Emerald City Escapades

IMG_6339As always seems to happen, life gets in the way of these posts. I’ve started this post and left it once a week for 6 weeks now. Here’s hoping I can finish it. I’m back in school in Boston for a summer session before co-op starts in July. It was quite hectic moving into my summer sublet, getting adjusted to classes, and seeing my brother graduate from UCONN! Back to Seattle. Here’s a master post.

IMG_6330I couldn’t leave Seattle without a trip to Pike Place Market (how stereotypical of me) so we went downtown to check it out the Friday before going to Portland. My dad has gone on business trips to Seattle and always remarks how “fresh” the fish is (he knows I hate that word even if it’s true) at Pike Place. Walking through was pretty incredible; Jane was a bit obsessed with the tulips but I centered in on the size of fruits. There was an apple the size of a grapefruit!

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Jane is a foodie and I’m pretty much up for anything so we went to town on the food. First, we had mac and cheese from Beecher’s followed by some Russian pastries from Piroshky Piroshky. Over time I’ve developed the travel rule that you have to taste all the food you’ve never had despite the lack of health benefits and I definitely didn’t stray from that in Seattle. Sitting right next to the market and looking out onto the Puget Sound was pretty perfect.

Puget Sound

Puget Sound

 

 

That night some of us went to the Mariners game for student night. As two self-proclaimed Bostonians, Jane and I had a fun time comparing everything at Safeco Field to our experiences at Fenway Park (the latter being far superior, obviously). Most of her friends were so amused with this ranting that they now want to come visit.

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Another interesting experience I had in Seattle was when we went to a unique church service on Sunday night which consisted of a group of men singing traditional choir music while visitors laid down all around the church.

UW

UW

 

 

 

 

I was surprised by how much I loved the University of Washington during my visit. It offers a much bigger and traditional college campus with more school spirit than Northeastern. While I was there, we even attended Polynesian Day, celebrating island cultures. It’s also just completely picturesque and gorgeous. It would have been interesting to go to school on the west coast and while I was a bit envious, I came to the conclusion that Boston was still the best choice for me at the time.

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That being said, it’s likely I’ll live in the Pacific Northwest at some point in my life. Jane is one of my favorite people despite the fact that she keeps a Jo-Ann Fabrics card in her wallet (I swear, she’s cool) and I was so happy to not only spend time with her but see all of the amazing places and people that make up her life in Seattle. It was unfortunate that for the 5 days I was there, it was rainy and a little cold; the day I left it turned 80 and sunny. Oh well, I plan on coming back!

-J

Discovering Portlandia

Powell's books

Powell’s books

Early Saturday morning, four of us drove down to Portland for the day. Prior to this trip I had never been to the Northwest but I knew I wanted to visit the Rose City. For anyone who has seen the TV comedy Portlandia, I envisioned quite the eccentric city full of urban hipsters who grow plants in community gardens. I was able to confirm that it was in fact a very unique place.

Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut

We left at 7:30 and there was luckily no traffic at all so we cruised into the city around 10:00 and parked (for only $4 for the whole day, might I add). Our first stop was the famous Powell’s books, which was huge. All the books one could ever want to read and more were piled into this giant store organized by genre. They even had vintage used copies of a lot of cool classic books. We spent some time looking through the Dr. Seuss collection, obviously.

The doughnut of choice

The doughnut of choice

 

Next, we walked to another famous Portland store, Voodoo Doughnut! I think I’d seen this particular establishment on the Food Network a couple years ago and thought it was super strange. They have a lot of crazy flavors and unique donut shapes that attract a rather long line at all hours of the day.

Wouldn't want it any other way.

Wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

It probably took us 30 minutes to wait in line before purchasing and eating our donuts. The particular selection I made won’t be repeated here because the names are a bit inappropriate but look up their menu and see for yourself how interesting their options are. I had one with chocolate frosting, Oreo pieces, and peanut butter on top that was to die for. Who needs a real breakfast anyway? It was so good, we went back again!

