Victoria and Seattle
We said goodbye to my daughter and her family at the Vancouver airport. From the airport, we took the sky train three stops and transferred to an express bus which took us to the ferry to Victoria in 30 minutes. The ferry ride to Victoria took about a little more than an hour. From the ferry dock, we took the local bus to the inner harbor.
After settling in at The Admiral Inn in the inner harbor we set out to explore Victoria . It was raining pretty hard so we took a taxi to Craigdarroch Castle. It was an interesting country house. The Scottish would not classify it as a castle but it was beautiful and interesting. My greatest discovery there were the "hemming birds". In the sewing room on a lovely table were two little birds positioned about arms distance. They served as a third hand when you were sewing. The docents were so friendly and we met the curator as we were leaving. Everyone seemed to genuinely love the building.
We then walked down Fort St., a commercial street. I was starving and luckily we found a Chinese noodle restaurant ( J&J Wonton Noodle House) I had heard about on Trip Advisor. We were just going to get a soup and eat later. When we saw the specials- one was halibut and one was spring lamb, we decided to pig out. It was delicious. By the time we got back to the inner harbor, we just wanted a drink and then bed. We walked around and found fellow Admiral Inn residents who told us that Days Inn had a lounge so we went there for a drink and then home to crash. Since we had gotten up at five in Whistler, we were pretty tired.
We woke Saturday and enjoyed the Inn's breakfast but missed the scheduled bus to Butchart Gardens. So we went to the next stop which was the Empress Hotel. Lucky for us , I inquired about the price of high tea and found out it was the last day of the senior special. Instead of $50, it was $29. So I made a reservation. We left for the gardens and arrived back at the Empress for our 2 o'clock tea.
The gardens were beautiful. It was raining but our bus driver was great and gave a wonderful commentary on Victoria. The gardens supplied clear umbrellas so everything was doable. They were beautiful.
Back at the Empress we had a royal tea. The sandwiches included: pork pâté, cucumber, curried chicken, free range egg salad and salmon. Then there were scones with clotted cream and preserves. The desserts included chocolate truffles, cheese cake, lemon merange, cookies and cake. A piano played in the background and the service was wonderful.
Then we separated. I went to Miniature World (I have a passion for doll houses which my husband does not share.)and Peter went to a gallery. I was in my glory with so many doll houses and other dioramas.
I then met Peter at St. Andrew’s Cathedral for Palm Sunday mass. It was a very sweet congregation.
We then walked toward the Royal Theater to pick up our tickets for that night's symphony production which was a Broadway Spectacular. We had time to kill and we found a great little palace for drinks and appetizers and a salad. It was called The Clay Pigeon. They had just opened two weeks earlier. Everything was perfect. The staff was so friendly and the food and drink choices were excellent. To top it off, the price was right. It was diagonally across from The Royal Theater so we went from there to the show.
After the show it was home to bed. I was sooo tired and my stupid cough still had not gone away.
Sunday we slept a little later and then set out on a long walk to the art gallery. We were going to take a taxi but the sun was out and it was so beautiful that we walked through a residential area. The rhododendron were just coming out and some of the houses were unique.
The art gallery was good. There is a whole Elizabeth Carr gallery. She was a tough lady and I like a lot if her work.
Back at the inner harbor, we went to one of the best fish restaurants (Pescatores)on Cook St. just across from The Empress Hotel.. We had a wonderful bottle of white wine. We started with a dozen oysters - two different kinds and four different dipping sauces. Then we had a seafood salad with marinated clams, shrimp, crab, squid and oysters . The presentation was beautiful and the marinade was so subtle.Then we shared a fish trio- oysters sautéed with bacon strips and a stew like pot of clams and mussels. We finished off the meal with a glass of ice wine. It was a tasty treat. The driver on the way to the gardens had pointed out a local winery that produced ice wine.
On the way back to the harbor, we bought some Rogers chocolate . We picked up our bags and crossed the street to board the Victoria Clipper to Seattle. The Admiral Inn is a perfect location if you are coming in or out via the Clipper. The staff is so friendly and go out of their way to help you however they can.
The clipper was a smooth ride and it was light the whole trip. Our hotel was supposed to be pretty close so we decided to walk but I'm his old age Peter has lost his personal GPS and we went in the wrong direction. Eventually we had to take a taxi.
We arrived at the Maxwell Hotel tired but we were delighted by the the artistic decor. Our room was beautiful and one of the best hair dryers and shower ever!!!! We could see the space needle from our window. The staff were so helpful and we found out they had a free shuttle service to anywhere you wanted to go. After the first morning we used it every day. Our driver, Cregg was wonderful.. Each night we had a drink in the sports bar. It wasn't till the end of the trip that we realized how great the Queen Anne area is.
Our last breakfast was at Toulouse Petite Restaurant on the corner of Queen Anne and Mercer Streets, just a short walk from the Maxwell.The same people own Pesos kitcken next door which I hear is wonderful too.
Our first day in Seattle we started to Pile's market. We didn't know about the shuttle service but it was easy. We just walked a few blocks passed the Bill and Malinda's Gates Foundation , passed the needle and took the monorail ( cost $1 for seniors) to Westlake Station. As we approached Pike's market, we saw this window and people were churning cheese curds. We went in and everything looked so good. We ordered a tomato basil soup and a 1/2 pint of curds and a grilled cheese with ham. It was delicious. The name of the place was Beechers.
