Seattle

Where Were You on Christmas Eve?

Specifically, where were you on Christmas Eve 2017? For some of us, today is Christmas Eve – well, for those of us in the Southern Hemishpere anyway. For you folk north of the big divide – hang in there, it’s coming.

When something spectacular happens on a particular day, it’s usually easier to remember than most days, and that’s why I do remember where I was on Christmas Eve 2017.

The Dreaded Yellow School Bus!

Just to clarify, it was Christmas Eve here in Australia, but I was tripping through Seattle at the time, literally. That’s why I remember the day so well. In the Northern Hemisphere, it wasn’t yet Christmas Eve. It was the night before Christmas Eve. One minute I was taking a photo of yellow school buses on a cold dark night. The next minute I was tripping over a sign on the footpath (that’s Australian for sidewalk).

Yellow school bus behind a wire fence.
As if I hadn’t seen a yellow school bus before – but here was a whole paddock full of them – so I had to take a photo!

No big deal, except that my wrist hurt – a lot! I bought a wrist support at Walgreens and carried on regardless. Nothing could dampen my spirits as the snow came tumbling down for the next two days. As if by magic, it snowed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – for only the third time in a hundred years – in Seattle. The day after Christmas the snow had stopped and I figured I should go to a Medical Centre and have my wrist checked out.

Photo of me with arm in wrist brace on a Seattle street in December
Tying my hair back (or brushing it) is definitely a two-handed exercise – this is me before I ended up in a full cast. But I was still taking photos…

More than a little break!

X-Rays revealed a fairly serious break (‘smashed’ was a word used by the Doctor), so a few days later I ended up in a full-cast – shoulder to wrist. I have nothing but praise for the American Medical system – expensive – Yes!, but very caring and extremely professional.

Again, a little thing like a full cast wasn’t going to stop me – it might have slowed me down a bit, but it didn’t stop me. And if it hadn’t been for possibly needing surgery, I would have just kept right on going. I would have been happy to have had the surgery in Seattle, but my Travel Insurance was paying for it, so they decided to bring me home early. Can’t blame them.

As for the surgery?

I managed to avoid it.

Twelve months later I am reminded by an occasional twinge in my left wrist of that fateful night-before-Christmas-Eve in Seattle. But for the most part, my wrist healed with no problems (fingers crossed!). As predicted, I have lost a little bit of movement range – but nothing to stress about. And I’ve had no pain, which is a blessing.

So, where were you on Christmas Eve, 2017?

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments

On That Dark, Dreary Day

The air was frosty cold on that dark, dreary day in Seattle. Like most days, the first decision centred on coffee – the where, not the when. From that decision, all other decisions would follow. 

It was Monday. Had it been any other day, the decision would have centred on the when, not the where. On Mondays, the RedWing cafe was closed. On this Monday, the where led to another place – another suburb. 

Walk to the end of the block on 63rd Avenue – turn right – walk another block – turn left – cross the street. Wait at the Bus Stop. Watch cars passing, thankful for the warmth of a coat that is redundant back home in northern New South Wales. Wait for the bus.

The bus stops – you board the bus and feel the instant warmth from the heated interior. You wish for a traffic jam – anything to delay the inevitable moment of reaching your destination and facing the cold.

Change buses at the Interchange. The cold bites at your heels as you walk to the bus that will take you the rest of the way. Again, the warmth of the bus, albeit short-lived. Only a few stops this time. 

Then, the coffee. Starbucks. Because you know what to order at Starbucks. You know how it will taste. You slowly drink your coffee. But you are not ready to face the cold, so you order another coffee.

You watch the people. The young couple with the four-year-old – Grandparents arrive – they go through the motions. Grandpa wants to be somewhere else. The College student staring at the screen of his laptop, looking for inspiration. People come and go. You stay, until you can’t justify staying any longer. The morning coffee has dragged on. It is almost lunch time.

Put on your coat – leave the warmth – brave the cold. 

Take the bus back to the Interchange; find the bus to Rainier Beach. Feel the warmth of the heated interior.

Leave the bus, turn right and walk to the corner where the solar-powered flamingos stand – waiting to illuminate the path at night. You wonder how solar power works in that climate.

Turn left and walk along 63rd Avenue. Feel the cold, but embrace the experience.

