Hem and Away: Seattle Day #8

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RECAP: I (Jo) am currently* on vacation in Seattle! I thought it might be fun to try and keep a little holiday diary of sorts, a travelog if you will. Need a refresher? You can read about Day 1 here Day 2 here Days 3/4/5 here and Day 6 here and Day 7 here! So sit back and grab a cup of coffee, She and Hem is going Stateside.

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Day 8 contained a mini adventure , as we decided to walk from our base in Queen Anne all the way to the neighborhood of Fremont. What better way to kick off an incredible walk? With an incredible breakfast, of course! This particular restaurant had been recommended in guide books, on twitter and by friends and just happened to be on the way. You might say that the 5 Spot Cafe had a reputation to uphold!

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The 5 Spot has ever changing themes, the current one being San Franscisco, and the cafe (and its menu) is fully decked out to reflect this. There’s even a replica Golden Gate Bridge! It’s all completely brilliant, as is the extensive menu! We both went for the lightweight lumberjack, which was a red flannel hash with poached eggs & fancy toast! Toast aficionado’s will appreciate knowing that the fancy toast appeared to be some sort of sour dough. I can confirm it was not only fancy, but also delicious. It was also a bargain at $5.75 and the never ending cups of coffee fueled us for the rest of the day. Reputation: upheld.

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With that, it was off to the wonderful land of Fremont for us! Often referred to as ‘The People’s Republic of Fremont’, it’s all rather quirky and fun! We had found a suggested walking tour of Fremont in one of our guide books and decided to give it a shot! The first site of interest, Rapunzel, came just as we crossed the bridge into Fremont. Poor old Rapunzel is locked up in one of the towers and is the work of local resident, Rodman Miller.

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Next up was ‘waiting for the interurban’, a sculpture created in 1979 by Richard Beyer as a way to commemorate the now defunct light rail interurban that use to run into downtown Seattle. The sculpture is often dressed up, in fact when we visited the would be passengers were ready for a birthday party, and residents are encouraged to commit ‘art attacks’ to keep interest in the artwork alive.

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A short walk away, under the Aurora bridge, lives the Fremont Troll! He is GINORMOUS and appears to be devouring some poor sap’s Volkswagen Beetle, giving the impression that those driving above are running a serious risk! The Troll came into fruition after a competition to design something to improve the space under the bridge (which is also ginormous). This, the winning design, was entered by a team led by Steve Badness. Visitors are welcome to climb all over the troll but I kept my feet safely on the ground.

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Fremont considers itself to be the very center of the universe, so it makes complete sense that there should be a sign post to make this official. The sign is on a tiny little slab of concrete in the middle of a busy road, making the center of the universe quite a difficult place to visit. As you can see though, it’s pretty wonderful.

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Next on the tour was a rocket mounted to the side of a shop! OF COURSE! It was built using a 1950’s Cold War rocket fuselage and now sits loud and proud complete with the Fremont crest, which bares the motto ‘De Libertas Quirkas”, also known as Freedom to be Peculiar. Perfect.

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And what tour would be complete without a 15 foot high statue of Lenin? Not this one, that’s for sure. This controversial statue originally ended up in Seattle thanks to a local English teacher, Lewis Carpenter, who imported it when he discovered it was being sold for scrap. This was not a popular move with his neighbours who fiercely protested against the impulse buy. Unfortunately for Lewis, less than a year after signing a deal with the local Mayor that would allow him to have the statue, he was killed in a car accident in 1994. This left old Lenin flying solo in Carpenter’s back garden until he was moved to a corner of Fremont. It’s fair to say that the statue is not popular with the residents, who are very opinionated on the matter and will gladly come and talk to tourists about why they don’t approve of a gigantic Lenin towering over their neighbourhood.

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We then trundled on to the beautiful Gas Works park, where I got to release my inner steam-punk princess. This park is way cool, and as it’s in Fremont, a bit strange too. It’s built on a former gas works park (you don’t say!) and still contains many elements of the old plant, either as ruins or as regenerated pieces of the park. The former exhauster-compressor building is now a giant play area for children who can clamber all over the machinery! The park also gives you a beautiful view over to downtown Seattle and we spent a lovely afternoon sitting on the hill watching the sea planes taking off.

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I wore my yellow polka dot dress from Primark with my Topshop geek shoes and my Cath Kidston sail print bag!

