Tag Archives: vacation

CityPASS Seattle: Space Needle

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I’m from Toronto and we have the CN Tower so really the Space Needle did nothing for me.  But if you are keen and have a CityPASS Seattle then the Space Needle is a must.

The Space Needle has great views that you can see twice within 24 hours – once during the day, once at night.  From 520’ the Observation Deck provides a 360° view of Seattle and beyond that commands your attention. See the snow-capped Cascade Mountains to the east and the majestic Olympic mountain range to the west with breathtaking indoor and outdoor viewing. For Pacific Northwest cuisine that is matched only by the views served with it, visit SkyCity, the Space Needle’s revolving restaurant.

Upgrades for CityPASS Holders

Chihuly Garden and Glass: Use the coupon in your CityPASS booklet to receive up to $5 off general admission.

Advice for Visitors

  • Visit before 11am or after 7pm when it’s less crowded.
  • Show your CityPASS booklet at the Needlicious Fudge Center and get 1/2 pound of fudge free when you buy 1 pound.

Seattle Center

400 Broad Street

Seattle, WA 98109

(206) 905-2100

(800) 937-9582


Open 365 days a year. Hours vary by season, and special hours apply for holidays and special events; see details.

CityPASS Seattle: Chihuly Garden and Glass

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I had never heard of  Dale Chihuly until I saw in my CityPASS Seattle booklet that there was a $5 off admission for his Chihuly Garden and Glass installation.   This had to be worth checking out.  CityPASS has not let me down yet.

Chihuly Garden and Glass is a long-term installation and contains 10 different displays, a movie theatre showing Chihuly’s team of artists at work, and a quirky café, featuring local fare served atop the artist’s favorite collectables.

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Wash., Dale Chihuly’s work is included in 225 museum collections worldwide, as well as special installations in Venice, Jerusalem, London and Chicago. The new collection in Seattle samples some of his more famous works: Cylinders and Baskets from the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians from the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers from the 1990s; and Fiori from the 2000s.

The “Glass Forest,” one of Chihuly’s earlier works in collaboration with artist Jamie Carpenter.  It is eerie.  It reminded me of something that an Ice Queen would have installed in her castle.  The neon glow of this work was truly hypnotic.

The Sea life Room echoed imaginary glass waves from deep within the work.

The Mille Fiori, which is Italian for 1,000 flowers, is a glowing garden of glass set in the dark.   This room was truly mesmerising and made me wonder ‘is this installation as good as it gets?’  Nope.  There was more to come.

The Glass House is the piece de resistance.  This conservatory contains one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures.  It is 100-feet long; it’s an expansive explosion of Persian glass in reds, oranges, yellows and amber made up of 1,340 pieces.  It’s a true game changer.  I took a seat in the conservatory for a good fifteen minutes to take it all in.  Even then I couldn’t.  It was so wonderfully immense.

The day I was at the Chihuly Garden and Glass it was pouring outside but nevertheless I trekked out onto the grounds.  Catching the 16-foot Seattle Sun, a gorgeous, round tangle of yellow and orange was a true highlight even in the midst of the gloominess. Check out the Rose Crystal and Green Icicle Towers as well.

The great news was that I was able to get a discount from the $19 for general admission using my CityPASS Seattle booklet.  The CityPASS Seattle included a coupon for $5 off general admission to Chihuly Garden and Glass; however you will need to purchase that ticket separately because the Chihuly Garden and Glass is not a ticket included in the core CityPASS Seattle product.

The Chihuly Garden and Glass was the best $15 I have spent on an exhibit in a long time.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Address: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, United States


CityPASS Seattle: EMP Museum

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The draw for me in visiting the EMP Museum in Seattle was definitely seeing my second Frank Gehry designed building up close.  It was tremendous.  How can you not be totally gobsmacked from looking up at such an amazing piece of architecture?

Other Highlights included:

  • Experience hands-on installations that include world building, mapmaking, and a life-sized animatronic dragon in Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.
  • Be a star at On Stage, a virtual concert experience where you’re under the bright lights, in front of screaming fans.
  • Watch music performances and light shows in Sky Church, featuring a mammoth HD LED screen. To be able to watch videos from Lorde and Pearl Jam felt like I was truly paying homage in the church of music.
  • Explore the spectrum of cinematic horror in Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film.
  • Iconic sci-fi artifacts on display include an Imperial Dalek from Doctor Who, the Star Trek command chair, and Neo’s coat from The Matrix Reloaded.
  • See the Vince Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl Championship Ring in We Are 12™: The Seattle Seahawks and the Road to Victory.

