Seattle, Washington


The alarm sounded at 6 AM and it took every ounce of my being to get out of bed. With our bags packed, we headed to the dining room for breakfast before we needed to debark. The breakfast in the dining room was basically the same as the buffet and I had my usual oatmeal with brown sugar, grapefruit, and sausage. The coffee on board was delicious so I had a few cups of that as well to wake up fully since we had a big day ahead of us.

Ryan predicted about a 45-minute debarkation process and boy were we surprised! We did the self-debark where we carried all of our bags to the Crown Grill for our debark time. Right as we got there, the staff rounded us off and walked us to the gateway. We were off the ship in under 5 minutes from our debark time and through the customs check in another 5. It took us a total of 10 minutes to get off the boat and to our Uber pick up! We were very impressed.

We all piled into one giant Suburban and rode to our downtown Holiday Inn. I liked the Maxwell hotel so much more, with its spunky personality and super comfy beds, but the Holiday Inn worked as well. We dropped our bags off quickly, freshened up, and then Ryan and I took off on foot to Pike’s Market. It was about a 20-minute walk through the drizzly downtown streets, but we passed some really cool statues, art fixtures, and graffiti. Seattle also has amazing architecture and almost every building has some unique color or quirk that makes it visually appealing.

Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

We arrived at the market and was shocked at all of the fresh produce and the prices! While one side of the market was filled with flowers of every kind and color at prices from $5 – $15 for a beautiful bouquet, the other side had fresh produce that looked picked that morning, right-off-the-boat fish and seafood, fresh pasta of all flavor varieties (we got some basil linguine to try), cheeses and cured meats, honey sticks, and a huge variety of other goods to buy.

Not only was the market multiple blocks long, but it was 6 stories deep! We wandered down to a lower floor, tried some BBQ pork buns from a take-out Chinese window, window shopped through some old record shops, hippie boutiques, and a pet store that made us homesick for our puppy. I could have perused the market for hours!

Not only is Pike Place Market a big attraction, but there are other hidden gems inside and around the market that make for interesting stops. Across from the market is the original Starbucks with a line out the door 50+ people. It has the original Starbucks logo and everything. On top of that, the notoriously sticky gum-wall in an almost hidden corridor of the Market beckons gum chewers to make a deposit, leaving their brightly colored gum as a marker of their visit to the wall. We checked out both of these places before our stomachs brought us to Pita Stop for a gyro before the trek back to the hotel.

EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington

I changed my galoshes out for my hiking boots and we were back on the streets, walking to the EMP Museum underneath the Space Needle. We opted for the EMP since we have traditional science museums in Dallas and a very nice aquarium, so the EMP offered something different for us to try, and boy were we glad we did! Contained in an architecturally complex and colorful building that you can’t help but be curiously drawn to, the EMP Museum offers exhibits like nothing I have seen before. All of the exhibits feature priceless artifacts in theme, my favorites of which included Light Sabers that were actually used during the filming of the originally Star Wars movies in the “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction” exhibit, Gizmo from Gremlins in the “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” exhibit, guitars and hand-written lyrics from both Nirvana and Jimmy Hendrix in their retrospective exhibits, and the actual costumes from all of the main characters in The Princess Bride! There was also a music lab with booths containing every type of instrument where people could literally make music and jam out on any instrument they pleased. Again, so interactive and cool. I highly recommend the EMP to anyone visiting Seattle!

After exploring the museum, we went out the backdoor to a huge park with an interactive playground for kids. There were white tents set up at the back of the playground and the smell of hot dogs drew Ryan’s stomach and my curiosity over to the tents. They started with lots of kid’s activities, and as we walked further into the tent mass, we realized we stumbled upon the Folk Art Festival taking place. There must have been thousands of people with the most unusual range of styles I have ever seen in one place! There were hair colors ranging every spectrum of the rainbow, clothes that looked like they dated back to the early 1900’s, folk bands set up every 20 feet or so playing on instruments ranging from old wash boards to beer bottles! We strolled through the crowds and were astonished as the free-flowing and happy nature of all of those participating. It’s amazing what a little curiosity off the beaten path will lead you too!

Folk festival in Seattle Washington

We spent about an hour in the festival before our feet couldn’t bare walking anymore and we returned to the hotel. Unfortunately for our feet, Ryan’s family was ready to go to dinner almost as soon as we returned, so we took off again to Vinason Pho & Grill for some of the best pork vermicelli I have ever had in my life! They added mint to the dish with a touch of cinnamon and the freshness of the ingredients made for a delightful experience. I topped dinner off with a strawberry macaroon from the Macadons up the street.

Pork Vermicelli in Seattle Washington

Ryan’s brother-in-law’s sister drove in town from Oregon to see us for her 21st birthday, so we topped off our night with some celebratory drinks. The bar was the oldest family run restaurant in Seattle, open 24-7 with a huge menu, and had quite a personality. We also had free entertainment as a juggler set up right in-front of our patio table. With a margarita and some good conversation under our belt, we headed back in the misty night to our hotel for some much-needed sleep.

