“It’s a beautiful day to save lives.” – McDreamy
What’s good in Seattle? Does it remind you of the tv show Grey’s Anatomy or the movie Fifty Shades of Grey? Since it is only 2hrs away by plane from SFO, we decided to pay the city a visit. Seattle has become more famous because of the show and movie (Mr Grey and McDreamy). And although most of the scenes were shot in LA, the skyline and cityscape has really helped put the show’s character into a big perspective. After working in the OR as a Registered Nurse, it has surely changed my view of Grey’s Anatomy. I am still heartbroken for killing McDreamy and in honor of his departure years ago, we took part and explore the city through traveling and eating.
The city itself is very beautiful and while it didn’t rain when we were there, it was gloomy for the most days. The culture is diverse, people are very friendly and the city is high tech and green. There are a lot of coffee shops, the first original Starbucks that was established in 1971 is here as well, lots of pastry shops which I love, bars, seafood restaurants and so much more. There are so many things to do but we didn’t have that much time and we can’t afford to visit all of that in one weekend. I’ve heard that there are a lot of breathtaking hiking trails and waterfall hikes in the area. One day, I’ll be back and check out their beautiful suburbs and trails with my person. Being a passionate traveler and foodie that I am, I was excited to see what this city has to offer.
I had a goal to earn that 60,000 bonus points from AMEX so through their travel portal, I was able to book our flight from American Airlines and a room at the Westin in Downtown Seattle. Our flight got us covered for $200 incidental fees that we can use for checking in luggages and other miscellaneous fees. We stayed within our hotel area throughout the weekend and didn’t rent a car since our main goal was to check out the city itself and try all the food our stomach can eat. We took uber from the airport to our hotel, did I mention you get $15 credits every month just cos you are platinum member? You’ll also be a part of SPG and Hilton Gold Elite Status as some of their perks. Because of my SPG Gold Status, they upgraded us from booking traditional room into deluxe city view. It wasn’t a big upgrade but seeing the sunset in the city’s skyline right in your room was pretty awesome, we didn’t have to go anywhere else or pay extra for that. I was very happy, I love anything free! Do you? I mean, who doesn’t? 🙂
We pretty much walked everywhere from our hotel because it was right in the middle of the city. No need to worry about parking and paying the hotel valet, saved a ton of $$ which we used to indulge in food and pastries.
Since we were on a budget, we invested in the Seattle City Pass for $89. The booklet is valid for 9 consecutive days after the first day of use. I thought it was a pretty good deal knowing that you get to visit the city’s top 5 tourist attractions based on your own time and pace. Our day started with a walk towards Pike Place Market to grab the city’s legendary coffee before we head to the Argosy Harbor Tour. It was only 7 in the morning and lo and behold, there was a long line at all the coffee shops we saw and worse at the original Starbucks. Oh noo!
Our first stop was Le Panier French Bakery, the line was tolerable. I needed that coffee in my system quick so we immediately joined the crowd.
That first sip of coffee in the morning that makes you feel whole and alive, I don’t know about you but I always look forward everyday for my cup of coffee.
I was impressed by the people working there, they take their time with you and was pretty quick with their service. Most of their customers ordered macaroons so we got some of that as well with our coffee. I ALWAYS order chocolate croissant when I go to a pastry shop, am glad they have it and boy it was divine! I didn’t take a picture of it as I was quick enough to devour it. Their brioche was good too! The macarons were my least favorite, it was just so sweet. I thought it was too much for me, sorry. Have you guys tried it? For the price, my sister and I both thought it was average with neighboring shops and cafes. You cannot go wrong here, it is a must stop when you are in Pike’s Place. Be prepared with the line, but remember NO PAIN, NO GAIN. This place is heaven for people like me who loves pastries.
To burn all the sugar in our system, we walked towards Argosy Harbor Cruise tour. It was quite a walk, we followed the crowd walking from the Pike Place Market towards the water. There are signs everywhere and with the use of your phone map, you will make it there.. They have a set time when you need to board the ship, we missed the first tour of the day by one minute so we waited for the next one. #Filipinotime LOL. They will ask you if you wanna upgrade your cruise but we didn’t since we have a strict budget. It wasn’t that bad but there were a lot of people that came after us. Prior to boarding, they take a picture of you and if you want to keep it, you can buy it for $15 and get two copies. It was a very entertaining live narrated cruise of Elliot Bay and the Seattle Harbor, you get to see the shipyards and historic waterfront. They have a bar inside with cocktails and snacks but we were still full from the pastries we ate. We sat on top of the boat to get a clear view of the skyline, it was awesome one hour boat ride.
Our next stop, was the Aquarium. It was pretty close to the harbor and also the Great Wheel was right by it so we didn’t have to walk that far to get to this place. It was very fascinating to see and touch live sea creatures, I was thrilled. I like this place a lot but I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium, they just have so much more to see but then also more pricey. So it has its pros and cons.
