This is the first of what is to be several Pacific Northwest posts. We just returned from a house hunting trip to the Seattle area, where we managed to find and buy a house in the span of about 3 days. Our house is located in Kent, a southeast suburb of Seattle. And we spent most of our time in the city of Kent. So first, a few tidbits about this city, before I post about some more touristy things in Washington state...
Kent is undergoing a renaissance. The downtown area is being revitalized, although you still see a fair number of older, more run-down buildings along with the new. So far, some of my favorite places:
* Kent Station: this is where one catches the commuter rail into Seattle. But it's not just a rail station, it's also a large, upscale shopping and dining center. Our realtor (Coldwell Banker Bain) has an office here, which is why we spent so much time here. But we got well-acquainted with a lot of Kent Station's offerings, including Panera Bread (our "office," since we made frequent use of their free WiFi), Pizzeria Fondi (the most awesome pizza I have ever tasted, hand-tossed crust and baked in a brick oven…they even make their own mozzarella cheese!), and See's Candies (free samples!). We also ate at the Johnny Rockets here. There is an AMC Theater as well, although sadly, we had no time for the movies. The main thing missing from Kent Station (and from Kent in general) is a large bookstore. But since there is still a lot of unoccupied space in Kent Station, I will bet every euro in my wallet that a Borders or Barnes & Noble will be occupying one of those spaces within the next few years. It would be a crying shame if Kent Station didn't have a bookstore (Kent has small, independently owned ones, but I refer to a huge, well-known bookstore). (Incidently, it also lacks a Starbucks, but there is one right down the street...and who needs it when you can get the same drinks at Panera?)
Kent Station - http://www.kentstation.com/
Pizzeria Fondi - http://www.fondi.com/
See's Candies - http://sees.com/
And I want to thank the awesome people at Panera Bread who saw us pretty much every day while we were there. One employee was sweet enough to give me extra chai because she made too much and another employee gave me 3 stamps on my espresso club card, because I got the card on our last visit there and hadn't gotten credit for all the previous chai I ordered.
* Paolo's Italian Restaurant: Kent has a VAST number of Mexican and Asian restaurants and pizza joints, but we were hard pressed to find an Italian place amongst them. While getting acquainted with our new neighborhood on East Hill, we happened upon this place right around lunch time. And boy, are we glad we did! The food is really fresh and tasty. Lance had lasagna and I had the "Fettuccine Paolo," which is fettuccine noodles tossed with chicken, artichoke hearts, bell pepper and sundried tomatoes, coated in a sauce of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and herbs. And don't get me started on their desserts. My lemon cheesecake was insanely good and Lance had the chocolate mousse pie, which was amazing. And the service was exceptional. Paolo's will become one of our favorite places to eat out. The atmosphere is laidback, but the food just knocks you out! I was impressed in every way.
* Chair & Trellis (or what should be called "Look at the Pretty!"): This store right across from Kent Station caught my eye, but we couldn't go in for the first several days we were there because it was closed while they decorated the store for Christmas. But last Friday, it reopened, and we went inside.
Oh...my. So much gorgeous in one place! It's like a Pier 1 or a World Market, although quite a bit more upscale. They have furniture, decor, candles, bath stuff, linens...just a huge potpourri of pretty for you and your home. Granted, it's not cheap stuff. But it's a fun place to browse, and it smells nice.
* Stupid Prices: Honestly, I'm joking about this being one of my favorite places, but I'm not joking about it being real. There really is a chain of stores up there called Stupid Prices. It's hilarious, and we happened to drive by one on our first full day there…our real estate broker went past it as he was taking us around to show us houses. The banner hanging outside said something about no sales tax, but that's not really true…the sales tax is included in the price (just like here in Europe). So what you see on the price tag is exactly what you pay. It's like a Big Lots, but the prices didn't seem all that stupid…they were about on par with what you'd pay at other stores for similar items. We went there to look at appliances for the house, but Home Depot has a better selection, and they deliver and install. And the prices are about the same.