My favourite out of the Special Exhibits Included with CityPASS was the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses collection.

To be able to view the most extensive exhibition of memorabilia celebrating the music and history of Seattle grunge luminaries, Nirvana was a treat. The exhibit features rare and unseen artifacts and photography from the band, their crews and families.

Kurt’s striped sweater from the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video, In Utero memorabilia and Nirvana’s make shift Sup Pop record deal were delights to see up close.  It is extensively curated and full of fun and fascinating facts.

But the exhibit is not solely about Nirvana.  It also gives a fantastic snapshot of the early days of grunge with nods to the likes of the Screaming Trees, The Melvin’s and Mudhoney.

Advice for Visitors

  • Conveniently located at the Seattle Center alongside several other attractions including the Space Needle and Pacific Science Center.
  • EMP is easily accessible by many bus routes, or hop on the historic Seattle Center Monorail, which departs every 10 minutes from Westlake Center downtown and from Seattle Center.
  • Parking is convenient with a lot adjacent to the museum, and a multi-level covered garage across the street on 5th Avenue.
  • Check out Jimi Hendrix performance videos and more all day in JBL Theater.
  • Enhance your museum experience by purchasing an Audio Guide at the ticketing desk on your way in.
  • Get $5 off purchases of over $35 at EMP stores, plus a free set of limited edition EMP guitar picks; see coupon in booklet.


325 5th Avenue N.

Seattle, WA 98109

At Seattle Center, near Space Needle

(206) 770-2700


Summer (May 24-Sep 2): Open daily, 10am-7pm

Winter (Sep 3-May 23): Open daily 10am-5pm

Seasonal hours may apply; see details.

Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

CityPASS Seattle: Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour

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Learn about Seattle on this entertaining, one-hour, cheery live-narrated cruise of Elliott Bay and the Seattle Harbor. View the spectacular panoramic background of the majestic Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. See the city’s historic waterfront, sparkling Emerald City skyline, busy shipyards, colorful Alki Beach and breathtaking natural beauty.

The best part of the cruise was the behind the scenes views of the container ships as they came and left the port.  Plus, who knew the Washington State ferry fleet is the largest in the U.S.?

I was lucky I had wonderful sunny days whilst in Seattle.   It was a tad cold on the water but regardless made for great views and photography.  Talk about bang for my buck!

Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour

Visitor Center: Pier 56

Ticket booth and dock: Pier 55

Seattle, WA 98101

5-minute walk southwest/below Pike Place Market

(206) 623-1445


CityPASS Seattle: Seattle Aquarium

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I enjoyed my time at the Seattle Aquarium.  The Seattle Aquarium is a decent size, easy to navigate and has great exhibits both indoors and outdoors.

The Seattle Aquarium is the 9th largest Aquarium in the U.S. by attendance and among the top 5 paid visitor attractions in the Puget Sound region.

The Aquarium’s species collection is featured within six major exhibits: Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Puget Sound Fish and Dome Room, Puget Sound Orcas Family Activity Center, and Marine Mammals.

My favourite part of my exhibit was the Puget Sound Fish and Dome Room.  Talk about a magical experience. To see fish swimming around up close in a room that looks positively spaceship like  – it is definitely photo worthy.

Seattle Aquarium

1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59

Seattle, WA 98101-2015

Phone:  (206) 386-4300


9:30am to 5pm daily

Last entry at 5pm,

Exhibits close at 6pm


11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast

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Walk to the Pike Place Market and to the other Downtown Seattle attractions from the 11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast, a cozy B&B on a tree-lined side street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. We are 1.0 mile from Downtown Seattle – a 20 minute walk, and 1.5 miles from the Pike Place Market – a 30 minute walk. Most of our guests walk to Downtown. Buses to Downtown Seattle stop one block from the Inn. We’re near dozens of restaurants, shops, and a popular park. Queen beds, private bathrooms, full hot breakfast, 9 guestrooms, free on-site parking lot, guest computers, Wi-Fi. Some guestrooms have two beds.