We walked back to the market and stop by at the infamous Gum Wall, we couldn’t find it at first but it is located in an alleyway close to the market. Another one of those insta-worthy spots that you have to see when in Seattle and don’t worry if you forget to bring your gum, there are shops that sell it for a premium right around the corner. My advise is to take your camera and hand sanitizer oh and please, don’t stand too close to the wall! Germaphobes BEWARE.
We got hungry joining the crowd and taking selfies at the Gum Wall so we ate at Pike Place Chowder, also in the market area. The line was ridiculously long, that’s how popular it is and so I told my sister that we have to try it no matter what. The wait was about 30mins but it was worth it. The line moved quickly enough and before we knew it, we were sitting and enjoying our chowder. I am a huge fan of clam chowder, comparing what I’ve had in SF and what they have there, it is quite similar. The smoked salmon was not my favorite thou, I thought it was okay. Will I order it again? NO. The dungeness crab roll was expensive but I loved it. I love anything seafood, maybe it is true that I have expensive taste? Haha. Anyway did I tell you that they ship worldwide too? Yes that’s right, expect that you’ll pay a $$ thou.
We walked around the Pike Place Market for quite a while. They have indoor and outdoor, I think they have 2 levels above ground and 1 underground. They have different kinds of flower that they sell, the bouquet of peonies there are so cheap or at least cheaper than California. I wanted to take some home for my mom but I wasn’t sure if I can take it in the plane as some people may have bad pollen allergies, maybe next time if we drive there. They have all kinds of shops for different cultures, they have a tea shop and accessories for sale etc.. The wet market reminded me of Philippines, it was amazing to see all kinds of seafood and produce. Oh and the salmon, they are huge! If you get lucky and we did, there’s a seafood stall there that you need to see when they throw a fish up in the air. It was truly a nice place to see but it can be crowded so have patience cos you’ll get bumped into A LOT. Have you been there? If not, it is a must to visit while in the area. My advice, come hungry! There are a lot of places to eat in this area.
As we were heading back to our hotel, we decided to stop by at Piroshky Piroshky also within the market to get some pastries. AGAIN. There was still a line in this Russian bakery but it wasn’t that bad. It’s like a trap coming here as the smell will lure you in to eat them and you can choose between savory and sweet when you order. We shared a cinnamon cardamom braid and the apple cinnamon roll for a snack for $10, both were great and the price was not too bad either. I wasn’t able to take a picture as I was quick enough to put it in my mouth, it’s that good! I have never been to a Russian bakery and now definitely they are on my list. Piroshky I am watching you! My advice, don’t go hungry as you will get “hangry” waiting.
You will probably think that we have spent so much money eating by now. You are right. But if you think about it, we didn’t use a car to drive around and park in the city which is a hassle and so expensive these days. We basically walk and use that extra money for eating and after all we are on vacation. 🙂
We haven’t eaten our real meal for the day yet, it was past dinner time. There was a restaurant one block away from our hotel called Lola, in Tagalog it means “grandma”. This place is different, it has a very chill vibe and the food was the BOMB.COM. We were seated right away and our waiter was exceptional, hands down to one of the best services I’ve ever had in quite a while! I have recommended this place to my friends and coworkers so many times to try whenever they are in Seattle. This Greek restaurant is owned by the renowned author and chef Tom Douglas, known for their breakfast menu and beignet donuts. Oh yes, those warm donuts that goes with vanilla mascarpone and huckleberry jam melted in your tongue! I’m drooling over here writing this memory, everything here is sooo good! HAHA. Giada de Laurentiis even raved about their donuts at a segment in Food Network’s show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Gosh. We didn’t know anything about this place until after, it is kinda nice to be surprise once in a while and not expect a lot from places owned by famous people so you’ll not get disappointed. Don’t you think? It is a little expensive but I’m begging you to save and GO whenever you are in the area. You will not regret it.
Coming back to the hotel that night , we couldn’t stop raving about the made to order donuts. We found out from the people working there that the bakery shop right across Lola, Dahlia Lounge makes the same beignet donuts because they have the same owner. Whaaaat! Luckily, it was saturday that day and they open at 9. We went in the morning and there was a line per usual but not as bad like the other day at Pike’s Market. Seattle people loves their coffee and pastries so much, maybe I should move there? I totally belong! Haha
It was a 20mins walk to the iconic Space Needle from that point. The line was ridiculous at 10am but we have to see this place so we didn’t mind waiting and joining the crowd. You cannot miss this place if you are in Seattle, just remember that you have to get a timed visit for your first entry. No timed tickets are required for your second visit, but keep your timed ticket from your first visit for entry. If your 1st visit is during the day, your 2nd one must be during the last 3hrs of operation. If your 1st visit is at night, your 2nd visit must be during the 1st 3hrs of operation the next day.
When you are close to the elevator going up, they will take a picture of you for free. We stand at the back of the elevator going up and down as I was so scared to look down the glass floors. I don’t like heights, my hands were sweating the whole time when we were up there. My sister was making fun of me but I made it! If you want something so bad, you just gotta make it happen no matter what. It took about 43 seconds going up the Space Needle and the view of the city was phenomenal! I was ecstatic and amazed how creative humans are and high tech our technology is. Just WOW..
