Sleepless in Seattle
After our twelve day road trip had come to and end, Marina left for three weeks galavanting across Europe, leaving Alex, Billy and me with her car to use as we pleased. I knew, as did they, that we were already booked to spend time in San Francisco, leaving only one major city on the west coast untouched.
We drove to Seattle in a little over two hours, arriving at 11am. We had drawn up a list of sights to see and attractions to visit. The first was the Fremont Troll, which is aptly located underneath the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge. The troll, made of concrete, with a hubcap for an eye, clutches a real Volkswagen Beetle as if it has just swiped it from the road above.
The sun had come out, so we headed on to Alki Beach, located next to the marina, to stretch our legs in the pebble-ridden sand and dip our toes into the freezing Pacific. One ice cream later and we drove on to the campus of the University of Washington, where I cheekily parked up in a loading bay (because it was free) and spent the next half hour wandering around the beautiful campus.
With the first semester about to start, there was a lot of activity at the university. New students were undergoing orientation in the quad, returning students were studying in the Suzzallo library and professors and lecturers were walking briskly, heads bowed with multiple lever arch files buried under their arms.
By about 4pm, we had gotten half way down our list of “must-sees” and, with the next being to watch sunset over downtown, we had a few hours to kill. While looking for places to eat cheaply, we came across a hidden gem and headed there straight away. Kate’s Bar is located close to campus and offers a happy hour menu to rival all others.
I ordered a burger complete with tomato, mushrooms, bacon, Swiss cheese, relish, guacamole, lettuce, avocado and a fried egg with French fries for $6. It was so good I was tempted to order another, but I held back. I’ve regretted that decision every day since.
We drove on to Kerry Park, a small patch of greenery that is elevated enough to give a spectacular view over the city. The sun was setting behind us, casting an orange glow over the skyscrapers and the famous Space Needle. Along with a hundred other tourists, we snapped pictures from all angles and when satisfied, left for downtown itself.
I had bought a ticket for the Space Needle earlier that day, knowing I would have kicked myself later if I didn’t do it, so at 9pm, Alex and Billy dropped me off at the base, I got in the elevator and started the 41 second ascent up the tower to a height of 518 feet. We were told on the way up that 20,000 people a day visit the Needle; at $17 a ticket, it would take all of three days to garner a million dollar revenue from ticket sales alone.
Out of the windows of the glass elevator, I experienced a reverse sunset; looking out over the park we had just come from, the sun came more into view the higher we were whisked, the sky changing from black to red to orange. It was slightly surreal and very beautiful.
Once at the top, it took all of ten minutes for the sky to become as black as it had looked from the ground and, making my way around the outside walkway of the observation deck, downtown was revealed in all its illuminated glory.
We spent the rest of the evening and most of the early hours of the next morning on Capitol Hill. There are some very quirky bars in the area and I grew particularly fond of “Unicorn”, a two-tiered bar with good music and cheap drinks.
The night was fun, but by 3am I was falling asleep, so we drove ten minutes into a residential area with no street lamps and pulled up to sleep. Billy and I reclined the front seats and Alex lowered the back seats, stretching out into the trunk. It was a sleepless night for all and by 8am I was ready to get moving.
Next up was Pike Place Market, where one can essentially get breakfast for free by walking down its length, accruing samples of salmon, orange yoghurt covered peanuts and blackberry jam. The fish, especially, is brilliantly fresh and tastes better than any I’ve eaten before and since.
Our last stop in Seattle was the Market Theatre Gum Wall. Situated just a two minute walk from the market, the wall, as the name suggests, is covered in hundreds of thousands of people’s chewed gum. Patrons of the theatre started the tradition in 1993 and the workers scraped it clean twice before giving up. The gum is now several inches thick, stretching fifteen feet high and fifty feet long.
Alex had a meeting that afternoon in Portland, so we said our farewells to the amazing city and started the drive home.
I can honestly say I would move to Seattle in a heartbeat. I am typically drawn to smaller cities, more the size of Portland than LA, and Seattle is the perfect example of a picturesque city that one can’t really get lost in. I really do look forward to returning one day.
I had one final week in Portland before moving on to my last US city on this leg of my journey: San Francisco…