Our Must Do's and Don'ts : Seattle

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Our Must Do's and Don'ts : Seattle

Last time, I blogged about a city that I would move to in a heartbeat, so this week I figured I would tell you about a city that David feels equally excited about!

 Seattle has been on my list for years. I have planned a Nirvana themed road trip more than once during one of my many wanderlust spells (which I plan on actually doing one of these days). So when I found out that it was going to be the departure location for our Alaskan cruise, I immediately got butterflies. 

It was stereotypically cloudy and rainy during our stay, but that wasn't stealing anyone's sunshine! This city is quirky and unlike any other city, I have had the pleasure of visiting. I am glad I finally got to experience it, and I cannot wait to be back someday! 

Below I have listed a few places worth mentioning that I feel you might enjoy if you were ever to visit there yourself! 


 

ATTRACTIONS

Space Needle

When you think of Saint Louis, you think of the Gateway Arch. When you think of Seattle, you think of the Space Needle. I will say the same things when it comes to both of these landmarks… It’s a landmark. 

Depending on the weather or the time you go, the time you spend in line might be longer than the time you spend up there taking photos and taking in the view. This was the case for us. We waited until the time that was printed on our tickets (which was an hour from the time we arrived.) After scouring the souvenir shop at the base of the needle to kill time, we were herded like cattle into an elevator for the short ride to the top. As if hounding you to buy gifts at the bottom wasn't enough, there are even more gifts at the top as well as a coffee shop and a place to get some snacks. They offer viewing binoculars that you can pay for on the deck outside as well as screens where you can pick any date and time and see what the view was on those days on the inside of the viewing room. 


Pike Place Market

As someone who never understood the mystique of the farmers market, I was blown away by Pike Place Market! If you are only going to be in Seattle for a day, this would be my number one recommendation hands down!  

Pike Place is not only one of the oldest farmer markets in the country; it is over nine acres of specialty shops and restaurants for you to explore. You can find anything and everything while strolling through the various alleys of this unique attraction. While I was there, I was able to find an original Nirvana 45 in perfect condition!


EMP Museum

Speaking of Nirvana, The EMP Museum currently has a Nirvana exhibit that will make any Nirvana fan weak at the knees! Nirvana has been my favorite band for as long as I can remember... Needless to say, my pregnant-self got a little emotional walking through the countless photographs, hand-written letters, and lyrics of one of my first celebrity crushes. 
 
For my family members who did not share my love of the grunge god, there was a decent sized Jimi Hendrix exhibit as well as a Star Trek exhibit to keep everyone entertained. There are a lot of other exhibits I didn't mention, but they can all be found on their website so be sure to check if anything tickles your fancy! 


Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour

Seattle is one of America's cities with a fascinating history. If you see yourself walking underground into dark passages and hearing tales of the gold rush and everything that came along with it I would highly recommend this tour. The guides are extremely friendly and helpful, and as they guide you through the underground streets and buildings of the city, they share tales of the town's most prominent families as well as a few humorous stories of their own. I am not usually a fan of organized walking tours because I feel they are a bit cheesy, but this one was worth it!  


 

FOOD 

Zeek’s Pizza

Located near the Space Needle, this local pizzeria is the perfect place to grab a bite before you venture off into other parts of the city. This pizza joint is by far my favorite eatery in Seattle. I was battling food aversions and morning sickness like crazy while on this vacation and pizza was surprisingly one of the only foods that didn't make me feel downright awful. I will say the serving sizes are enormous so take that into consideration when ordering. A few people can easily split a medium size pie. They also offer half and half options as well as a gluten-free crust for anyone interested. I am pretty sure that all of us who ordered pizza brought the leftovers back to our Air BnB and devoured them later on. ;) 


Cantina de San Patricio

After spending a morning walking through Pike Place Market, one can easily work up an appetite. If you haven't filled up on all of the goodies that market has to offer you can take a quick stroll down Post Alley to this adorable and delicious Mexican restaurant. Although I was not able to partake in the drinking of alcoholic beverages due to my pregnancy, some of my family sang the praises of their adult beverages. If you like a little kick to your quest or any food for that matter, then this is a great spot for you! 


Capitol Cider

Unfortunately, when going on a trip, you are going to stumble across your occasional “flop” and sadly this place was ours. When you walk into the pub, you are immediately immersed in that typical “hipster” vibe, which I have always been a fan of. However, the charm ends there. The staff was slow and rude throughout our whole dining experience, which is unfortunate because their food was delicious despite the fact that it took us over an hour to receive it after they put our order in.

