Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seattle - The Emerald City

Seattle is not my hometown, nor is it somewhere I know a whole heck of a lot about, but I do love it.
This city has so much to offer in the ways of food, music, people, and scenery.

I grew up not too far from Seattle, but far enough to not very there very often. It was a place that seemed far away when I was young, but now that I'm in my 20's, I live about 20 minutes away and still don't go very often.

Seattle has it's perks, but let's start with its downfalls. Traffic and parking are top on my list for dysfunction in this picturesque city. Not only does it take awhile to get somewhere (during peak times) but if you CAN find a parking spot, it's going to cost you at least $5 (some places) unless you can find that lot that's free at off times.


This city is fascinating to me, not only because of the multitude of things to do, but because of the diversity of people who live and wander there.
There is always something going on to peak interest in someone.
I myself, love to enjoy good music in town, whether it's to see Hozier at the Paramount or Muse at the Key.

I also must confess while I love the city, I haven't tried too much of the food there. You really shouldn't judge though because there is entirely way too much to try! Every district has it's own billion (exaggeration) or so restaurants, cafes, pubs, etc.
I love Belltown for drinks, but Capitol Hill for the quirky places to try.

Pike Place also captures the essence of the city. Full of fish throwers, flowers and shops to entice even the most unenthusiastic of people (probably).
I love to buy pasta and tea and check out the comic book store, just for fun.

I also like to stay down there whenever possible. I like to stay at The Moore Hotel because the price is usually right and the rooms are perfect. I've stayed in their European style, two bed shared bathroom setups, which worked out fine and in one of their suites with a large bed and old fashioned tub.
It has the best coffee shop open in the morning, attached to it, Moore Coffee, which has cute foam pictures on almost every drink. Their hot chocolate tastes like toasted marshmallows.. it's the best!

Anyways, Seattle, the Pacific Northwest, will always have my heart in a way no other place in the U.S. can. It's my home and I think that I will always come back to it.

Any questions?

Cheers everyone and safe travels!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Wizarding World and More

Universal Studios was a last minute plan for us, but it was more than worth it to go.
We happen to be friends with an awesome lady who's boyfriend got us park hopper passes for FREE.
What? Yes free. I couldn't believe it either, but that was majorly appreciated.

The most important thing to us while we were there was walking through and seeing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, both places. Diagon Alley was darker, with all of the interesting shops.
We had a lot of fun going through Gringots and the ride was very fun!

Of course, butter beer was a must here and it was amazingly delicious! It was rainy and cold the day we went, but I still had the frozen kind, which I would definitely recommend. Supposedly better than the regular.  We then hopped on the train to the other park!

Hogsmeade Village was lovely as well. This is where we ate lunch at The Three Broomsticks and went on couple rides they had there. The dueling dragons ride was the best and craziest, I was dizzy when I got off of it, in a good way!

The Hogwarts ride was fun as well, but I left feeling a little sick (motion sickness sneaks up sometimes) because the ride was moving a lot and was basically all projection screen scenes. So beware!

This was my favorite part of the day and I wish we had just stayed there the whole time (although the rest was fun too)

We went on the MIB alien ride, which was another highlight! I would have won too, if I hadn't been with people who go there all the time (3rd place out of 5 isn't too bad either).

We went through Jurassic Park to the activity center.
We were all very tired already by this point, but we also went through the SuperHero area to ride on the Dr. Doom ride, which was as bad as I was expecting it to be.

We waited in line for a long time to go on the Rip Ride Rockit (the music coaster) which didn't end up working for us. And trust me when I say this, not having music playing on that ride makes it entirely more scary than it should be. I wouldn't go on that again.

We were just about to go, but we really wanted to go on the Mummy ride, which was a great way to end the day. Such a fun ride!

By the end of the day, it was getting darker and rainier and we were so tired from the day before, we were just done.
All in all though, definitely go!
It would be better on a nicer day, but I'm glad we got to have that experience.

Cheers and safe travels everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Happiest Place on Earth

Dare I disagree with this ever present statement about Disney? No, of course not, although it being crowded as hell is definitely -1 point, it's still definitely an amazingly happy place to be.

My trip to Florida over New Years was well worth the travel time, the planning, and leaving home. The sun definitely made up for the constant rain and cold during the winter back in Seattle.
When first arriving to DisneyWorld, the archway welcoming you to the parking area is enough to make you excited! I remember looking over to the car next to us to see a little boy rocking out and ready for all the fun. We only decided to go to the Magic Kingdom, because of costs, even though I would have loved to venture over to Animal Kingdom as well.

Although, the morning for us was a little cold and rainy, we didn't let it completely dampen our spirits because everything looked so magical. It was still decorated with festive Christmas wreaths and garlands, lights hanging everywhere and all of the workers, at least out in the shops and the streets, were very friendly and helpful (some people at the rides seemed very less enthused).

