Travel Series: Seattle, Day Two (Then Home)

This is day five, and the final installment, of my series about my trip to Portland and Seattle. Start with day one here.

Monday, Oct. 6

The fish guys at Pike Place Market.

The fish guys at Pike Place Market.

I woke up before my alarm on Monday morning, momentarily confused about where I was. Slowly I remembered I was in Seattle, and specifically in Evan’s apartment, and I got up to get ready for the day. I was flying home on a 2 p.m. flight, but I had until noon to see more of Seattle.

Evan and I left his place with my stuff and got on a bus to go downtown. He took me to his office, where we stowed my luggage, before walking to get coffee and see Pike Place. It was pretty early for a Monday, just after 8 a.m., and a lot of the vendors were still getting set up. We did walk into the original Starbucks, just to see it, and I saw giant bouquets of beautiful flowers I’d never seen before, for $5 each. I remembered a co-worker had told me a story of a friend who’d gotten married in Seattle and was able to get all of her wedding flowers at the market for something like $75. If I hadn’t been about to get on an airplane, I’d have been tempted to buy some for myself. We got some amazing cheese curds from a friendly vendor and continued to walk around the area.

The view from the public space on the 17th floor.

The view from the public space on the 17th floor.

Evan took me to a really neat feature of Seattle: In this one building downtown, anyone can access the 17th floor and enjoy a beautiful public space, overlooking the city and Puget Sound, complete with picnic tables and a landscaped patio. It was stunning.

“This really is a beautiful city,” I said to Evan, and he smiled.

I’d made plans the night before to meet up with my high school friend Jesse before his class at noon. He commutes from Lacey to Seattle five days a week for school, where he’s getting his masters in Middle East studies. He’s learning Hebrew and told us about his recent trip to Israel, and also about his wedding from this past June. It was very surreal to see a friend I only ever see in Ohio in a city I’d never been to before, and it was nice to catch up. The three of us ate breakfast together at a French bistro Evan liked, and it was delicious food in a cute atmosphere.

Jesse left for class, and Evan took me back to his office to get my bags. He walked with me to the train stop and waited with me on the platform until the train heading to SEA-TAC arrived. I hugged him goodbye and got on to head home. I was sad to go, but also relieved I had my passport and a way to get back to Chicago. It had been great to see Seattle with a guide, and especially one so excited to be in the city in which he lives.

I left Seattle feeling happy, thankful, and full of amazing food.

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Travel Series: Seattle, Day One

This is day four of my series about my trip to Portland and Seattle. Start with day one here.

Sunday, Oct. 5:

The water everywhere was so blue in Seattle.

The water everywhere was so blue in Seattle.

I woke up late Sunday morning. I am an idiot and set the weekday alarm for 6:15, not the weekend one. I woke up instead at 7:39, about 20 minutes after I’d planned to leave the airbnb for downtown. My heart stopped. I asked Siri to call a cab, trying to remember how much cash I had remaining from what my bank had let me take out. A cab had definitely not been in the budget, but I couldn’t think of another option. The buses only run every half hour or so on Sundays, from what it looked like, and I’d missed the one I had planned on catching.

The cab company told me one would come for me in 10 minutes. Luckily the night before I’d packed everything and left out a note and some small gifts for my hostess, so all I had to do was get dressed, strip the bed, and start a load of laundry before leaving. I did all of this running back and forth like crazy, and I hurried while trying to make sure I wasn’t leaving anything behind. It occurs to me now that I did leave some half-and-half and a chunk of brie from Trader Joe’s in the mini fridge.

Under the bridge.

Under the bridge.

The cab got there just when I was told it would, and the driver loaded my bags into the trunk. He was taking his time, not seeing my panic, so I told him my bus was leaving in a half hour. He told me not to worry, and he was right. We got downtown maybe 10 minutes later, and I was one of the first to board the Bolt Bus. I tipped him 25 percent despite my dwindling funds because he saved me a huge headache. There’s no way I could have purchased a second ticket for a later bus online without my debit card, and I’m not sure they let you pay cash for a ticket on the spot.

My carelessness was once again rewarded, so I’m sure this means I’ll learn nothing from the experience and continue to blunder through life relying on the kindness of strangers.