 We did not go on a particularly busy night; there were empty tables throughout the entirety of our visit. Maybe we went on an off night, but on the off chance that we did I will say that there are probably way nicer wait staff elsewhere in the city that serves equally if not better food.  The one thing they do have going for them is their extensive list of draft and bottled beers for you to choose from if that is something you are into you may find better service at the bar! 

** It is important to note that all of the previously mentioned restaurants are vegetarian/gluten free friendly! **


 

Accommodation 

Air Bnb

We typically use Air BnB when we are traveling, and we followed suit when it came to saying in Seattle. This time around we were traveling with some Air Bnb virgins! While some had their reservations about staying in a strangers house, they quickly discovered that it was not as scary as they had anticipated. My mother even mentioned she preferred doing this over staying in a hotel which shocked me! 

Like most of our experience using this website, it was a positive one. The house was cute and just the right size for the six of us. If you would like to check out the house or even book it for yourself, feel free to click here to get a closer look! 


All photos in this blog post were taken by one of our life notes bloggers David Beardsley. Check him out on his website and social media accounts! He loves making new friends!  Instagram * Facebook * Website

Lastly, as always we would love to stay connected through our Life Notes Facebook and Instagram as well. We love seeing photos from our followers so be sure to use the hashtag #lifenotes when posting your own. 


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Local Favorites of Nashville

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Local Favorites of Nashville

Last month I was able to make another visit to one of my favorite cities! Nashville has and always will have a special place in my heart. I would even seriously consider moving here if it wasn't for the fact that David can't stand the heat…baby. This time around we spent a lot of time visiting local spots that are unique and have the ever enchanting “Nashville vibe” I have come to love so much. 

The Gulch

Our first stop of the day was to an area I ended up really enjoying. The Gulch is a section of Nashville chalked full of local stores and restaurants as well as some amazing artwork like the beautiful pair of wings I got some shots in front of. This is where we met up with our Nashville native friend, Gabe for some breakfast before hitting the town to take some photos!

Biscuit Love

I had put this place on my list of potential breakfast spots a while ago, so I was more than excited when our trusty friend Gabe recommended it as our meet up spot!  When you get to the restaurant, depending how long the wait is, you could potentially be standing outside in the heat, so take that into consideration when deciding when to make your visit. Luckily for me, we didn't have to wait too long in line because Gabe got there before we did so he braved the heat for us!

The food overall was good, not great. I would recommend this spot to try at least once. The staff is very friendly the place is clean. I stuck with the traditional biscuits and gravy and was not disappointed; I just wasn't blown away.

Art Walls

One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Nashville this time around, was to get some maternity photos in from to some of the amazing art walls scattered throughout the city. I didn't even make a dent in my list of walls I wanted to visit, but alas I got some pretty great shots! 

Butchertown Hall

While exploring the city we found out that Gabe’s cousin from Memphis was in town, so we decided to meet up with him and his lady for lunch. All of us except Gabe were new to the restaurant, and we were all happy and full when we left!

 If you are a fan of wood-fire cooking and an extensive list of local beers, then this is the spot for you! This beer garden and neighborhood restaurant was the perfect place for us to grab some lunch. The place was clean, the staff was excellent, and the atmosphere was very laid back. I will say the portions are massive so take that into consideration when you are ordering.  I highly recommend the queso, which we got as an appetizer.

Pinewood Social
 
I would have fallen in love with this place if I wasn’t pregnant. I am not sure how to describe this bar/lounge/bowling alley. My best attempt would be that it is a place where people can go, and are encouraged to communicate with others besides the ones they came with. While we were here, David had his very first Cuban latte, and he was quite the fan of it. I recommend any of the coffee beverages as mine was delicious as well! 

Five Daughters Bakery

On our way out of town, this girl was craving sweets! I had seen a lot of my fellow travel bloggers mention this local donut shop and was elated when I discovered it was only a few blocks from where we were staying! The shop is a small yet quickly growing family owned business (which are my favorite!) I immediately fell in love with this place. 

 Unfortunately, we were in a hurry to make it back home, and David left his camera in the car. I promise next time we are there we will be sure to get some mouth-watering photos for you all to look at and envy over! 


