May Long Weekend in Budapest

My friend Tarina was doing some travelling in South East Asia and decided to come over to Germany for a visit to do some exploring in Europe. Her arrival in Munich also coincided with the May Day long weekend in Berlin. We decided we would meet somewhere relatively close and landed upon Budapest, Hungary. On Friday, April 28 after work, I took the overnight sleeper train from Berlin which left at 19:01. I was alone in my 3 berth bunk until Dresden when 2 girls from Hungary joined me. We chatted for a while and then got settled in our bunks (I got the middle one). I awoke the next morning and had a quick coffee with my bunk mates before arriving in the capital of Hungary. Tarina had also taken the train from Bratislava and we arrived at around 8:30 Saturday morning. We got checked into the Hotel Astoria on the Pest side of the city before grabbing a coffee & croissant at the cute Budapest Baristas around the corner. We then wandered the streets passing the Great Synagogue, which is the largest in Europe, as well as the weeping willow tree with the names of the Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf. We continued to aimlessly wander the streets braving the quite windy and chilly spring time weather (Dan would have hated the aimlessness of it) and found a small weekend market on Gozsdu-Udvar Street, which also had some nice looking restaurants and bars so we made a note for later. Just around lunch time, we found a spring market in Vörösmarty Square. There was a lot of different choices on offer but we decided to go for the famous street food, the Hungarian lángos. It is a deep fried flat bread topped with sour cream and grated cheese. We each grabbed a lángos and a pint of Hungarian beer and enjoyed people watching in the square. With our stomachs full we crossed over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, over to Buda Castle where we caught some fantastic views of the city.

Fresh langos ready to be topped

Buda Castle

View of the Pest side

That evening we found a lovely little wine bar, Doblo, where we did a tasting of Hungarian wines. We selected the ‘Hungarian Mini” tasting which included a white, rose, red and finished with a Tokaj, a sweet dessert wine. The tasting came along with a platter of Hungarian salami, cheese, and traditional cottage cheese, Körözött. After our fabulous tasting, we made our way back to the Gozsdu-Udvar area and happened upon a “Ruin Bar”. We had read about the ruin bars which are basically old abandoned warehouses turned into bars. We grabbed a local pint and enjoyed the music and atmosphere. We didn’t know the name of the particular ruin bar we were at, however, funnily enough, when we were walking around the bar we noticed a Calgary Flames hockey jersey hanging on the wall. I asked the server about it and she said the owners of the bar were from there. Small world!

On Sunday morning, we grabbed breakfast and coffee at the quaint Fekete Café nearby. Our mission today was to make it to City Park, the largest park in Budapest. On the way we stopped at St.Stephen’s Basilica just as mass was letting out. We kept walking towards the park and stopped outside the terror museum to view the outdoor exhibit describing the 1956 uprising including an Iron Curtain installation. We continued on and made it to the park just around lunch time where a huge market was set up. This time we decided to share a potato pancake, otherwise known as tocsni, topped with goulash along with another refreshing beer. After lunch we walked over to one of the most famous spas in Budapest, the Széchenyi thermal bath. We didn’t have our suits with us but we still could imagine the experience and the thermal baths are definitely on my list for next time. We then walked over to tram number 2 and took what has been awarded the best European public tram ride.

Iron curtain

Toscni topped with goulash

Széchenyi thermal bath

After a long day of sightseeing, we grabbed a bottle of wine that I recognized from my last trip to Szeged, Laposa 4 Hegy Olaszrizling to enjoy back at the hotel. Later that evening, we wandered past the Great Synagogue back to St. Stephen’s Basilica where we had noticed a wine bar that morning. We grabbed a seat in the very busy DiVino Wine Bar and created our own tasting, this time along with a homemade duck platter.

Great Synagogue

St. Stephens Basilica

Tarina tasting a glass of Hungarian rose

Monday morning we attempted to visit the Great Market Hall but it was closed due to the public holiday. Instead we grabbed breakfast overlooking the market and enjoyed the improved spring time weather before heading to the airport for our 1.5 hour flight to Berlin. We landed late that afternoon and once we got settled in the apartment we walked over to Tiergarten to see whether any festivities were still going on. Most stalls were packing up but we were lucky enough to find a bratwurst and beer stand to end our May Day long weekend.