Home – where all other decisions can now be made, on that dark, dreary day in Seattle.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments

Day 21 – UBC – Does it Matter Where I Sit?

When I visit a friend or relative’s home for the first time, I usually ask “Does it matter where I sit?”. Everyone has their favourite chair, or seat in the house, and I am wary of plonking myself down on my host’s favourite chair. And one of the most common questions asked of writers is: Where do you write? Like the rest of us, writers probably have a chair or place that they prefer, while writing. I know I do.

Old Habits Are Hard To Break

We all have habits, right? Some good, some not-so-good. And some of us are more bound by habits and routines than others. My morning routine of ‘coffee first!’, is sacrosanct. Pity help anyone who stands between me and that first coffee of the day. Once I’m caffeinated – I’m fine, and the immediate vicinity is once again a safe place to be.


Part of my routine features the chair I sit in to write. My favourite chair in summer is by the door, leading out to the verandah.  The chair is comfortable and rocks just slightly, and with a breeze coming through the door, writing is easy.

My Outside Space

If I want to write early in the morning, this is my ‘go-to’ place. Of course, there’s another little habit that goes with that seat – when I sit out there, I have to have a coffee beside me.

Where Do You Write?

Inside? Outside?

On the Move

While travelling this great planet of ours, I’ve discovered a few places I like to claim as my writing-chair. Top of the list would have to be coffee shops and cafes.

Here are some of the places I’ve sat, with iPad and keyboard stragically placed, and churned out a blog – or two. Usually while sipping about eleven or eight coffees.

My Local

Re Cafe Nate: my neighbourhood coffee shop in Murwillumbah. It can get a bit busy here because the locals all know how good the coffee, food and service are, but it’s a great place to write; thanks Josh, Desley and Don.

West End Brisbane

Between The Bars: West End, Brisbane. This is my home-away-from-home coffee shop. Great coffee and great service; thanks Nick and Mal.

Seattle: WA

RedWing Cafe: Seattle, US. Tucked away in Rainier Beach, this is the best place for just hanging out and writing, on a cold winter’s day. The coffee, food and service are outstanding. And that’s all the encouragement I needed to sit and write. Thank you Anthony, Sue and the fantastic team who kept me fed and caffeinated while I wrote, early this year.

Berhampore (Wellington) NZ

Rinski Korsakov: Berhampore. What can I say? This was just the cutest place – with a table in the front window for people-watching, when inspiration waned. Luckily, there was no shortage of great coffee and carrot cake, when I frequented Rinski’s in September 2017.  Thanks Jet!

Where do Famous Authors Write?

J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, came up with the idea for the series while on a delayed train, but wrote in cafes in Scotland. Could it be the coffee that provides the inspiration?

If you have ever asked a writer – “Where do you write?”, what was their response? Do they favour cafes, or a park bench? Do they prefer a log cabin in the woods, or a bench on a busy street?

My guess is, writers have a favourite place when it comes to the serious business of writing. Inspiration, on the other hand, can happen anywhere.

Write On!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 2 comments

Day 11 – UBC – Story of the Yellow School Bus

It was the night before Christmas Eve, the best part of the shopping was done, and all that was left was to make it home before the cold night air chilled us to the bone. But wait! Is that a yellow school bus? I have to take a photo!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

When you are a tourist in Seattle, and it is almost Christmas, the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is enormous. The air is seriously cold, and darkness descends on that part of the world when it is still late afternoon. And that is how it happened. It was a combination of yellow school bus and darkness. Oh, and a smattering of ‘the power of thought’, as well.

Take Some Vegemite With You!

My American travel-buddy decided it would be a good idea to buy me some Vegemite for Christmas. Have you ever tried buying Vegemite in Seattle? It wasn’t such a good idea then, and I doubt it ever will be again. After ‘store-hopping’ across town, from Rainier Beach to Bellevue, no Vegemite was to be found – anywhere.

Disheartened and disillusioned, we boarded the bus that would take us back to Rainier Beach – where the store-hopping venture had started. On the way to the store in Bellevue that should have had Vegemite – but didn’t, I had noticed a Best Buy (a bit like our Aussie JB Hi Fi ) store. And since it was still only afternoon on that cold day in December, it made sense, since we were going to be passing it anyway, to take a small detour. We would get off the bus, walk a few blocks back to the Best Buy store, then take the next bus home to Rainier Beach. Nothing could be easier.

