SEATTLE, WA / VANCOUVER, CANADA
- When: 9 June – 13 June, 2016
- Where: AirBnb downtown Seattle and downtown Vancouver. Neither are listed anymore
- Transportation: Boston, MA (BOS) to Seattle, WA (SEA) on Delta airlines, Seattle to Vancouver, Canada- Amtrak bus, Vancouver, Canada (YVR) to Boston (BOS) flight on Delta
- Transportation in the cities- Uber in Seattle, taxis and bicycle rentals in Vancouver
- Must see/do: Seattle– Kerry Park, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Olympic sculpture park, Seattle Great Wheel, Pike Place Market, Sky View Observatory– Columbia center, Gum Wall, Original Starbucks. Vancouver– Vancouver Downtown, Olympic Village, Gastown-Vancouver Steam Clock, Granville Island, Stanley Park, Science World at TELUS World of Science, Seawall, Yaletown area, Grouse Mountain
- Food/drinks: Seattle– The Pink Door, Cherry Street Coffee House, Canlis Restaurant. Vancouver – Tap & Barrel, Medina Cafe, Miku restaurant, Chill Winston gastrolounge
This West Coast adventure was short, yet intense one year anniversary/my birthday celebration trip. After working all day, we flew out of Boston on Thursday evening. We arrived to Seattle just to pretty much go straight to bed. Well, we thought we would sleep, wake up like nothing ever happened, and have a jet lag free weekend. Ha! Joke’s on us. Three hours time difference felt way worse than 6-7 hours going to Europe. We woke up at 5am, getting only a few hours of sleep. Well, in that case, let’s get on with the agenda and explore the first city- Seattle, Washington!
First things first-get a good breakfast and a famous Seattle coffee. We looked up a few places around and picked Cherry Street Coffee House. They have locations all over Seattle and so just happened to be one right down the hill from us.
Reviews were on point- coffee was strong, hot chocolate drink sweet and Lox and cream cheese bagel- delicious! Now we are ready to tackle the day!
According to the forecast, there was rain coming (doesn’t it rain all the time in Seattle 🙂 ?), so we rushed to get to the outdoor parts of the city that we wanted to see while it’s still sunny. Kerry Park was recommended to me by my friend and you can see why.
From this spot, you get the beautiful view of Seattle with the famous Space Needle in the distance. First, I was like- well, where is the park?! There is no typical park with trees and grass- this little plaza is it. But having this view, it’s more than enough!
As the weather was still cooperating, we walked down toward the Space Needle- it is after all the symbol of Seattle. We have to see it from up close!
We did not go up to the top, but decided to check out Chihuly Garden and Glass instead. It’s SO beautiful. I will let a few pictures speak for itself.
On the way to the Olympic Sculpture Park we passed some cool architecture buildings, which turned out to be Museum of Pop Culture.
The walk around the Olympic Sculpture Park was quiet and relaxing. Continue on toward Downtown and you will reach this great spot – Anthony’s Pier 66 to sit down, have a snack and take in more waterfront views. It was a LOT of walking. And the day is not nearly over yet. As you can see, Seattle Great Wheel is in the distance and we want to take a ride in it. Even though it’s slow, it seemed a bit scary at first, since it’s all glass. But a few minutes in and you will totally enjoy the ride and take in those views!
Pike Place Market is next. That’s one hustling and bustling area with tourists and locals alike.
We watched the fun show of the fish sellers throwing the selected fish to the customers 🙂 .You better have a good catch if you don’t want to smell like fish for the rest of the day!
Original Starbucks is right near the market as well. And probably because of that, it was packed! I came in to just take a pic- who wants to stand in the longest line for the Starbucks coffee, just to say that I got it in the original store? Not this girl.
It looked just like any other Starbucks from the inside as well as the outside. I am sure coffee is the same too 🙂 .
