeah, it was a long process, and I wasn't confident if it would turn out well. From 7:30 to 9:30, I made this:

Mushroom-stuffed Chicken. It was my first time wrapping meat!

My sister said that I needed a vegetable dish. Presenting, carrots & arugula

Amateur chef; just needs better time management

The mushroom cream didn't really stay inside the chicken, and my friend told me that I should add flour next time so it has a thicker consistency. There was a broth that went with the chicken, but she wasn't sure about how it would taste. So one dish had the broth, while the other one didn't. Based on the taste, the one without the broth seemed to be better. However, as we kept tasting on, it was the one with the broth that tasted better. Not sure where I stand, but I will definitely try - that would be the day I buy string for food d": And that's how Monday rolled...

Day Four

As it was a holiday, my sister had the day off, and so we went on an adventure. We went to the gym in the morning, got ready for the afternoon, and went on a journey like no other. First thing off the list, remembrance. Although it was Remembrance Day (or Veteran's Day in America), we went to Lake View Cemetery to visit the grave of not a soldier, but of a star. Can you guess who resides in Seattle:

Bruce Lee & Brandon Lee

The Martial Arts star & his son are located in Seattle, and there was a lot of attention for these two. I may not know much about these two, but it was a pleasure to pay my respects to two people who made an impact in the entertainment industry.

And if you think that was amazing, you should check out the cemetery itself. There are so many monuments and family trees, you'll be left in awe. It makes you wonder what kind of legacy they left, as the variety is endless at Lake View Cemetery.

But the views in the area are absolutely incredible! Close by was Boren Park, where you could see the entire city:

 Now isn't that a sight?

Attempted selfie, but I cut myself out of the picture...

After that sidetrack, Capitol Hill was close by, and so we walked around and stumbled upon a few shops. First thing we get into town, and we saw this:

Rocking out with Jimi Hendrix

Grass art: if only it was real, just like if the cow was as well...

It's amazing what you'll find in the most random places at time. Once again, I'm not familiar with Hendrix, but he did break barriers with Rock music. Now, enough with all of the stars. Let's get into town. We stopped by an art store because, why not? Did not get anything there, but it's fascinating to see what they sell there. For example, they have magnetic hooks - would have never thought of an art store to sell hooks (they'll hang their aprons on them?) But any who, we saw a bunch of independent clothing stores, the community college, and I must say, it reminded me of Portland, but on a grander scale.

And alas, it was at the confinement store where I found clothes for myself. No, there were no pants, but I got myself a sweater and a shirt:

Who would have thought that of all the shops in Seattle, I would find my purchases in a second hand store. Anything can surprise you in America. It was a cold day, and pretty much finished the sights of Capitol Hill - plus, my sister was hungry. So we checked out a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Cyclo Cafe, and it was good to cozy up with a big warm bowl of beef noodle. When I went to the washroom, I had to take a picture of the graffiti:

Writings on the wall

The creepiness and the comedy behind those three words make it very compelling, yet also uncomfortable. But moving along, there was one more place we had to see. At the confinement store, I asked the cash registrar where to go in Seattle, and she suggested Kerry Park. It's close by where my sister lives, so decided, why not. The park is situated in what seems to be the rich neighbourhood of Seattle, and it's very clear to see why it's a tourist attraction:

Gorgeous, isn't it?

You see everything in one shot

But photos can't do justice for the scenery itself in person. There were a lot of people at this park, including professional photographers for what I believe are for the company that produces postcards. Sunset in Seattle is truly a remarkable thing you've got to experience for yourselves. Along the way home, I saw this public art, and I had to take a photo of it:

Long string paddle boards!

And how do you end the last day in Seattle? With Dine Around Seattle! It's a similar concept to Dine Out Vancouver, and the possibilities were endless. At one point, my sister was considering The Old Spaghetti Factory (yes, there is one in Seattle!), but they were not part of the program. So we selected Steelhead Diner, which is located in Pike Place Market. We invited our uncle to join us, and he was at the restaurant before us. Strange, isn't it? The place was dark, but I guess that's because it sets the mood... I don't know, maybe food tastes better in darker environments. Brace yourselves, food photos are coming:

Butter, with pesto - you know it's a fancy restaurant

Pepper that's extra spicy & Salt that is quite pleasant

Wedge Salad & Crispy Carlton Farm Pork Belly: great appetizer!

 Grilled SRF Top Sirloin Steak was just en pointe

Four Cheese Tortellini & Wild Mushrooms are heaven on earth

Pear Spice Butter Cake was a warm, pleasant surprise

Pumpkin Cheesecake: because, autumn

An excellent dinner, it's definitely worth another visit at the Steelhead Diner. With a full stomach and a wonderful night, there was just one more thing to do:

Selfie time!

It was great to see my uncle these past few days, but now I was ready to go home. Since my stuff somehow increased at the duration of this trip, I had to borrow a bag from my brother in-law, which meant I had to say goodbye to my old back. No matter how many times I tried to hold onto it, my sister wouldn't allow it. So i got one photo before it became the property of my sister:

It was good while it lasted, Keroppi

Departure Home

Wednesday morning, I was heading to the train station, and ready to go home. My sister dropped me off really early - it was still dark outside. When I stepped into the station, I was blown away from the interior:

Majestic and awe-inspiring

I love how the walls & ceilings are all white

Getting the ticket was pretty simple, as I purchased one prior to the day via their website. And the carts on the train are very comfortable. I would recommend taking the train if you've got time, because the scenery is just magnificent as it reaches from one town to another. Since I left in the morning, and the sun came out, you get some awesome shots:

Water & Mountains, such tranquility in Shoreline

 Simply appreciating the view of the great outdoors

Grandpa is more high-tech than I am - his phone is of higher quality than of mine ._.

At Edmonds, I had to take a photo of this. It was too darn cute 

Something about this shot that I enjoy very much - it was rather organic

For three and a half hours, I really enjoyed the ride, despite how slow it went (compared to the speed of a jog, I would say). There are only two times that the train runs (at least that day), and they are completely at opposite times of the day.

Based on the five days I spent in Seattle, I must say there is much more than tourist attractions, and that going further to other cities allow you to see a different side than the ever so popular first Starbucks (go at night, it's practically dead at that time). My grandmother keeps asking when will be the next time we go (she really enjoyed herself). I do hope it's soon, visiting family is always such a thrill!

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