Category Archives: travel

My Take on Seattle, WA

After we visited Portland, we drove to Seattle and spent a few days there.  Here are my thoughts on Seattle.

Seattle is big and there is a lot of construction in the city.  The traffic was also pretty bad there.

I liked the free bus, Metro Route 99, in downtown Seattle for tourists.  It runs between Belltown and Pioneer Square on 1st avenue and Alaskan Way.  Here is a map of the route if you are interested in learning more about it.  It is a great way to travel in Seattle and you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot.  There are many public parking lots in Seattle and I used an iPhone App, ParkMe, to help find the cheapest and closest lots in the area.  It is extremely convenient to use to find the ideal parking garage when you are not familiar with the area.

They have an interesting way to pay for parking in the city.  After you pay at the parking meter machine, you get a ticket which is a sticker and you have to post it on the inside of your side window (right or left depending on the side of the street).  I had never seen a system like this before.  It is kind of cool.

I went to Tillicum Village on Blake Island.  If you haven’t done it, it is worth doing it once.  The boat ride to the island is very nice and the narrative on board is very informative.  After arriving at the island, you will be greeted by this guy in a nice costume (picture below) and a clam soup in a cup.  I didn’t like it much but others seemed to really enjoy it.  The show during lunch was great with some cool projection technology.  The food was great with salmon as the main course cooked with a traditional method.  After lunch, you have about 45 minutes to explore the island on your own.  There are a few hiking trails you can take.

This guy in the picture is a stage performer and a waiter in addition to being a greeter.  He is one of many who wear multiple hats at the village.

Tillicum village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon cooking in a traditional way.

 

Salmon Bake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Underground Tour is a good informative tour about Seattle.  It is a walking tour that takes you into a few buildings and basements around Pioneer Square.  Mostly, you will just see ruins of old buildings.  Get more info from their website.  If you buy a drink or food there before the tour, you will get a special card for priority seating for the introduction session.  I don’t think it is worth it.

Sinking Ship Parking Lot by the Underground Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boeing Factory Tour is a great tour  if you like planes.  The facility is in Everett which is about 25 miles north of Seattle so you will need a car to get there.  You can buy a tour from a third party that includes transportation.  You should make a reservation in advance online or by calling them.  At this facility, you can see how they make the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner.  They do not allow any personal items (purses, backpacks, cameras, binoculars, cell phones, etc.) on the tour.   You can put them in a locker.  The tour lasts about 90 minutes and be prepared to walk a lot.  I really enjoyed the tour.

Pike Market is one of the most famous places to visit in Seattle.  They sell fresh fishes, vegetables, and flowers.  There are many other vendors selling souvenirs, local products, food, and drinks.  To me, the most interesting part was the restaurants and bakeries right outside the market.  You can get a yummy grilled cheese sandwich from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and great French pastries from Le Panier Very French Bakery.  Many places around the area have limited seating but you can take your food and eat at the park by the water (if it is not raining).  The park is just around the corner from the Pike Market.

Pike Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there are not many food trucks in Seattle compared to Portland there are many good places to eat, especially by the Pike Market.  My two favorites restaurants on this trip in Seattle are LIST and Paseo.  The great thing about LIST is their all day happy hours on Sunday and Monday.  Almost everything on the menu is half off with a few special half off drinks.  We were there on a Monday night and we had to wait for about 30 minutes to get a table.  Paseo is in the Fremont area.  The place is very small and has about 5 tables.  We got our sandwiches to go.

Click here to see magnets I bought from Seattle.

My Take on Portland, OR

I visited Portland, Oregon the end of March this year with my family and here are my impressions of Portland.

It is very green.  It was raining the whole three days we were there.  I also noticed that there was a lot of green moss on the trees which was an indication of all year humidity.  I love the fact that you can just drive 30 miles east and you will find amazing water falls, hiking trails, dams, mountains, and other natural places.

On our first day, we drove east along highway 84 (E Historic Columbia River Highway) and stopped at a few falls along the way.  Multnomah Falls is one of the most popular falls since there is a visitor center, a cafe, and a restaurant there.  It is also one of the tallest falls in the area.  Here is a picture of Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a view along E Historic Columbia River Highway.  It is very green and pretty.  It was not crowded at all.  This might be because it is not high season.

E Historic Columbia River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The street food scene here is amazing.  I think they have one of the best food carts/trucks in the country.  I love the idea of putting all the food carts/trucks in parking lot.  There are  so many places around town with groups of food carts.  I think other cities should adopt this idea.

Street Food Scene in downtown Portland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Food Scene in Richmond Neighborhood in Portland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food scene here is also amazing.  I am talking about regular restaurants.  There are many cool neighborhoods around the city and each neighborhood has its own flare including great places to eat.  I was very impressed with Chinese food at Frank’s Noodle House in the Irvington area.  I found it on Yelp.  They make their own noodles there.  I also enjoyed their General Tsao’s Chicken.  I also think Voodoo Doughnut is overrated.  Yes, they are very creative on their menu but I don’t find the doughnuts taste any better than other doughnut places.  I also found my new favorite place for espresso, Spella, in downtown Portland.  It is a small shop with two people working there – one is Italian.  They make a great latte (very smooth and not overly hot).

There is no sales tax in Oregon.  Great place for shopping for sure.  There are a few outlet malls around the outskirts of the city.

Portland is older than I thought.  After learning a little bit about the history of Portland, I now understand.  There are many old brick buildings in the downtown area.  The China Town area also has many historic buildings including the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

And, there is no Ikea Inspired Home at Ikea in Portland.  When I saw this article, I didn’t read it completely (my fault) and I thought Ikea was selling a house in Portland.  I was wrong.  It is a house by ideabox furnished by Ikea furniture.  I stopped by Ikea in Portland and asked the greeter at the door and she said I was the second person asking her about the Ikea house but she had no idea what it was.

I only bought two magnets in Portland this time.  To see them, click here.

Taylor Guitars Factory Tour

Many people including myself didn’t know that Taylor Guitars is located in El Cajon – just outside San Diego.  They offer a free, guided tour of the Taylor factory every Monday through Friday at 1 PM.  You don’t need to make an appointment.  You just have to show up around 12:45 PM and check-in at the receptionist desk in the lobby.

The tour lasts about an hour and 15 minutes.  It was very informative.  They took us through the whole guitar production process.  The guide was someone who is working in their marketing department.

Here are some of the photos from the tour.  I used the tilt-shift technique.

Taylor Guitars Factory - Front pieces

 

 

 

 

Taylor Guitars Factory - Factory floor
Taylor Guitars Factory - Bending machines
Taylor Guitars Factory - Buffer machines