From Portland we traveled to Seattle via Amtrak. As a frequent rider of Amtrak’s Northeast regional rail I had heard whisperings of the Cascade train – a mythical train that was glamorous yet comfortable and far less expensive than your typical DC to NY ride. This rumor proved to be true although I should warn you that there are several other differences between West coast and East coast Amtrak. East coast Amtrak I arrive 5 minutes before my train departs and then jostle for a seat. West coast Amtrak has ASSIGNED seats (I had a similar realization in Portugal). Luckily this time there was no language barrier induced confusion but due to our late arrival we were seated backwards, not a tragedy but still a bummer since the scenery is the best part of the trip!
Once we arrived in Seattle we checked into our hotel and then made an immediate beeline to a sushi happy hour we heard great things about at Umi Sake House. After consuming my weight in Korean-style ribs (I don’t love sushi), we wandered around downtown Seattle and found ourselves right at Olympic Sculpture park during a fun summer nights festival. It was the perfect summer evening – music, an ice cream truck and a gorgeous sunset.
The next day we hung out in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, enjoying a picnic in Volunteer Park with sandwiches from Baguette Box (get the drunken chicken!) Other than the the lazy day in the park and a visit to the Arboretum the main highlight of Capitol Hill was the salt store I came across called Sugarpill.
Technically it was an apothecary but I did not even notice the herbal teas and burning incense because they had over 100 different varieties of salt. For those that know me I am extremely addicted to sodium and this store was my mecca. I am not exaggerating when I say I spent an hour sampling all of the salts before settling on a smoking salt, a white truffle salt, a red clay salt and an Australian finishing salt. My blood pressure is skyrocketing just remembering the experience.
After my head nearly exploded from sodium overdrive, I knew I needed some fresh veggies in my diet. The following day we went to Pike Place Market. In the words of my mom, “big, fucking, deal.” As a lover of farmer’s markets and a devotee of Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal, I honestly found Pike Place market kind of blah. I expected to find more places to eat and sample, but really its just fish and produce stalls. Great if you want to shop for a meal but not if you want to eat your way through several city blocks. That being said I did buy some smoked fish to take home with me (why doesn’t DC have kippered salmon?!) and devoured my weight in Mt. Rainier cherries.
After Pike Place I dropped off my haul at the hotel and then went kayaking on Lake Union. Renting a boat is really easy although I recommend making a reservation in advance since it was a popular choice. The lake was really beautiful and there were plenty of boaters and water sport enthusiasts hanging out and enjoying the gorgeous day. There is lots to see along the lake including Gas Works Park, but my favorite were the house boats. I fantasized about living in one of these homes but then a quick Zillow search made me realize these homes were out of my reach, even in my dreams.
Overall I had a great time in Seattle – this part of our trip was more free form and relaxing- unlike my usual travel style of planning everything to the hilt. I also really enjoyed taking advantage of the city’s comprehensive public transportation and did not take a cab the entire trip (gasp!) The amazing weather definitely gave me a positive impression of the Emerald City…there was not a drop of rain our entire trip and my preconceived notion of a grungey gray city was totally turned on its head. Hope to visit again soon!