If you are looking for more of an authentic, unique, small boutique hotel experience in Seattle, please check us out. The 11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast is a large, classic, light-filled house built in 1906 and located on a street of trees and other houses and apartments from the turn of the century. The Inn has 9 guestrooms, original wood floors and detailing, antique furniture, and oriental rugs. We are located just up the hill from the Seattle hotel district – the area where most tourists and business travelers stay in Seattle. We are often more affordable than a Downtown Seattle hotel, especially with our mid-week and longer stay discounts, or when including our free parking, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. Most of our guests are visiting friends or family here in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, or are visitors to town or business travelers looking for an alternative to the downtown hotel scene.


When I travelled to Seattle after my trip to Portland I wanted to take things down a further notch.    Was it even possible?  Even though it was a chilled experience in Portland I decided to stay outside the city centre in Seattle.  I found a quaint little Inn on Capitol Hill which suited me called 11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast.

The house was on a quiet street and a decent distance from the main road.  It was within walking distance from a few convenient bus stops and also close to some boutique shops and nice restaurants if you didn’t want to trek into the city in the evenings.

My first night I thought I was the only one in the Inn as there wasn’t a peep to be heard.  But sure enough as I came down for breakfast the following the day there were 4 shining fellow travellers sitting and enjoying a hearty breakfast.   Pleasant talk to be had and a wonderful breakfast to behold.

I have never stayed at an Inn where the breakfasts were so lush, nutritious and plentiful.  Think fluffy pancakes, crepes, with fresh fruit, cups of tea, yogurt and the like.  I was pleased with the variety, tastiness and quality of the food.

I appreciated that there was always tea, coffee and snacks available at the 11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast.  When I was in Seattle I was lucky to have a bright and sunny days.  In the evening it would get a tad chilly.  Coming in in from the cold most nights, it was such a pleasure to brew up a Stash Tea within seconds of entering the door.

It was rare that I would see the Inn staff in the evenings.  The house felt like my home away from home.  Warm, inviting, safe and an air of sweetness.  Going up to my room on the second floor with my hot tea, some biscotti in hand and chocolate tucked in my pockets would make for the best part of my evenings resting my sore legs from days of walking up and down hills.

I stayed in the Ruby Room.  It was small and tidy.  Dark woods, comfy bed, a vanity, desk and comfy chair where included.  It was the last room down a long hall and free from any house noise and distractions.  It was perfect for a girl like me travelling alone.

The Wi-Fi onsite was fast and made for a great companion when catching up with life at home away from home.

The 11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast was a good fit for me whilst in Seattle.  For an Inn just a tad outside of the downtown core you are offered an affordable price, creature comforts, a wonderful breakfast layout and a location that can’t be beat.

11th Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast

121 11th Ave E

Seattle, WA, 98102, USA


Phone:  206-720-7161



I wanted to keep my travel expenses to a minimum so instead of taking the Amtrak from Portland to Seattle, I bought a ticket with BoltBus.

BoltBus is a premium brand of service launched in 2008 offering safe, non-stop, premium level bus transportation with fares as low as $1 between New York, NY and Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ and Boston, MA to name a few.

In 2012, BoltBus also expanded its operations to the West Coast with service between Portland, OR, Seattle, WA Bellingham, WA and Vancouver, BC, Canada.

I enjoyed my trip on BoltBus.  I’m easy, just as long as our trip leaves on time and gets in before the estimated arrival time – it’s a bonus.  Which rang true with my experience for my trip between Portland and Seattle and back.  I also appreciated the super-fast Wi-Fi, comfy seats and friendly drivers.  Always a pleasure when you are on holiday.



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My time in Portland was short but also wonderful.  I enjoyed so many great days out, foodie rendezvous’ and most importantly Oregon’s climate.  The people were cool and weird.  But also kind, welcoming and genuine.

Would I visit again?  Yes.  In a heartbeat.

If my articles have convinced you to visit Portland – check out http://www.travelportland.com/ for travel planning ideas.  Have fun and get lost in the woods!

