End of Cruise & Last Day in Seattle!

The Alaska Cruise lands on the Day 10 where basically its breakfast and scurrying off the boat with our luggage. We had packed light so we just needed to carry everything in one shot without having to wait.

We took a final walk around the ship before leaving and took a lovely farewell shot of Seattle.

Seattle

Our only stop scheduled before our evening flight back home was to the Museum of Glass.  Remember where I went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass on the day before boarding the cruise ship HERE? Well, this is where all the art work happens.  Its supposed to be a highlight location.  At a certain time, they open for the workshop to show how they make certain pieces of art.  We sat there for a good bit of time looking at them craft a whale tail and this other piece which I can’t even remember what it was.

Museum of Glass

Museum of Glass Settle

The rest of the museum featured works from certain programs they have.  One of them was for kids creative pieces that they adapted into these glass works. And there were other art designs and forms from Mr. Chihuly himself.  It was a colorful adventure to say the least.

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

The Museum of Glass is a little dark so a lot of pictures didn’t turn out great.  Here are the selected ones that were rather decent. Its some nice work.  Some are rather abstract but I think the glass designs are really beautiful and intricate. The detail on them is just amazing.

Onward to the airport and heading home afterwards.  We took a little plane what some would call air taxi over to Vancouver and had  a little layover before heading back home to Montreal on a red eye flight.  I’m not a huge fan of red eye flights and I think I did get a few movies watched as well but I did catch a shut eye for two hours or so.  At least I had a few days off when I got home so as usual, I would just pass out from minor jet lag and just the adrenaline rush of vacation leaving my system and getting back to my normal life 😉

Recap on the first cruise

Cruises are really fun.  I’m not going to lie though.  The first two to three days of the cruise were so tough. It was being trapped in a boat with my mom and her elderly friends.  They are super nice but would also feel a lack of freedom until I found a way to just walk off and do my own thing.  However, as the cruise went by and a certain routine set in, it was really fun to board and see a lovely city and explore, take pictures and all that great stuff.  The cruise helped instill some good habits because of the boredom and the evenings were always something I’d look forward to because there were shows and events and music.  The food was also pretty decent even in the buffet, it had really great choices.  The free dining options were very accommodating and that is always a plus.  There is a feeling of being pampered on a cruise.  Someone cooks and cleans for you.  Its uber relaxed and there’s just so much time to lounge around.  That is good and bad.  For the most part, I didn’t have to make any decisions and it was just all set out and eventually that was very nice.  It may have taken me a few days to adapt to the cruise life but there is no doubt that at the end of it, I did miss it quite a bit.  Reality is awesome, being home is great but feeling relaxed and pampered and being able to have time to do everything I wanted, have a night life, meet new people also was really fun.  That’s the great thing about vacation, right?  That is why I love it so much.  If it was my everyday, it would sound good but I’m guessing I’d probably grow tired of it.  Cruising is a good way to travel and its definitely something that should be experienced.  It definitely has its perks. However, there is no doubt that when the bill came in, being on a cruise is a luxurious way to travel. Everything is pretty pricey and there’s the daily service fee charges and while its all inclusive, many activities do cost money, especially shore excursions.  Plus, next time I’d get a beverage package because that would be more cost efficient as well.  You pay with a swipe of your room key and your life is basically  there for whatever days you have the trip. Still, I’d do another cruise if I had the money 😉

Have you gone a cruise before? Did you enjoy your experience? 

Alaska Cruise on the Norwegian Jewel: Day 1&2

I debated wrapping up the end of my trip with the second half of Seattle but I figured I might as well follow how my vacation went.

Day 3 of vacation was the morning blitz mode in Seattle that I wrote about HERE in the previous post.