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Meet-Up in Muscat

Before Bec and I set out on our Scandinavian tour, my old friend Chris invited me to join him and his family in Muscat.  Chris has been working rotation in Oman for many years and his family was coming over to visit for about 10 days.  So, on the evening of Thursday, April 20th, I flew the red-eye to Muscat.  I made my way to the hotel and got a bit of sleep.  Chris had arranged a dolphin cruise that morning, but the high winds from the previous couple days had caused the water to be a bit rough so the tour company canceled the trip.  Chris picked me up and we went back to his 2-bedroom suite and met the family.  His wife, Jaeda, her mom, Penny, and the 2 kids, Maddix and Levi, were all there and we chatted for a while about what the alternative plan for the day would be. We ended up settling on a relaxing day by the pool.

Two great kids, Levi and Maddix

That evening, Chris led us to one of Muscat’s best hotels, The Chedi.  We had an amazing dinner at The Chedi Pool Cabana and walked down to the beach afterwards.

Dinner at The Chedi

The next morning, I rented a big GMC Yukon XL and picked up Chris and his family from their hotel.  We drove south on highway 17 to Wadi Shabb.  I had visited the wadi in the fall with the UAE Trekkers and thought the scenery was amazing.  We arrived 1.5 h later where we parked, took the small boats across the water, and started walking into the wadi.  The wadi is known for its crystal-clear swimming holes and cliff jumping spots, however, I may have under-estimated the distance you must walk to reach the pools.  The weather didn’t help either as the temperatures really start to climb this time of year.  We did reach the first water hole but we decided to turn back as the walk was becoming a little too challenging.  From there, we stopped on the beach, had some lunch, and put our feet in to cool down a little.  We then drove to the next wadi over, Wadi Tiwi, and drove up the small roads passing through the palm groves and small villages.  We started our drive back to Muscat but decided to make one last stop at the Hawiyat Najm Park which contains the Bimmah sinkhole.  Chris and I took the kids down to the water and had the proper swim we were looking for.  I didn’t notice the first time I visited, but there are little tiny fish that nibble at your skin if you sit still for a moment.

On the beach near Wadi Shabb

Dan with the Yukon in Wadi Tiwi

A dip in Bimmah sinkhole

Back in Muscat that evening, we decided to have dinner at the famous Tiki chain, Trader Vic’s, in the Intercontinental Hotel.  Unfortunately, Jaeda was not feeling well so she and Penny headed back to the hotel.  So, Chris and I dined with the kids then headed for home.

Sunday was the Islamic holiday of Isra’a & Mi’raj so I had the day off work.  Chris, Jaeda, and I drove to the eastern edge of Muscat to a new development currently under construction called Muscat Bay.  It is a mix of residential apartments and villas set in a stunning location on the coast.  We were given a tour of the property then headed back to Muscat.

Muscat Bay model

Chris taking in the views

Chris and I took the kids to the pool for one last swim and had a nice Thai dinner in the nearby Muscat Grand Mall.  Chris checked out of the hotel and we piled back into the Yukon with the luggage in tow.  We made our way to Souq Street in the area of Seeb near the airport.  Penny found what she was after, store after store of textiles, and she purchased reams of material for her quilt making hobby.  From there, we headed for the airport where we ditched the Yukon and said goodbye to Chris.  He would be back to work the next day.  Jaeda, Penny, and the kids were starting their journey back to Canada with stops in Saudi Arabia and Amsterdam.  I had a quick hop to AD.  It was great to see Chris and his family on this side of the world and look forward to seeing them all again soon.

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April Väder

After our Norwegian experience, we flew from Bergen to Stockholm on Friday, April 7th. At the airport, we grabbed a bottle of champagne, as we had recently realized that Sweden would be my 50th country visited and we wanted to celebrate. We took the train into the city centre and found The Rival Hotel, located in the area of Sodermalm, that Dan had found for our 3 night stay. His selection did not disappoint as it is a really cool hotel which used to be an old movie theatre. It was pretty cold outside when we arrived, but we decided to brave the weather anyways and set out on foot over the bridge to Gamla Stan. After walking through the historical centre, we went up Dronningatan to Ahlens City, the famous department store and location of the recent lorry attack. We visited the memorial site for the victims filled with flowers and condolence notes. After wandering the streets and shops, we soon found a lovely park when it actually began to snow. As our hotel had mentioned, we should not be surprised if it snowed in April, something they call “April väder”. This signified it was about time to return back to our hotel to pop that champagne for the big 5-0.