For lunch, we went to the friend’s recommended The Pink Door. It’s kind of hidden in the alley of the market and the one way you will recognize the entrance- well, by the pink door! It’s has cool ambiance and great food. We sat outside at the patio/inside yard and enjoyed their Cesar salad followed by a strawberry shortcake for dessert. Both were excellent!
Now the next thing was listed as one of the Things to Do in Seattle. We probably could have gone without it. Since we went and saw it, I might as well mention it- the nastiness that is called the Gum Wall 🙂 ! I mean, you can look at it as a modern art, I guess. But when you REALLY think about the fact that all those colorful gooey pieces came from hundreds if not thousands people’s mouths…I think it goes on the list of – seen this, done that, not coming back for more. Glad that we had our lunch already!
Since we had a bit more time left before the anniversary/birthday dinner (it certainly helps to be up at the crack of dawn 🙂 )- we wanted to see the sunset. Local vendor at the Pike Place Market recommended just a place for that- Sky View Observatory -Columbia Center.
I think this place is highly underrated! There were no lines, no crowds, just amazing, sweeping views of Seattle and the neighboring islands from above. The tickets for adults were under $15 and you get this million dollar view. There is a small cafe to have some snacks or a glass of wine while you are watching the sunset. Put this on your MUST do list for Seattle!
To end this busy and exciting day and to celebrate our one year anniversary/my birthday, Sean had made reservations at one of the best rated restaurants in Seattle- Canlis. It was also recommended to us by a friend and it was pretty special. Located on the hill, it gives a nice view of the city lights below and the four course meal was prepared with some serious artistic touch.
Reservation was at 9.45pm, we were seated around 10pm. Mind you, we woke up at 5am and our bodies are still on the East Coast time zone. So 10pm feels like 1am already. Add a full day of sightseeing and we were delirious. I think the restaurant staff thought we came in drunk- everything seemed so funny to us at that point! We enjoyed the meal and they brought in some special desserts with “Happy anniversary” and “Happy birthday” written on the plates. It was great. Probably would have been even better if we were not that sleep deprived.
Yes, we woke up way too early again. I have resigned to the fact that the jet lag will remain till Monday, when it’s time to return. Just to readjust when we are back in Boston. It’s ok, coffee helps to fix these type of problems 🙂
We went back to the same Cherry Street Coffee House as we had a train to Vancouver to catch and did not want to miss it by looking for another good breakfast place. On the way to the train, we passed the Seattle Stadium – CenturyLink Field.
So yea, we went to the Amtrak station, waiting for our train. Don’t really see any people hanging around the tracks. We finally ask a person working there if the train is on time and if we are maybe standing at the wrong place? Turns out there is NO train. There is a BUS to Vancouver. Train only goes early in the morning and I believe at night. And the one we booked is Amtrak bus…Both- to Vancouver and back to Seattle on Monday…Talk about the disappointment! I have never taken Amtrak train before and heard the views suppose to be beautiful. But hey, we have no other choice- we want to get to Vancouver, so better get on this bus! Which actually was not that bad at all 🙂 . Took almost 5 hours and we did not see any spectacular views along the way, but it was a pretty comfortable ride. Going through customs was easy, but we had to get off the bus and go through a small customs area and show our passports. It was more of a formality and did not take long at all.
Our AirBnb in Vancouver was right downtown and we asked the host for food recommendations as the long bus ride left us starving. He mentioned that there are a few places in the Olympic Village, so we put our suitcase away and went to explore. The area is very nice, great people watching, shopping and restaurants.
We picked Tap and Barrel for a quick meal before going more into town. It was light and pretty tasty!
We continued along the water, taking in the views of Vancouver skyline.
The city seemed pretty quiet for a Saturday afternoon. It’s definitely not the craziness of NYC or even Boston for the same time of day on a weekend.
We needed to walk after all the sitting on the bus, so we strolled around until we reached Granville Island.
It’s a very cool peninsula full of little shops, artists, public market and brewery. You could easily spend the whole afternoon there just strolling around, listening to street musicians or shopping at the market.