Second half of that day was spending about an hour or so boarding the cruise ship.  During the first part of the line-up, I have to be honest that I freaked out just a little when I searched all my bags and I couldn’t find my passport.  Somehow I found it tucked somewhere or another.  It was just hidden.  Its been so many months that I can’t even remember where it finally popped up.  But that is generally how I am when I travel.  Good thing I pull out these documentation in advance. Imagine the stress of not finding it at the last minute and holding up the line, I can already feel the stress 😉

So, security checks and check-in for the cruise ship, getting our Norwegian Jewel card that is technically our access and payment for EVERYTHING for the 9 days on there.  I can tell you one thing, the perspective of life changes a little when money becomes this behind the scenes figure (kind of). I’ll talk about the entire cruise experience when I’ve finished with everything during a recap.  For now, lets get these rather uneventful Day 1 and 2 over with.

Day 1: Boarding ship and settling in!

Here’s our room, which is the first place we went after we boarded since we chose to carry our own luggages there. We didn’t bring a lot so it was light and easy.

Norwegian Jewel

Our room

There were no windows.  We were on the 8th floor.  It was a decent size and really tidy.  To be honest, I really just went back to rest here between activities or sleep at night or shower between workouts and meals.  I didn’t stay in there incredibly a lot so it didn’t really bother me much. It was really comfortable and the whole no windows thing made us kind of lose track of time in the mornings when we didn’t have to wake up for a tour because we couldn’t see when it was light out 😉 That’s vacation!

There was some Sailing Away activities in the afternoon as we inched closer to the 3pm time when we departed Seattle.

Norwegian Jewel

The Deck

Norwegian Cruise

View of Seattle from the Cruise Ship

When we sailed away, we walked around the ship to explore what there was and where it was all situated so we’d be able to get to wherever we wanted for whatever activities soon.  We peeked into the Workout room which I ended up spending a lot of time the next 9 days between trips and whatnot, starting the next day where I went two times or something since we were at sea. There were activities on the middle area with pools, sat down and enjoyed the sun a little, then found where the theatre for all the evening shows and we ended up finding the game room where we found a set of Mahjong complete with all the tiles.  Guess what? My mom and her friends wanted to kill some time doing that so we did until dinner time 🙂

Our first night at dinner was the restaurant we scouted out.  My mom and her friends had already been on various cruises before but its the first time they saw Asian cuisine as free dining on the cruise ship so of course, that was our first choice. Here’s what we had at this restaurant called Chin Chin.

The service was very nice.  The food was very westernized.  They called it Asian fusion, but its not.  Although, you will see that we did end up going back for lots of dumplings and possibly fried rice 😉

To wrap up the evening, we went for an evening walk on the deck where I discovered the Spinnaker Lounge which I will end up spending nights there checking out their game/theme nights and its kind of my way to have some alone time to relax and not be rushed from point A to point B. It was still relaxing but I do enjoy time to myself.

Norwegian Jewel

First Night on the Deck

There was also the Welcome Aboard Show at the Stardust Theatre to end off the night.

Day 2: At Sea

I was still experiencing jet lag on Day 2.  I’m telling you, as I get older, this jet lag business takes longer to settle especially those 3 hours time shifts.  So, guess what? I woke up at like 5 or 6 am or something and walked up to the deck and took some sunrise shots.

Norwegian Alaska Cruise

2nd day, sun rise!

Fresh air, ocean in front of the us and the dawn of a new day! That was an amazing and incredible feeling! 🙂

I had an early breakfast, headed to my first ever Zumba class then because the instructor was late and the class wasn’t long, I headed up to the gym to get in some jogging and rowing, before showering and heading down for lunch.  Sadly, it seems I didn’t take many pictures of the buffet portion of the trip, which I spent mostly for breakfast and lunch.  I can’t remember exactly what happened but I remember activities in the middle area with the pools slowly being opened and the hot tubs and whatnot.  There was the Mr. Alaska competition which was pretty entertaining, some music that followed.  We sat in the sun a little, booked our tours for the next few stops and just relaxed.

I’m telling you..I love relaxing but the first two days started getting so relaxing that I didn’t really know what to do so I walked around and explored by myself, especially after I went to do a second workout and lost my mom in the process on the ship.  I eventually found her right before dinner.  This night, we had already said to meet at one of the main dining halls called Azura.