April Vader in the Park

Celebrating country #50

The next morning, Dan had decided we should check out Fotographiska, a place for contemporary photography and something a bit more up my alley museum-wise. After viewing the exhibits, we grabbed a coffee in the top floor café that had a great view overlooking the water. That afternoon we wandered around some art shops in Gamla Stan and then joined an afternoon bus tour around the city. We were soon headed back to the hotel before freshening up for our BBQ dinner we had been invited to by a friend. We enjoyed the delicious BBQ and homey atmosphere. We also got to try a traditional Swedish carbonated beverage that is very popular during Christmas and Easter called påskmust. After further investigation, we discovered this popular beverage outsells Coca Cola during festive periods.

View of Stockholm

Our last day in the capital included wandering through Krongsingata, Vasatan and Hay Market. In the late afternoon, we bundled up as best we could and started to make our way over to the Tele 2 Arena to catch a local football match Dan had got tickets for. We arrived, grabbed a couple of beers and found our seats. Even though the arena wasn’t full, we enjoyed the atmosphere and the fans signing their team songs. During the open-aired match it suddenly started to once again snow. The home team of Djurgården beat the visiting Elfsborg 3-0 and the game ended around 7:00 pm. We already knew where we were headed for dinner, The Pelikan, for their famous Swedish meatballs. We didn’t realize it would be so busy so we failed to make a reservation but they were able to squeeze us in at the bar. In the end, we should have split the meal as the meatballs were ginormous but absolutely delicious. We enjoyed one last cocktail at The Rival Bar before tucking in for the evening.

Snowy football match

Swedish meatballs

The next morning, we enjoyed another delicious breakfast buffet and a quick stroll before taking a taxi (which was somehow cheaper than the train) to the airport where both Dan and I flew to Berlin. It was his first visit back to Berlin since December 2016. We landed in Tegel, got settled in the apartment, and headed out to enjoy the last bit of sunshine and a cold one at Ampelmann Bar along the Spree River. The sun started to set and we decided to head to Edeka, the only nearby supermarket open on a public holiday. We grabbed a ham, potatoes, and spargel (aka white asparagus) to prepare our Easter Monday dinner. We baked the ham and made one of my mom’s specialities, scalloped potatoes. It was a great way to end our 2017 Easter Vacation.

Dan enjoying a pretzel in Amplemann bar

Easter dinner in Berlin

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Norway in a Nutshell

We had a pleasant sleep in our little inside stateroom and we knew that the Pearl Seaways would be well into its final leg up the Oslofjord when we awoke in the morning.  Before grabbing our latte’s, I popped out onto the back deck and discovered we were in a thick fog and the ship railings and deck were covered in dew.  A short while later, Bec and I went up to the top deck and found the fog had burnt off in the spring sun and the views were terrific.  The water was flat and the tiny cabins and villages along the shore looked so idyllic.

Cruising up Oslofjord

Landing at the port, it was a short walk to our hotel in the downtown district of Kvadraturen.  We popped over to the nearby Oslo Sentralstasion and received our Norway in a Nutshell tickets (more on that later).  We grabbed a picnic lunch and caught the T-bane to the Vigeland Sculpture Park.  This park’s highlights are the stone and bronze human figures by sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943).

One of Oslo’s most photographed images

We decided to walk back into the centre and made a coffee pitstop along the way.  We soon reached the Royal Palace with views of the front façade and down the hill along Oslo’s main strip, Karls Johan.  This street was a hive of activity with historic hotels, alfresco restaurants, open squares, and chic shopping.  We found ourselves back at the train station and pulled up a stump beside many of the locals enjoying a beverage on the sun-soaked terraces.  After our little break, we made the short walk over to the Oslo Opera House built to resemble snowfields and floating ice. The interesting thing about it is that you can walk on the roof which offers great views of the Barcode District and harbour.  That evening, we found our way to the Summit Bar on the 21st floor of the nearby Radisson Blu.  We savoured a couple of cocktails while watching the sunset over Oslo.