Pick up the Sign!

As we walked along the path that would lead us to the Best Buy store, a wooden sign – sort of like a small billboard – had fallen across the path. Since it took up a considerable amount of the walkway, the thought crossed my mind that I should pick it up and stand it against the fence. The words ‘someone might fall over this’ actually formed in my mind, and hovered, as another more compelling thought swirled around and cancelled it out. For some obscure reason, I convinced myself that the simple act of picking up a fallen sign could have unpleasant ramifications – I wasn’t sure what they could be, but the thought of them won out over ‘pick up the sign!’.  So I didn’t. I stepped over the sign and continued walking towards the Best Buy store.

The words ‘Best Buy’ and ‘quick detour’ are not synonymous. I have a habit of gravitating to the technology section of the store and finding myself lost in a world of gadgets, and gadget cables. By the time we left the store, it was dark. No problem, we thought – just a short walk back to the bus.

Is That a Yellow School Bus?

But wait! Is that a yellow school bus? Wow! Just like the ones you see in the movies. I’ll have to take a photo. It was too dark to see whether I had captured the best angle of the bus, but at least I could adjust any short-comings with editing software. I put my iPhone (camera) safely inside my bag, turned around, and tripped over something in the dark. I landed with a thud, almost face down, on the cold, hard cement. Keeping very still for a few seconds, I mentally took stock of any possible injuries. When I was convinced that everything seemed to be intact, I slowly got up. But it didn’t take long to realise that all was not well. I was holding my left wrist in the palm of my right hand – for a good reason. It hurt! And somehow, it seemed to be more floppy than I remembered it being before the fall.

The thought of calling Uber for transport home, crossed my mind, but then I decided the bus would do, and continued walking to the bus stop. Since we had to go back into the city anyway, I decided to buy a brace for my now, very sore wrist. Optimistically, I had almost convinced myself that I was only sporting a sprain, and a brace would tide me over until it healed.

Oh, did you guess that what I tripped over was the sign I should have picked up earlier?

Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

My glass half-full mentality didn’t live up to its usually high standard on that occasion. By the time Christmas was over, I wasn’t so optimistic, and decided to have an x-ray. The verdict? Broken. Well, more like ‘smashed’. Apparently it was a Smith’s Fracture – there was a much longer and more technical explanation but I can’t remember all of it, so Smith’s Fracure will do. At the appointment with the specialist, it was decided that surgery would be the probable next step, and it would be better to be had in the land of Oz than in the American medical system.

To their credit, my travel insurance kicked in, and despite a few long-winded discussions in the process, an earlier flight home was arranged. I was in a full-cast, from below the shoulder to below the wrist, with a quirky bend at the elbow. Travelling without insurance doesn’t make any sense. Not only did the insurance company cover the flight home, but the seats, or should I say, flat beds – were in Business Class. I have nothing but praise for the Aussie company that takes care of all my travel insurance needs, and I would never leave home without them.

To Have, or Not to Have? That is the Question

And as for the surgery? I managed to heal faster and better than expected and was able to avoid surgery. Should I have had the surgery? Probably. Will I have issues in the future because of that decision? Possibly. I’m not a good patient and rarely step inside any medical facility. So the prospect of an operation wasn’t something I wanted to give much thought to. Luckily, I found a way to deal with the initial pain after having the cast removed. As long as I applied Magnesium Oil to my wrist each morning, I was pain-free.

The yellow school bus photo stayed tucked away in the memory of my iPhone. I couldn’t look at it for a very long time. But it’s okay – I’ve passed through the denial and anger stages and I’m now comfortably resting in the acceptance phase. That is why I have written the story of the yellow school bus in this blog.

I’m okay with it, now.

But, I doubt I will ever look at a yellow school bus again, without flashbacks to that cold, dark, late-afternoon in December, in Seattle.

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 6 comments
It’s The People We Meet That Makes The Difference

It’s The People We Meet That Makes The Difference

 “One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.” — Edith Wharton

Travel enriches our lives, but it’s the people we meet that makes the difference. It isn’t where we go that makes travel so enriching, it’s the people we meet that bind the places together with the fabric of life, that makes us richer for the opportunity to go beyond our tiny corner of the globe.