As I stepped onto the Bolt Bus, I dropped my wallet on the floor, my hands too full of luggage and my giant pink Voodoo Donuts box. I bent over to pick it up.

“Oh no, you don’t want to lose your wallet,” someone already seated joked.

“Yeah, that would be bad!” I replied, laughing a little too hard.

A park near Fremont Brewing.

A park near Fremont Brewing.

Bolt Bus is kind of like a northwest regional version of Mega Bus. It spans cities like Seattle and Portland but also Vancouver, BC and Eugene. My ticket had cost only $23 and I was told if you book at just the right time you can get them even cheaper. The bus ride from Portland to Seattle was less than three hours – we somehow got to downtown a half hour earlier than scheduled. I stepped off the bus carrying my bag and my Voodoo box, and a man waiting outside the bus smiled at me.

“You clearly just got in from Portland!” he said.

“Yup,” I said with a smile, slightly lifting the box up to show it off.

This was not the only time that box of donuts would be commented on – as I crossed a street minutes later, a man driving by yelled “Voodoooooo!” out his window at me. I killed time in a coffee shop waiting for Evan, and people eyed the box sitting on my table with curiosity.

The troll under the bridge.

The troll under the bridge.

After Evan came to get me, he and I walked to a bus stop. A man holding a large Starbucks cup came up to him, as Evan was now holding the box, and asked him if he could have a donut to go with his coffee. He was not kidding.

“We have people waiting on these,” Evan said apologetically, thinking much faster than I would have. This was a lie, because we did not – we were going to eat all of those donuts ourselves and with no remorse.

Since it was Sunday, the banks were closed. Evan is a genius and Googled up the idea to go to a Money Tree to see if I could write myself a check and cash it there. With my passport serving as proof of ID, the woman at Money Tree let me cash a check. They charged a 6% fee, but I didn’t care. She was helpful and asked me how Portland had been aside from that obvious hurdle. I told her I’d loved it, and had the Voodoo Donuts to prove it.

We took a bus to Evan’s apartment in Queen Anne and dropped off my things. We split a bacon maple bar from the box of donuts, and I was glad it had held up over the last 18 hours. While I got settled in, Evan put on an album by Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, which I’d mentioned loving and listening to a lot while preparing for my trip. I admitted I’d been listening to it on loop most of the bus ride up, and was so excited that he thought to put the record on.

A view from the way up to Upper Queen Anne.

A view from the way up to Upper Queen Anne.

We left to explore, first winding up a street with amazing views to Upper Queen Anne to check out the shops and restaurants. Evan asked me if I wanted to see the “troll under the bridge” on Troll Street, and I had pictured it in my mind as a painted mural. Instead, it’s a giant, stone-carved troll, who looks as though he is bursting through the ground, crushing a car.

Then we headed further north and went to Fremont Brewing. I celebrated having an ID again by getting an amazing flight of five samples of their beer. Having eaten nothing but one and a half donuts all day, the tiny samples hit me faster than they would have normally, so we walked it off by heading over to a nearby park overlooking one of Seattle’s many lakes. Then we took a bus over to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. For dinner, I treated Evan to the fanciest meal of my trip, finally getting the seafood I’d wanted all week. We split an amazing bottle of wine and entrees of king salmon and lamb shank, with ratatouille and couscous.

I finally got my Pacific Northwest salmon. It was amazing.

I finally got my Pacific Northwest salmon. It was amazing.

After dinner, we walked around that area more and ducked into a great bookstore before getting ice cream at Molly Moon’s. On the way back to his apartment we stopped to get a six-pack of Deschutes Brewing’s winter ale, called Jubelale. It reminded me of Great Lakes’ Christmas Ale, my favorite seasonal beer of all time. We drank a couple of those while watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” a fascinating documentary about a tiny sushi restaurant in Tokyo. I’d heard about it a long time ago and it seemed appropriate to watch since I too had been dreaming of sushi in Portland.

I’d missed Evan so much, and it was just so great to get to catch up with an old friend and fill each other in on what we’d missed since he moved in the spring. We stayed up a little too late, since I sort of forgot the next day was Monday. Evan had taken the morning off to show me Pike Place, but he did have to go in after I left.

Seattle, Day Two will be posted later this week.