Thoughts on Seattle

My son and I spent Thanksgiving in Seattle with my daughter and her boyfriend. It was a first-time trip for my son and probably my fourth. My daughter moved to Seattle this July and it was fun to have her as the tour guide for her new stomping grounds. To see the city as a resident rather than a tourist.

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Here are my observations about Seattle:

Rain.  This is by far the rainiest it has been on a trip to Seattle for me. Cold, windy rain. It’s funny but because of the rain, I realized how the city is built around rain. There are coat racks and umbrella racks by the doors of most of the establishments we went into. It reminded me of Phoenix with its covered parking spaces; obviously used for different reasons. Seattle has set up the infrastructure that works with its weather. Somehow it makes it all more tolerable. By the third day, I was just expecting rain at some point and carried along my umbrella. This apparently, is a sure sign of a tourist. Seattleites usually just wear raincoats. By the end of my visit, I had purchased said raincoat with a hood because carrying an umbrella is a wet, messy drag. Adapt to the rain because you know it’s coming.

Coffee.  I have been to plenty of cities with ample coffee shops but in Seattle coffee is an art. It’s where the gourmet coffee industry started. Whether it was a freshly brewed pour-over coffee, a latte or a cup of coffee at a local diner, it was all terrific. You can’t serve Maxwell House in Seattle, only the best will do. There are the ubiquitous Starbucks everywhere, but we found a place called La Marzocco Café, which was a coffee shop inside a radio station studio. It was amazing. The kind of place to sit down and relax while you watch it rain outside and listen to great music from KEXP. It is a must-see in Seattle. My son and I ended going there several times to chill out and relax. It’s within walking distance of the Space Needle, so even tourists can make their way there. My daughter’s boyfriend, Kevin, made several pots of delicious coffee at their apartment. Be sure to relax and enjoy the coffee.

Transit.  There are many modes of transportation in Seattle, and my son and I used Lyft for most of our journeys. Walking is another popular mode, and once you have purchased a raincoat (see bullet one), it’s really not that bad. Plus, walking with an umbrella becomes a game of strategy on crowded streets, so I highly recommend wearing a rain jacket instead, just so there isn’t collateral damage as you make your way on foot. Kevin and his brother Brian suggested we take a bus from Pike Place Market to their apartment in Ballard. We had a whole afternoon together with no rush, so I was game. I have to say I was skeptical. I can’t remember the last time I rode a bus, but it was cheap ($2.50) and took us to within a half mile of the apartment. There is a certain Zen to riding a bus, as the world rolls past and riders stare blankly ahead, or intently at their phones. I was glad I had the experience, since my daughter rides the bus to work every day and I now understand the appeal. There is this transition from home to work or vice versa that frees up time for thought and reflection that driving doesn’t.

Food.  We had amazing food all week. Whether it was a diner near the Space Needle, pho at a local Vietnamese restaurant, or tacos at a Mexican spot. When we were walking around Ballard one night there must have been twenty plus restaurants we passed. I would have eaten in any one of them. There is something comforting about walking in the rain (again see bullet 1) and ducking into a cozy spot for some delicious food. Pike Place Market (with the world-renowned fish throwers) has an amazing assortment of everything, from chanterelle mushrooms to Dungeness crabs to moon drop grapes. I’ve always thought of the San Francisco Bay Area as the food mecca of the world, but Seattle could give it a run for its money. It was ironic that several of the places where we ate were Southern in theme. Whether it was shrimp and grits, biscuits or collards, I didn’t feel like I was a 6-hour flight from home. I think the cold rain makes food taste better. The pinnacle of food was our Thanksgiving meal with Brian and Natalie at the helm.  There is a peace in letting go and not being responsible for the biggest meal of the year. I don’t need to worry about whether the turkey is carved. Turns out, it is still delicious, regardless of how it is carved.

It was a great trip with the highlight being a trip to the Japanese gardens at the Washington Arboretum and spectacular Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. There is always something fascinating to do in Seattle, regardless of the weather. What are your favorite spots in Seattle?

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