when you last left us, we were saying goodnight to vancouver and preparing for an early departure across the canadian/U.S. border en route to seattle, WA. home of the original starbucks, nordstrom, and some seriously loyal seahawks fans.
we arrived by train into seattle around 10:45 a.m. in realizing our hotel was across town, we hopped in a cab to expedite the process. again, thanks to the fine people of orbitz, we had found a hotel off pike street near the convention center, fairly centrally located to all of our desired points of interest. the homewood suites (a hilton affiliate) would be our temporary home for the next two and a half days.
since we arrived prior to regular check-in time, the hotel didn’t have a room available right away. so we had them hold our luggage while we ventured out to grab a bite to eat.
having obviously not limited my restaurant research to just canada alone, i also went over the seattle foodie scene with a fine-toothed comb (with assistance of a couple of former seattlites as well, of course) before arriving in the city. despite it being essentially nothing more than a yuppie version of subway, i became quite set on taste testing the sandwiches at a place called homegrown (they had gluten-free bread!). with locations scattered around seattle, i was pleased to find that the nearest storefront was mere feet away from our hotel. perfect! but as we arrived to the noted address, we soon found that the particular location had been closed temporarily to accommodate nearby construction. womp womp. i pulled up directions to an alternative location on my phone. google advised us it was about a 17 minute walk. at this point i really didn’t care what we ate, just that we ate. something. anything. but after coming so far and after dreaming of eating a legitimate sandwich, i knew we couldn’t abandon the charge. considering the fact that i was quite snippy by this time as hanger had now set in, S happily agreed to the extra mileage. we trudged onward, finally arriving at the sustainable sandwich shop midday. i chose the BLT on gluten-free bread and S opted for the roast beef on french roll. i don’t know if it was the fact that i was so hungry that a flip flop covered in mustard would have tasted amazing, but you guys, that sandwich was one of the best i’ve ever had. the bread! the bacon! the garlic aioli! sure it was terribly overpriced, but we had walked two miles to get it and i was darn happy that we had.
after our bellies were full of meat, condiments, and bread, we made the hike back up to pike street to see if our hotel had a room available for us. in the process of climbing the hills back to our hotel, we had become sweaty messes under the layers of clothing we had been wearing to stay warm for our early morning departure from vancouver. luckily our room was ready and we were able to shed a few layers and relax before making a game plan for the rest of the afternoon.
after reviewing all of seattle’s points of interest utilizing the maps, books, and brochures found in our room, we decided to spread out our exploring over the next two days. we would tackle pioneer square down by the train station and centurylink field (where the seahawks play) on saturday and make a giant loop around the city on sunday hitting pike’s market, the originial starbucks, and the chihuly museum on sunday. i was pumped. with clear skies in the forecast for the entire duration of our stay in seattle, i was mostly just excited to spend as much time outside touring the city. reminiscent to san francisco in many ways, seattle was a city that begged to be explored. with so many neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, and attractions, we were never without something to see/do/taste/photograph.
we made a left out of our hotel onto pike street and took it westward toward 5th. we turned left on 5th and took it nearly all the way down to our destination. the weather was a perfect chilly yet sunny 60-degrees. not too hot, not too cold, and all we needed was a light jacket. we made our way southwest toward pioneer square. located in seattle’s historic heart, this area was filled with brick buildings, ivy-covered walls, and a plethora of sports bars (both the seahawks stadium and safeco field where the mariners play are just blocks away). i’m told the square holds many concerts and festivals in the warmer months, but the only things we saw were a couple fashion bloggers in the middle of a photoshoot and unfortunately, a lot of homeless people. at any rate, it was a fun area to explore, and reminded me of europe in a lot of ways.
after touring the square and adjacent neighborhoods, we walked back up 5th and stopped by a few stores on the way to our hotel. dangerously nearby (dangerous for my wallet anyway) were the likes of gap, banana republic, nordstrom, anthropologie, and j.crew, just to name a few. after a few rounds in each of their respective dressing rooms, i came up empty-handed (which let’s be honest, with how full my carry-on was, was probably a good thing). so we headed back to room 604 to rest, shower, and gussy-up before our 7:15 p.m. reservations at wild ginger -basically an upscale version of p.f. changs. after having casual dinners throughout the course of our trip, it was kind of a treat to have a fancier date night. we started with the restaurant’s papaya salad and ordered an entree a piece -the mongonlian noodles for him, the seven-spiced tofu for me and sides of rice for both of us. our meal was delicious (and filling! i forgot how much rice expands in your belly). after dinner we walked the few blocks back to our hotel and ended the night with espn’s daily coverage of the australian open.
