Seattle Tea Trip!

IMG_3830No hotel review this trip as we used Airbnb for our accommodations. Seattle is a pricey place to stay. You can go further out from the center and find cheaper hotels but if you want to stay within about 15 minutes of most of the famous attractions, it’s often hard to find something for under $100. Maybe I’m just not the best at looking but I used every search and discount place I knew of and couldn’t find anything. What I could find wanted too much extra for parking and I knew we wanted to rent a car so that we could do a day trip to a beach or maybe Olympic National Park. What we ended up with was a place with free parking, microwave, coffee maker, mini fridge, living room, bedroom, bathroom & free wifi in a neighborhood with lots of walkability for under $90 a night. It was a nice, clean, bright, safe place to stay. A sink in the kitchenette would have been nicer, but there was free bottled water and our hostess supplied paper plates, bowls, silverware and some nice big mugs.

Airbnb is a nice alternative to hotels, especially if you are staying somewhere for more than a couple of nights. You can generally find a place with a fridge and a microwave at least so you don’t have to eat out every meal.

IMG_3738We got in on Thursday afternoon and immediately headed out to explore the nearby Fremont district. We walked around the corner to Roro’s BBQ for some really good brisket and tri-tip sandwiches with excellent fries. The sauces were okay – more watery and vinegar based than I generally like but I’m used to the sweet KC BBQ sauces. After that we walked down to the water and then up to see the Fremont Troll.

Continue Reading →

Dallas Chocolatour Part Eleventy

I have relatives that live in and around the Dallas, Texas area. So I try to make a couple of trips there each year. Every time I’ve been down there lately there are new chocolate shops to visit! This time we had happened upon a Groupon for a tea room as well so we ate ourselves silly, went to 3 new to us chocolate shops and tried out a tea room.

First things first, we flew down on Spirit. This was my first time on Spirit. For a short hop to a destination where you need little more luggage than a gym bag or back pack, they are acceptable but do your homework before you book your ticket! The plane we flew out of KCI on seemed like a training model. The normal seat back tray table and seat back pocket were next to non existent. The pocket was an X of bungee cords to hold the safety card and the menu of things they will sell you for an additional fee. Couldn’t put a water or soda bottle in it – it just fell out the bottom. The tray table was about 4 inches deep. That’s it. Couldn’t set a water or soda bottle on it without holding it on there. And the seats had zero padding. I am not exaggerating here. They were like wooden bench seats or bleacher seats covered in that airplane seat vinyl/pleather. Towards the end of the 1:40 flight my butt was getting a little sore. And I’m not lacking in bring-your-own-padding! Our return flight was also an Airbus but a different model, I think. It was more like a standard airplane. Average seats, standard seat back pockets, etc. So maybe the first plane was an anomaly.

We arrived later in the evening and were treated to a late dinner at Cafe Brazil. Breakfast all the time, plus lunch/dinner items. AH-MAZE-ING bacon! Thick, like they let 3-4 slices just stick together as they cooked them. Fat almost as crispy as pork rinds. Fantastic. Must figure out how to do that. Otherwise, their tortilla soup was really, really excellent. Definitely recommended!

Then it was on to Kate Weiser Chocolates.

IMG_3683Clean, sparkling white surfaces. Gloriously colored chocolates in a case. A view into the prep area, as is the trend in chocolatiers these days. About average price per piece. Also sipping chocolate, ice cream, coffee… We got a frozen hot chocolate that was disappointing – not nearly chocolate enough, just icy. The dark chocolate ice cream with orange flower ice and cocoa nib streusel, though? Now that was excellent. So, so chocolatey.

IMG_3685The chocolates themselves, while probably the most beautiful I’ve seen (sorry, Christopher Elbow), did not live up to expectations. The raspberry ones were phenomenal but the others, while really good chocolate, didn’t really have flavors you could pick out easily.

Continue Reading →

Quick getaway

Well, a bad influence convinced me to go back to Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend… Okay, it didn’t take much convincing – I’m a sucker for flash and glitter and shiny lights.

Great view of Hoover Dam on the flight out

Great view of Hoover Dam on the flight out

We stayed at New York, New York. The room was an okay size. The thermostat had two settings – low and high and it seemed like only one vent in the room. So after a day of 104+ degrees, while it was cooler than outside, it wasn’t an expansive hotel level of cold. There was plenty of closet space and the safe was large enough for a thin laptop. Room and bathroom were clean and the beds were fairly comfortable.

Marshmallow pillows, though.

Marshmallow pillows, though.

We couldn’t seem to get the right number of washcloths without calling housekeeping and a room service cart with dirty dishes and food sat in the hallway down from us for over 24 hours. Seems picky, I know. And the cab driver from the airport did tell us that they were expecting 300,000 visitors that weekend, 100,000 more than last year. So I’m sure they were very, very busy. But food in the hallway for more than a full day is a little odd to encounter in a hotel where the rooms normally cost a lot more than a Holiday Inn.

IMG_3641For the cost of a room there, you can find a bigger room, probably with better air conditioning somewhere else, even on The Strip to say nothing of on Fremont. But it does seem like they have more restaurant choices in their little borough-neighborhood mock-up than a lot of the other hotels do. Hardly any of them seem to stay open late, but that’s okay. Their casino area has some of the coolest video slots I’ve seen yet. A couple banks of machines with the MOST flashy lights, glittery wheels, spin like crazy for no reason reels EVER. Epileptic fit inducing to the max. In other words, AWESOME. Oh, and alien cow abduction themed slots!

Continue Reading →