The revolving restaurant was close at that time since they were doing some construction, they don’t know when they are going to open again but I am sure it will be pack no matter what time of day. The sunset and sunrise here are insta worthy so if you have the time, come check them out!
Your next stop should be at the Museum of Pop Culture and Chihuly Garden of Glass which is right around the area of Space Needle. You don’t have to wait in line for these places, you just have to go straight through after you check in with your ticket. The MoPop has different things for everybody, it has displays of music, video games, sci fi, horror films with movie props and a lot more. I like the sound lab and video gaming area where you get to try playing the instruments and games, or just watch people do their thing. It is fun to watch them especially the kids giggling around. The Chihuly Garden of Glass is beautiful and very exceptional glass artwork. They all are made by free styling colorful artwork with different texture and design made in glass. You can tell that they took their time and was very creative about designing every piece. These places are a must visit!
Time quickly flew by and we realized we haven’t eaten our lunch. There were some food trucks and shops in the area because of a concert. I didn’t pay attention to what it was but our stomach lured us in with the smell of the oven baked pizza. I never order veggie pizza if I’m out and about but this one has fresh ingredients and the basil pesto sauce just made it so devouring. My whole perspective of veggie has changed forever. We went Sicilian style for $6-$7 a piece 🙂
We thought since we didn’t eat a lot the whole day and it was our last night in the city, we will eat late dinner and walk to Pike Place Market and get some real food in our system.
Do you know what this place is?
This restaurant is tucked in an alleyway behind Starbucks, we missed this so many times as it was hiding in plain sight. Basically it is just a door like this more of a peach color, when you go inside there is a staircase going down and the interior decor is on point. You’ll feel like you are in Italy itself. We didn’t have a reservation but it is a MUST, they gladly accommodated us even though it says no walk ins welcome. The only downside is we waited for an hour for a table which we didn’t mind at all. The outside seating was reserve that night, but it has a great view of the water and The Great Wheel. It is very romantic and here is the best part, if you get lucky enough there is a burlesque and trapeze show at night, I think it starts at 9:30 until the wee hours of the morning. You probably heard about this place before, it is called the “Pink Door”, Italian restaurant known as one of the best dining experiences you’ll have in Seattle. We did not get lucky enough to watch the show but the food are excellent. OH MY! They have the best lasagna I’ve ever had in my life, the pesto layer in that dish made it really different from the others. Our waiter suggested that since it is what they are known for, the seafood pasta and the meatballs were delish too. I love Italian food so much, I can eat here everyday if I can afford it. The portions were decent, the prices were not outrageous, service was outstanding, what more can I say?? I have recommended this to my friends too and they have said the same thing, fantastic pasta dishes. Please come visit this place and let me know what you think 🙂
Make sure you dress appropriately as they have dress code 🙂
Our flight the next day was not until late in the afternoon so we did not have to rush going to the airport. The Seattle Tacoma Airport has Centurion Lounge for American Express Platinum members, if you don’t have the card you can pay $50 for a whole day which can be purchase on the day of travel and depending on the lounge capacity restrictions. Members may enter with up to two guests or immediate family at no additional charge. Drinks at the bar are free so tip well! Prior to entering the lounge, you have to show your card and boarding pass.
There are no hot meals but there are many small finger foods and tasty dessert. There are four unisex restrooms, you can take a shower too but it is poorly cleaned so I’ll pass on that. The lounge itself is not big, it was crowded at that time and as we were not in a hurry to eat, we sat on the corner and watch the people come and go and enjoyed the view of Mt Rainier. The staff was very pleasant and efficient with cleaning our table with dirty dishes and leftover food.
Moreover, if you are flying Delta, you also have access to SkyClub which is near gate A1 and is way bigger than the Centurion Lounge. I haven’t been there but I’ve been to SFO and Minneapolis SkyClub, they have a great selection of food and drinks and much cleaner amenities. Only the Platinum card member can get in for free and you will pay $29 for each additional guest. Your card can also give you access to Alaska Boardroom because of your Priority Pass card that has unlimited free visits for the cardholder and up to 2 free guests each time.
So now you know how valuable having a travel card is. You have different ways to use your credit card by utilizing your perks and benefits and making sure to pay your card in full every month to avoid any interest charges. They are better than cash especially when you get many rewards and freebies from them. Before you decide to sign up for travel cards, research the spending limits and how much money you normally spend each month to get the best value possible. Just don’t spend the money you don’t have just to meet the spending requirements because these cards usually have a higher interest rate. There are times that lounge access are very helpful and it is up to you to decide what travel card you really need that best suits your lifestyle, it can be a hotel or an airline card etc. And no matter what it is, always manage your finances carefully as it can affect your credit score in the long run.
We left Seattle with a lot of great memories of travel and eating experiences, both our hearts and stomach are full.
The Travel Forks