Friday, October 09, 2009
tape from seattle
The first few hours I spent in Seattle made me wish I had stayed longer in Portland—call it a combination of fatigue and bad luck. After whizzing up I-5 and dropping my belongings off at the hotel, I drove into the city in search of dinner. I hadn't looked at guidebooks beforehand, figuring I'd stumble upon a secret treasure. Not much caught my eye on the roads between Seatac Airport and downtown. I wound in Belltown, where parking was non-existant. Next try was Pioneer Square, where barely anything appeared to be open and a homeless guy dogged pursued me for spare change. Frustrated (and tired), I picked up some mediocre Mexican takeout on the way back to the hotel.
My disposition towards the city improved the next morning, thanks to time Pike Place Market.
It's always nice to know someone is watching out for you when in an unfamiliar city.
Sampling was the order of the morning, of the paid (piroshky—smoked salmon pate filled buns = yum) and unpaid (oodles of jams and vinegars) persuasions. The gaggle of foreign tourists crowding to snap pictures of the first Starbucks was amusing. I tried to take pictures of those taking pictures, but the results were underwhelming.
Beware the sneaky monkfish at Pike Place Fish...
As with Starbucks, a large contingent of foreign tourists mulled around as they waited for any giant fish to be tossed. Two seconds into the deceased sea creature's flight, a blinding cascade of flashes went off. Satisified with their photos, the tourists shuffled off and were quickly replaced with another set of shutterbugs.
For the centrepiece of my snacking, a three-piece cod and chips from Jack's Fish Spot. Plain, simple and satisfying.
A trip on the city's toy monorail followed. The system currently runs between two stops: a shopping mall and the tourist area around the Space Needle. Neither option looked appealing.
I spent the afternoon wandering towards Capitol Hill. Among the early stops was Molly Moon's Ice Cream, which offered an eclectic selection of flavours (baby beet sorbet, anyone?). After giving salted caramel a pass, I settled on a cup that was half balsamic strawberry and half sasquatch (chocolate with chocolate chunks, caramel swirls and granola), which proved a good combination of flavours.
Ah, a reminder of home! This was the first Value Village I saw stateside, so I couldn't resist peeking my head in. The main difference was the smell, which was a different shade of musty than those found in every Canadian location I've ever been to. Not more or less unpleasant, just different. Maybe it was the contibution of the aged, two-floor structure.
Would you buy used music from a smiling vampire? I did. The clerk at Everyday Music liked my selection of a two-disc Tim Hardin compilation.
The last meal of the trip was at Pho Cyclo on Broadway. Largest meatballs ever encountered in a bowl of pho.
The night ended frustratingly. I drove over to the airport to make sure I knew where to drop the car off in the morning. I was caught in a tangle of parking lots and found myself at a booth, where the attendant demanded my contract. Unfortunately, I had taken it out of the car and left it in a bag at the hotel (I suppose I wanted it somewhere else in case something happened to the rental). The elderly attendant looked at me sternly, then tried to call the rental agency. After sitting there for 10-15 minutes, he let me go with a stern warning to never remove the contract from a rental car ever again.
It was probably a sign to reinforce that the trip was over. Because of irritations such as this, Seattle left me with the most mixed feelings of any of the places I stayed during the roadtrip...but I'm willing to give it a second chance someday.
I know I'll give it a second chance.
Full set of pictures. All photos taken May 27, 2009 - JB