"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Playing Tourist

How grand it is when you go to a place you’ve never been, and fall in love. That’s what happened to my husband and myself when we got to Seattle last weekend.

It was a crazy, wild-hair decision to battle off to Seattle to see the Abney Park “Circus at the End of the World” concert on Sunday the 11th. We arrived in the city around 3:30 on Saturday the 10th, after a seven hour drive up from Southern Oregon. It was kinda love at first sight, well, except for that exciting, sweaty-palms ten minutes negotiating the I-5 freeway and the James Street exit. Okay, and maybe trying to figure out how to get back to the hotel when all the exits from the bay street said, “No Left Turn” wasn’t a laugh-fest, but, hey, we made it. Once we settled the gear in our room, we were off exploring.

First the bayfront area where the ferry terminals are. Lots of restaurants, shops, and an arcade. We had an early dinner there—crab cakes and merlot for me, and clam chowder and a Bud Light for the husband. Then we were off again.

We walked around Pioneer Square admiring the diverse and beautiful architecture. Then we signed up for the evening “adult” underground tour. That got you all the “inside dirt” on some of Seattle’s history, and a free cocktail. The underground tour is one of those creepy-facinating experiences. It also makes you wonder if some day the whole neighborhood is going to sink back to its original level, some ten feet lower than it is currently.

Sunday morning we jostled our way through the Pike Street Market, were amazed by the hundred-yard-long display of spring tulips, the glowing citrus, lush veggies, and glistening fish and crustaceans. I couldn’t help but think how grand it was to have such an amazing place open seven days a week.

From there we walked...and walked...and walked. Seattle is a city made for people who love to walk, and you see them everywhere. Either that, or they are on bicycles. What impressed us as we walked, was how clean the streets and sidewalks were. No garbage, no litter. It was amazing. Also, there is a Starbuck’s Coffee House on every corner. We saw the original coffee house, and the full-frontal nude mermaid logo on the window—no flowing locks to cover her breasts, like you see everywhere else.

It is a city filled with art, fountains, dozens and dozens of cafes, restaurants, delis, corner markets, and fascinating shops.

We had lunch at the Owl and Thistle Irish Pub —For the husband, fish and chips. For me, Shepherd's Pie. For both, a Guinness, of course! (The only beer I can stand) Later, after even more walking, we headed back to the bayfront for drinks and an appetizer of calamari strips. Before resting our bums at the restaurant, however, I rode the carousel at the arcade. Hadn’t done that in over 35 years, and it brought back all kinds of memories of riding the wonderful carousel at Fairmont Park, back in my hometown of Riverside, CA.

Sunday evening we headed to the Abney Park concert. What a blast. With the first salvo of the bass, I expected the windows to shatter and my heart to explode from my chest. We were only about four feet from the stage, which was great, as we could see the expressions on the band member’s faces, hear their jokes and comments, and also got a real up-close view of the between-set fire eaters and the very gymnastic woman performing on a hoop that hung from the ceiling. I came home with another signed CD, and also a signed poster. The Abney Park guys/gals are a great bunch, and mingled with the crowd after the performance, which they also did the last time we saw them, back in January in Eugene, OR.

With sore feet from walking all day, and dancing for four hours that night, the husband and I finally got back to our room and flopped into bed, tired, but very happy campers, indeed.

After another lovely continental breakfast at the hotel, we headed home, sad to have had so little time to explore such a beautiful city, but happy to have had such a grand time in so short a stay. Will we go back? Absolutely!