Category Archives: friday’s favorite destinations

Friday’s Favorite Destinations – Anchorage

I know a lot of people don’t make it to Alaska, but you should.  It’s beautiful up there and flying in over the mountains is just stunning. 

Time difference:

Anchorage is 3 hours behind KC (cst).

Where to stay:

I don’t have a great place to stay.  Our hotel was okay but nothing spectacular so I won’t mention its name. 

How to get around:

Walk, taxi or rent a car.

What to do:

One of my favorite things to do was to go to the outdoor market at 3rd and E Street on Saturday mornings.  They sold food, crafts, handmade soap, pictures, basically just a little bit of everything.  Plus, Anchorage doesn’t have a sales tax so when you bought something for $19.99, it was $19.99.  Nice. 

There was the best dance club called Chilkoot Charlie’s.  It wasn’t downtown so you would have to drive or take a taxi to get there.  The actual bar was separated into different (huge) rooms.  Each room had a different theme to it and music to match.  Great idea!  I went there in the summer when it didn’t really get dark outside.  We went back to the hotel around 2 in the morning and it was still light out.  Not like mid afternoon but more like right before dusk. 

One of the pilots that I flew with used to rent a bike and go riding up and down the trails almost every time he went to Anchorage.  He loved it and highly recommended it.  Just watch out for the moose.  Just kidding, I never even saw one (although I hear they can be mean). 

I wish I had gone on one of those airplane rides where they take you over the glaciers.  I thought I would be flying for a while so I figured I could do it the next time I went, which didn’t happen.  That’s the one thing I really regret not doing.   

Where to eat:

We always ate at Humpys.  They had good food and there was always something going on there.  Loved it!  We also tended to go to Darwin’s Theory.  I’m really not sure why.  It was a small, little bar where they gave out free popcorn to eat with your beer but it was more townies than anything else there.  I would stick to Humpys.

To end this post, I have to add that you always here that the majority of the population in Alaska are males.  It seemed like that was true when I was there.  So, single ladies, have fun :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SIL JENNIFER!

(Dan, Noah and Jennifer – Christmas 2006)

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Friday’s Favorite Destinations – Seattle

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Seattle?  Rain, right?  Don’t get me wrong, it does seem to rain more there but not 24/7 like some people lead you to believe.  For a while I was getting a ton of 36 hour layovers in the Emerald City so I got to know the downtown area fairly well.

Time Change:

Seattle is 2 hours behind KC (cst).

Where to stay:

We always stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which is right downtown.  It was a really nice hotel.  The only thing I can’t comment on is the workout room because they were doing renovations when I was there but they finished that up years ago. 

How to get around:

You can walk to most of the downtown sites.  The Crowne Plaza was close to everything except the Space Needle and Experience Music Project (see What to do section).  I’ve done that walk and it isn’t too bad, maybe 20 minutes or so.  If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the monorail system from downtown over to the Space Needle and back.  There’s also a bus system but I decided not to experience that (I’m not big on buses after living in Minneapolis). 

What to do:

My favorite thing to do was to go down to Pike Place Market.  It was just fun.  You could see the fishmongers throw fish, browse through the fruit stands and the arts and crafts stalls and listen to the musicians.  You HAVE To buy Chukar Cherries while you’re there.  HAVE TO.  They are chocolate covered cherries and are to die for.  I also once bought mahi mahi from the fishmongers and brought it back to KC that night.  Mahi Mahi is my favorite fish but not the easiest to prepare.  Live and learn.  You can also have them ship fish to your house but I have no idea how much that would cost. 

There are the best bookstores around Pike Place Market.  I’m not talking about Barnes and Noble or anything like that.  They are more like family owned and used bookstores.  Loved them. 

The Seattle Art Museum is also nearby.  I wish I could say great things about it but I didn’t love it.  Sorry.  Maybe I was there during an exhibit that didn’t move me or something but honestly, I could have skipped it.  Once again, sorry to any of its fans.

Of course you have to go to the Space Needle.  It’s kind of like the St. Louis Arch or the Sears Tower.  You go up, you look around, you go down.  I’m glad I did it once but I probably wouldn’t do it again, although they do have a restaurant on the top of it that slowly revolves which might be great for a romantic date night. 

Next to the Space Needle is the Experience Music Project.  I didn’t make it in there and I haven’t heard much about it.  Has anyone else?  The building was really funky (that’s the only word I can think of to describe it).

Here are some things that I want do next time I’m there:

_ Go to the Seattle Aquarium

– Go on a winery tour

– See Mt. St. Helens up-close

– I also heard that you could take a ferry or some type of boat to Vancouver for a day trip. 

Where to eat:

I loved this little Irish place called Kells down by the Fish Market.  It’s a little hard to find but worth it if you like Irish pubs.  In the afternoons you could eat/drink outside and some nights they had great live (Irish) music.  I also have to recommend McCormick & Schmicks.  I love seafood.  Yum.  Enough said.  I know we went to Rock Bottom Brewery a few times and I remember liking it but I don’t remember much more. 