It’s The People We Meet That Makes The Difference

My recent trip to Seattle wouldn’t have been as enriching without the people encountered along the way. So many of the wonderful people I’ve met in my travels would have remained strangers if I hadn’t found a way to talk to them. Everyone has a story to tell. Luckily I seem to have a knack for finding a way to start a conversation with just about anyone. And I have formed many new friendships because of it. A comment here or there opens up the world, but also makes the world a much smaller place in the process.

it’s the people we meet that makes the difference

Louis from Brisbane

While having breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory, 700 Pike Street, a young man was ushered into the booth next to me. I could hear his conversation with the waitress, and since I’m fascinated by accents, I was tuned into his – slightly English – with a touch of Aussie. When you are a long way from home, an Aussie accent is the golden thread that links you with the homeland you are missing. When he finished his discussion about the menu, I had to ask, “Where are you from?”.

Where Is Australia?

As usual, an Aussie’s initial response when travelling is simply, ‘Australia’. It’s a big place, and for most Americans, ‘Australia’ is usually enough. Even those less travelled Americans have a reasonable idea of where Australia is, or at least they’ve heard of it. With a little more probing I discovered that my dining-neighbour was actually from Brisbane. Now that’s a little closer to home, given that I live about 100 kilometres south of there, and it is my nearest major city. Louis’ fascinating story of life in a military family resonated with me – having spent many years ‘married’ to the Australian Defence Force, and the travel involved in a military lifestyle. Louis was on his way to Las Vegas, but needed advice on the best means of getting to the Airport.

Giving Directions Like A Local

Feeling more like a Seattle-local than I deserved to, I knew exactly how to get to the Westlake Station and that the Airport Link was probably the easiest, and least expensive way to go. Whether he needed it or not, my travel-buddy and I took Louis under our (collective) wing and walked with him to the station, helped him buy a ticket, and bade him farewell as the train approached. He seemed genuinely appreciative, but I’m sure he would have made it on his own. After all, he seemed like a very capable young Aussie who had followed in his father’s military footsteps.

it’s the people we meet that makes the differ

David Montague entertains travellers at Westlake Station Seattle

Local Talent

Once Louis was safely on his train to the Airport we made our way back to street level, but as luck would have it, a musician had taken up a key position mid-way. And in true travel-friendly style, we stopped to listen. My travel-buddy is a classical music fan and the instrument David was playing was a little unusual – or at least – the way he was playing it seemed unusual. A lengthy conversation ensued, culminating in my travel-buddy being given a CD of David’s unique music. A few extra dollars found their way into David’s instrument case in appreciation, and we continued our journey to higher ground. We had just made another American friend to add to our growing collection of global-friendships.

it’s the people we meet that makes the difference

Olga, from Belarus

Olga From Belarus

And who could forget Olga! When we stepped into the Cheesecake Factory that morning, Olga was our waitress. When we left at the end of the meal, we felt like Olga was an integral part of our Seattle eperience. Olga is the kind of waitress who takes an already good meal and turns it into a great dining experience. It’s no wonder the Cheesecake Factory is such a popular place for Seattleites to dine. Great food and even better service from outstanding staff.

it’s the people we meet that makes the difference

Lyn – a great ambassador for the Cheesecake Factory

And The Beautiful Lyn!

The reason we decided to have breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory was Lyn. We had ventured in for a late-night snack the night before and were greeted, and taken very good care of, by Lyn. Before we’d even studied the menu that late night, Lyn arrived with a basket of absolutely delicious bread samples. It made the task of exploring the menu so much more enjoyable –  there were so many choices. Because we weren’t overly hungry, having eaten much earlier, we apologetically settled on a milkshake. Lyn understood completely and was back in no time with our fantastic shakes.

Lyn Was More Than Just A Waitress…

she beamed happiness! It seemed that making diners feel comfortable was her mission in life. And her mission was accomplished when we promised to come back again. Breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory was sealed for the next day. You can imagine how we felt at seeing Lyn pass by our table the next morning. She remembered us, and stopped to say hello. I may have asked her if she had slept there the night before, but she assured me she had actually made it home for a few hours sleep.

That’s What Makes A Great Dining Experience!