We then walked through the market. It was fun.
After the market we went back to the Westlake Station and went a few stops on the light rail to Chinatown. We actually rode illegally. Since the buses are free in the downtown area (at least till September), we assumed the train was too in the downtown area. In Chinatown, we met a nice man who set us straight.
From Chinatown we walked all around Pioneer Square- a really beautiful historic area. One of the highlights was a vintage clothing store. The window was a work of art. The owner actually made all these vintage dresses out of new, but vintage designed, fabrics. The accessories were also wonderful.
Later, we returned to Chinatown. Kind of a sad Chinatown but we did find a wonderful place to eat- Mike's Noodle house. We had a Guilin soup with rice noodles, a Chinese broccoli that was a generous portion and done perfectly and a ginger noodle dish with steamed cod. Our bill was $21!
We walked around some more and found a great little bakery for dessert. We even bought some buns to take home for breakfast the next day. Then we made our way back to the monorail. We rested a little when we got back to the Maxwell and then went down to the bar to catch the final basketball game.
The next day began rainy. Luckily, we had Cregg to take us to SAM( the Seattle Art Museum) . We had 10 o'clock tickets for the Gauguin & Polynesia exhibit. The whole experience at SAM was wonderful . The museum is lovely and the art was very well chosen.
From the museum we made our way to Pike's chowder which someone on Fodors had recommended. It was great. We had the traditional clam chowder and a clear one with shrimp and crab. My husband had a salmon sandwich and I had a shrimp sandwich.
After lunch we took the 12 bus to the end of the free zone and walked to the Frey Museum . It is a lovely, free, small museum. A woman, Frieda picked works from Frey' s permanent collection and her personal commentaries were included next to the work 's description. They were filming a documentary about her that day so we got to meet her. She is 91 and still visits the museum each day. There was a temporary contemporary exhibit by Li Chen which was interesting also. On our way downhill we visited St. James Cathedral.
Then we made our way back to the bus and out to the Olympic Sculpture Park. All our new found friends on the bus said we wouldn't like it but we did. A group of artists were painting a new mural in the parks assembly hall. The sculptors represented are world known - Calder, Serra, Nevellson to mention a few. It is right on the water so it was a bit breezy.
From there we took a taxi back up across from Sam for happy hour at Thoa's Vietnamese restaurant. The price was certainly right. We had a nice bottle of Washington State merlot for $12. We sat and enjoyed several small plates all reduced for happy hour. The sun was coming in and we met a really nice couple from Oregon who visit Seattle often .
The timing was great because we had to get back up near the Convention Center to pick up our tickets for the 7:3 0showing of First Date at the Act Theater. The show was terrific. From there we took a short taxi ride home and went to bed exhausted.
The next day was supposed to rain but it turned out beautiful. We had Cregg take us to the Nordic museum in Ballard. We were 15 minutes early so we walked a few blocks and found Picolono's Bakery. It was a pleasant find- great coffee and chi tea served in ceramic mugs, pastries and Panini. All in a friendly atmosphere!
We returned to the museum and really enjoyed it. It recorded in a wonderful way the emigration and settlement of the Nordic people. You traveled from room to room with realistic depictions and audio descriptions of the travels to America, the settlements and the trades these people brought with them.
From there we walked toward the water to the locks. It turned out to be a cool but beautiful day and kids were on spring break so it was pretty busy. We saw 2 brave little salmon trying to swim upstream and we saw them work the locks to let in a tug boat. We had fish and chips at The Lock Spot but we also had steamed clams in a wonderful white wine broth and lots of garlic bread to soak it up.
We made our way to bus#18 which brought us to the library. It is the most unbelievable library I have ever seen. We took the elevator up to the 10th floor and then walked down around the perimeter on the graded floors to about the 5th floor. Then we explored the rest of the space. Besides being an unusual space it is wonderful to see how well utilized it is. I never saw so many computer stations and so many people using library computers and there own. Sadly, Seattle does have a very visible homeless population and it is a place for them to get out of the cold.
We wanted to visit REI so we made our way to no man's land. It is an interesting space- bike trial areas, shoe trial areas, climbing wall set in a beautiful wooded setting. We saw the Space Needle so decided we could walk home. It was a long walk but we made it. At the Maxwell,we rested and then just went down the bar for a drink and some light food.
Then it was time to pack, well I did. Peter packed in the morning. The couple we met at Thoa's had told us about Peso's kitchen near the hotel so we decided to go there for breakfast but their sister place next door was hopping so we went there. It is called Toulouse Petite Restaurant. I am soooooo sorry we didn't know about it sooner . We would have gone there for dinner. I had crispy tostadas which are made of polenta with ham and poached eggs on top and home fries. Peter had pork cheeks with greens and fried eggs. He had a delicious cocktail and we had a pot of French press coffee. It is on the corner of Queen Anne St. and Mercer St.
We returned to the Maxwell thrilled that we found Toulouse but sad that we had not found it sooner.
Cragg picked us up right on time and drove us to the light rail . It cost us .75 each to go to the airport. The ride is so smooth and you really get to see all of Seattle.
I cannot praise the staff at the Maxwell enough. They go out of their way to help you and the facility is beautiful.
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Victoria and Seattle