Azura was very accommodating, especially for my food allergies.  The service was great and the food was delicious.  I can’t remember the name of the food at all but I have an idea of what it all is.

We ended the evening with a show at the Stardust Theatre called Back on the Road Show. I think it was a singing show.  I can’t remember anymore.  Then there was a game show called Battle of the Sexes which was really funny.

Its a calm two days and nothing much to really talk about so I put them together. We arrive at Ketchikan in Alaska for our first stop the next day! 🙂

Seattle (Day 2): Blitz Morning Mode

Wow! So this whole vacation thing is taking a  million years to get going.  But hey, that’s the perk of having a blog, right? You put up the content as you see fit.  We’ll be going a little faster through my vacation (back in May) now that I have more time and festival season is (mostly) over.

If you missed the 3 part Day 1, you can see it here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Now on with business! We had a morning before we had to board the ship back at Pier 66 where we scoped out the day before.  We had set some closer destinations to the hotel to visit.  By the way, in case I didn’t mention before, we stayed at Inn at Queen Anne.  The exterior and surrounding of the hotel is nice.  A little off downtown but its a decent location near a bus stop. Also, the rooms itself are a little run down but it does include a kitchenette.  It was one of the more affordable choices at the time and since we were only staying for two nights, it was okay.  We really just went back to rest and sleep.  I mean, we had more than enough time to sit around when we were on the cruise (although you’ll see that I didn’t do much of that).

The morning, we did a crazy run through everything in KeyArena area.  We went in to visit some of the places but only took pictures of certain other ones.

First stop was pictures of Space Needle.

Space Needle

We already went to see the Observatory the day before so we didn’t see the need to go up the Space Needle.  We sat around while waiting for museums to open and admired it while playing games on our devices (?).  My mom and her friends were completely obsessed with trying to beat 2048. So I just walked around and took pictures.

Around the area, we also came across this lovely and innovative exhibit called Sonic Bloom.

Sonic Bloom

Its pretty cool because on the top of the flowers are solar panels which activate it to light up at night.  While also having sensors that when you walk past each makes a different sound so you can actually make music if you run through it in certain sequences.  Super awesome, right?

While we were waiting, we also took a little walk around the EMP museum which had a cool exhibit but no one else was interested so we ended up skipping it. However, that building was designed really nice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a picture that did it justice.

Finally, at 10 (or something), one of our must-sees opened up and it was the Chihuly Garden and Glass.  I may have reversed the name but the point is there.  This place is full of blown glass crafted to look like different scenery. Its not only an indoor exhibit.  It also has an outdoor portion.  There’s a few of my favorites.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Sea scape with tons of little sea creatures at the bottom

Chihuly Garden and Glass

A rainbow room casted from the glass sculptures scattered on the top

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Pond scene

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Boat ride scene

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Japanese tree outdoors scene

Isn’t that beautiful? That’s like 10% of the exhibits.  The outdoors has the reanimated in glass version of tons of plants.  You can see it on their site.

We also did a quick visit of Pacific Science Centre.

Pacific Science Centre

Pacific Science Centre Outdoors area

When I say this was a brief visit, I mean like we ran through all the exhibits included in the general admission.  If we had more time and paid for the special exhibit it was a cool one on Pompeii. That would have been really fun.

All that running took up most of the morning and we went so fast and efficient that we had time before going to grab our bags and walk to Pier 66, so we sat down at the dome that turned into a fountain and watched the show a little while some kids were playing around in the water. It was pretty fun, just to relax a little and take in the city a little.

KeyArena

KeyArena

The weather had stayed really nice.  We sat outside to take in some sun before heading back to the hotel to get our luggage.

That’s it for this part.  Day 2 is split into two parts.  When we get back to the next vacation post, we’ll be heading on the cruise for probably the first 2 days, since we were at sea for that duration of time 😉

Have you been to Seattle? What did you enjoy? What attractions do you seek out when you travel?

