Seattle

Trip Start Mar 26, 2006
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18
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Trip End Oct 20, 2006


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Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

After several days here, I still feel like I'm unable to put my finger on the pulse of this city. Maybe it's the confusing Escher-esque layer upon layer of buildings, stairways, steep hills, and tucked away passageways that somehow make my head spin. The funky, informal vibe and the dudes walking the streets in their faded jeans and 90's-era goatees make it comfortable for a couple of modern day roadies like us, but I'm still not quite getting it. Could be that the weekly rag, with its voluminous listings of concerts, shows, gallery events, clubs, and stuff to do and see completely overwhelms me and I just don't know where to dive in.

The hostel is great, the best we've seen yet. Free wireless internet access, free foosball and pool, movies each night, and a big commons area with lots of couches and big windows looking out on the Sound. One of our roomies, an English guy from Newcastle, wanted to go out for beers to celebrate his 23rd birthday, so off we went to an Irish pub where he convinced Todd and I to play drinking games. He ordered 6 shots, combined them all with a Smirnoff Ice, then proceeded to kick our backsides playing some hilarious game we'd never heard of that we quickly discovered he was well practiced at. Todd and I were so plowed by the end of the evening it's a miracle we got back to the hostel three blocks away. Not our classiest travel moment, but he seemed to enjoy his birthday, so mission accomplished.

Todd awoke the following morning with a screaming headache, but we eventually managed to get moving again and headed up the alley to the touristy but fun Pike Place Market. Watching them throw huge salmon and bags of mussels around was simultaneously fun and horrifying, and when I discovered a big bin of live crayfish scraping around on a bed of ice I wanted to secret them all away and release them Free Willy-style. Then again, I was slurping up homemade clam chowder and gulping down fresh salmon and halibut every chance I got, so there was plenty of opportunity to work with the conundrum of being an omnivorous Buddhist. Ugh. We enjoyed the colorful baskets of flowers and shop windows filled with everything from European pastries to vintage posters.

One highlight was a trip to the Crumpet Shop, where we sampled our first crumpet, a round fluffy English muffin-like treat, oozing with butter and loganberry jam on top. Delicious!

Todd and I decided to celebrate our 9th anniversary in style, so we dug out our dress shoes and nicer duds from some dusty corner of our SUV and headed off for a delicious, though not stellar, French meal at Compagne. Afterward, we ventured to Jazz Alley, a famous Seattle jazz joint that's been around for decades. We were absolutely blown away by an acoustic guitar duo, a brother and sister from Mexico, Roderigo y Isabella, who blend jazzy Latin and flamenco with occasional layers from their acid rock background. Incredible.

A trip to the new Central Library was exciting. The architecture is arresting - intricate webs of metal and glass join in complex angles, crazy colors pop up in unexpected places, and multimedia art displays float by on flat screen panels over the reference desk. All around sleek and cool. I'd live in this building if this city were home.

On the surface, it's a small, easy city to cover in a few days, but I'm left feeling underwhelmed. Seattle is going to take more exploration before I can really get its seaside groove.
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