Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Walking Downtown Bainbridge Island (and Taking a Look at Their New Complete Street)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which is of the best mini-day trips that you can do from Seattle without a car. While I covered the trip itself, I didn't talk about what to expect on the other side. I'm going to correct that right now. Bainbridge Island’s downtown is an easy visit and very walkable. Virtually all of the restaurants and shops are within 15 minutes from the ferry at a casual pace and if you take your time to browse all of the shops and have lunch, Bainbridge Island will give you a solid afternoon retreat from Seattle. It's a great place to explore yourself, but in this post I'll share a few of my favorite places downtown.

The ferry itself can carry cars, but bringing a car along doesn't add anything unless you intend to continue on to the Olympic Penninsula. Instead, just walk to the ferry terminal and then on to the boat. It's $7.50 for an adult and $6.05 for kids 6-18, but you only pay westbound. The return trip from Bainbridge Island is free on foot (although if you drive, you pay to come back as well). Once you're off the boat, there are two options to get downtown, the first is along the main street and the second is a more scenic route that goes by the water. When you're walking up towards Winslow Way, look for the waterfront trail sign if you'd like to take the scenic path.

There are a couple of spots that stand out and are personal favorites here, as well as a place or two that I decided to try this time. I took the opportunity to try Hitchcock’s Delicatessen, which opened adjacent to their established dinner restaurant in the final months of 2011 and Mora Iced Creamery, which has been offering flavors influenced by the tastes of the Argentinian owners since 2006. In addition, I also visited three of my favorite local spots: Blackbird Bakery, Pegasus Coffee, and the Harbor Public House. Stay tuned and after the break we'll take a photo tour of the area.

Plus, at the very end, we'll even talk a little planner shop about the new "complete street" improvements that were recently completed on Winslow Way to make it more pedestrian friendly (If you're feeling impatient, you can jump to that discussion by clicking here).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Portland Restaurant Roundup: 4 Fantastic Places to Eat In and Around PDX

Portland is a great town and there are some spectacular restaurants in the city. On my last trip down there, I had a chance to hit 4 fantastic restaurants/cafes in a little less than three days and I'm going to share them with you here.

1. Broder

Broder is a pan-Scandinavian cafe on the east side of the river which has been on my list of places to visit for awhile. This time around, I ended up over there for breakfast and was thrilled to find that this is more than just a cafe that serves cinnamon buns with a little extra cardamon. Literally everything on the menu looked fantastic and authentic. My particular dish, above, is the Pytt i Panna which is a classic breakfast dish: Potato, onion, and beef fried up with egg and beets on top. Usually, I like my savory breakfasts with a little Tabasco for flavor, but in this case it would have spoiled this perfect piece of Scandinavia. The cafe is small and popular, but fortunately they've worked out a deal with the bar next door to provide a waiting area with serve yourself coffee.  [Broder]

2. Nuvrei

Nuvrei also made a good impression, with fresh and flaky croissants, a generous croque monsieur, and flavorful macaroons. The shop is located in the Pearl District, a short walk from downtown, and exudes high quality. Their pastry case is full of tempting pastries and is well worth a visit. Pictured above is a pretzel sesame seed croissant, along with a pistachio and orange macaroon. [Nuvrei]

3. Adina

What is "neoperuvian" cuisine? In a word, delicious. In more words, deliciously unexpected. We originally came in for a happy hour snack, but after seeing the menu ended up with a full tapas-style dinner. Pictured above, we have the anticucho de pollo (Chicken kebab), pimiento piquillo relleno (sweet ham and cheese stuffed peppers), tabule de quinua (quinoa based salad with avacado, olives, and cotija cheese), and the de batarraga (beet salad). The happy hour is actually a good deal for drinks, which includes South American classics such as the ever famous caipirinha and newer takes such as the Melone con Aji, which is a melon, gin, and pepper infused drink. Their dessert menu is also quite amazing, with this Peruvian take on Tiramisu being our choice. (...And for guests who need to abstain from gluten, there's also a sizable and delicious gluten-free menu to choose from.) [Adina]