Seattle (Day 1): An Extreme Walking Tour [Part 3]

Its taken me a little more than a week but I finally got together the final part of Day 1 in Seattle to wrap up the Extreme Walking Tour.

To give you an idea of time, we started with Part 1 at around 9am or so.  The bus ride to the Museum of Flight took quite a bit of time. By the time, we wrapped up Part 2 after the Seattle Aquarium, we were in the 4-5pm range, I’d say.

1) Pike Place Market

Our first stop was to make a little pit stop at Pike Place Market which was just across and up the stairs/slope depending which way you chose to go.

Pike Place Market

Up there, the market was cool with lots of beautiful fresh flowers and fruits/meats, etc.  It was really awesome.  I didn’t have a whole lot of time because my mom’s friend really wanted to go see The First Starbucks!

Pike Place Market

The First Starbucks!

She was a brave lady, I tel you that. The line up was out the door.  We stood around for 20-30 minutes waiting for her as she went in to buy a cup as a souvenir for her friend.   Now that, my friends, is dedication.  I wanted to get a tea but no tea is worth waiting in line for that long crowded in a tiny space.

2) Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour

I talked about this one before in a photo challenge and I’m not exactly sure what else I can say.

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is pretty entertaining if you’re into a little sarcastic humor about the whole underground city under that area as you walk among the ruins. How the city was burnt down and then rebuilt and all the crazy history behind that. Informative and fun and just the type of humor I liked.  I really enjoyed it and would totally recommend it if you are into this sort of thing.

3) Pier 66 and the Waterfront

Our next stop was straight back to the harbor waterfront to check out where we would be boarding the next day and scope out the area.

Pier 66

Seattle Waterfront

I love waterfronts in general but Seattle’s waterfront is definitely very pretty.  Its just really calm (despite the construction area next to the Seattle Aquarium).  We walked along pretty much the whole waterfront all the way to our next stop…

4) Olympic Sculpture Park

Our last stop for Day 1 is Olympic Sculpture Park.  I think that there’s a different path at the bottom of the route that we took which is uphill and working downwards.  I didn’t do any research on this but the way we went upwards, we went through some gardens with sculptures along the way.  Its pretty abstract art in my opinion so I wasn’t totally into it but the garden itself had some nice flowers.  I didn’t put any flowers since I can show those any time but these should be the highlight.

olympic sculpture park

olympic sculpture park

olympic sculpture park

olympic sculpture park

The last sculpture here is the coolest feature here.  At least I thought it was.  This is a metallic tree.  I mean its all metal and it blends right into the environment except when the sun hits it at a certain angle and there’s a reflection.  Now that is impressive, right?

After 3 parts, we’re finally done Day 1 of Seattle.  Man, only one day of my vacation done but I wanted to get together some good posts together while I sifted through my photos.  While Alaska was the highlight, Seattle was extremely pretty as well so we’ll take our time with this vacation’s post 🙂 I’ll be back with Day 2 in Seattle soon.

If you missed Part 1 & 2, you can find them Here and Here.

Seattle (Day 1): An Extreme Walking Tour [Part 2]

Continuing on with my vacation adventures, Part 2 of the extreme self-made walking tour to make sure our legs would hurt at the end of the day is all about the Seattle Aquarium.

I love Aquariums and its always a blast to visit. The Seattle Aquarium is pretty big with a lot of walking areas inside and outside there are viewing areas for seals and river otters and sea otters.  We had a lot of time here mostly because I insisted that this place we don’t rush.  If they were going to rush, they could do the next thing without me.  My objective for Seattle was to go to the Seattle Aquarium so that was my one request.  Luckily, they didn’t ditch me because I would have regretted not going to the spot afterwards for the Underground Tour which I talked about HERE for a photo challenge a few weeks ago.

Let’s go check out the Seattle Aquarium!

