June 23, 2009

Seeing Seattle

Like most urban dwelling liberal 20-somethings, at one point or another, Trevor and I have discussed packing it all up and transporting ourselves to Seattle or Portland or Austin or Denver or San Francisco... With a surprise party in the works for my California-based in-laws, we had a built-in reason to plan a West Coast visit and check out the vibe of Seattle & Portland, and so at the beginning of May, we found ourselves settled onto JetBlue and bound for the city of 'Grey's Anatomy.' What follows is a recount of the ensuing events.

We arrived close to midnight on a Saturday and took a cab into Seattle proper, bound for this adorably hip boutique-y hotel that wanted us to pay only $99 a night, in exchange for using very large and clean bathrooms that just happen to be shared. I'm in. By the time we settled in, it was 4am according to our bodies, so we called it a night.

First stop the next morning was our hotel's continental breakfast which included fruit and granola (this was Seattle after all) and Make-Your-Own waffles (What an unexpectedly welcome flashback to dorm life!). For the day we had two distinct goals: Trevor wanted to make it to the Sounders game (Do you know about the Sounders? In the 2009 season, the MLS introduced a new franchise. The city, recently abandoned by David Stern and the NBA, immediately latched onto the team, selling out of season tickets and every game so far.); I wanted to see the first ever Starbucks. Off we went to Pike Place Market , which, possibly because it was Mother's Day, or possibly because everything in Seattle is always covered in flowers and love and pink, was absolutely overwhelmed with bustling flower stands. We didn't see any fish being thrown, but we did recite the opening to The Real World 5-10 times and see a psychic cat.

Early on in the day, we achieved my goal – here I am in front of the original Starbucks (We were headed to a soccer game – I felt channeling by 14 year old self with French Braided pigtails made sense.):

Trevor had read about a pre-game Sounders rally where the faithful fans meet and parade to the field. We set out on a mission to find the rally and when we did, it didn't disappoint – Sounders green as far as the eye could see, a band to lead everyone in song and then a 4 block walk to Qwest Field. It was the most festive and pumped up fans that I've ever seen for a regular season game of any sport.

Conveniently located next to Qwest Field is one of the brew pubs for the Elysian Brewery, and since there was still a good hour (and it was now respectably past noon), we stopped in for our first of many vacation craft beers. The space was awesome, and the beers delicious. We enjoyed Dragontooth Stout and a couple of IPAs. Shocking we didn't take advantage of the stellar guest beer option:

Then we made our way into the stadium. First things first: Our seats were impossible to find. We wandered the stadium, up and down ramps for over 20 minutes, following the incorrect directions from any number of stadium employees (unless “left” actually means “right” in Washington State). We eventually made it and settled in with the crazy crowd, which included this guy:

Yes, a Sounders fan so devoted, he has his own GOALIE GLOVES. The Sounders were playing a Beckham-less Galaxy team and the game eventually ended in a tie, a fact that should surprise no one (The Galaxy's record so far this year is 2-2-9. That would be 9 TIES).

After the game, our mission was to find a bar showing the Lakers game. At this point it was Game 4 of the Rockets series. Do you remember that game? The Lakers were down by 30 at one point – Yeah, we weren't there long. We powered back from the painful loss for the night with a trip to the Space Needle, great pizza and salad, then a bottle of wine with 'Drillbit Taylor.'

Day 2 was a big one. We were nervous it was going to rain, but, somehow our 3 days in Seattle were all rain-free. We'd planned to hit up the Seattle Art Museum, but discovered it is closed on Mondays. Plan B: A trip to Bainbridge Island! Though I had watched Harper's Island (sort of), I was able to convince myself that we would not, in fact, get inexplicably trapped on the island and murdered, so we boarded the ferry for a lovely afternoon of walking around, gorgeous city views and chocolate chili ice cream.

We returned to the city in need of an afternoon snack and found our way back to The Pike Pub back in the Pike Market for a sampler and some amazing nachos. Pike Brewery is cool because it was a family-owned brewery that was sort of bought out and then, like 10 years later, bought itself back.

After Pike's we went on a long walk through Seattle's downtown, bound for a bus that would take us North of the city to a bar that, in honor of Seattle Beer Week, was having a Victory Brewery Tasting. We got there about an hour before the kegs showed up, and were able to snag a place at the soon-to-be-very-in-demand bar.

After the tasting, which included an introduction by the Victory brewery founder, we headed back into the city, where we had earlier passed a movie theatre that is also a bar. We were too curious to pass it up, even if it meant seeing 'State of Play,' with the dreaded Russell Crowe. Review still to follow (no, really), but movie theaters where you can also have a glass of wine are okay by me.

We only had a couple hours the next morning before our train to Portland, and we passed the time at the Olympic Sculpture Park, before packing up, saying goodbye to Andre the Giant, and making the cross-town walk to the train station, bound for another (hopefully awesome) Pacific Northwest city.

All the details on Portland in a few days!