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Not technically a part of the tour but after all that walking it was definitely time for a nice cold beer! Luckily for us the Fremont Brewing just happened to be on the walk back so we popped inside for one of their taster boards. James had already been in earlier in the week to try their ‘pizza ale’ and was waxing lyrical about their selection. I didn’t manage to try the pizza but I did have a delicious grapefruit and lavender beer that was so good I was half tempted to try and fit a growler in my suitcase.

That’s it for my Seattle travelog! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

Jx

*OK so I’m actually home now but let’s just suspend our disbelief for a few minutes.

Hem and Away: Seattle Day #6

Picture taken from The End Summer Camp

RECAP: I (Jo) am currently on vacation in Seattle! I thought it might be fun to try and keep a little holiday diary of sorts, a travelog if you will. You can read about Day 1 here and Day 2 here and Days 3/4/5 here! So sit back and grab a cup of coffee, She and Hem is going Stateside.

Over the weekend we headed to Redmond, which is just to the East of Seattle. It’s most famously known as the home of global conglomerate, Microsoft, whose presence is most definitely felt throughout! It really feels like the entire town center exists purely for its employees and is almost Disneyesque in its cleanliness and neatness. Anyway, as much as we would have loved to discuss Windows with Bill, our purpose for being in Redmond was to attend The End 107.7′s Summer Camp!

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Our hotel was a fair walk to the venue but luckily for us we stumbled across the Redmond Saturday Fair. We may or may not have bought a massive slice of cake. Tasty.

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Set in the glorious surroundings of Marymoor Park, The End 107.7’s Summer Camp was a real treat. Marymoor is an absolutely stunning place to have concerts!  It is, after all, a 640 acre park that boasts  its own velodrome amongst the recreational activities on offer. The part in which they put on concerts is not only beautiful, but very practical too. The stage is surrounded by a grassy bank, meaning families, picnic goers and people who aren’t teenagers anymore can take in all the action from a comfortable position. Not having brought the family, or having the foresight to pack a picnic, we fell into the final of those categories and perched ourselves atop the grassy knoll.  Just as we had bought ourselves some beer and a steak baguette, we were beginning to think that it was all a bit too perfect….

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………and then a familiar sight to any British festival goer appeared, as the umbrellas which had been used for sun protection, suddenly became the defense against a much damper entity. The good news however was that this sinister shower was short lived, didn’t result in copious amounts of mud and, truth be told, was actually rather refreshing! Despite our lack of umbrella we stayed put and soon dried out once the rain had receded.

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The highlight of the day for me was undeniably Surfer Blood, pictured above. Apologies if you were sat anywhere near me and my bad singing! The line up was pretty stellar throughout though, with Wavves, Family of the Year, Hey Marseilles and MS MR all sounding great in the sunshine. New Politics proved very entertaining with their extremely energetic performance! We did appear to be the only people present who hadn’t heard of them. Cold War Kids had the privilege of closing the night out during a rather beautiful sunset,

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I wore a Gap vest top with my Cath Kidston train skirt and my Topshop shoes. My bag is also from Cath Kidston and I bought a new hat in Redmond Town Centre from a shop called REI. I was certainty grateful for the extra bit of sun protection!

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Jx

Hem and Away: Seattle Days #3,4 & 5

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RECAP: I (Jo) am currently on vacation in Seattle! I thought it might be fun to try and keep a little holiday diary of sorts, a travelog if you will. You can read about Day 1 here and Day 2 here! So sit back and grab a cup of coffee, She and Hem is going Stateside.20130811-201211.jpg

Wednesday marked the beginning of the three days of this trip which I would be spending on my own. I know for a lot of people being alone on holiday would be a great chance to indulge in doing things that only you want to do, but I am not one of those people. I am much happier exploring in a couple or as part of a group! With that in mind,  I  have decided to amalgamate the highlights from days 3, 4  & 5 as I spent most of my time watching Boy Meets World, swimming in the hotel pool and eating. I know, pretty awful right?

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One of the highlights of my time alone came when I decided to grab my book (The Humans by the excellent Matt Haig, book lovers) and head to the International Fountain. Like a number of Seattle’s attractions, the fountain was originally built for the 1962 World’s fair but was completely replaced in 1995 to be what it is today. I can best describe it as a ginormous great bowl in which rests a giant silver dome that spurts out water in all directions, in time to music. It would be quite the spectacle on its own but on such a gloriously hot day it really was incredible fun watching hundreds of children (and adults) frolic about trying to dodge the water. I, rather naively, didn’t realise at first that the dome would be changing up its routine and gaily sat upon the edge of the bowl and cracked open my book. After a few moments appreciating the lovely mist that was landing on me, I found myself getting completely drenched, much to the amusement of the people near me (and to me too), and had to skedaddle to safer ground! It was brilliant! I also jumped the first time the central ‘super-shooter’ shot water out over 100 feet in the air, complete with dramatic boom!