And just to reinforce what a great place the Cheesecake Factory is, Lyn’s two daughters work there as well. That says a lot about a restaurant. The Cheesecake Factory is high on my list of places to eat in Seattle – in fact – anywhere in the US that is lucky enough to have this great chain as a dining option. I can’t guarantee that other places have staff like Lyn and Olga, but I look forward to hearing from travellers who have experienced the Cheesecake Factory in other cities. Does Seattle have the best staff? I’m hoping to test the theory every chance I get in my future travels across the US of A.

And It’s What Adds The ‘Enrichment’ To Travel

It’s about the people: the Louis’, the Olgas, the Lyns and the Davids of this world, who contribute to the richness of our travel experiences. The buildings and landscapes of foreign places will live on through the photos we take, but the people we meet make a lasting impression because of the way they made us feel. Many will become friends that we stay in touch with.  Others will be thought of from time to time, rekindling the same warmth we felt when we met them.

From The Heart – I Thank You!

To all the beautiful people of Seattle, and especially the ones I’ve mentioned in this and other posts – thank you. It might have been just a kind word or gesture, but it created a lasting memory of a city that cares, especially about travellers with strange Aussie accents, like me.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 3 comments
Day 6 Blog Challenge – Thank You For Making A Difference!

Day 6 Blog Challenge – Thank You For Making A Difference!

Making A Difference!

How often do we say to someone we meet, “Thank you for making a difference!”

My personal experience is – ‘not nearly enough!’ And I meet people almost daily who make a huge difference in my life; I just don’t tell them that they do. Maybe in subtle ways they get the message, but they need to hear it loud and clear.

Today I’m going to shout out to some people who are changing my world, one coffee at a time.

Seattle

I arrived in Seattle on the 11th day of December. It was cold! Probably not cold in local terms but definitely cold in Aussie terms. When I left Australia on the night of 11th of December, it was hot! No, it wasn’t the shortest flight across continents in history, or space travel, it’s just the quirky bit about crossing the International Date Line that landed me in the US of A seemingly two hours after I left the fair shores of Brisbane, Australia.

But here I am in the beautiful city of Seattle, meeting some really amazing people. All have had a profound effect on me but there are some who have made a bigger difference in my life than they will ever know.

This Is A Shout-Out To RedWing Cafe!

My second home in Seattle: The RedWing Cafe

Collectively, the staff at RedWing Cafe have been responsible for maintaining my sanity, and therefore the safety of others, for the duration of my holiday. Individually, they brightened my day every time I made the twenty minute trek down the hill from 63rd Avenue S to be greeted by a warm smile, friendly hello and large Cappuccino as I walked in the door.

God Bless You All At RedWing Cafe

Anyone who knows me well or keeps up with my blogging, knows not to approach me before I am caffeinated. Am I addicted to coffee? Yes! Generally I have just one cup of coffee a day, therefore I don’t think my health is compromised in any way because of the addiction; the safety and well-being of family, friends and the general public? Now that’s a different story. My one cup of coffee, best partaken of early in the morning, is the difference between:

  • civil and grrr!
  • pleasant and ‘stand clear!’
  • ‘Hi there’ and ‘just give me the coffee and no one will get hurt!

Anthony co-owns RedWing Cafe with Su; Bringing a successful business to 9272 57th Ave S, Seattle

Su and Anthony brought their vision of a much-needed cafe to the Rainier Beach area at 57th Ave S. Their dream has made a huge difference to the lives of the locals who call this area home.

Su (and Anthony) own Redwing Cafe;

It Really Is A Serious Problem

The severity of my addiction goes beyond having a hot beverage of caffeinated liquid in either a ceramic or paper cup. If it was that easy I could simply make a cup of what is generally considered Instant Coffee, within minutes of opening my eyes each morning, and the world would be a better place for everyone. But since my discovery of the Cappuccino, especially a large one with a double shot of espresso, the instant variety is no longer a part of my vocabulary. It just doesn’t happen!

It’s Complicated!

There are Cappuccinos, and there are Cappuccinos! There are some that I struggle to describe in terms of real coffee and there are some that I would walk over broken glass to get to, well, almost. It comes down to how conscientious the Barista is about their craft – and believe me – pulling the perfect shot is almost an exact science. There is a little wriggle room, but not much. My heroes at RedWing Cafe have perfected the craft of pulling the perfect shot and consitently provide the ideal combination, every time. Steamed milk blended expertly with the perfect shot; what more could I ask?