Cacao: Drink Chocolate

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You may watch Portlandia and think ‘Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein sure have an affinity for that “Cacao!” Safe word’.  I was intrigued. Chocolate or ‘Cacao’ as a safe word – it makes sense.  I’ve had many a rendezvous with chocolate where I’ve eaten way too much in one sitting.  A safe word would have served me well.

In my hunt for cool and interesting chocolate businesses in Portland – I came upon a delectable little shop simply called Cacao near my hotel.  Perfect – I was on vacation, I needed a fix.

Cacao features a handpicked selection of chocolate from around the world, including the best premium solid chocolate bars from small producers, select chocolate from the best local chocolatiers and North American makers, and their very own house-made drinking and hot chocolates.

When you walk into the shop you will be greeted by a warm and sweet dwelling.  The aroma of chocolate and a simple set up will easily start a swoon and a wonder of what you can put into your belly to satiate the rumblings a brewing.

Cacao has book cases causally laden with the best in haute couture chocolates, boutique blends, demure packaging, plates of easy to pop into your purse chocolate fare and blocks of chocolate that would make an excellent date in bed with a book on a Saturday afternoon.  The luxury abounds.

Cacao is a specialty chocolate shop with a focus on North American craft chocolate makers and North West chocolatiers. Founded in 2006 by Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley, Cacao is a collection of the best chocolate in the world. Each item is carefully selected based on a range of different criteria—value is placed on areas of focus like small manufacturers, chocolate made in countries where cacao is grown, organic and fair market practices, transparency of operations, value pricing, and limited chains of manufacturing and distribution. Ultimately these gentlemen care most about flavor and quality and are always seeking out new and exciting flavors in cacao beans and chocolate.  They have stated that they never want to forget that chocolate is meant for the pleasure of eating.

I’m a fan of a chocolate hot drink.  Now that we are heading into winter, what else can be the ultimate in self soothing from the bristle of the cold?

I encourage you to indulge in Cacao’s chocolate bar where you can sample their lovely specialty chocolate drinks.

On offer are:

1) Cinnamon Infused:   A Venezuelan Dark Chocolate meets cinnamon.  It is a lighter fare, great for kids and if you are feeling like you need a tiny rush.

2) Rivoli:   A Classic Dark Chocolate, 72% Arabic from Ecuador.  It is grand, bold, epic and a luscious knock you to your knees mate.

3) Spicy:  Think ground paprika, cayenne pepper, ginger and coconut milk.  The Spicy drink is for when you need a spicy kick to wake you up, get ready to run a marathon or at best get hustling.  I could easily sip this drink with my dinner.

Manis and Lindley are painting a portrait for you to step into.  To indulge in some unique and delicious flavours of chocolate but to have a slower rendezvous with them.  Their small but beautifully lighted shop encourages a place to dwell, sip your Cacao Drinking Chocolate and reflect, be soothed, let an experience wash over you and still have some extra cash in hand to grab another drink and snack before heading out for the day or home to bed.

The Cacao drinking chocolates are affordable and can also be bought in a beautiful glass jar to take home with you simply labelled ‘Premium Drinking Chocolate’….’dark and rich’.  No sell necessary.  The product stands on its own.

The best love affair you can have at Cacao is sampling the marriage between local chocolate wizard Sebastian Cisneros ‘Craque’ from his sweet brand Cocanú and Portland’s famous ice cream shop, ‘Salt & Straw’.  The marriage of the Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream, Craque and Cacao’s Caffé Vita espresso will make you want to worship at the altar of Cacao.

The olive oil and Craque pairs perfectly with Cacao’s drinking chocolates or Caffé Vita espresso to make a decadent pour-over.  Adding Craque for added textures truly is an addictive treat in the form of candied cacao nibs. The satisfying crunch and perfect level of sweetness make for ideal snack or as a topping for ice cream, salads and roasted vegetables.

The warm, rich chocolate combining with the cool, fruity, lightly salted olive oil is transcendent.  It will transform you.

If you want to swoon and appreciate some of the best chocolate, chocolate drinks and desserts – please visit Cacao in Portland.  They are a game changer on the scene.  Their wares will satiate your chocolate appetite upon every visit.  They are also happy to pack up their sophisticated sweets for en route and home love affairs.  Just give them the safe word.

