This will be my first post in a series of three on my trip (not including the last post where I included the video). This one is obviously about the city of Seattle, the next one will be about coffee, and my last post will be on Mt. Rainier.
I spent a total of three weeks in the Seattle area. I say area because I did not stay “in” Seattle but in a suburb south of the city. My wife has family in Des Moines, about a 45 minute drive down I-5. That said, I spent the majority of my awake hours in the city. My days would begin at 6 am and I would get on my one and half hour bus ride around 6:50 (shout out to the 194!). Every morning I would walk in between Safeco and Qwest on my way to my second bus stop (that was an hour and a half total). I usually would arrive at Q Cafe around 8:30 and immediately make my self a latte or an americano (even when it was sweltering outside). At the cafe I would spend the morning and early afternoon learning how to make coffee drinks, writing, picking their coffee brains, and hanging out with the regulars (typical coffeehouse day right?). I would typically leave Q in the mid to late afternoon and either check out either coffee shops or spend a couple hours at my favorite bookstore, Elliot Bay Books. Then I would work my way back to the stadium area for the long, and always packed, ride home. I would usually be hungy and exhausted and always prayed my hosts wouldn’t think me rude when all I did was eat and then crash (and they didn’t).
The first saturday that I was there, before my stint at Q began, I headed to the city to jump on a ferry and explore one of the islands. I wanted to go as far north as possible. I had in mind a remote island clouded in fog with whales popping up everywhere. Unfortunately the downtown Seattle ferries to not go that far north, so I went to Bainbridge Island instead. But first I should mention that on that day the Seattle Sounders Football Club (soccer for my friends in the south) was playing Chelsea Football Club (a soccer team from the English Premier League, again for my friends in the south). I arrived at the stadium area around 9 am and the place was already swarming with green jerseys 3 hours before the game. For a second I almost decided to abandon my ferry trip and go to the game but I soon found out the match was sold out! As I made my way through the Pioneer Square district there was a constant stream of green jersey making their way to Qwest field. Then again when I was waiting for the ferry I would say approximately 80-90% of the passengers from Vashon and Bainbridge were decked out in Sounders gear. I eventually learned that the crowd, 64,000+, was the third largest ever recorded at Qwest! Back to Bainbridge Island…the ferry ride to the island was beautiful. The ride alone is worth the price just to get a full view of the city! We traveled west and just as the city was growing smaller behind us the Olympic range was looming larger and larger in front of us. I had a map for the island but when we got off I just followed the flood of people to whereever everyone seemed to be going and eventually found myself in Winslow, the small harbor community on the southeast side of the island. I had a great time walking the streets down to the harbor and exploring Eagle Harbor Bookstore and drinking coffee at Pegasus Coffee. My only complaint about the day was the fact that there was nowhere to rent scooters! I mention the idea on Twitter and a few local Bainbridgers responded with surprise that there wasn’t a rental spot.
Of course, like any other Seattle visitor I spent plenty of time exploring Pike Place Market, made my pilgrimage to the first Starbucks location, and took a picture of the Pike Place Fish guys doing there fish-throwing-thing. The market was a fun place to explore and you could always tell if there was a cruise ship in town by how packed the market was. But most days I would skip the market area so I could hang out at Elliot Bay Books and explore other parts of the city. Part of my explorations took me to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the East Village section of Seattle. It was an interesting mix of affluent, hippy, and trendy culture all running together. These three ingredients also make for an excellent coffee culture as this is the area that I was told to check out for the best coffeehouses (of course there are exceptions to this which I will get into in my next post). There were plenty of boutique shops, luxury vehicle dealerships (Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes), and even bakery shops that specialized in cupcakes!
I spent my final day in the city exploring sections of downtown I hadn’t gotten to yet. In particular I was in search of one building that had a unique architectual exterior. I had been talking about architecture quite a bit with Matt at Q Cafe and knew from our converstations that my trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without spending some time in this building. It was the Seattle Public Library and it lived up to its billing! The SPL is a beautiful, angular glass building surrounded by towers two to three times its height (even though it was about 15 stories). I was certainly impressed by the outside, but the inside took my breath away! My two favorite spots was the computer area all they way at the top and the third floor which was full of couches because of the expansive glass that provided such a unique scene and plenty of natural light. I can say that I am truly jealous of Seattle-ites, who should be proud of such a building!
That was quite a bit more that I had planned to write. Other highlights include being in town for the Sea Fair, Bite of Seattle, the opening of light rail in Seattle, and the opening of a pretty controversial coffeehouse. But the biggest news has to be that I was there for the hottest day on record, 103 degrees! Which normally for me isn’t a big deal, except for nobody in Seattle has AC!!! But I made it and can now add that to my list of big events that I was a part of!
Follow the link below to see my pictures of Seattle.