A Travellerspoint blog

A Year Ago in Venice...

Flashback Photo Friday

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Travelling towards Venice Dan and I visited London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and Interlaken -- and it rained nearly every step of the way. Oh and the lightning storms we encountered in every destination were envigorating at first, but quickly grew old. Our summer in Europe was not exactly the sunny situation we thought it would be. But alas! As we travelled through the Swiss Alps towards Venice, the sky suddenly cleared and what was that -- sunshine?! As our eyes adjusted to this bright orb in the sky we soon realized our trip was about to take a turn for the better. Or so we thought. Arriving in Venice, the sun was shining and the air was warm... but several hours later clouds rolled in and yet another downpour and lightning storm continued to follow us. Luckily, the preceding hours before the storm created for some of the most magical lighting I have ever witnessed. Pastel colors streaked the sky, and the buildings glowed in the reflecting rainbow of light.

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As soon as the storm passed we experienced nothing but flawless weather. Venice is truly a spectacular city and unfortunately many easily get swept into a touristy frenzy thus missing out on the charming backroads (or canals?!). We found that taking the paths less travelled revealed a Venice that was much more serene and muted than the chaos of the bustling route from Ponte Di Rialto to Piazza San Marco. This is a city I could definitely return to.

Enjoy these photos from Venice while I reminisce on meals of gelato and pasta.... ahh...

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Posted by Jennylynn 13:05 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Capitol Hill Conservatory

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Capitol Hill -- it can be sleazy, dirty, and overrun with homeless people. It’s liberal, gay friendly, and colorful. It’s not your typical family, cul-de-sac community nor does it top the list of “must see” Seattle destinations. Yet many families do gather in this distinctive community, and those who find their niche in the oddity of Capitol Hill are likely to never emerge. Located right in the heart of Capitol Hill is Volunteer Park, a large, sprawling green space with playground equipment, trails, a museum, but perhaps most notably the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The conservatory stands out in a sea of Capitol Hill chaos as the Mecca of tranquility, for within the paned glass walls, even the toddler I was accompanied by was cast under the spell of serenity.

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The outside of the Conservatory modeled after London's Crystal Palace

Volunteer Park Conservatory, a Victorian Greenhouse, was built in 1912 and styled after London’s Crystal Palace. From the outside looks are deceiving, but step inside the humid interior and suddenly you are led into the depths of a dense, tropical rainforest. Thousands of plants fill the rooms and their colors range from muted greens to flaming pinks. Waterfalls and chimes echo throughout as you make your way into the labyrinth of rooms and passageways.

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The plant species are so varied that walking past one room of lush ferns you may suddenly find yourself in another room surrounded by desert and cacti. The plants are beautifully maintained and well cared for by a team of Seattle based gardeners. The gardeners grow most of the plants from seeds, others are donated, and due to the Conservatory’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Plant Certification, they collect illegally imported plants confiscated by U.S. Customs.

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Outside the greenhouse glass you can then wander about the park and admire some of the native plant species to the area. It’s not quite the Washington Arboretum, but definitely more family friendly.

Usually appearances are deceiving. A newly transplanted Seattleite or tourist may take one look at Capitol Hill and head for the cleaner cut communities like Ballard or Wallingford. But doing so would mean missing out on experiencing one of Seattle’s most prominent cultures. Looking past face value, one can stumble across great finds such as Volunteer Park. Don’t let the surface fool you, but instead step out of your comfort zone and see what discoveries are hidden before you.

Posted by Jennylynn 11:00 Archived in USA Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

If it's not a Boeing, it's not a Going

The Everett based Boeing factory is the largest building by volume in the world. It is so large in fact that when it was first built weather systems developed inside and clouds formed at the ceiling. This monstrous building sits just 15 minutes from my house. I knew it existed as I experienced the traffic terror of 29,000 employees getting to and from work each day, and I often saw the planes making touch and go test flights in the air space near my home. It wasn’t until this past week that I actually discovered that Boeing gives out, I mean, charges the equivalent of my lifetime savings for a tour of the factory. Hence, I found myself broke, as I shuffled along in a group of 35 others touring the Boeing factory on Friday.

