Archive for the 'Seattle' Category

Mother’s Day

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Mother’s Day is really every day, but we celebrate it on the second Sunday in May, when the weather is most likely to be decent, whichever hemisphere you are in. This year, Mother’s Day is May 9th.

Mothers are such special people in our lives and giving back and showing them how much you appreciate all that they did and are always doing for you is just a token. They are generally the most abiding Love which you will experience.

If you are not going to be in the same City as where your Mother is, then you can still make international arrangements to let her know that you are thinking of her, and of course, you can also travel there for a surprise visit.

With the internet, some of the last-minute fares make all of this affordable! And, flowers are definitely possible, too. Don’t forget that you can also make a donation online to a charity your mother believes in, on behalf of your Mom, too.

International packages go quickly by Federal Express and other carriers, so if you are in another country, find something unique, ethnic and what she would enjoy and get the concierge at your hotel to send it post-haste!

A little planning now can still give your Mother a day that she knows you care.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Seattle – Persian Concert

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Seattle is a very international city, especially with its well-earned preeminence in the high-tech revolution. So, people gravitate towards this city from all over the world and when you visit, you will usually find a cadre of your fellow countrymen there, along with a myriad of ethnic cultural events.

For Iran, not many people here have contact with the country at the moment, but that belies the long and enlightened contributions of Persians. There is a well-established Persian community in America, and you can have the pleasure of attending a Seattle concert to share Persian culture.

The Esoterics present:
HAPTADAMA—The Seven Creations of Ancient Persia
May 7, 2010 8–9 pm
May 8, 8-9pm
PACCAR Pavilion, Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park,
2901 Western Avenue, Seattle

Award-winning Seattle vocal ensemble The Esoterics perform the surround-sound a cappella opera “The Seven Creations”. Written by The Esoterics’s founding director, Eric Banks, who spent 2 years researching ancient chants. This is a seven-movement, concert-length work based on the chants and mythos of Zoroastrianism, the ancient original religion of Persia and the first monotheistic religion of humankind.

Banks’ opera is based on the Gathas, the original songs of Zarathushtra and these are arguably the oldest songs in recorded human history. It also embodies the Bundahishn, the Persian creation story, in which the struggle between good and evil results in the creation of the seven elements we know as the sky, water, earth, plants, animals, humans and fire.

Enjoy a part of the 17th season of The Esoterics, a Seattle-based vocal ensemble dedicated to performing and perpetuating contemporary a cappella choral settings of poetry, philosophy, and spiritual writings from around the world. It is the premier vocal ensemble in Seattle and in the Pacific Northwest; it seeks and finds inspiration in music’s oldest and purest form: the gathering of unaccompanied voices in song.

Tickets:
$20 general admission purchased at the door
$18 advanced admission purchased online via The Estoterics or by calling 206.935.7779.
$15 tickets are available for students, seniors, the un(der)employed and the differently abled.

Online tickets are not available on the day of the concert.

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Seattle – Chinese Dim Sum

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Tasting a wide variety of tiny 2-bite morsels is a Chinese cultural tradition since the last dowager Empress was plied with them and they were named “little gems”, dim sum.

Although the trends are toward the Japanese-style (sushi) or Spanish-style (tapas), dim sum are an amazing choice, if only for their huge variety and the ambiance surrounding their presentation to you. It’s all a unique experience.

The first time I had a fully-immersed DS experience was in Bangkok. Our Chinese landlord wrote out the name and directions in Thai and we showed the taxi-driver. So began our first entry into Bangkok’s Chinatown. The Thai originally came down from China and evolved their own culture, but many Chinese immigrants have come later and kept their original traditions, as they did when immigrating to the United States and Canada.

Knowing no Chinese, we just had to trust that when a waitress came up with a cart of several varieties of dim sum, basically they would be ready-to-eat, safe-to-eat and likely taste good!

That’s they same adventurous attitude you’ll need in Seattle, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to ask what they are made of, in English, and decide from there.

We had a wonderful first dim-sum meal, and my husband and I have repeated the process many times.

Here are some tips for your Seattle experience.

The dishes are steamed, fried or baked, usually. There usually are not stir-fries or soups on the trolleys (if there are stir-fries, they’ll be more expensive portions than usual).

There are no scheduled courses. Plates arrive on trolleys, and you decide IF you want one or more of that food, or none. You are charged by the plate, and you eat them in the order you decide.

Set aside the ones that look like they are desserts, if you want the sweet things at the end. Dim sum gives Chinese chefs full range to be inventive and to use the huge repetoire already built up over 2+ centuries.

Try to go to a dim sum restaurant with a group of people, otherwise the service will not be good if you go alone at a busy time (best food is usually at week-end brunch).

In Seattle’s Chinatown (a.k.a. the International District), there are dozens of places to try dim sum, but all are not equal.

Go to a restaurant with plenty of exterior signs in Chinese, one that is not garish and preferably one that is large to huge in size (they are able to pay the rent and want to cater to large Chinese families — a good sign). Also see if they take credit cards, otherwise, you’ll need cash.

Dim sum are very labor intensive and require a large staff to make them, and in great variety, so stay away from small establishments and any that seem touristy. The vast majority of diners should be Chinese, when you see who’s entering and after taking a quick peek inside.

Looking further, there should also be several waiters with steaming metal food carts roaming about (these carts contain the dim sum). The more numerous the carts means that there is still a lot of food, and that it’s likely fresh. If it is busy, get put on the waiting list and use just a simple first name to be called by.

When seated, you shouldn’t be asked “if” you want the dim sum at the start of your meal; you should not be ordering from the regular menu if there is one, and they should be wanting you to have dim sum!

