Day 21: New York/Seattle
Given that I was already 3kg over my luggage allowance upon leaving Grand Cayman Island, I needed to do something about my luggage, by shipping some home ahead of me. I found the New York post office on my travels last night and figured it would cost me the same to buy a new suitcase and have to lug it around. Fingers crossed it arrives. Lesson learnt – pack way less next time, way more wisely and listen to others when they say anything you don’t have – you can buy.
Although I’m not flying to Seattle until this afternoon I’ve only got a couple of hours before my transfer arrives so I just chill out at the hotel. I am so exhausted but just can’t seem to catch a sleep in. That was ok in Cayman where the pace was slower and the nights were earlier but the last few nights I haven’t been to bed before 11pm! I’m desperately hoping Seattle is quiet and more laid back.
Seattle means one thing to me – grunge. Not to be confused with rubbish and grime, I’m talking about the huge music scene that occurred in Seattle in the late eighties and early nineties, which became a worldwide phenomenon and boosted a host of local garage bands to international stardom. My favourites were Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Green River, Malfunkshun and the short lived Mother Love Bone (R.I.P L’Andrew the Love Child). This was my kind of music.
Not to mention all the long hair, flannel and doc wearing dudes that came with it. In some respects, I’m still waiting for that era to come back…. But whilst back in the real world I know that ain’t going to happen, I can at least relive it a bit with a few days in the Emerald City itself.
For those of you who don’t really care for grunge or music (seriously who wouldn’t care for music!), Seattle is also home to Amazon, Boeing and Starbucks.
It’s after 6pm when I arrive in Seattle, but by the time the transfer arrives its after 8.30pm, not to mention that I’ve gone back in time three hours from New York time. I’m tired and hungry.
Finally we are on the road and as soon as we leave the airport, I notice this is a really pretty place Seattle is surrounded by mountains and pine trees (think the Christmas tree type). The sun is just setting on the horizon, bathing Seattle city in pale golden light. I can see the space needle on the horizon.
We reach the city after only about fifteen minutes and I am blown away by how pretty the city is as well. There are heaps of trendy looking shops, different stuff than I’ve seen to date, the trees are lit with fairy lights, the buildings are cute. I really wasn’t expecting this.
I’m staying at the Ace Hotel in Belltown, it’s a kind of high end backpackers but with private rooms available. It’s an extremely funky place. My room is freaking awesome. Free breakfast, free wifi, huge ass bathroom with gourmet soap and toiletries (including cotton balls, makeup pads and q-tips), a selection of snacks, an awesome window overlooking the street, my own sofa and bathrobes (do you know how many hotels don’t have robes these days!). There’s a book to read called “What to Read in the Rain” (it rains about 160 days a year here, not called the rainy city for no reason). The cool thing about this book is that they encourage you to take it home with you (for the small sum of $15). The book was created to promote literacy in Seattle, with proceeds going to support 826 Seattle, which teachings the essential skill of writing to thousands of the Seattle area’s young people free of charge.
From my window I can hear the laughter and animated chatter of people sitting for a drink at the Cyclops Café downstairs. In the twenty minutes I’ve been here, the vibe is artsy, yet unpretentious, relaxed and kind of warming. I’ve totally forgotten about being tired and decide to walk down to the waterfront for a seafood feast at the Crab Pot (the ad I saw about giving you a bib and just letting you go at it sucked me right in). Surrounded by people delighting in the Seafeast (a meal where they basically plonk a massive pile of seafood, potatoes and corn on a piece of paper in the middle of your table), its comical to listen to all the banging on the tables as all manner of shells are cracked open and then discard with a ‘ting’ into the metal bucket waiting patiently at the foot of the table. For myself, I order the bay shrimp cocktail and grilled Atlantic Salmon, which comes surrounded by broccoli and red potatoes, so good, perfectly washed down with a glass of white wine.
The waterfront itself is also very pretty. There’s the obligatory eye/wheel (depending on which city you are in), an aquarium and eateries lining the wharves of Alaskan Way. The sun is still setting over Seattle, it seems to take a while to go down, which suits me fine.
I finish off my dinner with a gloriuos cup of Butterfingers flavoured ice-cream as I walk back up to 1st Avenue, along the streets of Seattle, past the Pike Place Markets and back to my hotel. I am so excited for tomorrow when I can explore this beautiful city, but for now, I am ready to sleep. And my bed feels like a big fluffy cloud…