Dan at The Royal Palace

Shot from the top of the Opera House

Sunset cocktails

I had mentally prepared Rebecca for what would be a museum extravaganza and she was barely sold over the prospect of doing some shopping along Karls Johan.  We walked over to the harbour in front of City Hall to catch our ferry to Bygdoy where Oslo’s best museums are located.  Our first stop was the Viking Ship Museum.  These burial vessels are well displayed and we both enjoyed the simplicity of it.  Next stop, the Norsk Folkmuseum.  Bec chose to enjoy a coffee in the café and start some research on Bergen, but I power walked through the sprawling open-air museum that contains Norwegian farming timber houses from different regions and eras.  My favorite was the restored stave church from 1200 and the village built to resemble the surburbs of Oslo in 1900 (reminded me a lot of Calgary’s Heritage Village!).  Final stop, the Polar Ship Fram which Bec took another “pass” on.  Loaded with information, this museum focuses on Norway’s leading role in the exploration of the Arctic.  Back from Bygdoy, we strolled the promenade of Aker Brygge down to the Museum of Modern Art.

Dan with the 800 AD Oseberg ship

Stave Church

That afternoon, it was Bec’s turn to take the lead.  She led us to a famous street-side joint, Syverkiosken, serving pølse (popular Norwegian hotdog).  From there, we walked down the Akerselva River towards Grünerløkka where I mistakenly ordered what I consider the world’s most expensive beer from New Zealand at a local pub in which Bec had hoped we would have tried some local brew.  The last stop on Bec’s food & beverage tour was the Mathallen Food Hall.  We had a browse around the market stalls and picked up some elk sausage and local cheese for later but felt as though we should have a proper Scandinavian seafood dinner.  Bec went for the seafood soup and I had the fish and chips (it’s not just a British thing!).

Street-side Pølse stand

Dan enjoying his expensive NZ beer

OK.  Back to Norway in a Nutshell. This tour starts from Oslo Sentralstasion and heads west across beautiful farm land into Norway’s mountainous and fjord riddled hinterland.  The train climbed up and up to its maximum elevation of 1237 m where people were still in the midst of cross-country and downhill skiing.  We changed trains in Myrdal to the scenic Flåmsbana which winds its way down through spiral tunnels and huge gorges.  At the port, we boarded a 2 h cruise on the Vision of the Fjords that took us through some of Norway’s narrowest channels within Nærøyfjord, an Unesco World Heritage site.  We jumped on the bus back up to re-join the Oslo-Bergen line in Voss and continued our tunnel-filled journey to Bergen.

Caught in a snow shower at Myrdal train station

Dan cruising the Nærøyfjord

Fjord cruise anyone?

Our good-luck weather continued in Bergen, but we found the city to be a bit deserted.  We now understand that Easter is very important in Norway and even the Thursday (Maundy Thursday) is given as a holiday to make it a 5 day weekend.  My imagination of Norway is that every family has a remote cabin and that the entire country is gathered round in these hidden family sanctuaries.  And everything is closed!  Almost everything.  We walked around Vågen port to the old district of Bryggen.  We had a coffee and the famous Bergen kanelbolle before stepping on the funicular to reach a spectacular view of Bergen.  Bergen was once the most prominent city of Norway and many of its emigrants for the Americas left from this city.  Gazing from there, I couldn’t help think about the journey my ancestors would have embarked upon from the port down below.

Atop Fløyen with Bergen below

Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen

Walking back down the hill worked up our appetites and Bec had the perfect spot in mind, Pingvinen, a restaurant known for serving the city’s best raspeballer, a potato dumping sided by swedes and a sausage only served on Thursdays.  From there, we stumbled across, what we thought was a bachelor party but, by the sheer numbers, must be an annual affair – a group of men cross-county skiing in antique equipment along the dry sidewalks.  They were even skiing down the steps of The National Stage!  We later ran into the skiers at the Vågen port confirming our suspicion that there was indeed alcohol involved.  That night, we dined again at the Altona Restaurant & Wine Bar in our hotel and finally tried a reindeer steak. (Somehow Bec managed to find a hotel with a wine bar in it).

Thursdays Only: Raspeballer with swedes and sausage

Maundy Thursday in Bergen

Bergen on Easter Friday morning

So, that, in a nutshell, was our Norwegian experience.