I’m sure there is so much more to do in Seattle but like I said, I spent all of my time downtown so this is what I came to love.  My mom and a group of her friends always take a yearly trip and I keep telling her that they need to go to Seattle next.

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Friday’s Favorite Destinations – Amsterdam

Since I spent a good 2 years as a non-stop traveler, I thought I would share things about my favorite places.  We’ll see if I can keep it up.  Please keep in mind that I visited most of these places pre-kids.  

(My first trip to Amsterdam, February 2001)

One of my favorite places that I went to (and luckily multiple times) was Amsterdam.  I know it has a reputation for drugs and the Red Light District but there’s so much more to it. 

Time change:

Amsterdam is 7 hours ahead of KC (cst).  I flew into Amsterdam at all times and had a rule of thumb that I went by.  If I arrived in the morning I would sleep until noon, get ready and be out the door by 1.  If I got in around noon or later I would just stay up.  It worked for me.

Currency:

The euro.

Where to stay: 

There is this great hotel right in the middle of Amsterdam called the Kraznapolsky.  Our airline stayed there until someone decided to have a pooping party (yes, I said pooping party) and we were understandably kicked out.  After that, we mainly stayed at The Golden Tulip.  The one we stayed at wasn’t downtown but you could take the hotel shuttle downtown or walk 10 minutes to the ferry.  The ferry drops you off at the train station which is down the street from Dam Square (see Where to go section). 

How to get around:

You can rent bikes (they’re everywhere), ride the tram or just walk.  Honestly, if you make it to Dam Square everything is fairly close by.  If you do walk, keep an eye out for the trams.  The rails are everywhere and can be hard to see.  The trams fly by so be careful.  If you want to see just see the city, there are great canal tours that you can take.  They were longer then I thought they would be, maybe 45 minutes to an hour.  

One great plus about Amsterdam is the fact that the majority of the people speak English in addition to Dutch so if you did get lost, it would be easy to get help. 

Where to go:

(picture found at:  http://www.amsterdamtourist.nl/en/visiting/placestogo/attractions)

A good starting point is Dam Square

(Me, 2nd from left, and my crew – 2002)

It seems like there is always something going on there.  I’ve seen carnivals, pep rallies (for what, I have no idea) and a massive party for the Queen’s Day (April 30).  Surrounding Dam Square are stores, restaurants, a palace, the Kraznapolsky (you can see it behind the huge phallic symbol statue in the picture) and Madame Tussuads.  There are so many streets that lead away from the square and each will take you to a different destination. 

(The Flower Market)

The flower market has the best flowers.  If you want to bring flowers home to the U.S., buy them right before you leave.  Unless things have really changed since I was last in Amsterdam, customs will let you bring flowers back into the country unless they find bugs or anything on them.  They usually shake them and see if anything comes off.  I never had any problems. 

There are a bunch of fun clubs right by the flower market.  We went there on the queen’s birthday (Queen’s Day) and had a blast.  Please keep in mind that most establishments will make you pay to use their bathrooms.  If you run past the “keeper of the bathrooms”, they tend to get a little upset…but I wouldn’t know anything about that.  Absolutely nothing.  There’s another alcohol related place to go in town, the Heineken Brewery.  Another place I haven’t been to but heard was fun.

(Anne Frank’s house)

Anne Frank’s house is probably a 5-10 minute walk from Dam Square.  It’s such a normal looking house that you could almost miss it.  The thing that hit me the most were the things that you would see in any kid’s room such as the height measurements penciled in on the wall and the pictures of actors and actresses.  It just seemed too normal for a time of madness.  I’m a history buff so I LOVED (notice the capital letters) this.

I am a huge fan of museums so I also loved the Van Gogh museum.  I’ve been there multiple times.  There is also Rembrant’s house but I didn’t make it over there.  I will next time I’m there.

Since it’s part of Amsterdam, I’ll talk a little about the Red Light District.  It’s easy to wander into this area and not even realize it until you notice the scantily clad girls in the windows.  It’s almost like you’re window shopping, except for prostitutes.  I definitely did a double take the first time I wandered by.  As for drugs, they are legal in coffeeshops but if you don’t wander in them, I don’t think you’ll even notice drugs.  Unless I was completely oblivious, I didn’t.  OK, enough about that.

Where to eat:

(Me – in red – and my classmates, February 2001)

There are restaurants and cafes everywhere.  There is a chain of grocery stores called Albert Heijn that I used to go to to buy food to take home to my friends and family.  If you stay at The Golden Tulip, there is one of these grocery stores pretty much across the street.  Bring some type of bag with you to carry your purchases.  If you forget, you have to pay for grocery bags.  Here’s another thing that I thought was strange, if you go to McDonald’s you have to pay for ketchup packets.  Weird, huh?  

Eric and I are planning on taking a trip to Europe for our 10 year anniversary and I’m hoping we’ll have time to stop in Amsterdam so I can show him around.  I love this city, prostitution and all.

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