Seattle: back in the travel saddle again

Y’all! Has it been forever or what? It seems like ages since I’ve gone anywhere, hby?

And this wasn’t even a vacation trip. It was a work trip with one of my work-daughters, Stani. We conspired and decided to tack on a play day on the front end. Great decision. We had almost exactly 24 hours, including sleep time, to pack in the sights of Seattle before heading into some intense training on Monday. We think we did a decent job. Wanna hear all about it? Of course you do.

Let me just say: this was my first trip to Seattle (and Stani’s). In fact, it was my first trip to the American northwest. Wow, just wow. The scenery outside the airplane window was worth the price of admission. Flying over Yellowstone and the Rockies reminded me just how incredibly beautiful this country is. It was fascinating to see mountain lakes in the middle of absolutely nowhere and wonder how many people have ever even been there, because they are so remote. Thank the good Lord we still have places like this to enjoy, even if only a passing view at 30,000 feet.

See that photo at the top of the page? I took that from my airplane window of Mt. Rainier, which Wikipedia (always a trusted source) says is a stratovolcano like Mt. Vesuvius (pre-eruption). We all know how that ended… Fortunately, downtown Seattle is about 60 miles from Mt. Rainier, so it should be ok… still, yikes. Y’all in the far-flung suburbs better look out.

Anyhoo, back to our trip. After an uneventful flight and a long wait for luggage (seriously, baggage handling here made the Caribbean look speedy…but it arrived, so there’s that!), we taxied to the Sheraton Grand in downtown Seattle, our home for the night. We were tired from early departures, time change, and the flight, but STARVING. We took a little stroll around the block to a nondescript eatery that catered to our most important needs: food and a celebratory libation. But just one libation, because we had a big night to come. The most significant part of this stop was the coy little German shepherd outside who kept making eyes at Stani. Aw, what a sweetie. I did snap this cool building photo on my way out:

After our snack, we went back to our rooms for showers and gussying up because we had a date 500 feet in the air. The Sheraton Grand is a large hotel with gobs of rooms, event space, and, most importantly, a Starbucks in the lobby. Clientele ranged from business travelers to pre- or post-cruisers to gaggles of teenage girl volleyball players. We would see the latter group throughout our stay – apparently there was quite the tournament going on. My favorite feature of this hotel, before location and after Starbucks, was the Chihuly glass exhibit in the lobby. How pretty is this?

(photo by Stani)

Stani and I Ubered to the Space Needle several blocks away. We could have walked it or trammed it, but we looked too cute and it was HOT in Seattle. Wow. I thought we were getting away from SC heat. Wrong. Fortunately, we’d done some research and discovered that the Space Needle has what they call the Loupe Lounge, which is a real VIP experience. There are lots of seating times (ok, maybe it’s not that VIP…). We scheduled our visit strategically so we could watch the sun set over the city and the water. Once we checked in at the host stand, we were tucked into a special, roped-off section in the midst of the huge souvenir shop. We were whisked into the elevator soon afterwards and emerged at the observation deck of the Space Needle. Just wow. You can see forever in every direction. We visited a minute here, then went downstairs to our lounge adventure.

A word of caution to the motion-challenged: here, the floor is glass and, as you might know, the whole thing rotates. Looking down to the ground 500 feet below while the floor is moving is enough to make the steady-stomached turn a little chartreuse. My hubby? Fageddaboutit. My advice? Look ahead. Look straight ahead, like you have horse blinders on. That is the only way I made it to our seat in my very cute, very (for me) high platform mules. Stani handled it all like a pro, as she does everything. I think she gets that from me. 😉 Plus she’s about five-foot-nuthin’, so there’s that.

Here is a view of the city and Mt. Rainier from our table.

Wow, that’s a big mountain, isn’t it!?! We could see it from almost everywhere during our stay. As we enjoyed the lounge, the world circled by outside our window.

There are a few different “experiences” offered at the Loupe Lounge. We chose the Nitrogen Theory experience which included nitrogen-concocted cocktails (which we couldn’t have said at the end of the night), charcuterie, and dessert. You’ve heard of mixology? Check this out:

Guess what I found out? That liquid nitrogen will burn your feet if it touches them. Yes I took my shoes off. No judgment from you, okay? Tacky? Absolutely, but the chairs were 12″ off the floor and my shoes had about a 4″ heel and I’m 5’7″. You do the math. I chose not to have my knees in my chin all night. So there.

Here is a photo of our yummy charcuterie display (there’s no other word for it) that consisted of salami and prosciutto, olives, pâté, cheeses, and, surprisingly, marinated butter beans (bottom left, below). Yes I did say marinated butter beans. Guess what was our favorite? Yep. Our server told us we could find the marinade in the market, but we never did, doggone it. It was spicy and savory and delicious on butter beans almost the size of a mini Reese’s peanut butter egg.

Here are our last two cocktails. So pretty!

The beautiful Seattle sunset marked the perfect end to a jawdropping experience.

The next morning, we headed down to famous Pike Place Market. We discovered very quickly that our way was blocked by the biggest parade I’ve ever seen in person. There were thousands and thousands of people there for the Pride Parade. No I didn’t get any photos, unfortunately, but the crowd was incredibly diverse and enthusiastic. They were having a joyful time, and the joy was infectious.

Just outside the market, we found one of our target locations: the Purple Store. It was an exciting stop for Stani who, like #3, is BTS Army (if you know, you know). If it was purple, they had it.

When we got to the market, of course we ( I, but thanks for the photo, Stani) had to have a photo of the very first Starbucks. Bow to the coffee gods…

What fun was the Pike Place Market! If you’ve never been, it is layers of artisans, shops, and eateries. It’s like your neighborhood craft show on steroids, because most of the crafts are quite nice (and correspondingly priced). The flowers! Oh, the flowers. Here in podunk Soda City, a humongous bouquet of flowers like the ones at PPM, with gobs of roses and peonies and heaven only knows what, would run you $80 or more. PPM’s are twenty dollars. They make me want to bribe #2 or #3 to get married in Seattle just for the savings.

Then, there are the famous fish throwers. You know what I didn’t know? There is more than one fishmonger in the PPM. Yes I did go up to an employee of a non-fish-throwing fishmonger and asked him if they throw fish. He was less than amused and snarled that if I bought a fish he’d throw it. Whoopsie, sorry dude. Stani got a great video of the real (and nice) fish throwers, see here:

It was SO tempting to fill a box with delectable seafood and ship it home (because they’ll do that for ya). I resisted, however. Mostly because I wouldn’t have been home to eat it. I’m selfish like that.

We also made friends with this ginormous brass piggie:

I am not including a photo of the (in-?)famous gum wall. Interesting? Sorta. Gross? Absolutely. If you really, truly want to see it, I’m sure there are photos online. After we scoured the market for treasures and had a yummy lunch overlooking the water, we capped our day with two-hour sailboat ride. It was an absolutely beautiful day and Stani made an absolutely beautiful model. Oh yeah, and there was the Seattle skyline, too.

(Stani, photo cred: total stranger; Seattle skyline, photo cred: Stani)

Thank you to Seattle for a fun 24-hours, and thank you to Stani for being an awesome travel partner!

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