Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Salmon, Starbucks and the Sights of Seattle

Yes, I have been living in suburban Seattle now for over a month. But we've been so busy getting settled in that I haven't had any chance at all to actually go to Seattle and explore.

Until today.

Ruth is here visiting from Germany. She is from here. Her sister, Marianne, lives here. So they invited me to join them for a fun excursion to Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market, and whatever else captured our fancy.

So I drove to Marianne's house this morning. She lives in a very attractive neighborhood by Lake Washington, and it was a pleasant drive to her house - around 20 miles from Kent and about 40 minutes to get there.

I stayed there for a short while and enjoyed a cup of tea while Ruth and I caught up. Then we hopped in Ruth's rental car and headed downtown. Nice scenery on the way, but you can't really go anywhere in Seattle that doesn't have a view of the mountains or the water (or both).

Our first stop - Olympic Sculpture Park (in the Belltown District), which is free to the public. We spent over an hour here. The park offers fantastic views of the Seattle skyline as well as the Sound. Hopefully, my pictures will reflect that.

As we ended our tour around the park, we stopped in a place called the Vivarium, which was basically a green house displaying a huge Hemlock tree (I think it was Hemlock...I can't remember what she said). The tree was uprooted, but there was a lot of new growth on it. It was a bit of Washington wilderness in the middle of an urban landscape.

After that, we got back in the car the headed up toward Pike Place Market, which is probably the most famous attraction in Seattle next to the Space Needle. We were going to stop at Typhoon Restaurant (Thai food), but it was closed for renovation. So we decided to choose a restaurant at the market.

We found a place to park and first walked up the Harbor Steps and up to the Seattle Art Museum before going around to Pike Place Market. We didn't stop in the art museum, but the sight of the giant, hammer-wielding silhouette in front of the museum is rather arresting.

Anyway, after stopping for that photo op, we walked into Pike Place Market, where Ruth told me that I had to pose for a photo with Rachel the Pig. This pig sculpture, which was wearing a feather boa, sits in front of the seafood stand where they throw the fish. So I tried to hoist myself up there and found that she was pretty tall. Marianne helped me, and the guys at the fish place where hootin' and hollerin' at me...apparently thrilled at the sight of me sitting on the pig. It was funny.

Once that photo was taken, I tried to get one of them throwing the fish around, but they were too fast for my camera. They threw a stuffed fish at us, and I got a photo of Ruth with that.

We were right by Place Pigalle, a seafood/french restaurant, so we decided to eat there. We were seated at a table by the window, which had a gorgeous view of Puget Sound and the mountains beyond. We had a lovely lunch, talking and watching the ferries go back and forth. I had a warm beet salad with goat cheese and mustard vinaigrette and a cup of french onion soup. So simple and amazing. Ruth ordered the salmon special, and shared some with me, and it was so melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Marianne had mussels with chorizo and pasta, which also looked completely yummy. After our very satisfying lunch, we moved on.

We meandered around the market, poking in shops here and there. I picked up a couple pieces of homemade Turkish Delight at a restaurant called Turkish Delight, which also serves doner kebap (must go back there when I need a doner fix). We stopped at Three Girls Bakery, where I picked up a couple of fudge brownies for Lance and I to have for dessert tonight (we haven't torn into them yet, but judging by the popularity of this bakery, I'm guessing the brownies will be fantastic)...(Edited to add - Oh. My. God. Yum yum yum!). We stopped at Seattle's Best Coffee for macchiatos, and Ruth had to tell the barista how to make the Latte Macchiatos that we were accustomed to drinking in Europe. But the barista got it, spot on.

After a few hours of wandering around, sampling the various delights of the market, it was time to head back to the car. We took a detour through the lobby of the art museum, which had a very unusual display of Ford Tauruses (you will see them in my photo album), and then we left.

Anyway, my impression of Seattle: love, love, LOVE it. Crazy in love. I understand now why everyone said that I would love it and feel at home here. It's artsy. It's hip. It's laidback. It's fun. It's colorful. It's vibrant. And it's just so very very cool. I am so happy that we live here.