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CPH – Trip #Two

Three short weeks after my weekend trip to Abu Dhabi, our Scandinavian whirlwind Easter vacation began. Originally, we had planned to meet up with Dan’s Aunt and Uncle in Copenhagen but, unfortunately, they had to cancel their trip due to a loss in the family. Dan flew from Abu Dhabi to Berlin on Friday, April 7th and I met him at the airport where we flew to Copenhagen together. We quickly got checked into the Axel Guldsmeden eco-hotel in the city centre before heading to our 8:30 pm dinner reservation at Fiskebar. We enjoyed a flight of oysters to start followed by the squid for Dan and the trout for me. After dinner, we made our way over to Lidkoeb’s whiskey bar for our 2nd reservation at 10:30. We walked up to the 3rd floor of the 1880’s converted apothecary. Dan chose the flight of Nordic whiskey’s and I enjoyed a whiskey based cocktail to end our first evening in Denmark’s capital.

Fiskebar Oysters

The next morning was a bit misty and chilly, reminiscent of our last trip to Copenhagen in February. We grabbed a coffee and a weinerbrod for breakfast, walked the Stroget, then hopped on a canal cruise. The cruise took us along the canals, past the famous little mermaid, Amalienborg Palace, and the picturesque Nyhavn.

Dan enjoying the Canal Cruise

After disembarking the boat, we walked across the bridge to Papiroen (Paper Island), to check out the street food warehouse. We kept it Danish and ordered the shrimp and salmon smorrebrod with a couple of local brews.

Danish Smørrebrød

After our appetites were satiated, we wandered over to Christiania, the famous autonomous area of Copenhagen. Freetown Christiania was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks. We came in the back way and enjoyed the old warehouses and interesting spray paint art. We then walked down “Pusher street” where marijuana and hash are openly being sold.

Christiania spray paint art

That evening, we visited the Tivoli Gardens. We arrived just as the lights in the park were starting to illuminate. We did a bit of shopping, including picking up some of our new favourite licorice, Lakrids, before sitting down at one of the restaurants on the lake. Dan went for the schnitzel and I selected the local Plaice fish. After dinner, we strolled through the park and I finally convinced Dan to go on one ride, the Rollercoaster. After leaving Tivoli, we decided to check out another cocktail bar in the neighbourhood called Curfew for a night cap.

Tivoli at night

The weather really warmed up for us on Sunday so we decided to catch some views from the Round Tower. We then made our way to Nyhavn for lunch. The sun was intermittently poking out from the clouds so we sat outside enjoying the sunshine at Hummer, a Michelin restaurant. Dan went for the fish soup and I had the lobster roll. It was a light lunch so we decided we had room for an ice cream as well.

Soaking up the sun in Nyhavn

A perfect way to end our weekend in Copenhagen before heading to the ferry terminal to embark on our DFDS overnight cruise to Norway. We boarded the ferry at 4:00 pm, checked into our 2-berth inside cabin, and hit the deck with Danish beers in hand to set sail on our 17 hour journey. I was a bit jealous though of the ladies who were popping a bottle of champagne for the voyage. That evening, we had an 8:30 reservation at Marco Polo restaurant which included a 3 course menu and wine pairing. We were impressed. We took in a bit of the onboard entertainment before heading to bed, looking forward to waking up in Norway. 

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Bec’s Visit to AD

I was off to the airport early on the morning of Friday, March 17th.  It had been almost 6 months since Rebecca left for Berlin and she was finally coming for a visit.  We arrived back at the apartment and were hoping to spend some time at the pool, but it was really windy and it was not great pool weather.  Instead, we caught up on some Scandinavian trip planning and some other household things.  That evening, we met some friends at The Galleria on Al Maryah Island.  We enjoyed happy hour at Bentley Bistro then checked out the new Mexican restaurant called Loca.

Bentley Bistro (should say Welcome Bec!)

On Saturday, our friends, Laurie and Amanda, were kind enough to invite us, along with Jenn and Spence, to join them for an afternoon of boating.  The weather had made a turn for the better.  We all met at 1:00pm at Yas Marina and set out on the water.  We threw down the anchor on a spit of beach opposite Yas Beach and Laurie surprised us with a bottle of champagne.  We set up on the beach and had a nice afternoon BBQ.  We lazed around and chatted until it was time to head back to port.

