Hello Seattle, Hello 2016!

Hello Seattle, Hello 2016!

Happy New Year! I couldn’t be more thrilled to be writing these words in 2016. It just sounds good to say, doesn’t it? 2015 was a wild year but it ended on a beautiful high that has carried me blissfully into yet another January.

For the third year in a row, I have continued my favourite travel tradition of celebrating the start of the year in a new city. In 2014, I set the bar high with a fun-filled night on the streets of New Orleans. In 2015, I partied Catalan style at the Plaza de España in Barcelona. And this year, I welcomed 2016 in Seattle, a city that is near and dear to my heart.

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My partner in crime for this edition of NYE is a regular on the blog – my good friend Mindy. Neither of us had ever gone to a fancy New Years party so we decided to go all out this year. We got tickets to the largest bash in the city at the Experience Music Project (EMP) museum and a room at an adorable boutique hotel downtown.

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The event was fantastic! Not only did we get to tour the exhibits of the museum (which included set pieces from LOTR, Star Wars, Princess Bride, and beyond) but it also included amazing cover bands, a live comedy theatre, and prime viewing of the Space Needle’s fireworks show. It was so much fun that I almost want to break my rule and celebrate there again next year… almost.

 

But the good times didn’t stop after the clock struck midnight.

Outside of the lower mainland where I was born and raised, Seattle is the city that I’ve visited the most frequently. But, I rarely get to be a tourist as I’m usually in town for something specific: cheering on my Seahawks, attending a concert, shopping, or heading to the airport. So, this time I made a conscious effort to soak up a different side of Seattle.

 

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EMP Museum

Underground City Tour

Several friends had recently raved about the Seattle Underground City Tour and I have to echo their praise. The comical beginnings of the “Emerald City” lend itself perfectly for a joke-filled tour of the subterranean passages that once made up the main streets of pioneer square. We learned a lot more than we ever wanted to know about early sewage systems and how The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 was maybe the best thing to ever happen to the city. I won’t spoil it all here, but I definitely recommend you take the tour yourself.

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Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

I’ve never thought too much about how glass was made. Well, except for that scene in Sweet Home Alabama with the lightning. But, honestly, I had no idea what to expect when we decided to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum located in the Seattle Center. I was completely blown away by the truly incredible works of art created by glass blowing (see what I did there?). Inspired by the Venetians and created by Dave Chihuly, the exhibits were whimsical, vibrant, stunning, and awe-inspiring. We even got to watch a live demo from a couple of professional glass blowers and I was seriously impressed by their skill and patience. Usually I am intimidated by this sort of thing, but glass blowing is so cool that it makes me want to pick up a new hobby. Good thing I don’t make New Year’s resolutions…

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Boeing Factory Tour – The Future of Flight

I love everything to do with aviation. I love airports. I love airplanes. I love flying (even when I hate it, I love it). I’ve not-so-secretly always wanted to be a flight attendant. So when I found out that you could actually tour the factory where these dream machines come to life – I was sold. And while it was definitely cool to see the largest building in the world by volume, the tour left me a bit underwhelmed.

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The factory is actually located just 30 minutes north of Seattle in Everett, Washington, which made it a logical pit stop on our journey home. Perhaps it had something to do with visiting the site on a holiday weekend when less action was happening (a whopping 35,000 work at this location) or maybe we just got a below-average tour guide but the whole thing was kind of whomp whomp. I was hoping to hear some stories or get more up close and personal with the planes when really all I heard was a lot of statistics which flew in one ear and out the other. The one thing I do remember is that you could fit all of Disneyland and a 12 acre parking lot inside the factory. So there’s that.

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All in all, I had an amazing three days in Seattle. After dozens of visits, I still have more to explore, which is a tried and true sign of a world-class city in my opinion. 2016 is off to a fantastic start!

How did you celebrate the new year? Have you ever found a city that continues to excite after multiple visits?

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Seattle

 

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Football Fever: The Seahawks Experience

Football Fever: The Seahawks Experience

If you’ve never been to a National Football League game, you are missing a truly incredible experience.

My first NFL game was back in January 2011 watching the Oakland Raiders at the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a memorable event even though I didn’t know the rules and had never watched a full football game in my life. It must have been the tailgating at 9am that did it.

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Tailgating at the Chiefs game in Jan 2011

Flash forward 3 years and I’m throwing a super bowl party and cheering as my “home” team the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl. I may be a bit late to the party but I think it’s safe to say that I’m hooked.

This past weekend I got to attend my second ever Seahawks game at Century Link Field. Similar to Vancouver in many ways, Seattle feels like a second home to me (must be all the airport visits). And since Vancouver doesn’t have an NFL team, my family has adopted the Seahawks.

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My dad is a season ticket holder and somehow I weasel my way into a game every season. Last year I had the unfortunate luck to be at the only home game they lost all season… so you can imagine my distress when this year’s game was against the very same team, the Arizona Cardinals, who also happen to have the best record in the league. Uh oh…

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Fearing that another loss would banish me from the stadium as bad luck, I was really crossing my fingers for a win. We arrived at the stadium in good time to enjoy some delicious (but not so nutritious) munchies (a must at any pro-sporting event) and the pre-game atmosphere. I have come to love all the rituals, like the raising of the 12th man flag, watching the hawk fly out before the team, and yelling FIRST DOWN in unison with the crowd. I even tolerate the SeaGals despite my feelings about cheerleaders. It all goes with the territory.

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It wasn’t the most beautiful win but it was a defensive masterpiece with the final score 19-3 for Seattle. To say this was a huge win is a bit of an understatement. The Seahawks have been having a rough year defending their championship and they need every win they can get to clinch a playoff spot. Needless to say, I was relieved to know that I wasn’t bad luck after all.

But, win or lose, I always have fun at Century Link Field. The fans are the loudest in the NFL and the people watching doesn’t get much better. With the steady flow of alcohol, and the mixture of testosterone and competition in the air, people tend to get a little crazy. If I wasn’t pulling my hair out with nerves, yelling at the refs, or laughing at the fans, then I was cheering my heart out.

As I said, it’s quite the experience.

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Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The Pacific Northwest is definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth. Fortunately, I get to live here. Unfortunately, I often take it for granted. But every once in a while I make an effort to play tourist in my own backyard.

This past weekend I took three friends with me to Lake Whatcom, WA for a girls weekend. We rented the bottom floor of a gorgeous lakeside mansion with a view that took our breath away. We spent our time mostly relaxing (like in our private hot tub) with a bit of sightseeing to mix it up. Our vacation was a mere hour’s drive across the Canadian border but it felt like we really got away. We were also conveniently located near the historic town of Mt. Vernon where every April they host the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which is surely not to be missed. Our touring took us to RoozenGarde, which boasts 1000+ acres of tulip, daffodil, and iris fields. The manicured gardens even came complete with an authentic Dutch windmill, which definitely brought back memories of my time in Holland. If the weather cooperates like it did for us and you get there early in the day to avoid the crowds, then you are sure to bring home a camera full of photographs that are 100% grandmother approved.

We had such a fabulous time that we’ve already talked about making it an annual tradition.

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