If I could take my favorite parts of Boston (good eating, culture, ethnic diversity) and combine them with my favorite parts of Portland, Maine (working waterfront, close to nature, laidback lifestyle), I think I’d end up with something akin to Seattle.
I had just over 24 hours in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, so my impressions are naïve at best. But I did manage to squeeze in a fair amount of running around and sightseeing, and at first blush, I liked what I saw. In Seattle, it seems, one often gets the best of both worlds. I’ve long struggled to choose whether I’d rather live by the sea, or near the mountains, and I loved that in Seattle you can have both. Likewise, it’s got the culture and diversity of a big city, and yet the graciousness of a small town. One can be cosmopolitan, yet outdoorsy, worldly and yet local.
I started my day in Seattle at Caffe Vita, a local coffee chain. Seattle takes its coffee pretty seriously (you’ve heard of a few Seattle-based coffee chains, no?), and I’m pretty sure I quadrupled my caffeine intake while I was there. Caffe Vita was just down the street from my cousin Anne’s place, so when I work up at the crack of dawn (still on east coast time), I wandered over there for a little pick me up. The coffee was lovely, but I was most impressed with just how nice everyone working there was, especially before 7 a.m. No attitude. No rush. Smiles!
After a morning of errands, Anne took me to Pike Place Market. Touristy, yes, but also charming. We ate fresh-cracked uni, tasted local cheeses, and bought some heavenly pastries. Lavender shortbread? Swoon. I also peeked inside the original Starbucks, ate some cucumber kimchi, and eyed (but did not eat at) a Filipino lunch counter with a sign that said “Your portion size is determined by your attitude.” Amen.
After filling up on samples and sweets, we headed to lunch at Il Corvo, where we stuffed ourselves with pillowy gnudi and chewy tagliatelle doused in grassy, olive pesto.
Anne had to go to work that afternoon, so I decided to continue sight seeing with a 10-mile run. Very pretty, but a terrible idea after such a big lunch. At one point I texted Anne “pasta + running = yetch.” Running has become one of my favorite ways to see new places though, and this one didn’t disappoint. I ran through an industrial marine area, past a bunch of marinas, and out to Golden Gardens before looping back and running down 85th Street through the rolling hills of Ballard.
We celebrated Valentine’s Day that night with dinner at one of Seattle’s best restaurants (blog to come), and were on the road at six the next morning, headed off on an epic three-state road trip. Seattle was in the rearview mirror, but after an introduction like this, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for more.