The day is finally here, and the wait is over. Tomorrow, I will be South America bound! Although I am extremely excited to visit a new continent, one of the banes of my existence is packing. You think that I would be used to it by now, but I don't think I will ever be. As I was going through my closet, I decided to make a list of things that you should never take on an international trip...especially coming from the United States. Please note, that this is my personal opinion, and you can definitely do what you want :) My priorities while traveling include: safety, adventure, and self emersion. So here we go...
2. A Purse without a Zipper
4. Travel Sized Toiletries
7. Shoes That You Cannot Walk Miles In
Packing is about being smart, but sometimes you have to learn your lesson before it actually "clicks". Remember these three objectives for your trip when making a packing decision: safety, comfort, and adventure!
When my mom and sister finally booked their tickets to come and visit me in Seattle for Memorial Day Weekend (along with my 4 year old niece, and 18 month old nephew), two thoughts came to my mind. 1. It was about EFFING time (my dad has been here twice). and 2. OMG I don't have kids...what restaurants/sites can I bring them to that would keep at least half of their attention span?! Let's face it, Seattle is a foodie city, with not the most accommodating menu's for the little ones (especially the picky ones). So I set out to do my research. I was determined to show them the best of Seattle (I am slightly obsessed), while tweaking the typical "tour" I give my friends and family when they come to visit.
I knew my biggest challenge would be food. Based on research and past experiences at tourist attractions in Seattle, I had hoped I planned enough things to keep them busy. They arrived on Friday night, so right after work I picked them up, and the fun began...
I picked everyone up, and we barely fit in my car - suitcases/car seat/booster seat/pack and play. Holy cow. We made it back to my apartment in Queen Anne, and unpacked everything. While my nephew Aiden decided my coffee table needed cleaning, my niece Isabella was mesmerized by my shoe collection. And yes, that is Frozen playing in the background.
We had to get on the road, because I made dinner reservations in Alki (West Seattle). I figured it would be a great place for the kids because we could go to the beach afterwards, and the city skyline from Alki is completely amazing. After dropping off the bags, etc. we headed to dinner.
We ate at Duke's Chowder House (http://www.dukeschowderhouse.com/locations/alki/), which was only steps from Alki beach. The weather was amazing (I won't lie, I was slightly worried about rain), and so was the food. We had gotten some of their famous "Uncakes", a fresher version of a crab cake, as well as some fresh Seattle fish. Unfortunately the waiter had forgotten our appetizer, and the kids were getting restless waiting on their food, but overall we had a great time. We were lucky that there were oyster crackers to entertain the kids.
Saturday AM, I brought my sister to Flywheel, an indoor cycling club I belong too. She did amazing, despite me making her go through "Power Hour" (which I never do, I only go for 45 minute classes). Our appetites were raging and we were excited to see the town!
I decided to make them all take the bus with me, something I do daily, so I could show them my office and downtown. It was a little much trying to get the stroller, diaper bag, and all the kids on the bus (God bless all you mother's out there), but we did it! Don't they look like happy campers?? :)
I brought them to the Corporate Office I work at, and of course my niece loved my desk (I mean who wouldn't really?). Next stop, Pike Place Market! I think they were a little surprised by how busy downtown Seattle really is. I decided to take them to my dad's favorite place in the market, "Le Panier" (http://www.lepanier.com/). This place is TO.DIE.FOR. If I didn't look at bread and gain weight, I'd be here all day erreyday. This is as close as you can get to a bakery in France. Plus, my dad requested that my mom fly home with some of his apricot pastries. :)
We then made our way through the Market and looked at all the gorgeous flowers (my mom bought a bouquet for my apartment). We also stopped off at the first Starbucks, which was packed as usual. You don't realize how agile you really are, until you are faced with the challenge of maneuvering a stroller through packed streets of people.
The final pit stop was the famous Gum Wall, located in the Market at Post Alley. Apparently the tradition started when the Market Theater patrons had to take their gum out before entering the theater, so they stuck it to the outside wall. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gum_Wall) named it "one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009, second to the Blarney Stone" - which I can say I've proudly done. :) We got there just in time to snag a photo of the kiddos and get the heck out of there.
I decided to take the Fam Bam to Portage Bay (http://www.portagebaycafe.com/local/home.html), one of my favorite brunch places in Seattle. One of my favorite things about this place is their slogan, "Eat Like You Give A Damn". I have never eaten anything from this place that I could not stop myself from finishing, and eventually entering a food coma. With a lavish pancake and french toast bar (complete with every fruit imaginable), and a sweet and savory menu to die for...this place is on my list to bring every person that comes to visit me.
We also got in a little shopping, complete with rain jackets and umbrellas...of course while wearing our sandals (that's how Californian's do it).
We continued our Sunday excursion with a "Ride the Ducks Tour" (http://www.ridetheducksofseattle.com/). I've done this twice before, once in Atlanta and once in Seattle, and every time it's been an amazing experience. For around $28 (Kids are $17), you get a 90 minute land and water tour of Seattle and tons of entertainment. I knew that the kids would love this, especially since we had gotten duck quackers (my poor sis).
Since we were already near the Space Needle, and that's all my niece had been talking about, we decided just to go. My sister, niece, nephew, and I went up 605 feet, and to Isabella's dismay it was not an actual ride. We did however see some really cool 3D spiders on top of one of the buildings. My mom had bought a bunch of ornaments, and left them with me. Bad idea. I went to grab my nephew, and all the ornaments she purchased shattered. Luckily the amazing staff at the needle replaced all of them free of charge. Other than the kid's restlessness the needle was a hit.
After we got back, my mom said she was craving seafood. The first thing that popped into my head was the Crab Pot (http://www.thecrabpotseattle.com/), so we headed down to the pier on got our crab on. The best part of the night was waiting for the table, because my niece decided to stick her head in a crab cutout while people were passing by. Her stone cold face was hilarious as people walked by and laughed.
The last day with the fam bam! This was the reason I wanted them to come visit during Memorial Day weekend, because I would have extra time to spend with them :) I searched and searched for something fun to do with the kids, and found that the Snoqualmie Train was running! (https://www.trainmuseum.org/) First of all, Snoqualmie is the CUTEST little town. It is located about 30 miles east of Seattle, with the main attraction being Snoqualmie Falls. Adults were $18 and kids were $10, and the 90 minute train ride takes you past the 268 foot waterfall. The view was to die for. I found out that you can hike to the bottom of the falls, and that is something I will be doing in the near future!
After the train ride we explored the grounds a little bit, and let the kids visit the Victorian Depot and trains that were there. They had fun climbing all over everything (which is 100% approved!), and afterwards we went to the small town ice cream shop and met the cutest Shih Tzu named Cooper. We had such an amazing time in this little town!
It was sad to see them leave on Tuesday morning, as I dropped them off at the airport and drove myself to work, but I enjoyed all the time that I got to spend with them. Family is irreplaceable. and it's something that I treasure. I do love my visitors, but Ducky and I are sure glad to have some peace and quiet :)
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.