All photos in this blog post were taken by my fellow life notes partner, David Beardsley. Check him out on his website and social media accounts! He loves making new friends!  Instagram * Facebook * Website

Lastly, as always we would love to stay connected through our Life Notes Facebook and Instagram as well. We love seeing photos from our followers so be sure to use the hashtag #lifenotes when posting your own. 

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Chicago: Concrete Jungle Views

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Chicago: Concrete Jungle Views

Two weekends ago David and I took a trip up to Chicago to meet up with some of his friends and family. While we where there, we got to cross seeing the The Book Of Mormon off our bucket list!

David took quite a few photos to document our trip. Check out some of his amazing camerawork below, and if you like what you see let us know in the comments! 

If you are curious about our thoughts on The Book Of Mormon, I have written up a brief yet informative post about it on our Facebook page for you all to check out.  The musical is NOT for the easily offended and has adult themes and language.


All photos in this blog post were taken by one of our life notes bloggers David Beardsley. Check him out on his website and social media accounts! He loves making new friends!  Instagram * Facebook * Website

Lastly, as always we would love to stay connected through our Life Notes Facebook and Instagram as well. We love seeing photos from our followers so be sure to use the hashtag #lifenotes when posting your own. 

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Canada, China Town, and Castles

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Canada, China Town, and Castles

The third stop on our Alaskan cruise was not in Alaska at all, but rather in Canada! While visiting our neighbors to the north, we had an awesome time touring Victoria, British Columbia by bus as well as stopping by some story worthy attractions, which include a castle and the oldest china town in Canada. Victoria is a great city to visit if you are just starting to dip your toes into the international traveling pool. It's not too foreign, but sill had some subtle yet noticeable differences from what you may be used to at home in the US.

China Town

As the oldest China Town in Canada and the second oldest one in North America (behind San Francisco). This two block by one block section of the city is doing an excellent job of preserving the culture and history of the Chinese-Canadians that made their way to Victoria during the gold rush. With its many souvenir shops and coffee/tea spots, locals as well as tourists can catch a glimpse and have a taste of some amazing souvenirs as well as teas and coffee. While I was there, I was able to get some mango boba tea, which was fantastic! 

Shiki Sushi

Sushi is one of my all time favorite foods and this local spot did not disappoint. The interior of the restaurant is super modern and inviting. Although minimalistic in design it was a very welcoming environment with a staff that was both friendly and helpful.

Side note: if you are someone you are traveling with has a gluten allergy there are many options on the menu to choose from. I was traveling with a vegetarian who is gluten intolerant, and she was able to find a few things to choose from and enjoy! 

Craigdarroch Castle

This Castle, which is tucked away in what seems like the suburban side of Victoria, is charming and full of character. While walking through the various rooms of the house, you are taken on a journey back in time. You are told of the days from the six different eras of the building including but not limited to the times where it was a military hospital and a college. 

This castle was by far the best part of the day for me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves looking for something unique to do while in Victoria!

*** All photos in this blog post were taken by David Beardsley. follow him on Instagram or take a look at his other photos on his photography website

*** Take a look at the blog posts from Skagway and Juneau to get a full glimpse of our time on our Alaskan Cruise! 

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A Day In Skagway

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A Day In Skagway

With a population of around only 900 in the winter months, this time-warped city is a stop for over 900,000 people during the cruising season. The town is unique in the fact that eighty percent of the buildings are original to the gold rush. This made for an amazing feeling of going back in time while walking the streets of this adorable city. 

While here, we had the pleasure of spending the first couple of hours with Madame Moan-A-Lot. She was our Skagway brothel tour guide, where she shared the history of the women who lived in this city. As it turns out, prostitution was largely a way of life for the women of Skagway. Many of the women relied on this as their sole income since they were not prepared to ascend the mountain to get to the gold. A lot of people got all the way to Skagway with the false belief that anyone could make it to the gold, only to find out that the trek there was full of bears, swollen rivers, and rigorous mountain climbing. 

On the tour, we walked up and down the streets of Skagway hearing stories of the infamous women who lived here. Despite the seriousness of the dangers of their lifestyle, our tour guide kept it light and airy with filling the conversation with witty puns and sexual humor. (If this is not something you feel comfortable with then I do not recommend this tour for you. A significant portion of the tour is filled with sexual innuendos and jokes which may not be suited for everyone.)

If you are looking for a fun way to learn a lot of history about this beautiful town, then I highly recommend this tour! It was a non-traditional way to hear the stories of the brave women of the Klondike while also acquiring a different perspective on their profession of their choice. Most of these women were working this job as a last resort, not a first choice.