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No photos were allowed inside the factory - Photo borrowed from www.petergreenberg.com

Staring up at the dizzying exterior it’s no wonder Boeing requires its own medical facilities, fire department, and water treatment plant. But just how big is the Boeing factory? Well, let’s just say that you could fit the entire Disneyland theme park inside it and still have lots of room left over for a giant parking lot. Or you could gather over 2,000 average sized homes inside the factory walls. In numbers the Boeing factory encloses 472 million cubic feet of space. Yup, it’s huge.

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Photo borrowed from www.petergreenberg.com

The tour covered the 747, 777, and 787 factory lines. That’s right I actually stood over the elusive 787 as the imported plane sections were pieced together like legos. The new 787 is not actually constructed at the Boeing plant, but rather completed sections of the plane are flown in on the “Dream Lifter”, a retrofitted 747, to then be pieced together. The 787 is not made of aluminum alloys as traditional planes are, but is built of a composite material that is stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum. After many delays the maiden flight is scheduled to occur later this year.

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The tour lasted 90 minutes and doesn’t even compare to any other tour I’ve been on (although the eat your weight in chocolate at Theo Chocolates is a close favorite). I could have stood above the factory floor for days and never looked at the same thing twice. The space was just so immense and the organized chaos of building a plane extremely fascinating.

Following the tour we were then shuttled to the gift shop at the Future of Flight. Talk about convenient. Our tour tickets also gave us entry into the museum which housed a mock up of the 787 Dreamliner interior and design your own plane work stations.

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All the images of planes being built and flown over faraway locations just instilled in me the desire to get away. Realizing I have four trips planned in the next two months is a comfort, but after our crazy side-burned tour guide said “If it’s not a Boeing, it’s not a going” I began to worry as my upcoming month of travel on JetBlue means flying on Airbuses. Either way, flying is one of the greatest adventures – taking off on one side of the globe and waking up the next morning in a completely foreign land still boggles my mind. We are truly fortunate to have the entire world at our finger tips and my trip to the Boeing factory in Everett only further encouraged me to test the limits of travel. The possibilities are endless, so get out there and discover them!

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Dan gazing up at the tail wing of a 747

Posted by Jennylynn 12:02 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

Shilshole Bay at Sunset

Photo Friday!

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Sometimes when strapped for time, a simple walk along the water can be the most calm inducing activity imaginable. This week I took a stroll along the Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard and took in the gorgeous views of the boats bobbing in the water while the sun set slowly on the horizon. Travel doesn't have to take you great distances to be fulfilling and unique. Take a walk around your neighborhood and just see where you end up!

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Posted by Jennylynn 08:11 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Historic, Colorful Fairhaven

Bellingham's hot spot for sophisticated charm

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There is only one place I know of where you can catch a ferry to Alaska, hop a train and connect to hundreds of locations nationwide, or just sit with a cup of tea on a giant green lawn and watch an afternoon game of bocce ball. No, it’s not in Seattle, San Francisco or any other major coastal town, but rather it is nestled within the small town of Bellingham - a community known as Fairhaven.

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Historic Fairhaven is an artsy, colorful neighborhood adjacent to Western Washington University. In 1888 Fairhaven was committed to becoming the next big city of the West with hopes of being then next “Chicago”. Over one million bricks were imported and hotels, shops, and houses were erected by the dozens. But alas, the 1893 depression hit and construction came to a halt. Years later the people of Fairhaven were determined to preserve the community and identity they had originally built – and preserve they did. Today Fairhaven is a charming community with a character all of its own.

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The center of the Fairhaven experience is the Village Green. Here locals gather for Saturday night outdoor movies, Monday afternoon bocce ball games, the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, and a whole host of outdoor concerts and events. The Village Green is literally the hub of all things Fairhaven. Surrounding the Green one can browse an assortment of boutiques and restaurants. Village Books sits directly over the Village Green and hosts hundreds of live events each year.

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Fairhaven may not be the West Coast Chicago but it has a charm and appeal unlike most big cities. Here one could easily get swept away in the lull of lazy afternoons on the Village Green or partake in one of the many outdoor pursuits popular to the region. Or if Fairhaven’s quiet allure is just too slow for your liking, simply head up the road into downtown Bellingham where rowdy Friday nights on Railroad Avenue reign supreme. I guarantee whatever your interests – they will easily be met.

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Posted by Jennylynn 11:13 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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