Danielle greets everyone with the same great smile that says ‘Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.’

The Coffee Is The Best!

This is a great photo of Danielle but trust me, she looks even better with a large Cappuccino In her hand; as long as it has my name on it. Danielle, you make great coffee!

And it isn’t only about the taste of the coffee; RedWing Cafe provides the perfect place to sit, either alone or with friends, and just soak up the incredible atmosphere.

Just one of the beautiful tables handcrafted by the very talented Shawn

It’s About The Ambience …

From the amazing tables lovingly handcrafted by Shawn out of a maple tree that once shaded the owner’s backyard, to the menu that specifically caters for vegetarians and vegans but is equally enjoyed by those other people (the carnivores).

The menu caters for all tastes and a variety of dietary needs

Master Craftsman

I was lucky enough to be sitting at my favourite table when Shawn called in for a coffee. His craftmanship is reflected in so much of the outstanding decor at RedWing Cafe. Warmth and comfort emanate from every table and piece of timber on an otherwise cold, wet Seattle day.

Shawn called in for a coffee and stood humbly by one of the outstanding tables he carved for the cafe.

It all works to make RedWing Cafe my home away from home and the perfect place to write. My favourite writing-space is upstairs in either of the two back corners, but the downstairs section works just as well.

Ed is always ready with a smile and warm welcome

Everyone at RedWing Cafe makes a contribution to creating the perfect place to enjoy a great coffee and spectacular food.

Tyree takes care of the food department and makes the best Avocado Toast on the planet!

The combination of fabulous coffee, food and exceptional staff make RedWing Cafe the place to be in Seattle if you are in need of a great place to hang out.

Franky keeps everything running smoothly in the kitchen and dining room.

Franky, Tyree and Brett make sure hungry diners enjoy the best food, every time. Did I mention the Avocado Toast? You really haven’t lived until you’ve tried this RedWing Cafe speciality.

Brett creates another breakfast culinary masterpiece for a diner on-the-run

My apologies to the many people behind the scenes at RedWing Cafe that I either didn’t meet or have the opportunity to photograph; just know that you all contribute to creating a great dining experience and I thank you all sincerely.

Tristan is just one of the great Baristas who keep the coffee coming in my direction.

Thank You RedWing Cafe For Making A Difference

Judging by the people I meet at this amazing place, I’m not the only one whose life has been changed for the better by the staff at RedWing Cafe. I may only be passing through Seattle for a short time, but I will be holding up each and every one of the inspiring staff of RedWing Cafe as a yardstick by which to measure cafes in the future.

RedWing Cafe – I Thank You – And I Will Return

Ready to write!

To sit at my favourite table again and indulge in a Cappuccino and Avocado Toast, surrounded by such happy and dedicated people will be all the incentive I need to return to Seattle. I look forward to walking through the door and greeting you all with “G’Day – I’m Back!”

Until then, keep doing what you do best:

Making a difference in people’s lives, one coffee at a time, at RedWing Cafe

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 13 comments
The Beauty Of Seattle

The Beauty Of Seattle

Traveling – it leaves you speechless,

then turns you into a storyteller.   Ibn Battuta

The beautiful buildings of Seattle have left me speechless many times, but the beauty of the city is not only in its buildings and parks, but in its people. Seattle has some amazingly beautiful people calling this spectacular place home.

There is something special about Christmas time at Macys

At every turn, while walking around Seattle, there is something spectacular to photograph. Macys stands out with its Christmas window display, shining star, and the snowflake lights depicting what is typically winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is magic!

Tiny lights transform this street into a magical scene.

The lights draped around the trees transform the streets into a winter wonderland.

Pike Place – Markets

And The Shopping…

The Pike Place Market is one of the more famous landmarks of Seattle. A gathering place for tourists and locals during the day, transforms into a trendy area to dine or just take in the view of the water on the other side of the market shops, at night. And who could forget seeing the Market sign in the scene from the movie, Sleepless In Seattle?

The famous Seattle Fish Market

This  fish market holds pride of place at the front of the market, and the fishmongers still toss the fish to each other, ready to be wrapped for the waiting customer. Performing for customers and throwing the fish to each other has made the Pike Place Fish Market world-famous.

