2 Days in Seattle
I think I’ve waited long enough to write something about the second half of my spring break trip. Truth be told, I wasn’t as impressed with Seattle as I was with Portland. The city has a professional business go-go vibe going for it, in comparison to Portland’s more laid back, anything-goes bohemian culture. Lots of hills, lots of walking up and down hills, lots of pedestrians and bicyclists, which all equates lots of very fit people.
We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, just as it began to rain. It rained all afternoon and all evening, all night, finally stopping Wednesday morning (the first day of spring). That day there was a gale warning in effect, which means winds of 35 knots (something like 40 mph). The wind did not deter me from enjoying the spring weather, temperatures in the 50s and occasional sunshine, much like what we had experienced in Portland, and a welcome respite from Iowa’s seemingly never-ending winter.
Like Portland, we opted for non-hotel lodging. We stayed at the 11th Avenue Inn, a nice B&B located in the Capital Hill neighborhood, within a few blocks of numerous shops and restaurants and only a couple miles from downtown. If you go to the link, you can see the room we stayed in (the Citrine room). The place was well worth the money, and it further cemented the notion that I never want to stay at a hotel anywhere ever again. The room had a small television atop an armoire but we never turned it on, and we had no need for the usual hotel “frills”. The breakfasts were delicious; scrambled eggs with ham and mushrooms plus greek yogurt topped with walnuts, granola and raspberries one morning, and fresh blueberry pancakes with blackberry syrup, banana and strawberry slices, sausage links and greek yogurt the next. I highly recommend this place.
What I liked: the Annapurna Cafe (really good Nepalese/Tibetan cuisine), the (free) view from the observation tower at Volunteer Park and the enormous Uwajimaya grocery store. I was impressed with the massive scale of the QFC on Broadway — an entire city block of upscale foodstuffs, twice as expensive as the fare found in Hy-Vee, with an upstairs (!!!) alcohol & pharmacy section and a lower-level home supplies section. More hipsters there than I could shake a stick at.
What I could have done without: the constant rain that turned my socks & shoes into sponges; the Public Market near the waterfront (features the stereotypical fish-throwing vendors and numerous chintzy stores and overpriced restaurants… though I did get a delicious bowl of New England clam chowder at the Athenian), spending more than five minutes inside the enormous Nordstrom on Pine St., or spending any time at all inside the other downtown stores. Oh, and “gum alley”. Disgusting.
What I would have done differently: I would have gone up in the Space Needle (despite my usual hesitation to engage in the usual touristy activities) and the EMP Museum, and I would have seen a movie at the Cinerama Theater, even if they weren’t showing something in true Cinerama format (which they usually don’t). I also would have taken a bus… any bus… out of the city center and explored some of the surrounding neighborhoods. Something I didn’t really do much of while we were in Portland, unfortunately. Oh well, there’s only so much that can be done in 48 hours.
Late Thursday morning I received both a call from Amtrak’s automated phone system as well as a notice on my iPhone that our departure from King Station had been “adjusted”. A call to Amtrak revealed a minor avalanche had occurred along the tracks on the first leg of our return journey, necessitating bussing us to the first stop at Everett WA. Departure time remained the same. We boarded the nicest, coziest charter buses I have ever been on and left for Everett amidst rush hour traffic. I’m fairly impressed with both the Amtrak app and the Passbook app on my phone; both worked very well in notifying me about changes to my itinerary.