Our last stop of the day was the Skagway Brewing Company. Although I can not personally vouch for the beers, they seemed to be well liked by those in the group who ordered them.  David and my brother tried samples of all of their local brews which were cool! I am jealous I could not give them a try! 

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First Stop: Juneau, AK

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First Stop: Juneau, AK

Juneau
The Alaskan state capital, which is only accessible by boat or plane, is one of the bigger cities in the state with a population of about 31,200. Located in the panhandle of Alaska, this mini metropolis was our first stop on our Alaskan cruising adventure! 

When you get off the ship, you have the option to take a shuttle into the town itself, or you can do the twenty-minute walk from the docks. We opted for the shuttle ride so we could take a gander at the main strip of shops and restaurants before our scheduled dog mushing excursion.

You can easily walk Franklin and Main Streets in about two hours (where most of the stores are located)  if you are taking the time to walk in and out of the various shops. There are quite a few souvenir stores as well as a few bars that are worth peeking at while you are here. A crowd favorite for my family was Shirt Off My Back, which I know is not a local store; however, we do not have one anywhere near us back home, so it was quite the treat!  

Alaska X Dog Musher Camp
The Alaska X company has locations in Juneau, Skagway, and Haines Alaska. They offer horseback riding, dog mushing, zip lining, and glacier tours to tourists from all over the world all year round. We had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at their dog mushing camp. This cute homestead was tucked away in the woods about thirty minutes outside of Juneau. The drive there was beautiful! There were plenty of photo-worthy views from the bus windows and on the way back to downtown Juneau we even pulled over to get a view of one of the glaciers.

There was no snow on the ground while we were there, so we got to experience summer mushing training. They train the dogs on what almost looks like a modified go-kart instead of a sled for them to pull through winding trails. The “sled” has ten Alaskan Huskies pulling up to 6 people at a time on the course, while the trainer is giving commands and controlling the brake from the back just like what would happen on a regular snow sled. 

After the mushing demonstration, we went to a covered area to hear another one of the dog trainers tell us all about the different races they can participate in as well as the various tools and equipment they take with them on these treks. 

I think that Juneau was the perfect first stop on our adventure. We were able to get a taste of Alaska with the comfort of being in a city to help us transition to our next stop in Skagway (which is the topic of my next blog post so stay tuned!) I would recommend a day trip to this city if you are not cruising through Alaska. It is worth your time. 

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Impromptu Chicago Snaps

A few weeks ago David and I decided to jump in the car and head to Chicago on a whim to get some photos of the city. If you have never taken a spur of the moment trip with your friend or loved one, I highly recommend it! We spent the day walking all over the city snapping photos and spending the weekend together! 

Yes, as you can probably guess, this pregnant girl had a fit or two because of hunger and tired feet from walking all day. David was quite the trooper and kept me under control for the most part ;). Luckily I survived and we ended up at the movies at the end of the day to wind the day down with some well deserved popcorn and soda.

So take a gander at some of David's snaps and be inspired to take a drive somewhere unfamiliar this weekend! 

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***All photos in this blog were taken by my fellow blogger and baby daddy David Beardsley. If you like what you see here and want to see more work by him, be sure to check him out on Instagram at @yourwisefriend ***

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CANINES AND CARS OF FOREST PARK

This Easter I was able to introduce David to the annual car show they have in Forest Park every year! The show is a Saint Louis tradition that has been drawing large crowds for years. We had a blast checking out all of the vintage cars as well as making some four- legged friends while we were there.

Which car/puppy was your favorite?! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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4 MUST HAVE TRAVEL APPS

It's no secret that we all have become slaves to our cell phones. But, could your smartphone obsession come in handy on your next vacation? With apps as popular as ever, it should come as no surprise that there is a never ending list of travel-friendly applications just waiting to be downloaded.  Since starting this travel blog at the beginning of the year, my phone has transformed into a handheld travel agent of sorts, and I love it!

Photo Credit: David Beardsley

Photo Credit: David Beardsley

 As I was scrambling to plan our last minute trip to Indianapolis this weekend, It dawned on me that sharing some of my iPhone apps could also help all of my readers! The following list is just some of the many that I have on my phone. If you have any questions or reviews about any of the apps below or any other ones not mentioned here, feel free to leave me a comment!