Seattle – Back to Dallas

Ryan’s family took off early back to Houston, so we said our goodbyes and then went to an Einstein Bros Bagels up the street for some hot coffee and delicious bagels. My favorite it the everything bagel with honey butter – yumm! It was pouring out, but thankfully with my wellies and rain jacket on and umbrella ready to go, we were ok to walk around town for something fun to do. A lot of things in Seattle are outdoors, so we needed to find something easy to do inside and we found out that the REI flagship store was a little under a mile away. While a dangerous decision for our wallets, we took off to find our shopping mecca.

We came up to a rainforest and also functioned as the entry to the store! We went up a winding dirt path, past a waterfall, and across dirt bike testing trails before getting to the 3rd story entrance. The place was HUGE! It was two floors of everything outdoors and even had a 3 story climbing wall looking out over the forest and a big wooden fire-place to gather around. Not only that, but they were having their biggest sale of the year and it was packed! We spent an hour gallivanting around, wide-eyed at all of the great deals and things we wanted to take back. The REI in Dallas is about 1/3 of the size and this place made me want to move north so I could be a permanent camper. If you are in Seattle looking for something free to do and are any sort of outdoorsy type, you need to come check this REI out, just be credit card careful.

With some new gear in hand, we went back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and a driver to the airport, and started our journey back to the sunny and warm state of Texas.

Lima, Peru

Planning the trip to Peru was easy, but getting there was pretty complicated…

Stage #1: The Move

Our apartment lease came up at the same time as our trip and we wanted to move somewhere with a patio. Conveniently, we found an apartment right down the hall from our current one  – the only catch being that move-in day was May 15th, the same day we were embarking on our Peruvian journey! My roommate / boyfriend Ryan had to work that day so, with the help of our puppy, my taller but little sister, and some movers, we lugged everything to our new spot. My sister and I thought we were smart so we unhooked my 6ft long closet rung full clothes and tried carrying them to the new place in one go. Do not try this at home! Our ambitious plans deteriorated as MY clothes started falling off the rung and were then littered down the block-long hallway. Thankfully there was no lingerie involved for fellow apartment neighbors to see scattered along the halls!

We grabbed all of my rogue clothes and the movers were able to get our boxes and furniture over within a minute of the two-hour window I booked them for. My boyfriend came home to switch spots with my sister so she could go pack for the trip. We cleaned the old place, turned in our keys, and grabbed our luggage to head to Houston for the night!

Stage #2: Houston

I consider myself super lucky as my boyfriend conveniently came with the best perk possible – an adorable dog named Dakota. Ryan’s family was nice enough to volunteer to babysit Dakota for our trip, however, they live in Houston. My family took off for Lima, Peru the night we moved, but Ryan and I decided to drive to Houston and fly out from there the next morning. After a 4.5 hour drive, we arrived in Houston around 9:30 PM, and my adrenaline was still pumping despite the craziness of the day! Dakota’s was too and she took it out on about 10 stuffed dog toys which she found and quickly unstuffed all over the living room floor. Squeakers are her arch nemesis and any toys with them must be destroyed, always resulting in some fun clean ups.

Stage #3 – The Airports

5:30 AM wake up to head to the airport. We got word that my family had made it to Lima, so the race was on to meet them! When we arrived at the gate to learn that a couple with triplets was sitting behind us on our first leg to Miami. Never a good sign when you want to sleep your way through a flight. Apparently the triplets had the same snoozy idea though because we didn’t hear a peep from them the whole time and I got a few hours of sleep in before our Miami landing. Phew!

A quick layover and lunch later, we hopped on the next plane to Lima. Our flight attendant was a Spanish looking Robert De Nero who offered me a mini-bottle (about two glasses) of wine – for free! Of course I took him up on it and we fake toasted to the trip. About 30 minutes later, he passed us again, and this time we both took him up on more wine, a mini-bottle each! Robert was quickly becoming one of my new favorite people. He disappeared for about an hour and came back to us with a long face, exclaiming they had run out of wine – what tragedy! There was a glint of trickery in his eyes though. He smiled and reached into his jacket to pull out one final bottle that he saved just for us! By this point we were in great spirits and cheers’ed him as he walked off. Flight attendants can really make or break a flight! We finished up the inflight movie and I had a wonderful Chardonnay induced nap. I woke up to laughter as Ryan was taking pictures of me sleeping as we were landing.

Ocean view of Peru from the plane
The view of Peru from the plane.

Stage 4: Mia Flores District in Lima, Peru

We landed in Lima at 5:32 PM, hustled through customs, and found our driver to go to the airport. While we are driving through the city, the driver made me put my purse under my legs in the back seat as people could potentially try to steal it while stopped at a light! You must always be aware in new places. We drove all the way to Miraflores district in Lima, Peru to meet my family at the Hotel Britania.

We dropped off our luggage and took off on foot this time to find a resultant called Cafe Cafe for dinner. I got a delicious passion fruit and pineapple salmon dish and Ryan had a very green, but good, shrimp gnocchi. We also all got Pisco Sours – a traditional Peruvian drink made from grapes from Pisco, Peru. A must try while you are in Peru!

In the middle of Miraflores is a big park nicknamed the Cat Park where all of the abandoned cats in the city congregate. It is a beautiful park with local artists lining the outskirts and a chachki market in the middle. We ended the night by walking around the park and buying some trinkets at the market, including the below leather journal for all of our trip documentation:

My Peru leather journal