IMG_6386After, we explored the Saturday market that had lots of different stands of artisan items you could buy. Jewelry, wooden spoons, art, a whole collection of strange trinkets. There was also a whole variety of different foods like falafel, gyros, and asian noodles.

Providence Park

Providence Park

 

Boredom/exhaustion and a slightly chilly temperature lead us to take the TriMet to a mall where we actually napped in the food court. Maybe we didn’t need to wake up so early? After several hours we headed back to the center for Voodoo Doughnuts to go and the main event for the night.

Rose City Riveters

Rose City Riveters

 

The root cause of my desire for a Portland road trip was to see a soccer game, the Portland Thorns vs. FC Kansas City. The Thorns are Portland’s women’s team and their stellar attendance (averaging over 13,000 in their first season last year) serves as a shining star in the National Women’s Soccer League. Not only did I want to see the atmosphere for myself, I do have quite the soft spot for the team.

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All in all, it was a fantastic experience. The Rose City Riveters, the supporter’s group in Portland created a huge tifo banner that they unfurled at the start of the match and chanted all throughout the match. The Thorns won 3-1 and we left quite exhilarated. I may have converted some Seattleites into Portland fans! If I do live in the Northwest in the future, season tickets are a must. After a long car ride that may have included some 90’s jams sing-a-longs, we got back to Seattle late that night.

-JIMG_6392

Setting Down in Seattle

Gretchen and I in Philly

Gretchen and I in Philly

The blog is back! After a long hiatus of collegiate study, I finally have something to ramble about and, perhaps more importantly, time to write. I made a quick stop in Philly in January to visit my friend Gretchen and see the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. I was treated to a fantastic weekend of Asian treats in Chinatown, Reading Terminal Market grilled cheese sandwiches, and my fair share of NWSL soccer. Unfortunately, during the middle of the semester I barely had enough time to breathe and therefore couldn’t recount my experiences back in January.

Rittenhouse Square, Philly

Rittenhouse Square, Philly

Northeastern’s strange and awesome schedule means that I’m out and done with finals for the Spring semester (hey, I’m not complaining). However, I’m staying in Boston for the summer in pursuit of more knowledge (that’s what I’m telling myself to get through) so I have a small window of time for vacation.

"Free Little Library"

“Free Little Library”

I took this opportunity to go see my friend Jane (she and Gretchen complete quite the globe-trotting pair–see their blog here) in Seattle. I’ve never been to Seattle before this point but I’ve heard great things from her. Jane, however, is still entrenched in her semester, leaving me with some free time to catch up on my TV shows, read a book that’s been half-finished since August, and document my trip via this blog.

Mighty-O's Donuts

Mighty-O’s Donuts

I flew in yesterday and took the Light Rail into the city and we made our way to the University of Washington. Jane’s sister, Leah visited last week during April vacation so our trips overlapped by one day. The three of us wandered through an adorable neighborhood (there was a house with a “Free Little Library”) and found a vegan donut shop called Mighty O’s. I’ve noticed that beyond Starbucks, donuts and teriyaki seem to be big in Seattle so maybe tomorrow I’ll try some teriyaki. After donuts that left me in quite the food coma, I left to go to downtown.

photo 2Over the last semester, a lot has changed for me. I accepted my first co-op in footwear marketing at Puma, where I’ll be working full-time from July to December. I also started interning with the Boston Breakers, the pro women’s soccer team in Boston. I’m a bit of a women’s soccer fan if it wasn’t obvious enough by the way my trips seem to conveniently coincide with some game or event.

Space Needle behind Memorial Stadium

Space Needle behind Memorial Stadium

 

 

Last night, I trekked to Memorial Stadium to watch the Seattle Reign take on the Washington Spirit. It was a bit rainy but still a great game and the soccer culture in the Northwest is much more developed than what I’ve seen on the East Coast. Seattle is a clearly dominant force in the league and won 3-1. The game concluded my first day here; I’ve got until Monday to explore the Emerald City!