Cacao Locations


414 SW 13th Avenue

Portland, OR 97205


712 SW Salmon Street

Portland, OR 97205


Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum was a treat.  When you travel and have the time and access to see great art – there is a pressure to get it all in.  Instead of walking around aimlessly at the Portland Art Museum I thought I’d focus in on what interested me the most.

My favourites were the Forbidden Fruit from Chris Antemann at Meissen and the Native American Art installations.

Forbidden Fruit

Chris Antemann at Meissen

SEP 27, 2014 – FEB 8, 2015

In 2012, Oregon-based sculptor Chris Antemann was invited to participate in the Art Studio program of the renowned Meissen Porcelain Manufactory to collaborate with the Meissen master artisans on unique pieces and a series of limited editions of her sculptures, resulting in a grand installation that reinvents and invigorates the great porcelain figurative tradition. Using the Garden of Eden as her metaphor, the artist created a contemporary celebration of the 18th-century banqueting craze. Inspired by Meissen’s great historical model of Johann Joachim Kändler’s monumental Love Temple (1750), Antemann created her own 5-foot version. Stripping the original design back to its basic forms, she added her own figures, ornamentation, and flowers, as well as a special finial with three musicians to herald the guests to the banquet below. Employing her signature wit and formal references to classic Baroque Meissen figurines, Antemann has invented a new narrative on contemporary morality through her one-of-a-kind porcelain figures in a setting that evokes the decadence of Boucher and Watteau.

Antemann’s Love Temple is the centerpiece and heart of the installation. It was designed to house a host of semi-clothed revelers around a banquet of “forbidden fruit.” After sculpting the Love Temple and banquet table, Antemann expanded the vision of the installation to include a pleasure garden made up of eight separate pieces that surrounds the temple, creating an elaborate tableau in the great tradition of royal 18th-century sur la table.

Accompanying the lavish and overflowing banquet table is a massive 12-light porcelain chandelier and a collection of smaller sculptures to accompany the table along the gallery walls, evoking the tradition of palatial porcelain rooms. The small, intimate vignettes entertain with playful scenes of dalliance and seduction.


A very cheeky exhibit and perhaps art that we may cast off as cheap and cheesy.  But the beauty in these porcelain pieces is the attention to detail, sauciness, the manipulated control in creating such fine and cohesive work.  I was mesmerized and found myself lost in the Love Temple piece.  As I moved around the tableau I saw even more decadence and conversations between the characters unfolding.  The ‘forbidden fruit’ reminded me of sugar plums and added a further enticement to keep looking as a voyeur into the characters debauchery.

Native American Art

The Museum’s collection of Native American art is housed in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art. The collection, remarkable for both its depth and diversity, consists of more than 5,000 prehistoric and historic objects created by some 200 cultural groups from throughout North America. Included are outstanding works by Native American masters such as Allan Houser, Charles Edenshaw, and Maria Martinez, in addition to regional contemporary artists such as Lillian Pitt, Joe Feddersen, Pat Courtney Gold, Rick Bartow, and James Lavadour.

The Center is located on the second and third floors of the Hoffman Wing in the Museum’s Belluschi Building; each gallery is devoted to art from a specific cultural region. The second-floor galleries focus on the Museum’s world-renowned collection of Northwest Coast art as well as galleries dedicated to the Arctic, Plains, Woodlands, Southwest, and California regions. Also located on the second floor is the Phil and Sue Bogue Gallery, dedicated to the display of the Museum’s excellent collection of Pre-Columbian art from Meso and South America. Two additional galleries featuring work from our own region, western Oregon and the Columbia Plateau, are located on the third floor.


Being Canadian, I am always drawn to First Nation art.  I particular love looking at costuming, accessories and especially bead work.  The Portland Art Museum will satiate your fix.  From the ornate dress, beaded handbags and tapestries you will be moved by the emotion and history woven into each piece.  Awe-inspiring and also worthy of reflection into the history of Native American Art in the Northwest Coast.

If you have time check out the Modern Contemporary Art space.  I took swooning breaks between the works of Damien Hirst ‘5 Skulls’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Family Album 312’.

The Portland Art Museum needs some of your time the next time you are in Portland.

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Avenue

Portland, OR 97205