If you want water with your meal, you’ll have to ask. Tea usually comes without asking. The first tradition is to open the teapot’s lid and check the status of the tea brewing. Then, pour when it is ready. When you need more tea, turn the lid vertically or take it off, as a signal to the waiter.

Next, order your dim sum, as the trolleys go by. The waitresses will make notations on the long paper at your table (which will become your bill). Point, to choose, if you do not have any other way to order and use your fingers for the number required.

Ask to keep your used plates, and tally them at the end, to make sure the number used is the same as the number you are charged for or keep track of the numbers on your bill, as you order.

If you can’t use chopsticks, be sure to get a fork before you even choose your first foods.

As a sign of respect, if you can use chopsticks, even minimally, be a good guest, and try. You’ll get better practice at a dim sum restaurant as all the little packets are compact and easier than regular fare.

Stay clear of any brightly-(artificially)-colored dishes. The Chinese have a heavy-hand with chemical coloring. These show up mostly in “desserts”.

For budgeting purposes, small dishes generally range from $2 to $3, medium dishes range from $2.50 to $3.50, and large dishes range anywhere from $3 to $5. “Special dishes” tend to be around $5 per dish; this is the category the more regular dishes fit in, but portions are smaller than they would be on the regular menu, too. Depending on appetite, figure on $12 – $18 per person for adults.

A few to consider:
___ Harbor City Restaurant: 707 S King St, Seattle (206) 621-2228
___ Jade Garden: 704 S. King St, Seattle (206) 622-8181
___ Duk Li Dim Sum: 664 S Weller St, Seattle, WA 98104 (cash only)
___ New Hong Kong Restaurant: 900 S Jackson St, Seattle
(206) 223-7999

All are wheelchair accessible and open 7 days a week unless noted above. Dim Sum may only be served at certain times in some of these establishments. Check.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Seattle – Chinatown Tours

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Like San Francisco, Seattle has been welcoming Chinese immigrants for a very long time, and many new immigrants came to Vancouver, BC, too, before Hong Kong was handed back to China a decade or so ago.

The whole West Coast is home to large Asian populations, and many traditions are still lived daily in these communities. So, without worrying about traveling to Asia, go through these ethnic, culturally-rich neighborhoods on a guided tour. You’ll learn lots and you can always return to examine more on your own.

When we lived in San Francisco, my husband and I would often go to Chinatown for a traditional Chinese breakfast (we’ve done that in Seattle, too). Early in the morning, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, you will see many daily tasks lost from view at other times of day. It is all truly fascinating. My favorite parts included the dim sum breakfast and seeing the fortune cookies being made, through the open door of the bakery, but prayers and all kinds of sounds were resonant, too.

Seattle has Wing Luke Asian Museum. The Museum is closed on Mondays. The first Thursday and third Saturday of the month are free admission days at Wing Luke. The International District also includes a library and the anchor store for all things Asian is the huge market called Uwajimaya (there’s one in Portland, Oregon, too), among many other options.

Seattle Chinatown tours

Chinatown International District Organization

Chinatown attractions

Uwajimaya – a Pan-Asian market and all things Asian.
There are many locations.
The International District store is located at:
600 5th Ave S (between James St & Weller St)
Seattle, WA 98104
open 7 days a week
Uwajimaya
There is a food court there, too, as well as a huge Japanese bookstore.

Also, less-expensive and excellent, smaller Japanese market, check out:
Maruta-Shoten Japanese Grocery
1024 S Bailey St
Seattle, WA 98108
Neighborhood: Georgetown
open 7 days a week
(206) 767-5002
maruta-shoten
The pre-made dinners and sushi go on 50% off sale at 5pm.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Seattle – Historic Washington Hall

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Seattle’s image of high-tech mecca belies the fact that the City has several centuries of its own European heritage and millennia of Native American history and culture to draw upon.

Historical preservation and cultural preservation are important. One event which highlights this is the restoration of historic Washington Hall. This 3 story red-brick building, from 1908, has been saved from its endangered cultural status and is opened in a showcase this week-end after large amounts of refurbishment via the non-profit group Historic Seattle.

It’s a time to celebrate when any historic building is given a new life, and its history is not lost to the next generation. This is a building which was a legendary venue for music and politics in the African American dominated Central District of Seattle. Musicians and speakers who have appeared at Washington Hall include black-American icons: Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, W.E.B. du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Joe Louis, and Martin Luther King Jr.

The group and the City hope to keep the hall as a new performing arts center. So, when you are in Seattle, see if events have started and you can sit in witness of the presence of some great events.

And, if you are interested on more, then since 1970, Seattle has established seven historic districts:
___ Ballard Avenue
___ Columbia City
___ Fort Lawton
___ Harvard-Belmont
___ International District
___ Pike Place Market
___ Pioneer Square

Most guide-books rely heavily on only the areas around Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square along with a little in the International District; check these out and add the others!

The appearance and historical integrity of structures and public spaces within each district are regulated by a citizens board and/or the Landmarks Preservation Board. These operate in accordance with processes and criteria established by City ordinance, and hopefully less of historic Seattle will be demolished because of this foresight.

Portland, Oregon, about 3 hours drive south of Seattle has been saving its historical buildings in record numbers for many decades and has managed to preserve a great deal of its downtown core, as well as some neighborhood choices. It has received numerous kudos for all of this long before most cities were thinking of it or valuing it. The saved historic buildings have been brought up to current codes, and the community is enriched. Win-win.

Learn more about Seattle’s efforts:
Historic Seattle neighborhoods.

Washington Hall, Seattle Performing Arts

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