-J

P.S. Give me a heads up if you have an recommendations for places to visit in Seattle and Portland!

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Au revoir!

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Champs-Elysées

After getting back to Paris on Tuesday, we were going to go to the Catacombs but they close at 4. Instead, we spent our last night strolling the Champs-Elysées. We stopped in for desert at this great restaurant, Ladurée that’s quite well known in Paris. I had ice cream with macarons and it was one of the best deserts I’ve ever had.

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Ladurée

On Wednesday, we spent most of the day getting to Charles de Gaulle airport via the RER B line and buying more French chocolate. Now I’m back home for winter break, eating French chocolates and macarons!

DSC_0160I was sad to leave Paris because I had such a great experience here but I’m so thankful for the opportunity; it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. I can’t say what my future plans include because it’s quite hard to plan very far in advance with my college schedule but I would really like to spend some time studying and living in Paris. Hopefully I can come back soon!

photo 2Also, if you’d like to take a look at more of the pictures we took in Paris, check them out on my flickr account here.

Au revoir,

-J

Château de Versailles

Front gates

Front gates

We decided to go to Versailles on Tuesday morning having pushed it back on Monday because the palace was closed. Having listened to my dad’s mini Google research project on the pick pocketing epidemic in France the night before, I decided not to bring my bag or the pocket map so as not to be targeted. The issue, however, with not bringing a map is that you don’t in fact have the map.

IMG_5341We got on the wrong train on the right platform (kind of like the Green line in Boston, there are several different lines) and spent an extra hour going up into northern Paris, realizing our foolish mistake, and traveling all the way back into the city to take the proper train. I think Louis IV would have gotten to Versailles in his coach faster.

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The actual palace was impressive; we got to see the Hall of Mirrors, King’s Grand Apartments, the Museum of the History of France. Obviously it was lavishly decorated with gold, velvets, marble, and beautiful paintings. However, I’ve been to Windsor Castle and some castles in Poland that were similar in extravagance. I think the most extraordinary part about Versailles is the gardens and the massive scale of them.

Looking out on the gardens.

Looking out on the gardens.

We walked down the large basins to the Grand Trianon, which was initially created as a sort of recreational facility for the monarch’s family. Also in that area of the gardens was Marie Antoinette’s Estate, where she spent most of her time. My friend Cortnee had told me to go to Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet, which was a little village that was specifically designed and created for her at the very edge of the gardens. All of her sections of Versailles were much homier and more welcoming than the cold grandeur of the palace.

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There were definitely a lot of tourists at Versailles; school groups and people speaking lots of different languages were everywhere. I got a little frustrated in the bigger rooms when people would push and shove to get closer to take photos, with seemingly no respect for personal space. Away from the palace, though, we were pretty much by ourselves. I can only imagine how crowded it is in the peak season, summer!

The Queen's Hamlet

The Queen’s Hamlet

 

We did a lot of walking that day and as close up as we got, my life’s greatest regret is leaving our licenses behind and not getting a golf cart to drive around at Versailles (kidding, I enjoyed our walk). Perhaps my favorite part was when my dad asked something akin to “so Marie Antoinette spent a lot of time here?” and I had to remind him that she was in fact the Queen of France. Ah, history.

Been There, Seine That

Père-Lachaise

Père-Lachaise

 

Our initial plan for Monday was to visit Versailles but upon further research the night before, I realized that the palace is actually closed on Mondays (as were the catacombs) so we pushed that off. I decided to start off with the Père-Lachaise cemetery which my friend Cortnee insisted that I do (partly because the Polish composer Chopin is buried there).

 

Sacre-Coeur

Sacré-Cœur

 

We got to Père-Lachaise soon after the sun came up. It was cold enough to see our breath (I take back what I said about Paris feeling like Fall) and crows flying around, adding to the creepy factor. After spending half an hour on the hill searching for Chopin, we trekked back down to the map to discover I switched the division of the grounds with the number for the grave. We finally walked back up and found Chopin’s grave. If you remember my post from Żelazowa Wola in Poland you’ll know that Chopin lived in Paris for the end of his short life and died here which is why he’s buried in this graveyard. Also recall that while his body is here, his heart was taken and sent to Warsaw.