Modern buildings dwarf the icon but the Space Needle is still quintessentially ‘Seattle’

Seattle Icons

Another, and possibly older icon, is the famous Space Needle. If you ever watched an episode of Frasier on TV, you will no doubt have seen the Space Needle through the apartment window and in the logo. What used to loom large is now dwarfed by much taller buildings, but the famous icon is still reminiscent of all things ‘Seattle’.

The photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of snow falling on Christmas Eve in Seattle

And the highlight was?

Standing on 3rd Avenue on Christmas Eve and feeling the soft snowflakes falling on and around me. My first white Christmas and it was spectacular!

On a snowy Christmas Eve in Seattle

Christmas Day in Rainier Beach, Seattle

The beauty of Seattle is matched only by the beauty of the people who call this spectacular place home. Seattleites have seemingly been touched by the magic of the city and exude the magic in everything they do.

God Bless You Seattle!

No matter where I go in Seattle I meet people who exude sincere hospitality and support:- Jennifer, Shawn and Jackson, the wonderful hosts at the Airbnb; the bus driver who stopped his bus late one night, crossed the street, and made sure we were okay as we waited for the bus home; Anthony, Su and staff at Redwing Cafe who feed my daily caffeine needs and make the best Avocado Toast on the planet; the shy young man with the great smile at Steak ‘n Shake who makes the BEST Butterfinger milkshakes; the staff at CityMD where I took my injured wrist to be checked; and far too many more to mention in one post. I love you all!

Rob, the young man with the fabulous smile at Steak ‘n Shake.

You have turned a great holiday into an unforgettable memory of a beautiful city, and I thank you all sincerely.

And the highlight was standing on 3rd Avenue on Christmas Eve and feeling the soft snowflakes falling around me. My first white Christmas! It was spectacular.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment
And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

The Long Way To RedWing Cafe Coffee

Because there is no rain (yet) and to prove that RedWing Cafe coffee isn’t the only thing I think about, I actually took a slightly longer way to the RedWing Cafe this morning. The comparative warmth of the sun peeking through some dark clouds in the distance, and lighter ones close by, made it an easy choice to take longer to get there. In the process, I took some photos of the beauty of this part of Seattle. We’re staying at Ranier Beach and almost every direction we take as we leave the house has a fabulous view of the water.

The view from Cooper Street

There are so many things along the way that seem unusual for this time of year, apart from the weather of course. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there is a huge Holly bush in a front garden on 61st Avenue S. When I say unusual, I mean it would be  ‘unusual’ in my part of the world, but very ordinary in this hemisphere. Trees stripped bare of their leaves; holly bushes; cloudy skies; cold weather; ivy climbing across buildings; moss and wet leaves underfoot. Nothing that we would expect to see this close to Christmas in the Land Down Under, but here, it just looks and feels like winter. Coupled with the sights and sounds of Christmas all around, the winter scenery brings to life all the Christmas Cards ever sent or received.

View from the end of 63rd Avenue

What Better Way To Spend Winter Than Reading

On long, cold winter days there is nothing better than being snuggled up somewhere warm, with coffee in one hand and good book in the other. The trend towards community libraries is something I have noted lately in Australia and it is certainly a big deal here. Conveniently close to the RedWing Cafe is a cute little library that people can borrow from or share books with.

Borrow a book or leave one to share

And Now, The Coffee…

I could have spent hours taking photos of interesting things along the way, but my first RedWing Cafe coffee of the day beckoned. The usual 15 minute walk had dragged out to almost 25 minutes and I was starting to feel the first signs of caffeine withdrawal. So, with my camera securely stowed in my bag, I soldiered on down the last hill. As I turned the corner from Water Street S into 57th Ave S, the RedWing Cafe sign stood out like a beacon on a starless night. I had arrived.

My second Seattle home: The RedWing Cafe

Yes, the sun is actually out; it just looks a bit dreary because the ground is still wet from the recent rain. First task: order the coffee and some coffee cake. Luckily, my favourite table was empty so I made my way over, taking the first layer off as I walked. With coat securely hung on the peg, I retrieved my iPad from the bag.

Coat securely hung on the peg; I’m ready to write

Once my iPad was set up, I had to decide whether to peel off another layer.