Currency - Simple Converter

Photo credit: www.blessthisstuff.com

Photo credit: www.blessthisstuff.com

Website

This app allows you to be able to quickly convert various currencies on your smartphone or tablet. Costing just $0.99, I see this as a staple in any globetrotters arsenal of traveling apps. With over 150 different currency options, you will never find yourself not knowing exactly what you are spending when traveling abroad.

Airbnb

Photo Credit: www.thenextweb.com

Photo Credit: www.thenextweb.com

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If staying in a traditional hotel is not your preferred sleeping accomidation, you, my friend, are not alone. I have been using Airbnb for my last few weekend trips, and I am in love! The application is super easy to use and has high reviews from all kinds of people all over the world. You simply put in general information about your location, number of people, duration of stay, and requested accommodations and Airbnb generates a list of homes and apartment which meet all of your requirements. You can communicate with the property owner through the app about parking and method of entry into the house. Lock boxes are popular among hosts which make coming and going super convenient for everyone. 

Hopper

Photo Credit: www.thetechnews.com

Photo Credit: www.thetechnews.com

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This life changing application not only lets you book flights all over the world, but it also tells you when the best times are to purchase your tickets. When selecting your destination, Hopper pulls up a calendar view labeled green, yellow, and red indicating best travel dates and ticket prices. You have the option to select flights for Hopper to watch for price fluctuations. I have only used this app once. However, I love the flight watching feature so I can have peace of minding knowing I am getting the best deals on my travel dates.  

Roadtrippers

Photo Credit: http://www.staringatmaps.com

Photo Credit: http://www.staringatmaps.com

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This app is essentially a pocket map. I just enter in my starting location, and my final destination and the app can recommend the food, scenic photo stops, and attractions along our route. I also like how it will tell you how much money you will be spending on gas to get from point A to point B. That way I can better budget my expenses. If you are a fan of road trips, then this app would do a lot of the work for you when it comes to finding things to do in cities on the way to your destination.

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24 HOURS IN NASHVILLE

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24 HOURS IN NASHVILLE

Last weekend, The Life Notes teamed up with Gabe Easter Photography to take on capturing Nashville Tennessee through a camera lens. Our day was packed with wine tasting, chasing down celebrity homes, walking a pedestrian bridge, spending quality time with my sister Laura and making new friends. So, without further-a-do, here is a breakdown of how we spent a quick twenty-four hours in Nashville, Tennessee. 

crema

This "hipster paradise" was right up my alley! Crema is amazing because they source their coffee from farmers they know and trust. Everything is brewed in house and is fresh. If you appreciate a good cup of joe I would stop by this eclectic corner of Nashville. It will not disappoint. 

Marathon Village

Our first stop was Marathon Village. Gabe told us the story about how it used to be a car manufacturing plant and has since then been transformed into a home for local shops and restaurants. One of which is a lovely wine tasting spot called Grinder’s Switch. Here, you can try real southern homegrown and manufactured wine. Most of which are named after trains that used to come through the area as well as an elderberry wine that donates money from each bottle sold to a local hospital. When asked how that came about the sommelier informed me that Elderberries are known for their healing quality. I urge wine lovers to stop by and sip on some palette pleasing vino! I recommend any of the sweet red wines. I was surprised how much I enjoyed them seeing as I am usually a white wine kind of gal!

Taylor Swift Plantation Wild Goose Chase 

With a few hours to kill before we needed to be somewhere to take sunset photos, We decided to drive right outside of Nashville to see how the moguls of Music Town live. This, of course, was a perfect opportunity for my unhealthy obsession with Taylor Swift to come out, and we had the bright idea to head about 30 minutes out of the way to try and find the plantation that Taylor owns.

Although we didn't find the exact plantation, we did see same fabulous mansions and loved driving through the upscale neighborhoods. If you are an architecture nerd like me, then you will love all of the different styles of homes in this area!

John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge


 This bridge that spans over the Cumberland River is the most beautiful spot to take skyline photos of the city! The day we were there the US women’s soccer team was in town, so there were a lot of fans decked out in red white and blue which added a patriotic vibe one probably doesn't usually get the walking across this bridge. There were also a few senior photos sessions happening while we were there. This spot is a must see no matter how short your stay is in Nashville. The sunset behind the buildings was absolutely beautiful!

What are your favorite Nashville hang outs? Have you been to any of the places we visited while we were there? We would love to hear about them in the comments!

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