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One evening, after James returned from work, we decided to take a walk up (and up and up and up) to Kerry Park to watch the sunset. As we were a little early, we decided to head to Molly Moon’s, which had come highly recommended from a number of people. After my incredible ice-cream experience at Mora’s on Day 2, I was well up for some more cold creamery creations! After a lot of deliberating, I went for a scoop of balsamic strawberry, whereas James went for Earl Grey. Both were mind-blowingly fantastic and I am now convinced that Seattle should be known as the ice-cream capital of the world! We are definitely going to be heading back up the hill to try out some more of their flavours!

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Dress from Ever Ours (click for link)

With that, we walked back to Kerry Park to watch the most impossibly perfect sunset. We weren’t alone, it’s quite the destination for tourists as you get the postcard perfect view of Seattle’s famous  skyline.

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As well as watching Boy Meets World, another television highlight was spotting myself on Broadchurch! It was incredibly bizarre to see myself on TV in America, even if it was only for 10 seconds!

Jx

Hem and Away: Seattle Day #1

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Hey there!

Those of you who follow us on Twitter will be aware that I (Jo) am currently on vacation in Seattle! I thought it might be fun to try and keep a little holiday diary of sorts, a travelog if you will. So sit back and grab a cup of coffee, She and Hem is going Stateside.

Now, first things first, I make no secret of the fact that I LOVE America. It’s my spiritual home and makes me feel oh-so-super-happy. This, however, is my first time visiting Seattle!  It is my life ambition to visit all 50 states, and with Washington being my 25th, I’m feeling pretty chuffed to have hit the half-way mark! I’m hoping that once I hit 50 I will unlock a secret bonus 51st state. I probably definitely played too many video games as a child.

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After a cheeky lie in after a long day of travel, the first thing on the agenda was a trip on the monorail! The monorail was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and still connects the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is) with Downtown today. It was certainty very quick, covering the mile long track in a matter of minutes, and was a lot of fun too!

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Without fail, everyone who have I discussed going to Seattle with has recommended going to Pike Place Market, and with good reason! It’s absolutely alive with activity! It was created over a century ago when the people of Seattle grew tired of paying extortionate amounts of money for food and produce, with Pike Place Market being a place where you could ‘Meet the Producer’. It covers 9 acres and although I didn’t quite manage everything today, I had a fantastic time sampling chocolate covered cherrys, watching the much lauded fish throwing and meeting a giant pig called Rachel! I’ll definitely be going back for another nose around later in the week,

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Just underneath Pike Place Market, in Post Alley, is this huge Gum Wall! It’s sort of pretty and gross all at the same time, I suppose you could say it’s pretty gross! Especially as in 2009 it was listed as one of the top germiest tourist attractions in the world! People started sticking their gum to the wall, which is next to the Market Theater,  in 1993. After a couple of attempts at scraping the gum off, they gave up and let it become the tourist attraction it has become today.

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After purchasing a City Pass, we decided that a harbour tour was in order and hopped aboard an Argosy Cruise.  The hour tour was a brilliant way to see the Seattle skyline and the on-board narrator was extremely interesting and informative. We learn’t all about the different piers, the history of some of the neighbourhoods and buildings, and had a fascinating look at the shipping terminals and container ships. I could hardly contain-er my excitement.

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After an hour of sitting in the sun (it was 29 degrees today) we decided to use another of our City Pass vouchers and visit the Aquarium.  It was excellent fun looking at all the fish! I especially enjoyed the octopus and the touching tanks – I stroked a starfish!

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It was then time for a little wander around the Olympic Sculpture Park, a free outdoor park full of permanent and visiting art works. I loved Heather Hart’s temporary installation, “The Western Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof Off the Mother”,  a rooftop construction that visitors can climb on.

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For my first day exploring the city, I wore my polka-dot shorts from Miss Selfridge, a t-shirt from Topshop and my trusty white shoes, also from Topshop. My bag is from Cath Kidston and my glasses are Red or Dead.
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I’m off to bed now! Have a wonderful Tuesday, y’all.

Jx