Saturday, December 30, 2017

Exploring Seattle

A few observations from our recent trip to the emerald city. 

  • A visit to the Space Needle is overrated. You get a much better view of the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park, from the Gas Park or when going over the bridge to West Seattle. If you do want the memory, combine it with a visit to the Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.
  • It is true: coffeeshops are literally everywhere, and not in Starbucks kind of way. Independent coffeeshops seem to be dominating the green mermaid from Seattle.
  • Bicycles are everywhere, including the many dockless shared-bikes. This is especially surprising for a US city with this much rain every year. Are the cyclists of Seattle related to the true Flandriens?
  • I was impressed by the campus of the University of Washington, home of the Huskies. Rent a bicycle to ride around the campus.
  • Not surprisingly, this town is all about airplanes. A visit to the Boeing factory in Everett is unique. Spending half a day in the Museum of Flight, South of Seattle at Boeing Field, is a must for every avionics fanatic. Where else can you see the Saturn F1 engine, the moon rover, the Space Shuttle trainer, a Concord, the first Boeing 747, Airforce One, a Boeing 787, and the magnificent Lochkeed M21 Blackbird with D21 drone all under one roof. There are plenty more planes to admire. I could have spent multiple days in this museum.
  • The gum wall is a tourist trap. Pike place is cute, though many cities have a similar market. Perhaps just with less fish. The waterfront and Pioneer square are a great photo opportunity, and only need a small amount of time to explore.
  • Seattle and the neighboring cities, like Bellevue, strike me very livable. Drive around the various neighborhoods of Seattle.
    • the upscale Queen Ann, where we stayed at the Maxwell Hotel. (Parking in the downtown hotels is very expensive.)
    • Seattle Center with the Space Needle, various musea and venues and the monorail taking you to downtown's stores.
    • the shopping district with the first Nordstrom
    • Pike Place Market
    • the Waterfront with Bell street pier, the ferris wheel and the ferries
    • Belltown with trendy stores and nightclubs
    • South Lake Union near Lake Union and the float plane airport
    • Ballard
    • Fremont with Gas Works park and the troll under the bridge
    • the University district around the University of Washington
    • Capitol Hill, although we learned there is no capitol building on Capitol Hill.
    • Pioneer Square, the oldest part of the town.
    • SoDo -South of the King Dome - with the NFL Seahawks and MLB Mariners stadiums. However the number 12, for the Seahawks' 12th man on the field, is everywhere: on buildings, on flags, in bars. Being a 49er fan, I didn't want to show my true red and gold colors.
    • West Seattle with Alki beach provides a great view of the skyline; when it doesn't rain that is.
  • We loved the food and drinks of Seattle. Many great places to eat. We thought it was overall expensive to eat in Seattle. Next time, we'll plan more trips the QFC supermarket. 
Here are a few photos from our trip.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Angel Island 2017

Last weekend, Troop 14 landed on Angel Island, in the San Francisco Bay for a camping outing, and to do a service project. And mostly we wanted to soak in the beautiful views. If you have never been to Angel Island, it is must when exploring the Bay Area. We took the Ferry from Tiburon, although you can also get there from San Francisco's Ferry Building. The island has lots of history, from the Fort McDowell to the Asian Immigration Station. It was known as Elis Island of the West, though it came with the sinister twist of the Chinese Exclusion Act. During the cold war, the island provided a last line defense through a battery of Nike missiles.  Here are a few memories from the past weekend:

Not our Ferry

We moved in place a Civil War era cannon

We erected civil war era tents for next weekends' Civil War Days. 

Former hospital building at Fort McDowel

A view of Tiburon and Belvedere

Saturday, April 08, 2017


Last winter, we visited Solvang, CA, a Danish town near Santa Barbara. It has plenty of coffee houses, a few windmills, an Ecco shoe store and lots of pastry shops. Danish flags are everywhere. On a layover to Spain, I had a few hours to kill in Copenhagen. I decided to go explore the real deal.

From Terminal 2, the Metro will take you from the Lufthavn, straight downtown Copenhagen (cost: 36 DKK). It is a packed 20 minutes ride. I got off at the Norreport Station, which I assumed meant Nord Station. I turns out I overshot the city a little bit and decided to walk back towards the center.

I was able to see many of Copenhagen's touristy places. Rundetarn (*the round tower*), Kongens Nytorv, Stroget shopping street, Gammel Strand, the parliament building Christianborg (*Borgen*), and Nyhavn. Nyhavn was very nice and quaint. I didn't make it all the way to the little mermaid. Instead I sat down in Nyhavn for a Fiske plate with herring, salmon, shrimp and cod, and of course a Calsberg pilsner.

My first impressions about Copenhagen: a clean, safe and friendly city. Lots of coffee shops. Seriously, there are coffee shops everywhere.

Danish is very difficult to understand. Although I did make up a few words here and there as it sounds a lot like the West-Vlaams Dutch dialect. Fear not, most people speak a little English.

And as advertised, there are lots of bicycles everywhere. Very few big European cities have too many bicycles. If I were to do a little day trip again, I would rent a bicycle.