Girls enjoying the beach

Boys chilling post beach bbq

My ongoing weekend project included some bar related concoctions.  I made a rum based crème de cacao, bottled some homemade bitters that had been infusing, and recreated The Last Hipster.  The latter was a cocktail Bec ordered at The Barking Dog in Copenhagen and really enjoyed.  So, I emailed them for the recipe and they were happy to oblige.  The recipe was a bit involved as it required making homemade falernum and something called Hipster Juice.

Infusing in progress (Hipster Juice on left and falernum on right)

Finished product…The Last Hipster

I took Sunday off work so Bec and I got in some well deserved pool time.  That night, Nadia and Rene came by for dinner.  We tested the Last Hipster with some bruschetta then had a dinner of spaghetti carbonara.  We had a little rest before I took Bec up to the airport for her red-eye flight back to Berlin.  It was great having her home for the weekend!

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Weekend in Seattle

Jami here, for my first ever guest blog post!

After Rebecca had a great time eating burgers and drinking New York cocktails, she flew out to Seattle for the weekend. She arrived late Friday night, so we just had a quick catch up and a glass of wine before going to bed.

Since Bec had been to a lot of the sights in Seattle when her & Dan were here for New Years 2016, I decided to mix it up a bit and get out of town. On Saturday morning after having a little breakfast, we headed out to Snoqualmie, east of the city about half an hour. There’s a short little hike near the waterfall that we did before having lunch at the Salish Lodge.

Snoqualmie Waterfall

Jami at the Falls

We lunched on delicious Beecher’s grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup with a glass of bubbles while we overlooked the spectacular view of the falls, then stopped in to the gift shop for a little browse. There were tons of references to Twin Peaks, a famous TV show from the early 90’s directed by David Lynch. I watched all the episodes and movie when I moved to Seattle, but Rebecca had never seen it so I gave her the lowdown. One of the main characters, FBI Agent Dale Cooper, frequented a local coffee shop and always ordered a “damn fine cup of coffee and a piece of cherry pie”. It just so happens there is a little cafe still in North Bend where you can have this Twin Peaks experience, so we decided to go check it out.

Damn fine cup of coffee and a piece of cherry pie

Bec outside the Twin Peaks Cafe

We made our way back into the city, dropped off the car at my apartment, then got on the light rail to Pioneer Square, just a few stops away. I wanted Rebecca to experience the Smith Tower, as it has become one of my favourite places in Seattle. I love the history of the building and the view! It was built in 1914 and is the oldest skyscraper in Seattle. During the prohibition era, whiskey smuggled from Canada made it into the secret rooms in the tower, which saw many famous and diverse people. In 2016, the tower opened their new speak easy style cafe on the 35th floor, which is also the observatory deck. The staff dress in 1920’s era clothing, and they serve interesting cocktails and local beer and wine. I feel like I’ve become the unofficial spokesperson for the Smith Tower, as I like to tell anyone who will listen how great it is!

Jami drinking bubbles

View from Smith Tower

That evening we made our way back to Capital Hill to have a cocktail. In the midst of deciding on a place to check out, 12th Avenue suddenly filled up with protesters, marching for Black Lives Matter, women’s equality and against the president of the US. It was a peaceful march, so we took it in for a bit before ducking into Tavern Law. Our bartender mixed some great drinks for us, and we had a snack before retiring to the apartment for the night. We had some dinner and a few games of cribbage then called it a night.

The next morning we took a lovely stroll around my neighbourhood and checked out the view of Lake Union. We got in the car and headed north to Woodinville, a popular wine region about 40 minutes from downtown. There are many wineries, breweries and distilleries in the area, so it was a bit hard to choose which one to go to first. Because I’m a fan of Mark Ryan, we decided to share a tasting there. The wines are so delicious!

Mark Ryan tasting menu

Selection of Mark Ryan wines

We had some lunch at The Commons before going over to Chateau Ste. Michelle. This is definitely one of the larger estates in the area, and their distribution is far & wide. They have a field behind the buildings that has outdoor concerts throughout the summer. We hit up the bar for another shared tasting. One of the wines didn’t quite taste right, and we discovered it was corked. It was the first time that had happened to me, and clearly it was a rare occurrence for the staff as well, because they passed around the cork and everyone got a chance to smell what it was like.

Chateau Ste.Michelle Estate grounds

After that, we headed back into the city for a quiet night at home. I dropped Rebecca off at the airport bright and early so she could make her way back to Berlin. It was so great to have Rebecca visit me in Seattle! Hope to see you soon.

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