As it was getting closer to the evening, we took an aquabus that transported us over the bay to Yaletown- another cool and hip neighborhood that we would love to get back to explore more next time we are in this city. It has a lot of good looking restaurants, nice well maintained plazas and seems to be very well planned out.
We ended the evening in the Gastown district. It’s the oldest and very charming part of Vancouver that is again full of galleries, boutiques and restaurants. As you can tell, you would not starve in in this city 🙂 !
One of the Gastown landmarks- the Steam Clock.
It’s one of the few working steam clocks in the world. Steam and whistling comes out every quarter of the hour, so if you missed it, just wait another 15 minutes and you will get your ‘show’ 🙂 .
For dinner we went to the Chill Winston – the restaurant with the patio seating on the Maple Tree Square. It was a chilly evening, so the staff brought us blankets to cover up and we had a cozy night out.
Last full day in Vancouver. And by full, I mean we filled it with activities for sure! After some research online for the good breakfast/brunch places, we decided to try Medina Cafe. We’ve read that there is usually a wait and came in early. It did not seem to be too bad and the food was excellent!
We’ll definitely be back here tomorrow before we leave this city! Just looking at the pictures my mouth is watering 🙂 . Make sure to try their lattes too! They have cool flavors like lavender or raspberry caramel.With happily full bellies (maybe a bit more full than we should have been 🙂 ), we went to Yes Cycle bike rentals and got us some wheels to ride around the Stanley Park. If you are in Vancouver already, you have to put this park on your MUST DO list. It’s perfect for biking, running or simply walking.
It is big, so bikes are the best way to get around in my opinion. Easily spend a few hours or a whole afternoon there. The paths are well paved, some places are a bit narrow, especially near the Seawall, so you might have to get off your bike and walk it for a short distance.
Overall, we had an amazing experience there. After returning our bikes, we decided to continue our outdoor adventures and took a cab to Grouse Mountain. A short 15 min ride from Vancouver downtown and you feel like you are in a totally different world! Again- another thing for your MUST DO list. As you are there, get the ticket that includes the chair lift as well as the access to the Eye of the Wind.
That’s the world’s first and only wind turbine that allows you to take in the sweeping views from the all glass window pod, just three meters from it’s rotating blades.
Short taxi ride and we are back in Vancouver. As we had a little bit of time, we walked by the Science World at the TELUS World of Science.
It’s especially pretty and well lit up at night.
For dinner we craved sushi, so decided on Miku Waterfront. It was a great choice for the last dinner in Vancouver. Sushi tasted light and fresh and desserts were a mini art show 🙂 .
This was a day to travel back to Seattle by bus, then wait a few hours and get on a plane back to Boston. Well. We checked the weather and Seattle had rain (of course 🙂 !). We saw all the main sights and it’s hard to do anything more with the suitcases. So we called Delta and asked if we can change our flights and fly out of Vancouver instead. As we booked the tickets on Delta miles, supposedly there was no extra cost and tickets were changed. Great! No 5 hour bus ride! We have plenty of time to go back to Medina and have one more amazing brunch! Except this time we waited at least an hour to be seated… And if you are not standing in line right near the restaurant, you lose your place in line. So we waited. And I still think it was well worth it.
As we showed up at the airport, respectably two hours prior, Delta staff informed us that yes, reservation was changed over the phone, but our tickets are still out of Seattle! They tried telling us that we could not have changed the tickets as they are from a different country, but at the same time, they saw a call record. So after quite some time of aggravation, they called someone and sorted it out. We did not have to take a bus/taxi/train back to Seattle and did not miss out flight. They did not charge extra either, which was a bit surprising. But for anyone that is planning a trip to these two cities- book flights to one and back from the other in advance. Airport staff telling you that your tickets are out of another country can be pretty nerve wracking.
I loved both- Seattle as well as Vancouver. If I had to chose and go back to only one- I would like to explore Vancouver a bit longer.
We did SO much in one long weekend- it’s almost a blur. I would really recommend spending more time there and taking it at a slower pace.