on sunday morning, we woke up early, excited to get our morning cup of joe at the nearby starbucks reserve roastery & tasting room. after walking by it the day before on our way to find homegrown, one look at the sea of copper and smell of fresh beans and we knew we had to make a visit there a priority. unlike the regular starbucks stores, this particular location offered specialized brewing techniques, exclusive coffees and products, in-house roasting, tasting flights, and like i mentioned above, lots of copper (S and my favorite). after reviewing the menu, i opted for a traditional americano while S took advantage of their single-cup pour over (which the barista commented was “an excellent choice”). we found a pair of leather chairs and settled in to sip our caffeinated creations. it was the perfect way to kick-start our day.
after we had finished our coffee, we walked down pike street, all the way to 1st avenue where we were greeted with the iconic red “public market center” sign. i may have squealed a little in excitement. after seeing pike’s market depicted so many times in friends’ instagram posts or on sean’s season of the bachelor (his now wife, catherine is from seattle), it was kind of surreal to be there in person (like most celebrities, it too seemed smaller in person). we watched fish get thrown over the counter, took in the sights of the cornucopia of fresh produce (best sign award goes to the vendor who wrote “pleeza no squeeza” on his avocados), and S found heaven in a bag of mini donuts from a nearby kiosk.
we also walked by the original starbucks on 1st & pike, but due to its innate novelty, it was swarming with tourists all posing for selfies. i snapped a photo of a banjo player entertaining market goers out in front and we continued on our way.
after touring pike’s center, we headed north toward the space needle. considering S’s aversion to heights and my aversion to elevators, we decided to forgo the tourist attraction in exchange for an activity on the ground.
lucky for us, at the base of the landmark was a museum showcasing work by acclaimed glassblower dale chihuly. native to the surrounding areas, chihuly boasts two museums in washington state -one in seattle, and an even larger one in tacoma. we gladly paid the admission fees to have access to the chihuly garden and glass exhibit. oh em gee, y’all. aside from a couple of the museums i was lucky enough to visit while in spain, chihuly’s collection might be one of the best i’ve ever seen. there’s nothing subjective about it, his work is just absolutely incredible. fact. period. end of story. we took our time in each room, my chin drawing closer to the floor with each passing collection. i mean, i think these photos speak for themselves, don’t you?
seriously, if you do one thing in seattle, do yourself a favor and go to the chihuly museum. you’re welcome in advance.
after finishing up at the museum, we toured the surrounding grounds before heading back to the hotel. by now it was well past noon and we had begun feeling a slight rumbly in our tumblies. so we grabbed a quick bite at terra plata right down the street from the starbucks roastery.
we made it back to the hotel for a little R&R before nailing down dinner plans for our last night in seattle/of vacation. after thorough discussion, we finally settled on a recommendation of a friend, brave horse tavern, a bbq-joint-slash-bar, for some good old-fashioned american food. S enjoyed a pork sandwich while i dug into a (shocker) vegetarian plate of charred endive, carrot hummus, and squash. i may or may not have stolen a few of his french fries, too.
after dinner we walked back “home”, changed into pajamas, and repacked our suitcases in preparation of the next day’s departure. luckily our flight didn’t leave until 1:30 p.m. so there would be no issues in waking up early enough to catch our outbound plane (we didn’t want another repeat of dallas). we turned on the TV and flipped back between the pro bowl, australian open coverage, and real housewives of atlanta like the true renaissance people that we are.
the next morning, i woke up feeling kind of meh. i mean, “meh” certainly in the emotional sense as it was the last day of vacation (don’t make me go back to the real world!), but mostly “meh” in the physical sense like “meh, my stomach hurts.” we took it easy, stopping by the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet for a bite and a cup of coffee, but mostly just savoring those last minutes in the comfort of our room.
around 11:30 a.m. we hailed a cab to take us to sea-tac airport and about 30 minutes later we had arrived and were preparing to disrobe to pass through security. having finished big little lies (by liane moriarty, author of the husband’s secret) on the train from vancouver to seattle, i mostly just bugged S, doodled, and took trips to the lavatories to pass the two hour and twenty-eight minute flight back to america’s finest city.
we touched down around 4 p.m. and took a shuttle back to the parking garage where we had left S’s truck. by 5:15 p.m. we were cruising the aisles of trader joe’s for supplies for turkey tacos for dinner and by 7:00 p.m. we were enjoying them, while watching dvr’ed episodes of vanderpump rules and jeopardy.
and just like that, we were home. settled. unpacked. tired. but so happy and thankful to have experienced five days away exploring two unknown cities (and one unknown country), and maybe more importantly than that, happy and thankful to have experienced five days spent traveling together, working as a team, and relishing in the fact that while living life solo certainly has its perks, life (and traveling) really is better when you have someone with whom to share it.