Windows on Washington Waters

Seattle Aquarium

Life on the Edge: Touch Pools, Moon Jellies, Giant Octopus

Seattle Aquarium

Touch Pool

Seattle Aquarium

Moon Jellies

Seattle Aquarium

Giant Octopus

Pacific Coral Reef & Tropical Pacific

Birds

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Underwater Dome

The actual Underwater Dome is just that last picture but I’m starting to get a little confused as to why there was more corals and sea creatures between after the Birds area.  I’m a little confused but you get the idea, right?

Marine Mammals: Sea Otters, Harbour Seals, Northern Fur Seals, River Otters

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

There really are no words for the Seattle Aquarium.  There were a ton of really neat corals and fishes and much much more. I loved it a lot! Its worth every penny.  The Underwater Dome made it hard to take good pictures but standing in it was really nice.  Plus, the seals and otters are really alive and happy.  It shows that they seem happy with the environment they are in since they come off as extremely playful.  You have the above and underwater viewing for those so its really well thought out.

Part 3 will be coming up to wrap up Day 1 of Seattle.  I just didn’t want to overload the posts with too many pictures.  I’m a little surprised Seattle took up that much time and we haven’t even started Alaska which will have a ton of different segments, other than pictures, one special segment that I’m getting stuff together for but I think it’ll be a finale and also my views on my first time cruising. Just a heads on what to expect.  My guess is this travel bit is going to span over the next month.

What do you think of the Seattle Aquarium? Have you ever been?

Seattle (Day 1): An Extreme Walking Tour of Seattle [Part 1]

Seattle is a beautiful city.  The last time I was there, I was probably around 8 years old or something.  My only memory was seeing family and thats a pretty vague one at that.  So this time, its a totally new experience and with other 20 years, I’m guessing the change has been drastic even if I did remember. So we arrived two days before we boarded the cruise.  Day 1 was pretty much a lot of layover time in Toronto and waiting to get to Seattle and by the time we got to the hotel, it was like 10pm.  We already knew that the next day would be a crazy long walking day so official first day starts when all the touristy stuff begins 🙂

Like, I said, A LOT happens.  So this might just turn into a possible 3 part Seattle tour.  Some places won’t have too many pictures but the few spots, I liked more might merit a post of their own. Seattle was where I reunited with my DSLR a little more so there was a lot of bad shots as I tried to figure it all out again before heading onto the cruise and needing it for Alaska which was obviously the highlight of my trip in my mind! 🙂

First things first, Seattle Day 1 Part 1.  Lets START!!

First Stop: Museum of Flight

I’m not huge on aircrafts and I’m far of knowledgeable on it.  However, this place is awesome if you are and even if you aren’t.  Our schedule was so tight and my mom’s friends were rather rushed that I found it sad that I was rushed to not get the chance to read everything there from space history to just all sorts of planes and whatnot.  It was so much to learn and see.  I tried to get as much as I could down but if I ever were to go to Seattle again, I’m definitely hitting the Museum of Flight again just to be able to do a proper tour of everywhere without have to try to catch a 2 hour transfer to save a bus fare because I felt like I lost more than $2.50 or whatever the fare was by leaving so early.

Second Stop: International District/Chinatown for lunch

Next on our stop is catching the bus to head into the International District/Chinatown for lunch.  Its kind of a Chinese thing to want to visit how developed Chinatown is wherever else we go.

International District

International District

We ended up asking a random Chinese lady and she was super nice and actually took us possibly the most crowded restaurant in Chinatown that we walked past for dim sum and even managed to get the hostess to find us a table.  Definitely lucky there! 🙂

Third Stop: Skyview Observatory

After some research, my mom’s friend suggested that the best skyline view of Seattle was Skyview Observatory and not the Space Needle.  I had no objections because c’mon, that view was amazing.  And in the last picture, we even got an idea of where we were to board the ship the next day.  Granted, we were going to walk past it later on in the day.  It was all in our schedule to scope out the area in advance 😉 Still, breathtaking view!

