We arrived in Seattle around dinner time on a Friday night, a few hours before the rest of our vacation-crew flew in from the Midwest. The professor and I had gone to Seattle on our honeymoon – back in the nineties – so it felt slightly surreal to return on nearly the exact date so many years later with our three boy-wonders in tow.
My sister found the last remaining ‘reasonably priced’ hotel in the city (seriously, Seattle!) and we checked in just a couple of blocks away from Pike Place Market and all its tourist glory.
The next morning, buzzing from excitement and the one-hour time difference (three for the Hoosiers!) we were up before the clock struck 7 (it was to become a theme of the trip). Luckily Seattle is the kind of city where coffee shops and eateries are actually open! At 6am! I’ve become so accustomed to my Calgarian life where the grocery store doesn’t open its doors until 8 and precious few downtown businesses operate on the weekends that I was continually surprised by the hours Seattle keeps.
All this to say, we decided to venture out into the big city at the crack o’ dawn in search of fried dough at Top Pot Doughnuts. So we pulled on some clothes, eschewing conventions like hair and makeup, and walked en masse – all eleven of us – to the doughnut place.
My go-to, doughnut-of-choice, is the apple fritter, and if that’s not available, I’ll choose something with a maple glaze. Never a cake doughnut and never a doughnut with a chocolate glaze. In an apple fritter I’m looking for crisp, almost syrupy edges, a soft (but not mushy) interior and a pleasant apple-cinnamon flavor with a hit of sweet from the white glaze. I’m not overly snobby about the provenance of my fried dough as long as their fritter meets my criteria. Top Pot’s version was good, even if it was on the larger side and I kept eating long after I should have stopped.
But that’s more a me-problem than a Top-Pot problem.
Having consumed our recommended daily caloric intake’s worth of all things glazed, we kept walking instead of returning to the hotel; to Frank Gehry’s EMP Museum and the Space Needle and the Chihuly Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Garden, where a free outdoor yoga class was just about to start.
The Space Needle
The six cousins
We suggested they recreate the scene, au natural, but they declined
I’m in a picture! Thanks to my sister (or the professor’s?) assistance
We meandered down to the waterfront and eventually found ourselves back in Pike’s Place Market, right in front of Rachel’s Ginger Beer. A place that had been recommended to me by a friend.
We plopped our un photo-ready, weary selves down on some seats while my sister and the professor each procured a large bottle of gingery goodness. We sipped guava and mango gingerbeer while the children offered their opinions about the taste; furiously fanning their open mouths when the heat of the ginger became too much.
This was followed by a hotel-room lunch of deli sandwiches and piroshky purchased from the Market, with most of the children denouncing the gruyere and pear grilled cheese on rosemary bread. This, too, became a theme of the trip, as we discovered, days later, during our second attempt at grilled cheese on rosemary bread. ‘This tastes like that grilled cheese sandwich we had in the hotel,’ my nephew reminisced unsentimentally.
After some naps and technologically-assisted ‘quiet time’ we hit the street again. Seeing as we were in Seattle and all, I was fairly determined to find a good coffee shop. You know, the kind with protracted brewing processes, where you wait for 10 minutes to get your cup of coffee and beans cost $17 for 12 ounces and baristas look as though they’re working on a cure for cancer when they pour frothed milk in the shape of a leaf.
One of my ‘best coffee shops in Seattle’ lists pointed me to Seattle Coffee Works, which happened to be close to the hotel. We stood in line to place our order. We waited several minutes for our precisely-made coffee and in the end it was just okay.
More meandering, during which Percy fell asleep while on top of the professor’s shoulders, led us to Rem Koolhaas’ Central Library. The kids read books and played on the library computers while some of the adults walked around the building and I sat by sleeping Percy who’d usurped his youngest cousin’s stroller for the occasion.
We met up with some local friends and walked over to Freeway Park, where the adults chatted and the kids ran around. Our search for evening sustenance led us to Mod Pizza, which turned out to be a place that prices pizza based on size not toppings. (Speed is also part of the concept but not on this particular Saturday night.) It ended up being a great place to sit and chat with our delightful friends, plus the pizzas were about $7 or $8 and they were actually pretty good.
The next morning we packed up our belongings (the most annoying part of any trip) and after a quick jog (the length of time, not the pace!) through the market and along the waterfront, we piled in the van and headed for the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon.
[Via Ballard’s Sunday Farmer’s Market and Trader Joe’s in Portland. And a very quick stop at an Under Armour outlet in nowhere Oregon. Yes, it’s true, my trip philosophy is best described as ‘stop, and stop often’ or ‘see as many random things as you possibly can.’ It’s definitely not ‘drive directly to your destination’.]