4. Red Hills Market (Dundee, OR)

Out trip down to Portland included a swing through the wine country of Willamette Valley and there we came across this fantastic option for a lunch between wine tastings. Red Hills Market is located in Dundee, Oregon near about a dozen plus wineries. It offers up very fresh and very delicious sandwiches and brick oven pizzas. It's a great place to stop and likely the best deal in the area for what you get, plus the cafe has a light and welcoming design. [Red Hills Market]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photos from Portland and the Oregon Wine Country

More after the break...

At the Top: Portland (Portland City Grill)

Over the weekend, some friends and I headed down to Portland, Oregon and while there we took the opportunity to indulge in one of my hobbies: Enjoying a view of the city over a drink. In every city I visit, I try and make it a point to get to a point where I can look over the city and get a feel for the place and in Portland, that spot is the Portland City Grill. It's located on the 30th floor, right downtown at the edge of the Pearl District and Old Chinatown and give some great views of the city, bridges, and Mt. Hood. 

We made it there for the late night happy hour, but I was shocked to see how popular this place is. It makes sense, in retrospect, because of it's proximity to the night life in the Pearl District but I was expecting a bit of an older, half-forgotten place full of guys in suits. Instead, it was packed with folks in their mid-20s to early 40s and there was impossible competition for the tables along the window. This is a place to come early for happy hour (4-7pm and 9pm-close) if you want a table. Overall, the food on the happy hour menu was pretty good, but our happy hour drink wasn't really worth the price. Then again, you're here mostly for the view.

We arrived late, which meant that the late night happy hour was our only option, but if we had arrived earlier another great way to enjoy this view is with their lunch menu. The lunch menu is reasonably priced ($10-15/plate, with some $7.50 salads) and will get you into the actual dining room which should be a better bet for securing a window seat. On a clear day, the view of Mt. Hood must be amazing from this vantage point.

It's up there.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

View Seattle from the air with Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

I love seeing Seattle from the air, which is why when this dropped in my inbox I had to share it. The Royal Geographic Society has a website that lets you explore a flight path from the air and their most recent flight path is Denver to Seattle. There are some great shots from the ground to 30,000 feet which lets you explore what is actually going on in a local, regional, and macro context. Plus, the website is a community project: You can submit your own photos as part of the story.

One of my favorite places in Seattle: West Seattle. Photo by Gerald Hawkins via RGS

Photo by walla2chick via RGS

Photo by Toddalert via RGS

Photo by Carfull via RGS
Press Release after the Break:

Friday, February 03, 2012

From Seattle to Bainbridge Island by Ferry

Not all travel has to be around the world. Here in Seattle we have a plethora of options for getting out of the city for a change of scenery and one of my long time favorites is a quick trip over to Bainbridge Island via the Washington State Ferries. If you're visiting Seattle, this is an ideal and inexpensive day trip that gives you a unique perspective of the city (and the surrounding communities).

"The Boat", as the ferry is sometimes referred to locally, leaves from Pier 52 which is located next to the famous Ivar's Acre of Clams (a place that deserves a visit on its own) and is best experienced on foot. If you prefer to drive, you can take your car on the boat, but because it's not recommended since Bainbridge is so walkable and driving on is much more expensive. Once on board, it's only a 30 minute ride over to the island with some of the best views of Seattle.

After the break, we'll have a brief photo tour of my last trip over there.

15,000 hits!

Today we broke the 15,000 mark! When I started this about a year and a half ago, I really wasn't expecting to my blog posts or pictures to get any attention outside of a handful of friends. I'm looking forward to building on this and bringing in even more travel advice and pictures from around the world.

If you'd like to help, please tell your friends about this blog and follow me! Also, if you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it. Feel free to send me an e-mail at nicholas.open[@]gmail.com