Decision made: I’ll just leave my outer jumper on. I’ll wait until the warmth of the coffee warms me from the inside before stripping back to the long-sleeved t.shirt.

With iPad set up, there is only thing left to do

Without coffee, nothing gets written. Period. (Nancy Kress)

That’s better!

And now, with coffee and cake safely delivered, I’m ready to start writing.

Life is good!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
Exploring Seattle – One Coffee At A Time

Exploring Seattle – One Coffee At A Time

In Search Of Coffee in Seattle

When you arrive in a new city, especially when staying out of town, you need to know where the coffee is. My first day in the Seattle area was spent in search of a comfy place to drink my morning cup-of-joe, which has become the ritual for kick-starting my heart and getting my eyes not only open, but functioning as they should.

A quick search online highlighted the Stone House Bakery as a place to be able to partake of a reasonable cup of coffee. Google Maps pointed towards the water, which isn’t too far away. But, there were a few twists and turns along the way, including a very steep and slippery path. This was not going to be sustainable long term and certainly not an option for the return journey.

This was a seriously steep and very slippery path

Christmas Spirit

The Stone House Bakery was right next to the bottom of the slippery path. This quaint place reflected the Christmas spirit that is alive and well in Seattle. There is a definite push to go back to the traditional Christmas sentiments of old and this place was no exception. with Christmas spirit hanging off every corner and flat space. Warmth and Christmas oozed from the festively lit windows and we were drawn into the cozy atmosphere that greeted us as we stepped through the door.

An Almond Croissant and coffee sufficed as breakfast – both really good – but as good as everything was, there was something lacking that would prevent us making the Stone House our regular haunt for our morning caffeine. WiFi, or lack of, was just one of the sticking points. When I asked the waitress about the WiFi, the response, as she walked away was, “If I could only remember the password…”. We didn’t see her again.

The Stone House Bakery

The Stone House would become our ‘sometimes’ place.

On The Way Home….

We left the Stone House Bakery and walked along the water for a couple of blocks. To our surprise, when we turned left we found another coffee place – the RedWing Cafe. Unlike the Stone House where we were the only customers, the RedWing was full of people. It looked warm and inviting, so we made a commitment to explore it another day.

Update:

The RedWing Cafe is now my ‘go-to’ place for my morning coffee, except on Mondays when they are closed. On Mondays I will find a Starbucks – not quite the same coffee – but just as good for WiFi and power outlets.

It’s all good!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment
And Another Day Dawns

And Another Day Dawns

Another Day Dawns –

8.30 am – eyes slowly open. OMG! We were supposed to meet my travel-buddy’s friend downtown at 10.

Quick shower; throw on some jeans and a couple of layers of t.shirts and jumpers, ugg boots, make-up and I was ready to go – but when I said my eyes were open – they were open; they just weren’t functioning too well. Oh – and I grabbed my coat on the way out the door – and needed it – it was kind of cold at that time of day.

I don’t know how we did it, but we arrived with time to spare.

Breakfast was at a diner called ‘Geraldines’. I ordered a Cappuccino, as usual, only to be (apologetically) told they only had filtered coffee. The coffee arrived and was drinkable, but didn’t quite cut it as my usual caffeine-kick-starter. I’d forgotten how Diners work and the coffee kept on coming, but I called it quits after the first cup.

University of Washington

The rest of the day was spent exploring the University of Washington Campus. I took lots of photos of the magnificent buildings, interspersed with the occasional squirrel or bird. The only disappointment was that the fountain was turned off – I guess the University grinds to a halt over the holiday season, although there were still people around – probably tourists – like me.

Two squirrels scamper across the path

No fountain today…

 

I managed to get a photo of a bird in flight.

As we made our way away from the main hub, we stopped at a Deli for a cold drink. Unlike the other days, today had  warmed up a bit, due apparently to a prediction of rain for the next week.

The University of Washington precinct covers a large area and has a very ‘cozy’ feel; lots of coffee shops for hanging out in that are very user-friendly, with free WiFi in most of them.

A quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some groceries and then back to the cafe opposite the Deli we’d stopped at earlier. I knew they had free WiFi because I’d been using it while we were at the Deli.

Beautiful Seattle at night.

Dinner at a Thai Restaurant near the bus stop was the perfect way to end the day.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments