In classic tradition, I was packing for my vacation to Seattle about ten minutes before actually getting in the car to leave. But how much stuff do you really need for a three day vacation anyway? I settled on just enough underwear, a t-shirt, a spare pair of shorts and my CamelBak. Ready to go! I’ve ridden on the Amtrak Cascades twice now, the last time being when we visited Seattle with Trav and Jenn, and both experiences have been extremely enjoyable. The prospect of driving up to Seattle and then dealing with a car while up there is not appealing to me. Riding the train means that there is no congestion, a predictable start and end time to the journey, and no need to find an expensive parking space in downtown Seattle once I arrive. The journey provides some nice scenery to enjoy and there is just something cool about taking the train.
We arrived in Seattle at noon, took a taxi to the Best Western Loyal Inn to drop off our luggage, and then headed over to the Pike Place market. Sunday at noon really is the best time to see the open market. All of the vendors are out in full force, the streets are packed, and the atmosphere is tremendous. We worked our way down the myriad floors of stalls and stores, ending on the Waterfront by Pier 69. Taking our time, we then wandered along the waterfront, passing the Aquarium, stopping to look out over the water, touring the various stores. After a quick stop at Ye Old Curiosity Shop and the pirate store, my Dad bought us tickets for a cruise tour on a ferry on the Puget Sound. It was a good tour of the entire waterfront, the nearest islands, and the myriad docks and piers. Best of all, it was a nice break from walking around. Peter and I found the bar and stood chatting with my Dad while we looked out over the city. It was a nice and relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
On Monday morning, my parents and I took the Monorail downtown for some tourist window shopping, while Ellie and Peter took sometime to do their own thing. We wandered around the 5th and Pine area, looking in all of the fancy shop windows and then headed towards the pioneer square, ending up in the fantastic Magic Mouse Toys. We tried to get tickets for the Undercity Tour but had just missed the 11:00am group and wouldn’t have time to meet with Ellie and Peter if we waited for the next one. Instead we walked back along the waterfront towards the Pier 69 area, and eventually back up Pine street to the Monorail station once more. We met up with Ellie and Peter at the Space Needle just after noon. As an off-topic note, my Dad permanently plays a game of never giving a “normal” pose for a photograph. This is evidenced below. 🙂
After the Space Needle, we continued our tour of the Emerald city by purchasing tickets for two of my favorite attractions; the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum. Similar to OMSI, I find that there is so much to see and do in both EMP and SFM that there is simply not enough time in one visit to absorb it all. After spending our time and more than getting our money’s worth from guitar sculptures, Jimi Hendrix outfits, Star Trek phasers, and Red Dwarf props, we returned to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Whilst exploring the city that morning, Ellie and Peter happened upon a restaurant that they wished to try named the Ipanema Brazilian Grill. Although other suggestions originally took precedence, they were quickly excluded from the list of choices when found to be closed. Apparently, Monday night is some sort of fasting festival in Seattle as many of the restaurants had Tuesday-Sunday service. Odd, and as yet unexplained! However, this worked to our favor as the Brazilian Grill was superb. For the night of our visit they offered only their Rodizio service, which was a fixed price and all you can eat. What this amounted to was an all you can eat salad appetizer from a very plentiful and varied salad bar and then serving after serving of fantastic grilled meats and seafood sliced right at your table. Our server issued us with a stop/go token (green on one side, red on the other) that should be turned green side up whenever the carnivores in your party are ready to go. Several other servers patrol the floor wielding large limbs of very finely cooked meats from peppered steak to filet mignon to garlic pork, sausages, spicy chicken, … and a couple of fishy/seafood types of offerings for people who like that stuff. I can’t remember the last time I pounded through sooooo much meat. It was fantastic! Washed down with an appropriate number of Black Butte Porters, this was shaping up to be a night! The restaurant, for those of you who now cannot visit Seattle without having to try it, is located directly across from the Seattle Art Museum on 1st. Just look for Hammering SAM, also pictured below, and you’ll see the sign for Ipanema right across the street. Ellie and Peter – I salute you on a great find!
Our last morning rolled around and it was time for us to try the “Ride the Ducks” tour of Seattle. We had seen these amphibious creations driving around the city during our stay, piquing our interest sufficiently for us to purchase tickets and find out first-hand what it was all about. Essentially, our tour guide took us on an all-points tour of the city on land, followed by a tour on the water to see additional landmarks. Throughout the tour he shared a variety of interesting, and not so interesting, information all while donning a variety of themed hats and interspersing with bits of tour guide humor. His voice quickly became forgettable, but the tour was great and included a number of locations we hadn’t been able to reach on our vist. It was a little cold though. For anyone considering taking the “Ride the Ducks” tour, I would certainly advise a nice thick jacket and some form of headgear. Something like this should probably suffice. We spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering around downtown Seattle. I bought a copy of Bel Canto from Borders for the return journey on the train, but ended up sleeping most of the way home. However, the book I can highly recommend to anyone looking for a two-day to read. So ended our brief stay in Seattle. We sure packed a lot in, and had a heck of a lot of fun.
NOTE: One thing I noticed when looking through my photos from this trip was that Peter is incredibly good at avoiding appearing in any of them. I’ll have to see if anyone else managed to catch him off guard.