View of Paris

View of Paris

After that, we took the Metro to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which was surrounded by people trying to sell you things or distract you in order to pickpocket you. That part upset me but the view from the top of the hill was nice. We made a beeline for the Champs-Élysées once again and walked around where we missed on Sunday, passing the Grand Palais.

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Finally, we had to make to the top of the Eiffel Tower at some point during this trip and decided that today was clear enough to see around. We spent about an hour in line before we took the first elevator to the initial viewing platform. Then, there was a second elevator that sent you straight to the top. It was exciting to see the city from so high up even though it was a little chilly up there. Definitely worth the trip!

Rêvons Plus Grand

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

We got up early on Sunday morning for a long day trekking around the city. The sun doesn’t actually go up until 8:30 and apparently things in Paris don’t open until 10. We were walking around at 9:30 and there weren’t a lot of people out and about. The Metro was pretty deserted as was the area around the Arc de Triomphe (except for Asian tourists who apparently had the same type of schedule as us). We considered running across the rotary across several lanes of traffic but found the underground tunnel eventually. I have to say it would have been really funny had we chosen the latter option.

The Madeleine

The Madeleine

 

 

 

We walked down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, stopping in at a bunch of stores like Nike, the PSG shop, the Disney store, and the Renault car store where my dad felt the need to hop in a tiny car that more resembled a go-cart to me. Continuing on, there were street venders all along the street on the way towards the Jardin des Tuileries with clothes, food (crepes, cheese, chocolate of all varieties), and trinkets. We made our way toward the Madeleine Church, which looked a little like the Acropolis and found Fouchon, a place that my neighbor Alida had recommended we try. They have all types of foods but we tried their macarons and they were so tasty!

Angelina's

Angelina’s

Next, I went to try out another recommendation by my friends Jane and Gretchen who told me that they went to this cafe, Angelina’s, when they were in Paris last year and that I had to get the chocolate chaud, a really rich hot chocolate. The cafe was super crowded but luckily they had chocolate chaud to go because it was so good (even though I burnt my tongue). We walked through the Jardin des Tulieries, posed in front of the Louvre and went in. Surprisingly, the museum tickets only cost 12 Euros! My dad has become quite fond of taking selfies with his phone; luckily I forced him to bring our nice Nikon camera as well.

IMG_5136The Louvre was so beautiful that at times I couldn’t tell where the museum ended and the art began. We started by making a beeline to the Mona Lisa just out of curiosity. People got intensely vicious around that particular painting, pushing and shoving as if the painting was going to suddenly vanish or they would die of heart attack before taking a selfie with said work of art.  It’s actually appalling how oblivious people are to those around them..backing up into others, obstructing their view, etc. Moving on, we also checked out the Roman, Greek, and Egyptian (my favorite) sculptures and art, including a Michelangelo sculpture!

Crowding around the Mona Lisa

Crowding around the Mona Lisa

Next, we headed out toward the Seine and crossed the Lock Bridge, which I’ve always wanted to do. It’s famous for couples who write their names on a lock, attach it to the bridge, and throw the key in the water as a symbol. I saw a minor version in Gdansk, Poland but it doesn’t compare to the one in Paris. We made our way to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which had a festive Christmas tree outside and walked through. After wasting some time in souvenir shops, we ate dinner in a pretty abandoned place near the Seine and took the Metro back. We left when it was dark and got back when it was dark as well!

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame Cathedral

I have to be honest and say that as great as the ever present bread and chocolate is, I miss my fruits and vegetables! Did I just say that? The French language is beautiful, even if I can’t always understand it. We’ve had no trouble speaking English here and a lot of places include other languages in their menus or signs. Thanks to everyone who gave me tips on exploring Paris! More to come tomorrow.

-J

*Rêvons Plus Grand is the PSG slogan, “Let’s dream bigger.”