Here’s where I’m going to end the first part of Seattle! By the time we get back on street level from Skyview Observatory, we started heading over to visit the Underground Tour which turned out ot be fully booked for the next one, so we headed over to the Seattle Aquarium and came back afterwards for the tour.  I want to dedicate a whole post to Seattle Aquarium because we spent the most time on Day 1 there.  That’s what Part 2 will be all about!

And I’ll wrap things up with Part 3 where its the rest of the landmarks we ended up visiting.  Seattle does have a Day 2 which is half the day before we board the ship so we’re looking at 3-4 more parts for Seattle.  It might take a good bit of time to get all these posts up but bear with me because its also helping me put together a photobook for it 🙂

A quick look at whats to come but I’ll stop the rambling now! 🙂

What do you think of Seattle so far? Have you been before? 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid

The theme for this week’s photo challenge is “Vivid.” Perhaps it’s your favorite flower in full bloom, a beautiful sunset or the color of your ice cream. Vivid is limited only by your imagination. – The Daily Post

Since I’ve been yet delaying another week of vacation pics, some vivid moments! 🙂 And well, my PC hasn’t had my pics transferred from my external drive yet so its the only selection I have. If I’m exhausting you from Alaska and Seattle, I’m really sorry…

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Its pretty much Seattle from the Seattle Aquarium and the Chihuly Garden and Glass, both very much worth your time! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way

In-between moments can be just as memorable as grand finales. This week, share a photo you took on the way to something else. – The Daily Post

I haven’t been able to get together any posts for vacation just yet but here are some shots from Seattle & Alaska. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

IMG_8225

First leg of the flight to Toronto for layover to Seattle!

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Above the clouds on the flight to Seattle!

IMG_9128

The first night on cruise, at sea for the next day!

IMG_9134

Sunrise on the second day, officially at sea on the way to Ketchikan!

IMG_9887

Day 8: Heading into Glacier Bay National Park!

IMG_9968

Leaving Glacier Bay National Park, heading towards Icy Point Strait!

Being on a cruise is always about being on the way to the location! There’s always time to meet new people but also time to admire everything around not only the cruise ship but also the breathtaking calm and peaceful view. While life on the cruise ship is slow, there is so much to take in.  I’d be lying if I don’t miss that a little right now, even if I sometimes felt it was a little too slow. I don’t quite mind being on the way all the time because travelling and seeing new places is just awesome!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

For this challenge, capture something broken: an old window, a vintage sign, a toy never fixed, a contemplative friend. Or go deeper: find beauty in something broken. – The Daily Post

Wow! I’m finally back in these photo challenges.  I just transitioned computers before I went on vacation so now, my PC is empty….literally.  Other than some simple software, I really have nothing here.  Everything is in my backup/external hard drive.  But, good news is that I’m working on how to show off my trip to Seattle and the Alaska cruise.  I traveled with some of my mom’s friends, which reminds me what being young at heart is because the energy they  have is incredible.  I spent a day and a half in Seattle and you don’t want to know how much places we went.  Anyways, I’m trying to figure out whether to do individual posts or just highlight days…maybe a mix of both. Plus, a little cruising reflections and a special post that’ll make me happy to prepare for in memory of the cruise and the people I met there.

Either way, enough of this foreword on that.  I just needed to get that update in case you were interested 😉  Here is pictures from one of Seattle’s places I went. This is from Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.  My mom and her friends, who are not so fluent in English, didn’t quite get it.  But that’s because they didn’t get the Chinese version to listen to.  Anyways, this tour is awesome and funny and in the sarcastic funny way that I like about the history of the underground city and how it came to be.  Take my word for it, if you want to have a good laugh and entertainment and you’re in Seattle, go check this one out!!

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour

Underground City Tour, Seattle, Washington

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour

Underground Tour, Seattle, Washington

To be honest, I think this is the only post I’ll have for this sightseeing location for Seattle but the Underground City is a lot of things but there is one fact you will agree with me, its pretty worn out and broken 😉