We started off the day at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a nice start to the day in FrontierLand and a great way to get us even more excited for the rest of the day.

*As a side note, I think we waited until after the ride to go look at our fast passes and we should have done that when we first walked through the gates...That was a major bummer to have to wait all day to use some of them (and some were all taken) even though it did work out well for us in the end.

We strode through AdventureLand next and went to meet Aladdin, which was my friends "need-to" item of the day.
Meeting the characters was a great extra I hadn't even really thought about before getting there, but it was definitely a great feeling to even be standing next to a character from your childhood.
Later in the day, we also met Ariel, Gaston, Beast, Anna and Elsa.

Mind you, we are the park from when it opened and we stayed till just before it closed, so we were there for a good 16 hours walking our butts off trying to see and do as much as we could.
More rides, circling through the whole park at least a couple times, before hitting the time of the day where the dominos were falling into place.
Being able to use one fast pass for The Haunted Mansion, running to see the fireworks and then trying to get out of the swarms of people to get to our dinner reservation.

The New Years fireworks display (although it was Jan 2nd) was amazing and for sure a highlight. The music from countless Disney movies playing, the flashes and sparks dancing and glowing along. There were two shows and we stayed for both.

We then, like I said, had to book it to our dinner reservation at Be Our Guest (Beast's castle) because we were already late. They were very nice there though and we got seated pretty quickly.
We only decided to get dessert there because the actual food was very pricey, so we got a couple lovely cupcakes and, of course, had to try some of the grey stuff! Which is delicious, by the way.
After we got to meet Beast, which was lovely.

Traipsing around the park again after the sugar, our favorite ride through the day was probably the Little Mermaid ride, sitting in a clamshell and singing the songs. We rode on this for the second time at this point.
We went to TomorrowLand to finish it out and wait for our last fast pass for Space Mountain. The Orbiter and Buzz Lightyear took up our time and then we headed over.
We decided to just wait in line because we were too early, but by the time we got through and on, we were able to scurry back and use our fast pass to get back on in 5 minutes, score!

That was the end to our magical day. Filled with much happiness and thankful hearts.
We would have stayed longer, but we did have to go to Universal in the morning, so sleep was a necessity.

Worth it? Oh yes. Recommend it? Highly.
They don't call it the happiest place on Earth for no reason.
More to come soon!

Cheers and safe travels everyone!

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Years in the Sunshine State

Ringing in 2016 could not have been better, especially since I was spending it laying out on the beach and soaking up some sun in Florida.
Making new friends from different places definitely has its perks and this would be one of them.
I had never gotten a chance to travel to Florida before, but during my Europe journey back in June, I made a friend who happened to live in Orlando.
Not being able to help myself, I jumped on the opportunity to head down there for New Years, mind you, it being all the way across the country from where I am.

New Years on the beach, DisneyWorld, Universal.. the list could go on, but that was enough to entice me.

To start things off, we spent the start of New Years Eve by journeying out down New Smyrna beach at PJ's Seashack to see if we could catch a glimpse of some manatees, since we all love animals and it would have been awesome! We decided to try paddle boarding and paddle out to a cove where there could be potential. The water, sadly, was too murky and we couldn't see any, but surprisingly a small group of dolphins decided to crash our party and swim alongside the paddle boarders and kayakers around the inlet. It was a great sight to see, especially when there was a baby in the midst!

Of course, we did enjoy some nice beach time after this, walking out in the salty Atlantic ocean water and watching crazy fish jumping next to us. Bobbing with the waves and feeling the sun shining was a major highlight to this vacation, because that definitely makes it a vacation.

We headed to downtown after that to grab some food at Clancy's, the neighborhood Mexican restaurant which had a long wait, but was worth it. They had a nice little firework show after that which we stayed to watch and then we headed to find some fireworks of our own, sparklers to be exact. This was probably the most difficult thing we had to do during the day, because no one seemed to have an fireworks of any kind, anywhere. Until we spotted an actual firework tent, we thought we were out of luck. They ended up being generous enough to give us a bag full of fireworks for the price of just about $6. We headed home with our lovely stash of good and felt happy.

Again, it's not just enough to say, "Oh, we spent New Years at the beach," because when you think of Florida, you think of beaches. Honestly though, we were literally on the beach, watching fireworks and playing with the sparklers we just bought.

The sand was cool and it wasn't really cold out at all. The moon was rising and giving us a lovely glow to view everything in and it was truly picturesque. On the beach, New Years, fireworks in the twilight and the oceans waves providing constant background noise through the event.

I couldn't have asked for a better start to a grand vacation. Good friends and great times.

More to come as I'll share more on my time there, detailing Disney and Universal and possibly a little bit extra!

To be continued!
Cheers and safe travels throughout the new year everyone! Have a fabulous 2016!